In my podcast FKD UP BY FAITH, I have healing conversations with people who’ve been ‘f****d up’ by their faith, and who’ve found hope, healing, reconciliation, or forgiveness, in, or out of their faith tradition

Underlying the tongue-in-cheek title is a purposeful ethnographic and theological agenda. It is informed by my Master’s degree study in Public Theology, and my work as a chaplain specialising in spiritual counselling and end-of-life care.

I am a storyteller, fascinated by stories. The stories told in FKD UP BY FAITH are experiences of faith, religion, family and upbringing, of identity, rejection, control, and also of healing, acceptance, and forgiveness. Whilst not all stories are about this, FKD UP BY FAITH is also a space to talk about the important topic of Spiritual Abuse, something that we are only just beginning to properly talk about in public fora. I aim to create a space of deep, non-judgemental listening to allow the stories to be told. For this reason, some of my guests choose to be anonymous.

Definition of Spiritual Abuse, by Dr. Lisa Oakley, Associate Professor, School of Psychology, University ofChester; Chair of the national working group for child abuse linked to faith or belief; Associate thirtyone:eight

I have had some really wonderful conversations with some great folk – have a listen – all the episodes are listed below. Although it might seem like it, it’s not just for ex-evangelicals! Whatever your faith or religious background (or not) I am interested in having a conversation with you. Even if you don’t feel like you’ve particularly been f****d up, even if you’re just slightly peeved, come and have a chat.

in FKD UP BY FAITH Have a look at ‘Be a Guest’ if you would like to come and have a conversation with me, or if you know someone who fits the bill…

And… if you would like to support me in producing the podcast you can donate via ‘Buy Me A Coffee’ on the link at the bottom of this page.

Episodes

Season 2 – Fortnightly on Mondays

Rachel Cotton is an Atheist Buddhist with Jewish roots,  an autistic parent of autistic kids, and chair of Autistic Pride Reading. http://www.autisticpridereading.co.uk

In this fascinating conversation, Rachel very generously shares her faith history: her father’s Judaism;  her own journey from Atheism to Tibetan Buddhism (indeed, both); her fear of death; and her love of archeology. 

Jude shares Jane Hirshfield’s poem ‘To Hear the Falling World’ which you can read on Poetry Chaikhana  https://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/Poets/H/HirshfieldJa/ToHearFallin/index.html

 Rachel shares Thich Nhat Hanh’s translation of  the Heart Sutra https://plumvillage.org/about/thich-nhat-hanh/letters/thich-nhat-hanh-new-heart-sutra-translation

 Jack Mason-Goodall is a psychologist and psychotherapist in training, who specialises in working with autistic children and families.  

We covered a lot of ground in this uplifting conservation, but significantly,  this was the first conversation (but most definitely not the last) on this podcast, about being  F****d up by a yoga community!

Jude shares the poem ‘I Live in the Woods of My Words’ by Hannah Emerson https://hannah-emerson.com 

Naomi Wood  (she/they)  is a Brighton-based writer, poet, performance artist, and workshop leader.

We had a fantastic conversation about (you guessed it) being Fkd Up by the Evangelical Church, about expressions of faith, finding the sacred in nature, and –  of course –  about poetry!

Naomi shares two spoken word pieces in the podcast. Jude shares Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘Postcript’ at the top of the show. 

Naomi’s website is http://www.naomiwoodmodel.com

Instagram @naomiwoodwrites and @iamnaomiwood

Brighton Feminist Bookshop https://thefeministbookshop.com/

Hammer and Tongue – poetry slam http://www.hammerandtongue.com/brighton/

In this lively conversation, multi-media artist, Jet Black, talks to me about her Jewish upbringing and the importance of being a culturally and ethnic (but not religious) Jew.  

She shares candidly about the recent death of her mother, and the anxiety of choosing an appropriately Jewish headstone amidst a plethora of opinions. 

Jude shares the poem ‘Freedom’ by Denise Levertov

Jet shares a verse from ‘Night Comes On’ by Leonard Cohen 

It was an incredible treat to speak to poet John McCullough. John is an award-winning writer, poet, and creative writing tutor, who won the Hawthornden prize for literature in 2020 for his third collection of poetry ‘Reckless Paper Birds’. 

