Loren D’Amico is a new blogger on the NPE Podcast website and the creator of a Facebook Group named “Intersecting Faith and Politics.” His initial blog on our site was called The Makings of a Liberal Evangelical.
Can there be such a thing? Listen in as Loren and show host Paul Swearengin, the Non-Partisan Evangelical discuss the recent killing of a black man by a Minneapolis police officer, a Christian singer who no longer beliefs in God and how repentance could change racism in American.
For more of Loren’s Blogs, check out his Blog Page. (Show text transcript is below.)
(Transcribed by AI; no guarantee that all words will be exact or correct.)
NPE Pod 052720_A Liberal Evangelical
[00:00:00] IntroNPE Open: [00:00:00] We’re talking religion and politics on the nonpartisan Evangelical podcast. I could stand in the middle of fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK. Challenging the mindset of the partisan evangelical church and asking the question, is God really a conservative Republican and does God require his followers to be podcasting worldwide on the NPE network as NPE podcast.com this is the nonpartisan Evangelical podcast with the nonpartisan evangelical himself, your host, Paul Swearengin.
Paul Swearengin: [00:00:43] All right. I’m Paul , the nonpartisan evangelical. Glad to be with you today. And I’m going to have a fun conversation with a new friend of mine and somebody I hope you’re going to get to know in our, NPE community. His name is Loren D’amico. he’s a blogger. He’s a [00:01:00] thinker. He’s a Christian.
He’s all of those things. And he started this really interesting Facebook group, which is kind of where I got connected with him, and it’s called intersecting faith and politics, and we both sort of have similar evangelical backgrounds. I call myself the nonpartisan evangelical, and Lauren, I’m glad you’re with me today and you, you call yourself in the blog we released the other day on the site year.
You’re a liberal Evanngelical now isn’t, isn’t that an oxymoron?
Loren D’Amico: [00:01:29] You know, I grew up probably thinking it was as well. And, when I first put that post out a couple of years back, I went, what’s, what’s a good title to put on this thing that’ll get people to read it and be provocative and say, I figured that was a good way to, to make a few people scratch their heads and see what I had to say.
Paul Swearengin: [00:01:47] And so you had a little bit of a theological journey. Maybe give us just a brief. Background of, of what Evangelical meant to you growing up and in sort of your younger adult years and what caused that to [00:02:00] turn. Sure.
Loren D’Amico: [00:02:00] I was saved at about six. My parents came out of the new age movement, was saved and somewhat connected with wham Kona.
And then, ended up at Bethel church in Redding and was part of the revival movement and all of that for, for many years. and then went to college at Simpson university, which was, wasn’t, is a Christian missionary Alliance university. And that was really where I started to kind of broaden my view, I guess, of of Christianity, because I, I came into there being told.
What we’re doing at Bethel. This is right and this is the most Christian thing you could be doing. And was actually commissioned to go bring that into Simpson and landed there and started to realize, well, wait a sec, maybe we’re not actually the only game in town here, and maybe we’re not the only one that that has an angle on who God is and his relationship to us.
Paul Swearengin: [00:02:46] And for those who may not know and may not be familiar, sort of with some of our lingo, sometimes Bethel church’s, is a big, big church that that impacts. Christian people all over the world out of Redding, California. They’re good, good friends of [00:03:00] ours. And, and you were there with them. And, and, and so they sent you to Simpson.
Transformation StoryAnd that’s interesting. And you started figuring these things out. And so sometimes for me it was, it was a matter of even being in pastoral training that I went through that I heard. Somebody that had a different belief of the end of the world. They interpreted revelation, the book of revelations of John differently than me.
And I had been so in my bubble of evangelicalism, Christianity that I didn’t, I didn’t realize there were Christians, there were people that loved God, that there were good people, I would say, who believed anything differently than the, than the, what we call eschatology. The belief of, in times. Then then everybody I knew and to hear that there were good people, that, that love God, who are just as Christian has me, who believes something different was, was a shocker for me, which I’m embarrassed to say now.
And, and, and it sounds like that was sort of a similar trip for you as
Loren D’Amico: [00:03:58] , it was. I mean, so I [00:04:00] landed at Simpson University, and in the first year I was there on our campus paper, there were articles about how amazing Bethel was. And then there was another article saying that they were the antichrist and it was bizarre.
You know, this was raging in a university that had all of maybe 600 people or something. Actually, probably less than that, but there’s just, you know, clearly these ends of the spectrum. And as I was going, okay, God, what is, what does this actually look like and how does this really work? And I, I felt like the analogy I was kind of given was an analogy of, of cake and icing.
Transformation StoryAnd I was explaining this to my kids the other day, and one of the was like, Oh, I love icing. And the other one’s like, no, I don’t like icing. I was like, Oh, this is perfect. Because the, the analogy was really that there’s, there’s some very core tenants of our faith, and those are like cake, and we can all agree on the cake.
And then there’s all sorts of other things, you know, praying for the sick, healing, signs and wonders. Speaking in tongues, all these different things, prophetic, they’re like icing and it felt like the Holy spirit was saying, look like just because one person likes the icing and the other [00:05:00] doesn’t, it doesn’t mean we have to say, well, this person’s not a Christian and this person is.
We can all just enjoy that. We enjoy the cake.
Millennial Rejection of EvangelicalismPaul Swearengin: [00:05:05] Wow. Well, that’s a, that’s a good way to look at it. And I think that’s an important thing because one of the topics that we want to talk about today is, is this Christian musician named John Stein guard from a band called Hawk Nelson, which I think you, you’ve heard of them.
I don’t know anything about Christian pop music. And I sort of wear that proudly, probably, which I shouldn’t, but John Stein guard has. Come out in recent days and posted that, he no longer believes in God. And it’s been kind of a shocker in the Christian world. And, and this is on the heels of recently a Hillsong very famous worship leader kind of came out and made that same declaration.
