SEXISODE: Boudoir Photography with Debra Alison

Sexy selfies and provocative pictures: not something our conservative religious upbringings looked too kindly upon. But there is some magic we've missed out on in being closed-off to sensual self-admiration, as Karyn discovered when she decided to book a boudoir photography session with today's guest, Debra Alison. Together, they rip through more prudish notions and specifically call out everything that can make a little racy photo session so affirming, empowering, and maybe even a little bit... sacred.

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Matthew Blake
Kate & Colby: It Takes Friction to Make a Spark

Say hi to the heathenest pastors you'll find: ours. Kate Christensen-Martin and Colby Martin are co-founders of Sojourn Grace Collective, a podcast called The Kate and Colby Show, and four fantastic boys, among other things. They are also some of our dearest friends—dearer still after this powerful, poignant, playful conversation about their chasm-wide differences, starting a church when their marriage was on the rocks, and the incredible good that has come from the friction that they have learned to value over the years.

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Matthew Blake
Jennifer Knapp: No Redemption Without Memory

By the time she was 25, Jennifer Knapp had gone about as high as you could go in the 1990s Christian music industry. Three records and nearly a million album sales in, she walked away. When she came back seven years later, she was ready to tell more of her story. We're so excited to bring you this conversation with Jennifer Knapp.

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Matthew Blake
I Was More Loved Than I Dared to Know: A Conversation with My Siblings

This week, meet Amy Canton and Clark Williams, my (Matthew's) sister and brother. I couldn't be prouder of them, or more excited for you to hear about our shared history and their own personal journeys out of religious trauma. The conversation took some very unexpected turns: parts of our own stories were rewritten in real time as we shared and learned new information about major moments in each other's lives that we didn't know until they were said out loud on this recording. It was simply a gift, and there is so much here to give anyone with religious pain and trauma hope and a guidepost on the path toward healing.

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Matthew Blake
SEXISODE: Maybe Genitals Aren't Sacred

In our ongoing commitment to explore *all* the territory religious fundamentalism won't, it's time for a new Sexisode! Welcome James Johansen, a sex therapist with a special interest in polyamory and non-monogamy. This conversation is about understanding eroticism vs. intimacy, agency over our own bodies, and the ethical way to have sex, no matter whether you choose monogamy or something more open. Ready to stretch a little, heathens? Let's get sexy.

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Matthew Blake
Crystal Cheatham: The Bible Came Back To Me

Sometimes you can't find the thing you need, so you have to make it yourself. After years of deconstruction and reshaping of her faith, Crystal Cheatham found herself wanting a place to find inclusive, queer-affirming, non-gendered writings—and Bibles—that she could use in her own spiritual practice. But the resources out there weren't willing hear her pitch. So, she became a resource herself. Founder of OurBibleApp and host of her own podcast called Lord Have Mercy—which deals with God, sex, and the Bible—Crystal is someone you need to know about, and we're happy to make the introduction.

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Matthew Blake
A Meditation on Good Things

"Success is making a good thing in a vile time." This thought from Myles E. Johnson was part of the inspiration for this week's episode, which is a collection of good things. Words we love, music and poetry to give perspective, comedy specials on Netflix that help us bear the unbearable. After what's been one of the harder weeks in a long season of hard weeks here in America, we invite you to join us for an hour of meditation on good things. It helped us; we hope it will you, too.

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Matthew Blake
Why Can't I Just Take All The Best Parts?

Alisha Jade just wants to know why she can't take the best parts from all religions and make her own? She describes herself as a seeker, and her curiosity has taken her all over the spiritual map. Today we're talking sex, yoga, post-election blues, and privilege with Alisha Jade.

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Matthew Blake
SEXISODE: Toys & Butt Stuff (or, Everyone Should Masturbate More)

Undoubtedly, sex is one of the most fraught aspects of life for folks coming out of oppressive, conservative, restrictive religion. That's why we're doing Sexisodes: episodes about sex that are here to untangle, unburden, and enlighten us about our bodies, our relationships, and more. In today's (very NSFW) conversation, we welcome fellow heathen Bird Ward who wants everyone to masturbate more.

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Matthew Blake
There Is Love For You

Hi, heathens. It's been a week. We want you to know there is love for you. ♥ If you are well, take care of the family and friends you have. If you are numb or in pain, if you are struggling, if it feels too heavy: know that these podcasting nerds over here at Heathen headquarters love you. If you're able to ask for help—and there is NEVER any shame in asking for help—here are many ways you can do that (click through for links).

