I would like to lift up the Good Christian Fun podcast. Go download an episode and finish reading this while it downloads. Seriously, go do it.
So, I was raised VERY Christian. Like, church at least 3 times a week, Christian. It wasn’t until recently I realized, “Holy crap! When people say evangelical, they are talking about how I was raised.” It was a weird moment for me. The thing is, I don’t think I’m alone. Most of the kids I knew attended church too but their experience was often very different from mine. My youth group was lead by a younger guy who was still finishing seminary. He was good about letting us explore our ideas and ask questions. When he started we really gave him a hard time but instead of giving up, he just doubled his efforts. As a result our group became very close knit. We were active in the community, we went on mission trips and spent hours together building bonds of friendship. The sense of community that we shared was incredible. I met some stereotypically bad people but I met many more amazing people. The downside of having that kind of experience is trying to live up to it. I have attended churches since but I’ve never felt that sense of belonging.
Even in my most “devout” times, I always had problems with the media. Christian pop culture was cringeworthy. I tried to like it. I tried to listen to Amy Grant and Michael W Smith but it didn’t really appeal to me. Amy Grant was my first concert and I saw Michael W Smith at Sea World in Texas while on a mission trip. I also dug into Christian punk and hardcore. You don’t have to go much further than names like “One Bad Pig” to get a sense of the quality. It isn’t that it was bad so much as it wasn’t very good. There was an episode of “South Park” where Cartman started a Christian music group that really struck a chord with me. Some of the hardcore was good. Turns out nailing dudes to a cross lends itself to death(?) metal.
Good Christian Fun looks at Christian pop culture for what it is and was. They start the podcast with the proclamation that they are “legally Christian,” because they are registered as Christian in the state of California. They follow that up with the statement that they are not there to convert you, just have fun. They claim they are not mocking the things they are looking at but due to the subject matter it sometimes feels that way. The first few episodes focus on Kirk Cameron vehicles, which are often worthy of ridicule. Later podcast episodes look at once popular bands, like DC Talk and Jump5 along with TV shows like Veggie Tales and McGee and Me.
The hosts, Kevin T. Porter and Caroline Ely, start the podcast with some pleasant banter which includes asking each other, “How is your heart?” The two are very likeable but at first it seems like a put-on. They reminded me of the SNL music teachers, Marty Culp and his wife Bobbi Mohan-Culp. I admit I was leary at first given the subject matter but they are genuinely earnest. After their intro they bring in their guest of the week and hear their “guestamony.” They bring in guests of all backgrounds and this is often the highlight of the show. Some guests have no religious background while others have truly amazing histories. This is what endeared me to the show. They give the guest time to talk and ask good questions that never come off as judgemental or even awkward. They then get into the material of the week. They are good about critiquing the subject matter and more often than not, nostalgia will play into their final verdict. That is to say, they aren’t too critical or overly serious. Their comments are well thought out and often very insightful. They end the podcasts with a plug segment but not before their search for the worst Christian song of all time. Their journey through different songs is amazing in unexpected ways.
Good Christian Fun is one of the most fun podcasts I have run across in a while. It has me looking forward to each Wednesday, when they release new episodes. I am so far removed from my past, both figuratively and literally. I don’t have contact with any of my old friends or church acquaintances and what is odd is this podcast has provided me with a weird sense of belonging that I haven’t experienced in a long time.