And I think, I think what, what we look at the danger of, if we start to say, you have to believe our theology, and it’s the only theology, and then you start mixing. Political belief into that. So our theology is the only theology, and then one particular party is the only party that adheres to that [00:06:00] theology.
What we’re telling people is you have to buy the whole bit reject the whole bit, don’t you think? And so what we’re seeing are young people like John Stein guard saying, well, I can’t buy the whole bit, so I guess I have to reject the whole thing.
Loren D’Amico: [00:06:12] . That was really what struck me when I, when I went through John’s posts, cause he, he posted a pretty lengthy thing talking about the journey he had gone through to get to the point of making that statement.
And it was interesting because as I read it, I was going through it and he was like, well, you know, I kind of realized that maybe this theology didn’t make sense. And then I realized that that one maybe didn’t make sense and I was going, yeah, these are theologies that aren’t biblical. They’re, they’re extra biblical theology that we’ve added to try and.
Maybe insulate our core theology. You know, maybe, maybe we’ve, maybe we’ve tried to protect ourselves a little more than perhaps God even initially intended. And so as these other pieces fell apart, reached a point that he went, well, then I can’t believe any of it. And that was, that was the part that I found really sad was I was reading through it and going, yeah, I kind of agree with that.
I kind of agree with that. I kind of agree with that. [00:07:00] Oh wow. That’s an awful conclusion to reach. And it really, honestly made me sad for him. He wasn’t able to go, okay, here are all these things that have been added on top of Christianity, and instead just go back and really dive in and go, what, what was Jesus actually versus what are all these things that I’ve learned my entire life?
Paul Swearengin: [00:07:18] the thing that’s important is we allow each other to start to ask questions.
Rob BellRob bell basically got kicked out of evangelicalism because he had the audacity to ask. Is hell what we’ve always believed hell is, and I think we, I think w we see Christianity as a whole, and, and, even evangelical Christianity is shrinking as a percentage of population and particularly in millennials and younger.
because we don’t allow those questions to be asked, and they’re asking those questions and the internet is providing answers. And if we’re not allowing young people to ask those questions in church, they’re going to start asking those questions somewhere else and may find out some different answers.
Loren D’Amico: [00:07:58] . Well, and so amazing to me, given the [00:08:00] history of Protestantism, that we’re the one refusing questions, right? We started with somebody nailing up 95 questions, do a door, and I was talking to my wife about it the other day, and I went. Wait, talk about offensive to, to write down a list of 95 things you think are wrong with the church and post it up on the front door of the church.
And that’s, that’s how we got started. You know, that’s, that’s how process and spun off of Catholicism. And yet at this point, when you start to bring up these types of questions, you know, one or two at a time, not even 95 at a time, you get this reaction of, Oh my gosh, what are you doing.
Paul Swearengin: [00:08:34] Tell me what you said.
There are some things he’s asking that aren’t even biblical issues that were causing him to reject the church. Can you have an example of that?
Loren D’Amico: [00:08:42] he was looking at the Bible and going, we’ve got this text and is it perfect? Is it perfectly an errand? And he’d been taught this theology his whole life, that the Bible was perfectly an errand. And it was interesting because he said he, he spoke to his father-in-law who was also a pastor and was kind of sharing that [00:09:00] concern with him.
And his father-in-law kind of said, well, if you throw out that theology, what do you have left? And his conclusion was, well, nothing. And that was something that to me, I went, no, like you can throw out the theology of an errancy and say, no, the Bible was inspired by God and these and these writers wrote.
To the best of their ability, what they feel God was telling them, but it didn’t come out perfect. And you can have that theology and still be a Christian and still believe that there is a God. And that was, that was the one that was just kind of amazing to me because I’ve, I’ve had the same conversation with various pastors and such over the years, and it’s just, it’s just like hard stop.
Paul Swearengin: [00:09:37] That’s very scary. It’s, it’s our, our daughter attends Pepperdine, called me one day and said, dad, did you know that other religions have a Noah story that’s different than Noah? And she said, and our teacher told us that might be a myth altogether. And, and I’m thinking, wow, we’re paying a ton of money to send our daughter to have this Christian college, and they’re [00:10:00] wrecking her theology.
but yes, I think we have to start being honest about, some of those things. And, and when I was growing up, it was just like, Hey, why this seems like a little weird, this thing. I’ve read them the Bible, let’s just kind of ignore that and just know that it’s. In errant and all of these things. And, and again, so then when I’m faced with the reality of like, Hey, some of this stuff doesn’t match up, or, or even in seminary being taught, yeah, somebody added that chapter later into the text, you know, and things like that.
And we just sort of throw them off and it’s not that big a deal. I know maybe the woman caught in adultery story wasn’t in that original thing. And then we start learning that. We start going, well. Maybe I’ve been told a whole bunch of lies in these things, and that’s, that’s the real danger there. If we’re not open and willing to own that, that’s going to happen.
And so what do we do if we start to say what you just said, that very heretical statement of maybe it’s not an errant, how do we know we’re believing the right thing then?
Loren D’Amico: [00:10:59] , I mean, I [00:11:00] think it’s a good question, and I mean, to me it really, it has to come back to that we’re looking for truth. And it’s something that, you know, for, for years now, I feel like I’ve heard, you know, they’re the Republicans or the evangelicals or this group or that group.
We’re all focused on truth. And it feels like the more I’ve kind of dug into that, and especially over the past several years of the political situation, we’ve started to see, well, maybe it’s not so much truth that we’re focused on, but I think really if, if what we’re looking for is truth and we’re seeking after truth.
I think we can find that. And I think we can find it through, through looking in the Bible and, and through talking to other believers and through what are the things that the Holy spirit really resonates with and, and going through that process. And I think it’s, it’s a much more complex process. I said to my dad last night, half jokingly, I said, you know, there’s days that I really wish I was Catholic.
