013| James G: I Feel More Saved Now

James G.—who aspires to live a life worthy of retelling through flannelgraph—gives some of the most thoughtful ruminations on apostasy I've heard so far. A Ph.D. student and music professor, James had done a lot of focused, intentional work in his journey away from evangelicalism prior to when I met him, which was half-drunk at a Beer & Hymns Christmas carol sing-along event in December of 2017.

After we shouted at each other over a very merry, very loud crowd of singers, James sent me a beautifully written piece that he had posted to an atheist thread on Reddit called "My New Testament," telling his story of losing faith and crafted around the five stages of grief. I found it profoundly moving, and it provides the framework for most of our conversation. He generously offered to let me share this piece with you, which you can read in full here.

Being a crazy-talented musician, James also provided some original compositions and arrangements that I used throughout this episode. Most of the music you hear is his.

This episode also kicks off the new official format of HEATHEN: longer episodes every other week. As much as I absolutely adore having these conversations, keeping up with a weekly rhythm was becoming really tough. I have a full-time job and two other side gigs in addition to HEATHEN, and I finally had to admit that all the writing, composing, recording, editing wasn't sustainable on a weekly basis. The upside is that I've found having longer conversations—two hours instead of one—gets us to even better places. It takes the pressure off to be profound right off the bat, and gives both me and my guests room to get to know each other as we explore our stories. Ultimately, I think it makes for a better listening experience for you, too, as many of you confirmed following the previous long-form episode with Alana Kalinowski!

Thanks for going on this ride with me, Heathens. 

Matthew Blake