Lessons Of Collapse And The Christian Version Of Limp Bizkit, With Jason Kirk

I don’t really know how people listen to The Distraction, which is an entirely different question than why they do it. It is possible, as I suggested last week, that people just kind of experience it as a soundscape, a sort of free-jazz collage in which two or more people talk over each other in a good-natured way for a little while.

That sounds like a nice way to do it, actually, especially relative to the way that I listen most weeks. Because I am on it, and because I am trying to synthesize it in these little posts, I am both prepared to wince at any blooper—thankfully, I have to date never misspoken or made even a small mistake on any of our episodes, but you never know when it might happen—and break the episode down in my head. Sometimes, in our more chaotic episodes, this is difficult to do. This week, when the prolific blogger and podcaster and debut novelist Jason Kirk joined us for an episode that is split just about perfectly in half between a discussion of the NFL Playoffs and the uses and abuses of religious faith in evangelical Christianity.

This makes more sense than you might expect, for two reasons. (Three, if you count the fact that it would’ve been weird to open with the religious material and then downshift into an analysis of Dan Campbell’s strengths and weaknesses.) But the first of those reasons is that Jason is both an ace football discusser—he mostly focuses on the college side of things in his role as a co-host on the mighty Shutdown Fullcast—and, as a lifelong Atlanta Falcons fan, one of the few people with the lived experience to talk about what happened to the Detroit Lions during the second half of last Sunday’s NFC Championship and how that experience might go for fans in the years to come. We also tried to have the first documented Normal Conversation about Lamar Jackson in light of his lousy (and lousily schemed) showing in Baltimore’s miserable loss to Kansas City.

But the more urgent reason why we had Jason on, and the bit I was looking forward to most, is in the second half of the show. There we discussed his new novel Hell Is A World Without You, a coming-of-age story set in the Southern Baptist milieu in which Jason and many, many other people I’ve never really read about in novels grew up. So we talked to Jason about the experience of writing and publishing that book, and why he is donating the nearly $40,000 in pre-sales to The Trevor Project. More than that, though, we talked to him about his evolved and evolving relationship to his faith, both in terms of how he’s moved away from the harsh and narrow version of it that he grew up within and how that experience has changed his understanding of it today. To say that this is “the non-sports part” of the podcast is an understatement, but I enjoyed the conversation a lot. I’m a sucker for people who can talk about how religious faith has deepened their experience of being alive, and Jason is especially good at talking about the ways in which the affirming and loving word of Christianity is misinterpreted and misused by its most powerful and ambitious public exponents.

And then there was a Funbag question about best practices in picking up dog poop that allowed both Drew and I to do our Bernie Sanders voices, and then we rolled the credits.

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