I could just ask the Pope and be done with it. You know, but in choosing to not be Catholic, we, we [00:12:00] choose to, to take on these things ourselves of having to figure out, okay. Where is truth and what do I believe? Right? You know, pilot asked 2000 years ago, you asked Jesus what is truth and in in many ways, I feel like that is the question that should echo down through the, through the millennia.
Paul Swearengin: [00:12:18] I think we forget sometimes that the guys running around starting the church in the new Testament, they didn’t have the new Testament.
They just went and did what they did, and then they came back together and they compared notes and they’re like, this is happening. What do you think? I don’t know. What do you think? And they had to work it through together. And I think that’s this idea of come let us reason together is, Hey, I’ve seen this, I’ve seen this.
Let’s ask each other what we think about that and let’s ask God to give us insight into that and maybe that’s a little bit how we’re supposed to live.
Yeah. When, the other thing I found interesting when I, when I learned it a while back was the Bible wasn’t even written in the order that we have it presented right.
Loren D’Amico: [00:12:57] The, the epistles were written long before the [00:13:00] gospels, which is interesting because if you, if you think of it as being written in the order, it’s presented and then you kind of figure, well, you know, by the time Paul’s out there, he already has the gospels to work with. And when you realize no, like Paul was probably one of the first ones writing.
All of a sudden what you’re saying becomes even more true of like they really were. They were figuring this out as they went and based on a lot of oral tradition, which we know they were much better at than we were, but based on these oral traditions that have been handed down from the first apostles, some of whom are still living sounds, whom weren’t by the time it was being written down,
Paul Swearengin: [00:13:30] I always have this, had this picture in my mind that somebody like.
Sort of stretch their hands toward heaven. And the 66 books came together and were bound in this leather binding and boom, we had the Bible and it was miraculous. And we knew that. And, and again, it was seminary running me to learn that, Hey, there were other books that people thought should have been in.
And there were books in there that people thought shouldn’t have been in there. And they argued a lot about it. A story sort of changed my perception of what we were reading there. And, and, and [00:14:00] particularly the idea of. Yes. Human beings did write this book and they wrote it from their cultural perspective and their human perspective and all of that as a part of it.
And it doesn’t take anything away from it being an awesome representation of the story of who God is, but it does change how we have to interact with it and how we have to interact with each other because of it.
Loren D’Amico: [00:14:21] . And they always want to point out to people when, when I say things like that, cause some people immediately go, well, you know, let’s just take it off the shelf then throw it out.
And it’s, no, this isn’t, this isn’t a statement of just throw out the Bible. Like that’s, that’s not the point. The point is just let’s have a realistic view of what is this book that we’re reading. And you know, again, going back to truth, that is. If we’re truly believing the truth about it, the truth should set us free.
Again, the Bible says that, right? That the, that will know the truth and the truth will set us free.
Should The Powerful Apologize?Paul Swearengin: [00:14:50] Loren D’Amico is, is with us, and you released a blog today that I think is, is timely with some things we have going on in culture.
We always love to hit cultural issues and it’s [00:15:00] called should the powerful apologized what, what should they be apologizing for and should they apologize? Lauren.
Loren D’Amico: [00:15:07] this was a really interesting blog to write, and it came about, it started out about a week ago. I was on a. A panel based groups.
It was discussing race relations. And it was interesting because one of the, one of the African American members of the panel, he said, my kids ask me, why are we always the ones apologizing and why are we always the ones having to forgive without anybody else apologizing? And it was funny cause it got me thinking about it and I went, yeah.
Gosh, like I, I feel like I’ve kind of had that same experience, you know, growing up of, you know, what was up with the fact that that adult didn’t apologize. So I went and apologize first. And so as I, as I process through it, I went, you know, this is a core part of American culture, white culture. I don’t even know.
I don’t know where the, where the boundaries of this are, but we have this core concept that the power list always apologized. The powerful. You know, if you’re an [00:16:00] employee and you have a spat with your boss, your boss doesn’t usually come and apologize. You apologize. And then they tell you that maybe you can keep your job.
And so we’ve, we’ve created this bizarre power dynamic with apology and repentance that I don’t see anywhere in the Bible. And so I, I really wanted to call that out and go, we need to, we need to turn the tables on this like crazy and realize that the powerful should be the ones doing the apologizing because we’re, we’re often the ones doing the hurting.
Paul Swearengin: [00:16:28] concept, isn’t it? That’s it. Yeah. I, I have made a point in my life to, to tell my kids I’m sorry. And, and, and to point to particular incidents that happened in their life and say, when that happened, I was completely wrong. That was me. You, you did nothing to deserve that. That was your, your dad is not, he’s human and he’s not always the healthiest guy that he’s supposed to be because I, I believe otherwise we create injustices and I do coaching with people now and I [00:17:00] see how those childhood injustices affect us through the whole rest of our life.
Now imagine groups of people that have suffered injustice for centuries. How that impacts them. And so I can say, Hey, I never had a slave and my family never had a slave, but I’m still responsible to occupy the space. Here are the pain. And say, when that happened, that was wrong and without any hesitation say that was wrong.
Loren D’Amico: [00:17:28] , I think, , , having that humility to step into this conversation, it was something I said in, in the, I called it kind of editor’s notes at the beginning of it, cause I amended it this morning before I published it. I said, you know, for, for too long I’ve taken the approach of going, well, I’m not the one out there killing somebody or discriminating against somebody or whatever.
So I can just kind of let you know them, whoever that is, let them deal with this. Cause it’s, you know, it’s not my issue and it’s, the more we see this go on and the more it’s, no, this is everybody’s issue. And [00:18:00] we were all either benefiting or reaping the consequences of this power structure, the way it sits right now.
And it’s, it’s detrimental to too many lives for us to just sit here and just, you know, pretend it’s, pretend it’s not our problem.
Paul Swearengin: [00:18:15] , I’ve seen the, the video of, of Ahmad Arbery and seeing the video of, of now George Floyd, which has come out here in the last couple of days, the, the African American gentleman who, the police officer has his knee on his neck until he passes away.