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Matthew Blake
There's Already A White Version of 'The Wiz'

Anissa Nishira Cornelius joins co-host Karyn Thurston for a conversation from the She Is Called conference in Denver. Join these theatre geeks on a journey from Anissa's Southern Baptist upbringing in San Diego to her role as a birth worker in Oklahoma. Anissa shares her experience growing up black in predominately white evangelical circles and challenges us to consider: what if people let the 14-year old black girl who heard the voice of God lead?

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Matthew Blake
SEXISODE: Sex In A Car

(This conversation centers on sexual assault.) It's our first literally-on-the-road episode. We drove to Hollywood on a whim to be in the audience for the taping of comic/writer/actor/podcast host extraordinaire Cameron Esposito's new special called "Rape Jokes." It was a provocative, hilarious, beautiful evening that inspired a conversation we recorded in the car driving back to San Diego. Let's talk about the damage we've had to undo in our understanding of sexual assault after growing up in conservative evangelicalism.

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Matthew Blake
If There's No Hell, What's My Faith For?

Wendy Holland is a minister in the Disciples of Christ tradition and came to Heathen to share why she's still ministering after a lifetime of frustration over the direction of the church in America. Her journey has led her to belief in an inclusive gospel, and she's wrestled with—and answered for herself—why faith and Christian spiritual practice still matter if there's not a hell we need saving from. In what is probably the most wide-ranging Heathen conversation yet, Wendy shares her stories of marriage and divorce, adoption, sexual identity, working toward ordination as a woman, and a passion to rebrand the modern evangelical church as a place for everyone.

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Matthew Blake
Slippery Slopes: Alcohol (with Kristen Cairns)

First things first: a trigger warning. We recognize the seriousness of alcohol and its effects in so many of our lives. Today's discussion centers around the cultural stigmas and attitudes towards alcohol in the evangelical systems we were brought up in and includes conversation and stories about our changing behavior and beliefs when it comes to drinking over the years. You may have good reason to skip this episode that focuses primarily on casual drinking, especially if you have struggles with alcoholism or are in recovery. Our hope today is to explore the fears and misgivings about alcohol that were especially reinforced by Christian culture.

Our guest today is Kristen Cairns, a bartender, friend of the podcast, and lovely person with her own story of apostasy after being raised by two pastors. Pour yourself a glass of something that's appropriate for you, and let's slide down another slippery slope: alcohol.

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Matthew Blake
Women Are Dangerous—Eva Cruz Pena

Eva Cruz Pena is exploring the boundaries of irreverence. In Heathen’s first all-woman episode, we’re following the winding path of her journey from Puerto Rico, where she grew up leading worship and being reminded her voice and questions were a bit “too much” for a good Christian girl, to her tenure as the only woman of color in a sea of bearded seminary students in Portland, OR, her time as a military chaplain, and the awakening of her inner goddess that shifted everything about the way she interprets the world. Motherhood, bodies, bras, blood, and un-becoming - today we’re running the gamut of what it means to be a woman awake in the world, with Eva as our wise, passionate guide.

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Matthew Blake
Lean Into Your Own Understanding

Today, we're reading through some stories and feedback sent to us by listeners to Heathen, and damn—y'all are amazing. Thank you for sharing your stories, we love hearing them. We started off defining what we mean by "bad Christianity." It's a phrase we use around here that strikes some as aggressive, and to others might just be shorthand for describing the specific types of toxic religion we've crawled out from under. But folks have asked, and it's fair that we should give an explanation. From there, the listener emails we read are beautiful, insightful, a little heartbreaking, and fiery catalysts for some great conversation about learning to trust ourselves.

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Matthew Blake
Derek Webb—Ditch the Hypothetical, Projected, Advertised Beliefs

Today: a real treat. We're delighted to welcome Derek Webb to Heathen. Derek has been a professional musical artist for nearly 25 years, as a founding member of the folk band Caedmon's Call and then as a solo artist. He's held a unique place in the Christian music world, often speaking to the injustices he saw in the church while also caring deeply for its well-being. The past few years, though, have seen a significant shift—one that we're very familiar with here at Heathen. Listen in as Derek shares about his journey into unbelief and how he came to record an entire album about apostasy—his latest, called Fingers Crossed. He also hosts an excellent podcast about the fallout of spiritual deconstruction called The Airing of Grief. Enjoy this deep dive with Derek Webb.

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Matthew Blake
Slippery Slopes: Tarot

If you're interested in pushing boundaries, exploring formerly taboo topics, and—hopefully—normalizing some stuff that may not be inherently bad, but that you are accustomed to avoiding because God/Pastor/Parent said no, Slippery Slopes is the series for you. We're kicking it off with a Tarot reading by season 1 Heathen guest Micah Turner. Come with us as we learn a little bit about—and then experience—this centuries-old practice of divination. The cards have some fascinating things to share...

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Matthew Blake