Here I sit, an avid hater of writing through high school and college, writing a blog about my writing. If that isn’t ironic, I don’t know what is. I might as well take a moment and introduce myself. My name is Jon Turney. I am half of the team that makes up the podcast known as This Is Not Church. How did I find myself co-hosting a podcast? Funny enough it was through writing. A few years ago, I gave up the bible for lent. I know that seems like the opposite of what you should do, but it was a necessary move for me. I had become very good at using the bible as a weapon against people that used the bible as a weapon against marginalized groups. When someone would quote the bible in their argument against things like women in ministry, or the LGBTQIA+ community, I would do what they did back at them. I would cherry-pick verses that supported women in ministry or the LGBTQIA+ community. I quickly came to realize that I was doing exactly what “they” were doing. I wasn’t making a compelling argument, I was just bashing people over the head with my version of the bible. So, long story short, I gave up the bible for lent.
As lent came to an end, I realized that I wasn’t sure I needed the bible at all. Then came the proverbial, what now? I asked myself what it would look like to be put into a place where you had no access to a bible and then started a conversation with god. What would that look like? What could come of that? That became the premise for the blog I wrote for a year. So, there I was a hater of writing, writing a weekly blog. As I stated, this blog went on for a year. A year of conversations with god. A year of answers I felt that god would say. A year of never opening the bible for any sort of confirmation. As the year came to a close I found that I wasn’t done with this journey. At the end of the year, I still wanted to ask these types of questions. But I wanted to hear other people’s answers. That is where the podcast idea came into being. With a little gentle pushing from me, my brother relented and agreed to start a podcast together.
This Is Not Church podcast was launched. Over the past two years, we have had the privilege of chatting with some amazing people. The podcast also connected us with the amazing team at Quoir. From this relationship came our connection to Quoircast, a collection of podcasts under the umbrella of Quoir Publishing. My brother and I continue to have Unchurchy conversations about church on the podcast every Monday. That being said, we don’t only talk about church. We have had guests on to talk about the LGBTQIA+ community and the BIPOC community. We have had poets, musicians, activists, and atheists. In the coming months, we are reaching out to people of different faiths. We are excited to see what the future holds for the podcast.
Who knew that letting go of the bible would be the beginning of my newfound passion for writing? I have always been that guy…that person. The one that asks all the questions. The one that was silenced in Sunday school for asking too many questions. Now through these steps, I have been given the opportunity to not only ask these questions but also to have a platform where I can connect with similar people asking similar questions. My child-like approach to the confusing and irrational has never left me. It made me who I am today. It made me into the person who is trying desperately to be an ally. An ally to the LGBTQIA+ community, the BIPOC community, to the unchurched community, and to those who are still churched but feel like their questions are also being silenced.
What can you expect from my contribution to this blog? First and foremost, honest and thought-provoking questions. I feel that to move forward we need to be willing to ask hard questions. Questions that we may not like the answer to. When I first stepped into trying to be an ally for the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities I was shocked at the underlying homophobic and racist ideas that I still held onto. It took people from these communities calling me out for me to look deeper at my identity as an ally. I came away with one overarching conclusion. I cannot and will not label myself an ally. It is something that has to be earned. It is a moniker that can be given, but can not be taken by oneself. I may never live up to the label of ally, but I will work for these marginalized groups daily. Our siblings in the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities are tired. They are tired of having to speak out against hate, they are tired of having to defend their right to exist, and they are tired that those of us who are allies do not do enough to stand alongside them. It is vital that we use our privilege to stand up for our LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC siblings. They put themselves in harm’s way every day just by existing as who they truly are. We can at least do the same. We need to call out the haters of these marginalized groups every time they speak their hatred.
In closing, I would like to invite you all along on this journey. A journey that is not afraid to ask hard questions. A journey that is not afraid of hard answers either. Somewhere along the way, we have lost the ability to discuss the big issues. Somewhere along the way Christian Nationalism has taken root in too many churches. Along the way, those in charge have forgotten that we are still in charge of them, not the other way around. Like many of you, I was at a point where I thought that the “Christian community” was a complete loss. Most days I still believe that. I am here to shine a spotlight on those who think their hatred is the right way. I am here to say that in the darkest places of my and your faith still shines a small light of hope. Let’s stand together for the light of all humankind. Let’s stand together against the hate-filled rhetoric of the Christian fundamentalist nationalist conservative right.