What does, what does repent. Okay. I apologize. Let me say, I apologize. I started say repentance cause I do believe there’s some repentance that has to come, but so what does an apology of the powerful look like in that? That’s, I think that’s what a lot of us are struggling with right now. We want to, yeah, we’re mortified by this, but what, what’s my responsibility and what does that apology even look like.
Loren D’Amico: [00:18:52] think it’s a good question. And you know, you kind of broached the topic of apology versus repentance. You know, we’re, we’re told as kids, you know, you’re [00:19:00] going to go sit in time out if you don’t apologize to your brothers. So we come out grimacing with our teeth cleanser, you say, I’m sorry
to knock a certain time out.
And that’s, that’s nothing, you know, that’s, that’s not an apology. It’s not repentance. And it doesn’t mean you’re not going to go do the same thing five minutes later. And. Really what we need in our culture is that repentance, where we’re, we’re changing how we’re behaving and
Paul Swearengin: [00:19:23] what’s the difference.
Loren D’Amico: [00:19:24] , , to me an apology is a, is a statement of, you know, you’re right, that was wrong.
I did it. You got me. Versus repentance, you know, I think in the Greek, it really comes back to, it’s a, it’s a turning around. It’s 180 degrees, you know, it’s, I’m, I’m driving North on the freeway now I’m going to turn around and go South. And I think the hard part is we’ve been driving in this direction of racial segregation now for what, 300 years?
Something like that. And yeah, we’ve put the brakes on it and it’s, I think, I think the train has a little less coal being [00:20:00] burned, so it’s not moving as fast, but we’re still in that direction. And that’s still so much. So much of the mindset, and I mean, it’s, it’s something I, I personally find myself challenged with where it’s, you know, what’s my initial reaction to a situation and how much do my racial prejudices impact that initial reaction?
, and how do I, how do I change that for me, let alone for, you know, some cop who I’m sure was stressed and you know, was running, running on adrenaline and was acting out of. You know, not only his training, however good or bad that may have been, but out of, you know, out of his, fight or flight response of, you know, for whatever reason, you know, we don’t, most of these videos haven’t shown the what happened before all of this happened.
So we don’t know why he was running in fight or flight, but presumably he was, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt there. and so to an extent, I look and go, well, how many of us, if we were in that fight or flight response might have behaved [00:21:00] similarly. I don’t know. You know? But as, as a culture, I think we have to.
Begin by, like you say, knowledging it and, and go from there to going, okay, how do our leaders repent for this? How do we start electing leaders who are willing to repent for this? We’re willing to take ownership for it.
Hi everybody. This is Paul. Glad you’re listening to my conversation with Lauren D’Amico here on the nonpartisan ever firstname.lastname@example.org I want to interrupt for just a couple of seconds to say a couple of things and one is this. We’re going to have fun together on these conversations, and Lauren and I are going to make some jokes, and some of those jokes may make you feel like, Oh, that kind of hurts and I’m going to shut off this podcast.
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Ad Break Paul Swearengin: [00:23:58] Loren D’Amico is who we’re [00:24:00] talking to. The, the Facebook page is intersecting faith and politics.
his blog is on the NP podcast.com website. You’re, you’re right. Repentance means change your direction. Change your mind. So I see an apology sometimes it’s like, I’m sorry, can we move on now? And I think our, I think we have to hear that our, our, our friends, our brothers and sisters of color, of minority communities are saying, Hey, I’m sorry, isn’t enough anymore.
This has happened too many times. And so for me, the data is, is inarguable. People of color get arrested way out of proportion to their, their, percentage of the population. So clearly so either. I mean, that’s, that’s incontrovertibly nobody can argue that. So it’s either like, well, they’re just worse people inherently, and they’re going to get arrested more often because they’re bad and the rest of us need to be saved from them.
[00:25:00] Or there’s something wrong in the system. And, and we, we should not be defensive. I don’t think it’s saying, I’m anti-cop to say there’s something wrong in the system that cause, cause you’re watching the video of this officer with his knee on this guy’s neck and you’re just going, why won’t you get off of him?
Well get off of him. He’s not even moving anymore. So there’s something, like you say, in the training, in the culture and, and in his experience as a police officer that makes him say, I have to be totally dominant over this moment and over this person because XYZ. So we, it’s a system issue. If we just say it’s, that guy is bad.
And the three guys that didn’t stop him are bad. Then we’re missing the point of there something systemic that is the problem here. Yeah.
Loren D’Amico: [00:25:50] Do you think I called out in that blog post was we tend to think of power and strength kind of almost synonymously or something, and I [00:26:00] said, no. It actually takes way more strength to apologize, to repent.
It takes more security in yourself. And so to me, when I look and go, okay, we’ve got people that are. Unwilling to repent, unwilling to even apologize to me. I look at that and I go, that means these people really don’t have very much self confidence, self, you know, self in themselves. You know, and again, I hate to, I hate to choose to do too much, picking apart part of this one person who committed this act because I don’t know their background.
I don’t know what happened that day or I have no idea. But you know, again, I, I kind of look at that and go, boy, in that moment. For some reason he must have really felt unconfident, which again, is odd as a cop, but you know, is that how, how do we address that issue that you have? You have people that are so unconfident in themselves that they’re saying, Oh my gosh, I have to exert this physical confidence over somebody else in [00:27:00] order to somehow feel better or something.
I don’t know.
Powerful JesusPaul Swearengin: [00:27:02] Oh, that’s interesting. Yeah. I think, Particularly for a Christian person. If you say, I’m a follower of Jesus Christ, then we have to look at his model. And his model was, I’m willing to lay down my life. I’m willing to lay down my reputation. I’m willing to be despised by the reputable good people in my culture, to stand with people that are less powerful.
And, and the truth is, he was, he himself was a. It was in a, in people groups that were, they were oppressed and it religiously, socioeconomically, governmentally in every way. He was from an oppressed population and he refused to live oppressed. And I think his whole model is, if you’re powerful, like you’re saying, even if.
