"I'm at war with myself. I'm at peace in the dark."
This is spectacularly good.
Incredible piece, JK.
Wonderful post. Keep up the great work. I find strength in the idea that it doesn't matter whether or not God is real. The purpose is the same: to do the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people. Either god is driving us, or we are creating a god out of nothingness.
I grew up in an extremely similar setting in Lubbock. Like you, I remember the times I spent with the youth group at First Baptist Church Lubbock as maybe the happiest times in my life. I LIVED there man, sometimes spending the night at the church in the summer because a local intern who went to Texas Tech would open up the church for us, order pizza and then bust out the Xbox.
I also had the most moving spiritual moments of my life at camp, Disciple Now or on mission trips. I think in some ways I am still chasing that feeling. I've spent my 20s wondering about that time in my life. I've chased that fleeting feeling of community across the globe. While my faith in God and the traditional tenants of Christianity have endured and solidified in my mind and heart, I've retreated from the organized church for many of the same reasons you listed. Frankly, the idea of faithfully attending the pseudo-baptist megachurches (they are all still in the SBC even if they have names like "Experience Life") my siblings (all great people) worship at is anathema. They seem to possess all the things I disliked about youth group and none of the things that made that experience meaningful. Most of my best friends are agnostic, atheist or of another traditional faith. If you were to look at me (I dress like a pledge at DELTA DELTA DELTA or wear suits for work), you would not think that most of my best friends are from backgrounds with very little similarity to my own. Frankly, I feel out of place at the law office I work at (I have not pulled a Nanni yet).
I disagree with you and the rest of the Fullcast band of characters about almost everything politically. I vote for people who you dislike. But I am with you when it comes you the view that Christ told us to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth and that his message is revolutionary. Grappling with that took some time. While I might disagree about some of the prescriptions, my goals are the same. So much so that I am willing to subordinate a lot of my own notions when people like you, Holly or Spencer say something on certain topics. I think this is because my relationship with goes so far beyond the temporal politics divisions of our big stupid country as to be almost trivial. While we might disagree about the role of the "state" the view that we are called to fight poverty and injustice wherever we find it is one I subscribe to and try to live by. Thankfully, I have had the quiet example of my father to look to. A devout man who has done more to help people placed in his path than any church I've ever known.
In other words, your community of writers has been like a group of friends I never get to see over the last fourteen years of my life. There have been times in my life where I have relistened to episodes of the Fullcast three to four times over a year in moments where I felt lonely or depressed. I spent a summer in Guatemala several years back at an orphanage. I used to jog miles listening to old Fullcast episodes because I felt like I was in on the conversation with you guys. The people you revered, I revered. The injustices of the sport you referenced, are ones I felt as well. I shared the incredible moments of humor this sport fosters with you guys and for once felt like I was listening to people with who I belonged. There have been times I have laughed until I cried, and there have been moments when something you guys have talked about has hit me like a ton of bricks and made me a better person. I've never felt more comfortable about the mystery of our lives as I am listening to or reading you folks. It sounds absurd that a community of people talking about college football has engendered that feeling in me, but it is true. In some ways, you guys have made me feel like I was back at youth camp with my friends.
One last story, August 2017 to August 2018 was the worst year of my life. My best friend died of an overdose while we were at law school. He loved yall's work as well. I think the loss of the only kindred spirit I had personal contact with made his death all the worse. My uncle committed suicide, my fiance ended things with me, I went through a depression that saw me avoid my family for months at a time, and I started to wonder if I had made a huge mistake to attend law school. The Fullcast helped get me through it. I was working for my dad in the mornings before class and would clean his little restaurant and filter grease before things opened. I think I listened to Fullcast episodes going back to 2013 almost every day that year. I don't know why, but an hour a day of conversation with my friends helped me to cope with that year. I remember reading Spencer's four piece mascot work to open the 2018 season and it made me break down into tears. I cried for everything that happened that year and for everything I felt. You and your friends played a huge part in helping me heal.