In this episode, we talk about poetry (obvs!) as well as spirituality (and the connection between the two) about mental health, queer spirituality, more poetry, and John’s early church experiences as a choirboy.

I share John’s poem ‘Sometimes I am Visited by a Church of Rain’ which is from his second collection ‘Spacecraft’. John shares his poem ‘Soulcraft’ from his third collection ‘Reckless Paper Birds’. Both are published by Penned in the Margins and can be found in all the usual book-selling places. 

https://www.johnmccullough.co.uk http://www.pennedinthemargins.co.uk/index.php/2017/12/john-mccullough

Olivia talks about her neurodivergent experience of feeling separate and about addiction, trauma, and finding healing through the Twelve Steps of Al Anon.

 https://www.al-anonuk.org.uk

https://al-anon.org

She remains just Olivia to honour Twelve Step anonymity.  

Content/Trigger warning for a brief discussion of sexual assault. 

Jude shares the poem ‘God Says Yes to Me’ by Kaylin Haught 

Olivia shares ‘Desiderata’ by Max Ehrmann

Rachel Sparks is a dancer, dance teacher, and heart-centered embodiment educator. https://www.rachelsparksdance.co.uk In this gentle and intimate conversation with Rachel, she talks about love and loss, and about moving away from Evangelical Christianity towards a more holistic and embodied spirituality grounded in nature. Jude shares an excerpt from Kae Tempest’s poem ‘These things I Know’

In this episode, I chat with Mary Louder, who is an Osteopathic Physician and Integrative Medicine Practitioner living in Michigan USA. Mary talks about her FOUR (4!) baptisms, and how involvement with one faith group at university nearly cost her her medical career.

The poem shared at the beginning is ‘Sometimes’ by David Whyte, who can watch/listen to reciting the poem here https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=469467607104905 The song shared by Mary at the end is ‘The River Jordan’ by May Erlewine. You can listen to it on Youtube here https://youtu.be/-qszjgLWl1k you can read the lyrics here https://www.last.fm/music/May+Erlewine/_/The+River+Jordan/+lyrics

Season 1

The Happy Heretic (she/her) is an ex-Evangelical Instagrammer.

In this uplifting conversation, we talk about her journey from Atheism to Evangelical Christianity, to leaving the church, her journey in navigating her ‘deconstruction’ and the hope and healing she has found away from the church.

Find her on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/thehappyheretic_/

The poem she shared was from ‘Vulnerable AF’ by Tarriona ‘Tank’ Ball of’Tank and the Bangas’ who you can see perform here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKzobTCIRDw

I had a wonderful conversation with Oskar Marchock (he/they) whose gentle modesty had me just introduce them as ‘Oskar’. In this, our third FKD UP BY FAITH for Pride month, Oskar talks about growing up Catholic in a multiracial Caribbean family, about Christianity, Buddhist and Taoist philosophies, about being queer and trans, and about the pleasures and meaning of Trinidadian food. 

Jude shared this from the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk,  Thich Nhat Hanh“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is a wonderful moment.”

Kaj Jensen (they/them) is a genderqueer storyteller who calls the Pacific Northwest home. When not collecting stories, they spend time camping with their cat and spying on birds.In this our longest episode so far, Kaj shares their fascinating story of growing up as an Evangelical Christian, on a farm in the ‘middle of nowhere’ in the American midwest, where they asked their parents and pastor ‘difficult questions’ – like what happened to the dinosaurs? Kaj talks about queerness, community, and an authentic spirituality rooted in their love of nature.

Kaj’s website is kajjensen.com

The Poetry shared on the podcast is

The Way is difficult and very intricate – by Lalla

Wild Geese – by Mary Oliver

At the beginning of Pride month, I am delighted to talk to Chris Brown (she/her) who is a UK-based trainer and consultant specialising in suicide prevention, mental health, and equalities issues, especially LGBTQ+ inclusion. Chris tells her story of childhood and adolescence in an Evangelical CofE church, and the pain, separation and trauma caused by the imposed ideas of sin/redemption. Ultimately, given the church’s rejection of her sexual identity and expression, Chris chose ‘life’ rather than the church. She talks about healing in relationship, community and awareness of what inclusion actually means.  