Injustice is coming at me. I can be powerful and refuse to partake in these things [00:28:00] like I’ve seen other people do, and when I’m willing to be powerful and lay down myself for others, I actually can, can truly change things for the better. And so Christians, we ought to be the first, I think to be saying, I think what Jesus would be doing here is sitting with people of color and saying, tell me your story.
How can I walk with you? How can I put my reputation and my life on the line for you? Because that’s where change starts to happen.
Loren D’Amico: [00:28:23] , , I think that’s really well said. And I mean, if you, if you look at, okay, what were the most powerful things that Jesus did while he was here on earth? You know, we often go, Oh, you know, raising Lazarus or whatever.
But again, in the context we’re discussing, you know, was the most powerful thing he did laying down his life, or was one of the most powerful things he did washing the disciples feet. I mean, that’s a, it’s an amazing image when you, when you think on it. I mean, I’ve, I’ve done, I’ve done Seder Passovers with, with Christian groups, and sometimes we’ll wash each other’s feet and it’s in our culture, it’s cute, right?
Maybe somebody has some toe jam or maybe there’s a little bit of lint between their toes or something. Right? [00:29:00] We don’t live in a culture where, where our feet are disgusting and covered in manure and bugs and just all sorts of junk washing somebody’s feet in. That culture was, I don’t even know. It was like, you know, going over to your neighbor’s house and saying, Hey, I’ll pick up your dog poop with my bare hands, or something.
Like, people’s feet were gross.
Paul Swearengin: [00:29:18] It was the, it was the lowest job in the household. That was what the least worthy person would do.
Loren D’Amico: [00:29:24] Right. And so here, here, Jesus says, look, I am so confident in myself and it, I forget which gospel it is, but he, it goes through his confidence in himself. He says, you know, I came from God, I’m ascending to God, and therefore he took off his outer garment.
And so you see Jesus going, I’m strong, I’m fine, I’m confident in myself, and therefore I can take the absolute lowest
Paul Swearengin: [00:29:46] Yeah, and I, I think we miss that if we don’t understand what’s happening in a scripture like that or that the Samaritans were the most despised people in the culture. They were the oppressed, they were [00:30:00] oppressed by the oppressed.
And. And, and Jews felt they had a right to have that feeling about Samaritans cause they had stolen their land. They had perverted their religion. all of those things were true. And the tax collectors were traders that were robbing their own people to give to an oppressor. So they felt fully justified in hating these people.
And those are the people that Jesus went and sat with and he would say, no religious good people, you literally baseball coaches and girl scout masters. I’m not going to sit with you. I’m going to sit with these drags of culture that you don’t think are worthy of God’s favor. That’s who I’m hanging out with.
And I think we miss the power of, of sitting with people and hearing their stories, and particularly if it’s outside of our comfort zone to do so.
Loren D’Amico: [00:30:45] on this panel that I was on, somebody asked you how many of the white people have a close African American friend.
And I went, Can I kind of disappear now? I don’t, and it was, you know, it was a challenge of, wow. No, that’s true. And you know, [00:31:00] I, I actually, I do, I do have a friend who’s, they’re, they’re from further South and they’re, they’re from an African American background. They’re from, from central America. But again, we’re not super, super close friends.
You know, if I, if I were to say, you know, who are my top five, 10 friends? They’re all white. And you know, how do we even pretend to be able to understand what’s going on when we have so little circle of understanding to even draw from?
Paul Swearengin: [00:31:23] Yeah. I did a podcast with a young woman recently that was really painful, because she was very raw and honest.
She is a Hispanic person that works with, I call them disadvantaged communities. She didn’t like that word, so I apologize for using that word, but, And she said some things that were really painful for me to hear, about my privilege and about being a moderate even. She was like, congratulations on being a moderate and being comfortable while I’m hurting, you know, and, and my people are hurting.
Some things like that, that I could easily go, Oh, that’s not fair. And that’s not the whole truth. And you don’t know what I do. And I think though, I [00:32:00] think that’s what humbling yourself really means when you’re a person of power, as you’re talking about in your blog. I have to be willing to lay down my offense first because I’m coming from the privilege community.
I have to be willing to say, I’m going to hear everything you have to hear, even if it pinches, if it feels really unfair, because I’m, I’m sitting in that place of the oppressor for a hundred years, even if have 300 years, even if I don’t believe so. . .
Loren D’Amico: [00:32:28] And even if, even if I personally am not sitting in that role, one of the things that a friend of mine called out was, was, again, we’ve all stood to benefit from it.
And the thing she said was, in our country, so much of wealth is passed through housing. And it wasn’t that long ago that there were very, very discriminatory laws about housing lending all the way up to the federal government. And so you had this situation where the just the wealth passed down that our generation is able to appreciate and enjoy is just [00:33:00] radically different.
Because these discriminatory laws that aren’t that long ago, I think. I think there were gotten rid of maybe 50 60 years ago, something like that. I don’t have the date Sandy, but
Paul Swearengin: [00:33:08] I’m really glad you mentioned that because we actually have a resource here in Fresno called vision 22 the website is vision 20 two.org and it does tell of this history in Fresno, the federal government drew a red line that’s called red lining, and there was a retina.
It’s happened all over the country and they drew a red line on the map and they said. Minorities cannot buy houses North of this line. And even when that became, I think it was outlawed in the sixties which is not that long ago, by the way. And even when it was outlawed, people would still write it into their, their sales contract when they would sell their house to somebody.
The sales contract would say, you cannot sell this house to a Chinese person or a black person or an Armenian in, in our, in our town here. They would actually list the minorities that you are not [00:34:00] allowed to sell the house to going forward. So that’s history. That’s not that long ago. And, and we have to own and understand that to be able to start getting to reconciliation and healing.
Loren D’Amico: [00:34:10] .
