Episode Seventy-Two: Listening Across Differences with Tracy Hollister


Welcome back! Today is the International Day of Listening!  We have a special episode today with Tracy Hollister.  Tracy works for the organization Listening Room Conversations, an organization attempting to heal divides with a conversational model developed by dialogue experts in order to facilitate connection between people despite their differences, and even identify areas of common ground and shared understanding.  Tracy and I chat about her work with Living Room Conversations, the relationships she has developed across political and cultural divides, and why listening to people with whom we disagree requires great courage.

Check out Living Room Conversations!  Go to their website or follow them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.  You can register for September 19th’s International Day of Listening conversation here and September 20th’s Weaving the Social Fabric here.  Over all, I’d encourage you to keep an eye out for Living Room Conversation Events here.  And you can always reach Tracy at tracy@livingroomconversations.org

Also Mentioned in this Episode

One Love Equality Documentary

Eating Hummus with the Enemy: from Aversion to Affection

The Gift of Imperfections by Brene Brown

Episode Seventy-One: Is Fall the Best or the Worst? with Ryann Kehoe

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This week we have a lighter contentious topic to hash out.  As the children have now gone back to school and the unofficial end of summer is just around the corner it’s time to answer this most important question once and for all: Is fall the best or the worst?  Colleen joins her sister Ryann to debate the merits and drawbacks to this polarizing season.  Is autumn as amazing as everyone wants it to be?  Or is it an overrated garbage season?  We have some thoughts.

Also Mentioned in the Episode:

Jamie B Golden of The Popcast

Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh

Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle

Episode Seventy: The Adversity Effect with Kenneth Cheadle


Adversity is a common theme for everyone.  No one is exempt from dealing with adversity in some form or another and yet the universe does not dole out adversity equally.  Today’s guest is Kenneth Cheadle, a speaker, certified life and career coach, a millennial leader, entrepreneur, and author. Ken’s own story of success includes beating the odds and overcoming tremendous adversity.  Today Ken shares this story as well as insight into overcoming adversity and whether the idea of pulling oneself up by their bootstraps is really all that’s needed to rise up.

Connect with Ken!  Check out his website and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  Be sure to listen to his podcast, The Adverse Effect and read his book, Millennial Takeover: A Clear Roadmap to Identifying Your Purpose, Enhancing your Skills and Building a Satisfying Career and Life.

Please continue to fill out the Listener Survey!  It is still open and we are so thankful for your feedback.

Also mentioned on the episode

Ask More by Frank Senso

Episode Sixty-Nine: White Supremacy and the Church with Lenny Duncan


This week addresses the topic of white supremacy and the church.  Does the church play a role in white supremacy?  What is theirs to do in dismantling it?  And what will the cost be if the church doesn’t take on this work?  Guest Lenny Duncan helps answer these questions.  Lenny is a pastor and a mission developer, a queer black man and the author of Dear Church : A love letter from a black preacher to the whitest denomination in the U.S.  He also serves on the board of Reconciling Works.

Connect with Lenny!  Find him at his website and follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  Also, be sure to check out his book, Dear Church : A love letter from a black preacher to the whitest denomination in the U.S.

Also Mentioned in this Episode:

Maus by Art Spiegleman

Episode Sixty-Eight: Free Speech and the Intellectual Dark Web


This week we are tackling free speech with a conversation with Freddy Weinberg about the Intellectual Dark Web.  Freddy is a thinker, a journalist and the host of the Live Learn Repeat Podcast.  Freddy and I discuss what, exactly, the IDW is, and whether or not free speech is at stake in our country.  Is political correctness a threat to our country or do words matter?  

While the concept and definition of the Intellectual Dark Web is an ever shifting idea, Freddy insists that those interacting within it have two things in common: They don't buy into the orthodoxy of political ideology aka correctness. No matter which side. And, while peddling in ideas that need to be communicated, they are not beholden to the mainstream media.  Freddy gave us a few names of writers and thinkers that share these values.

Right leaning thinkers: Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, Christina Hoff Sommers

Left leaning thinkers: Sam Harris, Brett Weinstein, Abby Martin, Debrah Soh

Libertarian thinkers: Dave Rubin,Claire Lehman, Kmele Foster, Dave Smith

Other names in the movement: Joe Rogan, Michael Malice

Academics: Steven Pinker, Thaddeus Russell, Heather Heying, Douglas MurrayJonathan Haidt

Connect with Freddy!  Follow him on Instagram and Twitter and be sure to listen to his podcast, Live Learn Repeat.