As with all episodes of FKD UP BY FAITH – content warnings for difficult and potentially triggering topics apply.

You can find out about Chris’s work at www.chrisbrown.uk.com

The opening reading was from Anam Cara – by John O’Donohue

The poem spoken by Chris was The Summer Day – by Mary Oliver

Affected by any of the issues? UK based LGBTQ+ Christians seeking inclusive church might want to look at One Body One Faith and Diverse Church

MindOut Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans & Queer Mental Health Service – UK

LGBTQ- Inclusive Organisations listed on Stonewall UK

Resources for LGBTQ People of Faith listed on Stonewall UK

Dawn Lister is a Yoga and Mindfulness teacher and co-owner of Anahata Yoga Centre in Leigh on Sea. She is a Mum, and a writer who is currently working on a memoir about her experiences of growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness, which – like many ex-members of the JW organisation – she considers to be a cult.  Dawn tells her fascinating – and sometimes difficult –  story of childhood and adolescence in a Jehovah’s Witness family, about the process of leaving the church, and her long path to healing, wholeness, and forgiveness.   https://anahatayogacentre.com Dawn and her business partner Daniel Groom also have a wonderful podcast called ‘From the Heart’  which you can find via their website or on all the usual channels.  As with many stories of being FKD UP BY FAITH, some people might find aspects of Dawn’s story upsetting. 

jUDE read the poem PRAYING – by Mary Oliver

Jax Bull is an interfaith minister, coach, counsellor and ‘iheart’ facilitator who lives in East London.

In this lively conversation, Jax shares about being mixed race, her deep connection to the ‘Readybrek Glow’ of God, her intimate relationship with Jesus, and her eventual break from a church where the Gospel wasn’t always preached as Love. 

Jax’s website https://theserenitypractice.com/about

iheart – Innate Health Education and Resilience Training – is a non-profit organisation dedicated to helping young people uncover their innate resilience and mental wellbeing. https://www.iheartprinciples.com

The Body is Like Mary

The body is like Mary, and each of us has a Jesus inside.
Who is not in labour, holy labour? Every creature is.

See the value of true art, when the earth or a soul is in
the mood to create beauty;

for the witness might then for a moment know, beyond
any doubt, God is really there within,

so innocently drawing life from us with Her umbilical
universe – infinite existence …

though also needing to be born. Yes, God also needs
to be born!

Birth from a hand’s loving touch. Birth from a song,
from a dance, breathing life into this world.

The body is like Mary, and each of us, each of us has
a Christ within.

– Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi

Translated by Daniel Ladinsky in his book, ‘The Purity of Desire’.

Revd Sheila Zeitsman is an ordained OneSpirit Interfaith Minister and faculty member for OneSpirit Interfaith Foundation.In this fascinating conversation, Sheila shares her story of growing up as a white African in Zimbabwe, her uneasy path to faith, her ordination as a Church of Ireland priest and her later ordination as an Interfaith minister. Sheila’s bio on the OneSpirit Website – https://www.interfaithfoundation.org/faculty

The Loving Kindness Song mentioned by Jude – sung by Jess Huetteman on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZwSMpjEb-M

Sheila’s Blessing was by John O’Donohue

May all that is unforgiven in you

Be released.

May your fears yield

Their deepest tranquillities.

May all that is unlived in you

Blossom into a future

Graced with love.

–John O’Donohue (“To Come Home To Yourself”; Benedictus/To Bless the Space Between Us)

My guest on this first episode is Roger Wolsey – USA based Pastor, who is best known as an advocate of Progressive Christianity. He is author of Kissing Fish (Christianity for People who don’t like Christianity)We talk about the state of Christianity in the USA, about what Progressive Christianity is, and about hope and healing for people who’ve been wounded by their faith, and about love. 

Roger’s website https://www.rogerwolsey.com

https://www.facebook.com/KissingFishBook

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