Well, and not only that, but the, the FHA and the Fannie, Freddie lenders. They wouldn’t lend to a neighborhood that didn’t red line. And somebody, somebody made the point recently African who I, who I’d heard this from, but they said, if you drive through these large cities, you can still pick out the areas that were red lines, both because it wasn’t that long ago.
And it takes time for things to shift. And I’ve, I’ve been curious to just drive into some city, I don’t know, and just try and pick it out and just see, see how true that is. But I’ve, I’ve got my hunch that they’re, they’re probably pretty, it’s probably a pretty accurate,
Paul Swearengin: [00:34:45] , and if you look at Fresno, which is a city that the city where I am, that doesn’t have natural boundaries to stop the city from, from expanding, then, then you have white flight.
And so there was a red line set, but then these sort [00:35:00] of. These red lines just happen and they keep moving and they keep moving, and as the more economically advantaged people continue to move out of regions into other regions to get away from those people. As I throw up my air quotes, the red lining continues, whether it’s intentional and codified or not, we’ve seen it through our history.
And a really good resource for this. I don’t know if you have any, I, I, you know, New York, the New York times did a 1619 project and 1619 was the year the first slaves were brought to the United States. And I would really encourage people, and I know some of you are going to say New York times, trust me, it’s really good.
the 1619 project, it’s a great series of stories and they did a podcast around it, and it’s the, it’s the history of. How slavery was the economic driver of the United States. and we had slavery a hundred years after it was illegal everywhere else. And it was a big economic driver for us. It was, it was the too big to fail industry, [00:36:00] of, you know, America for hundreds and hundreds of years.
And, and so, like you said, I think understanding that helps us understand how we all have benefited from that.
Loren D’Amico: [00:36:07] , . There’s an audio book I listened to, I think it was just called the evicted, I think that was the full name, but it was specifically studying evictions in the Milwaukee market, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
I think it was in the early two thousands I want to say, and it was still talking about the racial impacts of all of these things that had happened and it was again, a really, really fascinating resource. I’m kind of what is, what does this all look like? Even not really not that long ago.
Paul Swearengin: [00:36:33] And if there’s anybody out there, and I don’t know what you would say to them, but anybody who thinks I don’t, I don’t have anything to do with this.
This is not me. Why do I care about this? Yeah, I, I’m, I’m upset by the videos. I see. But why do I care? I’m telling you that if, if we don’t address this issue. I’m, and I’ve talked to some friends in RTI, I’m concerned what it ends up as, what we see through history is when you have these ever widening [00:37:00] divides between the haves and have nots, these different socioeconomic groups, racial groups, people eventually won’t take it anymore.
And, and so I, I do get concerned that we are setting up some Tinder boxes that just the right spark. Bring some really nasty unrest in our city. So if anybody thinks, well, this really doesn’t pertain to me. I’m trying to say, no, no. It pertains to you. Yeah,
Loren D’Amico: [00:37:24] no, I completely agree. I mean, right, right now when you look out at kind of what the big issues are, you’ve got the race issue going on.
You’ve got everything that’s been going on with and a whole bunch of white groups that feel like they’re somehow oppressed by having to wear a mask or something. And there’s, there’s all these groups right now that are, are really angry. And I, I think it really is incumbent on us as Christians to go.
Wow. How do we bring the, the level of anger down? You know, how do we, how do we mop up the lighter fluid? As I said, I’ve
[00:38:00] because it, it really, it feels like you’ve got, you’ve got this situation where there’s just lighter fluid everywhere and, and all it’s gonna take is a match in the wrong spot.
And I, I, I read, I care if was this morning or last night, but they said that there’s this whole group that went in and trashed one of the police substations in Minneapolis. And I kind of had the same reaction you did have. On the one hand, I’m going, gosh, like can’t we not violently destroy things? Cause that kind of undercuts the whole conversation here.
But at the same time I’m going, yeah, when this has been going on this long and it hasn’t made any progress. I, I understand the frustration that causes you to just lash out and go, well, if, if there’s nothing better to do, let’s at least go burn something. and, and I think the other thing to point out there is remarkably when, when we don’t kill African Americans, they don’t go out and torch things.
So it seems like maybe it’s most incumbent on us to stop this versus getting mad at the reactions that occur. [00:39:00]
Paul Swearengin: [00:39:00] I coach people all the time when they’re in conflict with other people. Put yourself in their space and try to think of what would be a reason that they would do this to me. You know, if we’re, if we’re counting on a fence or an injustice, why would they do it?
Did they do it because they’re inherently bad or stupid and they just hate me? Or could there be another explanation and I’m, and I’m saying that about people groups all the time. When I, when I young. Black man throws a brick through out through a store window. Is he doing that because he’s inherently evil or does, that’s the only way he can express himself in the situation.
And sometimes you do go, Hey guys, you shouldn’t do that. And we remember during the Rodney King riots, the white man being dragged out of the truck and beaten by those guys and how terrible that is. But at some point, we have to recognize just like you say, Hey. If we stop allowing these incidents to happen, then maybe won’t, we won’t have these other incidents to happen.
So that repentance then [00:40:00] starts to bring a space of understanding where I can hear the story of these other people and start to give them an outlet to, in a healthy way, express the injustice they’re feeling. They’re going to be less likely to throw the brick through the window.
Loren D’Amico: [00:40:12] Yeah,
Paul Swearengin: [00:40:13] the Bible verse that I like to use around that is second Chronicles seven 14, which is a popular one in Christian circles. And I think it’s a good one for this because it, it says, if, if my people, this is God talking to his followers, and I think we could extrapolate that out to be Christian people today as well.
It’s as if, if they will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their ways. Has that word wicked in there. And so sometimes that’s a stumbling block for people. So I just say, Hey, turn from your ways is God says, then I’ll hear from Evan and I’ll heal your land. And so if we want our land, our culture to be healed, if we truly want to make America great again, if I can steal that term, to me, that’s, that’s the formula right there.