Also mentioned in the episode:

Joran & Sam’s Intellectual Debates

The New Right by Michael Malice

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Episode Sixty-Seven: Sugar Addiction with Michael Collins


This week we’re talking about sugar!  Is it as bad as some say?  Are we going to look back 100 years and be astonished we ever fed it to children?  Or is it not that big of a deal?  Today’s guest, Michael Collins has been sugar free for 30 years.  He is the founder of SugarAddiction.com and  Chairman of the Board of the Food Addiction Institute, and works closely with others to help them regain lives  ravaged by various substance use disorders. Today he’ll talk to us about sugar addiction!

Check out the Sugar Addiction website and connect with Michael’s work on Facebook.  You can find his book, The Last Resort Sugar Detox, on Amazon.

Also mentioned in the episode:

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Food Addiction Institute

Episode Sixty-Six: Changing Your Political Ideology with John Wood

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What happens when the political ideologies you once believed don’t hold the weight that they used to?  What does it look like to shift from one political party to the other.  My guest today John Wood did just that.  At one time John campaigned passionately for Barak Obama.  Just a few years later he was running himself as a Republican for the Congressional seat in his area.  John explains how he went from a liberal to conservative worldview and how his ability to bridge the divide has made him better.

Connect with John!  Follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  And go check out the organization he works for Better Angels.  It will give you hope for politics.  

Don’t forget about the listener survey!  You have until August 1 (one week!) to be entered to win a $35 Amazon gift card.

Also mentioned in today’s episode: 

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Episode Sixty-Five: The Power of Revolutionary Relationships with Rozella White

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This week we are talking about Revolutionary Relationships.  Guest Rozella White is the author of the new book Love Big: The Power of Revolutionary Relationships to Heal the World which delves into this concept of revolutionary relationships as relationships that change ourselves and the world around us.  Rozella shares what she’s learned about the most important revolutionary relationship you can foster in your life and the ripple effect it has around you.

Connect with Rozella!  Find her website and follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  And don’t forget to check out her new book, Love Big: The Power of Revolutionary Relationships to Heal the World.

Also, don’t forget to fill out our first ever listener survey!  If you respond by August 1 you can be entered to win a $35 Amazon gift card!

Also mentioned in today’s episode:

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister

Episode Sixty-Four: The Foster Care System with Gwen Hicks

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This week we’re talking about the foster care system, the good, the bad and the ugly. Guest Gwen Hicks is an educator, advocate and champion of kids in the foster care system.  As the Chief Dreamer of Amarillo Angels, a non-profit designed to support children in foster care and their foster families, she has served those on the front lines within the foster care system.  Gwen and Colleen discuss the challenges the foster care system is facing, what is most needed and why people should care about this system.  

Check out the work that the National Angels Organization is doing and see if you could partner with them to serve your community!  And follow Amarillo Angels on Facebook and Instagram.  Also, connect with Gwen on Facebook and Instagram.

Don’t forget about the listener survey!  You have until August 1 to be entered to win a $35 Amazon gift card.

Also mentioned in today’s episode:

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Mindset by Carol S. Dweck

Episode Sixty-Three: Changing our Opinions with Lyra Repplinger


We’re back!!! This week we are kicking off a new set of episodes with a conversation with an old friend. Lyra Repplinger and I are discussing a few things that we’ve changed our opinions on over the years. You may remember Lyra from episode 39, a recap episode. This time Lyra and I are each taking turns sharing a few of the big and small things we’ve changed our opinions on. I’m learning that we don’t give ourselves a lot of freedom in our culture to change our mind about things.  It feels like a betrayal of our ideals or values sometimes to admit that maybe we’ve come to think differently about things.  And in our social media culture where it is painfully easy to pull up anything we ever said publicly about something 10 years ago, it becomes even harder to be able to say, I thought that, but now I think this.  So this will be the first of what I hope will be a number of conversations, with a number of people who will be willing to share a few things they changed their minds about and how they managed to do that.

Connect with Lyra! Come find her over on Instagram!

And, did you know we’ve launched a listener survey?? For the month of July I am begging, pleading and even bribing you all to take a moment to fill out our listener survey.  Your answers to these questions will be so helpful to me as I begin to think about what is next for A Year of Listening. To express my gratitude I’ll be drawing one responder at random to win an Amazon gift card on August 1. Find the survey here.

Episode Sixty-Two: Polarizing Summer Opinions with Marty Finn


We’ve got another special episode!   Every once in a while we take a break from all of our serious conversations for something a little more lighthearted.  Last weekend was Memorial Day weekend which is the unofficial start of summer and so we are going to discuss polarizing summer opinions.  Our “fun” polarizing opinion episodes can be some of our most contentious, so buckle up kids, you may have some strong feelings about these polarizing summer opinions.  