I will always support your work and share it with others. I never miss a chance to give you money. You mean something to me. Your honesty helps me. It might not be exactly where I am at, but it is good to know there are some fellow travelers asking the same questions I have, even if we might reach different conclusions about a few things.
David Hutchens - Lubbock, Texas
Thank you for this.
I'm a 47 year old exvangelical who left the church extremely bitter and disillusioned about 12 years ago. I think I'm finally over a lot of the anger and hurt that caused me to just reflexively dismiss any ideas about "faith" and "God". This piece really spoke to me, and helped crystallize some thoughts that have been bouncing around my brain...thank you for this, and for years of entertainment/education through the work you have done. I'll be around for whatever is next.
Finally getting around to reading this piece in full, thanks to my leaving tabs open for months to make sure i dont forget things i want to read(nice job Ryan) Amazing work as always, fan of all you do but VBS pod in particular has re-sparked an interest in the good book and theology as whole that i wrote off for too long. Thanks for bringing me back and reminding me how metal it can be. Got my brother listening now and hopefully have him reading this too, ill be along for the ride wherever it goes next. You rock 🤘🏽
In my life as a Catholic, my relationship with my faith has always been (by choice) more personal, and far less communal. I'm mostly glad to have carried myself in it and not been carried by others much, but doing so can be difficult and isolating. This is one of the few times I have ever felt as though I was hearing from someone to whose mindset on faith I could relate, details of our personal experiences aside. Thank you, Jason, for writing something so honest, and genuinely inspiring.
Thank you for writing this. I loved it.
Your honesty in your journey, and that you’ve kept a sense of humor about yourself even in struggle, is immensely encouraging. And that’s coming from an ex-pastor here who never wants to step foot in a church again, yet somehow sees the beauty of God more in the world outside of it (and also believes my prayers maybe are being listened to when the Steelers receiving core suddenly stops dropping passes ). Keep going man, I hope you get that big job you want, but I hope more this version of you is the one you love and gets to come out in that big job more and more.
A lot of what you posted about your experiences with church as a teenager, and about the search for answers about spirituality, and describing yourself as a semi-agnostic deist... I could have written a great deal of that myself, because that mirrors so much of my experiences and journey in life. We all need validation and grounding at times. This was a needed read.
Jason-you and the Fullcast crew got me through some tough days a couple of years back and we’re the only thing that made me laugh for months, despite the fact that no jokes are told. I have loved VBS and the resurrected Fullcast and will continue to enjoy it as long as you and the gang crank it out. Great post and insight here, which isn’t surprising at all. Cheers and Happy New Year from Marietta!
damn, man, thanks for writing this. It was helpful. I've been struggling with a lot of these things too. I'm glad I got out of SBN when I did, but the ship I jumped to turned into a piece of shit too. "Is it me? It's got be me. What's wrong with me?" I'm struggling through all of this, and I think the biggest challenge has been dealing with the identity crisis of what in the hell am I even doing. I wake up most days hating myself, doubting myself, thinking I must generally suck at things. I get pissed at the last gig for whatever. Then I get pissed at the one before that because I feel like we worked our butts off just to make a bunch of stupid content aggregation, and then I feel like poop because I've single handedly sold out everything I worked hard on because of some self pity or whatnot. IDK. This is a differnt kind of crisis than the one I went through at the end of my own SBN days. Now, i feel like the main challenge i have to overcome is not to let bitterness and depression win. And reading this was a real help. thanks buddy!
Thank you, Jason. Thank you for this, thank you for everything you have contributed to my eyes and ears and brain this year, and thank you for being you.
Jason this is awesome. I’m a scientist constantly around other scientists and am constantly baffled by the extent to which they will make definitive conclusions about what is clearly not definitive. The mystery is the fun part just let it be the mystery. Love all your stuff. VBS has legitimately made my family closer - thank you and looking forward to whatever is next.
Absolutely beautiful Jason. Enough to make me cry. Thank you for sharing this, and may God guide you for more amazing thoughts.