Humble [00:41:00] yourselves, hear each other’s stories, said, God, what’s your plan for these people? And turn from the ways that said, I’m going to defend myself and my stuff. Then then something can really happen and turn around. I don’t know your thoughts on that.
Loren D’Amico: [00:41:14] , , I think that’s right on the money. I know w what you were saying before of, you know, when Jesus says, what’s the first and greatest commandment?
It’s love God and love others, and I was, I was talking to somebody online earlier about a different disadvantaged group, and I won’t open that particular topic at the moment, but they were saying, you know, how do we. How do we deal with the fact that we don’t agree with these people and we’re supposed to love them?
And I said, you know, right now, maybe our best bet is to focus on the loving part. And, and maybe when we can get to the point that we can all have a conversation and not feel threatened, then maybe we can go back and discuss, you know, is this right? Is this wrong? You know, do, do our theologies agree or whatever.
But maybe right now we need to put the emphasis on the loving and train tone down the stress [00:42:00] and anger a little bit.
Paul Swearengin: [00:42:00] That’s a good word. Not a ton of time left, but I did want to get so intersecting faith and politics. Now, religion and politics are the two things you’re never supposed to talk about in mixed company Lawrence.
So why are you putting the two together and talking about it on social media every single day?
Loren D’Amico: [00:42:17] Well, I figured if if two things were explosive, we might as well blow them up together. Right.
Paul Swearengin: [00:42:21] Very good.
Loren D’Amico: [00:42:22] So really where it came from was twofold. When I was in college, I took a class called intersecting faith and culture, and it was, it was all about what, what relationship should there be between our faith and the culture that we’re living in?
And when everything happened with Trump rising to power. I looked at and I went, well, what we’ve seen now is an integration of faith and politics. We’ve seen the evangelical, right as as one term, it should have a hyphen in it. It’s, it’s one thing. And I went, Oh this is, this is crazy. Cause the, the right, the right wing.
There’s parts of it that [00:43:00] maybe are more Christian. There’s parts of it that are very much not Christian. And evangelicals have, you know, again, parts where they overlap with the right wing and parts where they don’t. And so I looked at it, I went, really what we need to be talking about is how does our faith as, as kind of one element of discussion, how does it intersect with our politics being kind of another element of discussion.
And there, there are ways that, that our faith should definitely influence our politics. And perhaps there are ways that our politics maybe should influence how our faith plays out. I don’t know. But what there shouldn’t be is the integration that we’ve seen now where if you say Christian, that means you’re a Trumper and if you say Trumper, that means you’re probably a Christian and now you know the term Christian really doesn’t mean anything anymore.
Paul Swearengin: [00:43:45] you hit me right at the end there. I was going with another question, but why does it, why does neither of those terms mean each other? Telling me a little bit more about that. Unpack that. . ,
Loren D’Amico: [00:43:53] the term Christian in America has come to mean American. Or it’s coming to me [00:44:00] and I fly a flag, or maybe it’s coming to me and I’m white.
Maybe it’s come to me and I like Trump, but the term Christian has been so watered down because we’ve seen this integration of faith and politics where it’s almost impossible to tell where does my Christian theology end and where does my political ideology begin? Because they’ve just been so integrated together.
Paul Swearengin: [00:44:26] , I definitely see that and this belief that being a Christian means you, you are this patriotic person. You, you are, you, you name the list. You’re, you’re a single issue voter for around abortion. You’re, you’re anti gay marriage. All those have become the definition of what is Christian. And I don’t think Jesus ever said that’s the definition of what it is to be a follower of Jesus.
And so I think what, what I hear you saying is none of those things are inherently wrong. You can hold those beliefs, you [00:45:00] can be patriotic. But if those become a definition of who is in our club of Christianity and who is not, now we’re out of line with what the Bible is telling us to do.
Loren D’Amico: [00:45:11] it’s interesting when you walk into a church that’s flying an American flag and a Christian flag because the American flag always fives higher than the Christian flag. And it’s, it’s an interesting imagery. And I understand why we do it, and that’s fine, but it’s, it’s an interesting imagery because when you, when you look at that and you see that imagery, I was, I was at our kid’s school the other day and they were doing the pledge.
The American flag is the highest flying flag as these little kids are standing there holding them. And when, when that becomes our reality and not just how we, how we put things out of stage, but when that becomes our reality that the American flag flies the highest, it means that our, our Christianity is become subservient to our politics.
Paul Swearengin: [00:45:58] And how are your, now you’re [00:46:00] preaching that. Some people will tell you that. Yeah. I think that there was. quite a bit of hubbub around Jesus. Like, Jesus, don’t you care about the Jewish nation? Don’t you care about Israel? We’re being taxed to a totally injustice degree and widows are being ripped off of their life savings or whatever.
And, and Jesus was like, yeah, that’s a problem, but I’m going after something bigger than, and higher than, than the nation of Israel. And. And boy, it almost sounds heretical when you say it. Like I’m after something bigger than the United States of America. And it’s funny cause I have, I have a European friends and they’re just like sometimes like you Americans, you just don’t know how different your Christianity looks from some of the rest of us in the world.
But, but yeah, when we were about the kingdom of the United States, more than we’re about the kingdom of heaven, we’re kind of a little bit offline. .
Loren D’Amico: [00:46:57] You, you gave me a nice teaser for, for another blog I’m [00:47:00] going to be posting. And it’s, it’s really looking at the change that was occurring and was wanted and, and first century, first century Ady where you’ve got, the Pharisees, they wanted a political change.
And Jesus came with it. And, and John the Baptist came with an entirely different offer of change. So that’ll be coming out sometime in the next couple of weeks.
Paul Swearengin: [00:47:22] I always say the Pharisees, they were the “MIGA” crowd. They were Make Israel Great Again. They, they wanted to see Israel restored as the greatest economic and military power on earth.
And they knew God was going to send a Messiah to, to fix that and do that. And when the Messiah showed up and he wasn’t that guy. Yeah, they killed him. .
Loren D’Amico: [00:47:42] And sadly, we’ve, we’ve embraced that theology and to the level that we have a substitution is, I think it’s called substitution. It’s theology or
something like that.
Where, where it said that for awhile it was the Christians were the new substitute for Israel. But I’ve also heard the same thing of that, [00:48:00] that the United States. Is the substitute for Israel and you go, boy, that is not something I see anywhere in the Bible that is, that is entirely made up. It’s bad theology.
And it’s again, to kind of come full circle to what we were talking about at the beginning when we put out theology like that, and then people start to realize, wow, that’s a lie. The question, they then start to ask as well, what else have I been lied to about? And you know, again, just to go, it’s so important that we speak the truth.
We speak the truth in love, but we speak the truth and, and that as we’re, as we’re mentoring and coaching other people and bringing up another generation of Christians, whether that’s adults, that we’re coaching our children, that we teach them what’s actually true because the, the way we had the fall, you know, all the way back in the beginning of Genesis was that Satan introduced a tiny little lie and said, you know, did God really say this?
And the answer was, no, God really didn’t say that. And, and then [00:49:00] you’ve comes back and says, well, you know, God said that we couldn’t even touch it. And that was a lie too. And the reality was God had given a very simple commandment, but all of these extra little barriers have been built around it to try and protect them from that very simple commandment.
And that was in, in a very real sense, I think what, what caused all of this to unravel was these tiny little lies that got brought in.
Paul Swearengin: [00:49:23] I like to say sometimes to people, you know, God is not a Republican, and in fact, I don’t think he’s even an American. And people always laugh and they’re like, Oh yeah, we know he’s not.
But you can, you can feel their anxious insight of like, Oh, but that doesn’t feel right because clearly he cares about Republican stuff and American stuff. I’m like, no, I don’t think he does quite as much as we do. ,
Loren D’Amico: [00:49:49] , for some odd reason, we started putting him in our books as a white guy. You know, it’s interesting when you talk to missionaries to China, they have them in their books and the Chinese guy, you know, it’s fine.
We all, we all want to [00:50:00] feel like he’s one of us. And you know, throughout scripture we see that Jesus is close to us and as a brother and all these things, and you know, yeah. It might be a little awkward for you to feel like, Oh, my brother is actually a guy who looks nothing like me. So again, I get why we do it, but when we, when we then put that mindset inside of our heads to match, I feel like that’s when we start to really have a problem.
Paul Swearengin: [00:50:22] And again, thinking of this proximity and knowing there are people who are different than us. You know, I’ve, I’ve had the great opportunity recently to, to meet some Anabaptist people and some Quaker folks, and, and, and those are people who love God, who would say having an American flag in the church. Is a sin.
You should not have any, there should be no patriotism for a country inside the church. And, and again, it sounds almost heretical to say in America. But, but their point is, Hey, we’re not about this kingdom. We’re about doing what God would have us do. And we’re talking about [00:51:00] the people who were the strongest Christians in standing against slavery, while some evangelical pastors were using the Bible to endorse it.
so we’re talking about really studly people who have stood for, some really powerful things in their history saying, Hey, we disagree with you on, on some of these things.
Loren D’Amico: [00:51:17] , I feel like that’s really, that’s really where the conversation needs to be of how do we intersect faith with politics because we, we have a long and rich history of that intersection occurring at different times.
And you know, many people have rightly said that there was a lot of biblical influence on, on the founding fathers, on the founding documents. And we’ve intersected in different ways at different times. But as a, as a pluralist society. Where we have, not just evangelicals, some people seem to find that surprising, but in America we don’t just have evangelicals.
We have all these different groups of Christians. We have atheists, we have Muslims and Mormons and all sorts of other groups, and if we’re truly going to be the [00:52:00] pluralistic society that the founding fathers explicitly said was their goal. We have to figure out how to be okay with that.
Paul Swearengin: [00:52:07] And we have such a good story.
Our story is God becoming human to reconnect with us. It’s such a cool story, to, to make it about whether we sell a cake to a gay couple or not to me is just so cheapening what, what we stand for and, and we lose our message in the middle of all of that. And that’s the real tragedy of this.
And so finishing there on that point, Loren, I know. You’re a guy of faith, and so I don’t know if there’s anything else you would share, but I would love for you just to finish praying for us, praying for this community and the audience and just whatever would be on your heart to finish this up.
Loren D’Amico: [00:52:42] , absolutely.
Well, father, I was thank you for this time that Paul and I have had to be together to discuss these things and learn as people listen to this back either either right now or they listened to a recording later. Father, I pray that you would, that you would impact their hearts father, with exactly the word that you [00:53:00] have for them, God, that the things we’ve said, the jokes we’ve cracked, God wouldn’t get in the way of, of what your Holy spirit wants to do to impact their hearts.
Father. And Lord, I pray that for all of the audience, God and for us, father, that you would continue to give us wisdom on how to navigate these really complex issues that we’re, that we’re facing in this country during the season. Jesus’ name. Amen.
Paul Swearengin: [00:53:23] Well, I appreciate that prayer, Lauren, and, and would echo what he prayed to anybody listening.
If, if there was anything that came from me or from Lauren that was offensive and out of some of whoever we are. Rather than a message that God would want you to hear. Then I just give you permission to to wipe that off and ignore it and just listen to what, what God would have you here out of all of this as you walk it forward.
So Loren D’Amico blogger on the NPE, podcast.com website. He’s got another intriguing one coming out there soon. You’re not going to want to miss. And also the Facebook group [00:54:00] intersecting faith and politics. Thanks for joining us today and we’ll have you back on and keep talking as issues keep coming up here that are at the intersection of faith and politics.
Loren D’Amico: [00:54:11] good and thank you, Paul.
Paul Swearengin: [00:54:12] All right, and thanks to everybody else that’ll do it for the podcast, the nonpartisan firstname.lastname@example.org