Joining me for this fiery conversation is my long-time friend and fellow pop culture junkie, Marty Finn! Marty and I go way back to our college days at the University of Illinois and then we also lived in New York City at the same time.  Marty and I both do not have any shortage of strong opinions and this episode will be no exception.  We share our most polarizing opinions about all things summer.

Go follow Marty on Instagram! I promise he’s a good follow. His #TBT posts are worth their weight in gold.

Also mentioned in the episode:

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Episode Sixty-One: What We Learned Episodes 52-60


This week we have a recap episode!  Every eight or nine episodes we pause to think about what we’ve learned from our guests.  This week it’s just me behind the mic sharing what I’ve learned from this set of conversations.  We’ll be looking at episodes 52-60.  This includes Pornography Addiction with Mark Macdonald, Depolarizing Politics with David Lapp, Sexual Orientation in the Church (part 2) with B.T. Harman, Mass Incarceration and Prison Reform with Dominique Gilliard, Trans Identity and the Church with Ellie Dote, The Reality of the American Dream and Upward Mobility with Lindsy Wallace, Non-Binary Gender Identity with Mason Aid, Sexual Orientation and the Church (part 3) with David Bennett and Reframing the Singular Narrative with Jonathan Brooks.  I’ve got 5 things I learned from these conversations.

Episode Sixty: Reframing the Singular Narrative with Jonathan Brooks


This week’s conversation covers a multitude of topics.  My guest, Jonathan Brooks and I discuss the damaging effects of a singular narrative, what happens when escaping from your neighborhood becomes the definition of success and how falling in love with the place you live is the best hope for effecting change in your community.  Jonathan is a lifelong resident of Chicago, IL. He currently serves as Senior Pastor at Canaan Community Church in the West Englewood neighborhood.As a firm believer in investing in your local community, Jonathan has a deep desire to impress this virtue on all who will listen.  This is a conversation for everyone whether your community’s narrative is positive or negative.  

Connect with Jonathan!  Find Pastah J on his website, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.  And go get his book Church Forsaken: Practicing Presence in Neglected Neighborhoods.

Our year of action call this week is simple.  I challenge you to consider the pervasive singular narrative in your own community and then find ways to bring out the other sides of the narrative.  If your community is one primarily known for its brokenness seek out and share the beauty.  Post it on social media, tag myself and Pastah J (or use #ayearofaction).  And if your community is one known for its beauty, could you bravely speak about your own brokenness?  Share it with a friend, or a family member.  Or even on social media.  Let’s all challenge our own place’s singular narratives.  And finally, consider how you can fall more in love with your place so that you can impact your community.

Also mentioned in this episode:

Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman

Episode Fifty-Nine: Sexual Orientation and the Church Part Three with David Bennett

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This week we are finishing our series around sexual orientation and the Church.  My guest is David Bennett.  David hails from Sydney, Australia, lives in Oxford, where he is reading for his PhD in theological ethics, and works as an international speaker and research fellow for the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, and RZIM. He holds postgraduates degrees from Oxford University and St Andrews in Theology, and recently published his first book, A War of Loves: The Unexpected Story of a Gay Activist Discovering Jesus.

David and I chat about how his activism changed when he discovered Jesus, how he feels about his personal calling towards celibacy and whether or not this is an issue in which faithful Christians can disagree.

Connect with David!  Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!  And check out his book, A War of Loves: The Unexpected Story of a Gay Activist Discovering Jesus.

My Action challenge this week is an extension of what I said after chatting with B.T.  Continue to do the work but this time be very intentional about following and listening to gay Christians whom you would disagree with.  If you are affirming, listen to Side B Christians.  If you are not affirming, follow and engage with some Side A Christians.

Also discussed in the episode:

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin

Episode Fifty-Eight: Non Binary Gender Identity with Mason Aid


This week we are tackling a topic many may be unfamiliar or uneducated about.  Mason Aid is here to talk about non-binary gender identity. Mason is an LGBTQ educator and advocate who helps educators and mental health professionals know how to better support teens as they come out and/or deal with mental health issues.  Mason and I discuss what it means to be non-binary, how this identity has implications beyond just pronoun use and how people can be good allies for those who identify as non-binary.

Connect with Mason!  Check out Mason’s website and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

Year of Action: Consider, as Mason said, what your next step is.  For you is it using non-binary pronouns when appropriate?  Is it getting curious, asking more questions, doing more research?  I encourage you to follow Mason and other non-binary individuals, do some learning and see what you discover.  Figure out that next step and move towards it.

Also discussed in this episode:

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

Episode Fifty-Seven: The Reality of the American Dream and Upward Mobility with Lindsy Wallace


This week we are talking about the American Dream.  What is the American Dream?  Is it accessible to everyone? My guest is Lindsy Wallace, a wife and mother who has followed Jesus to the margins of society.  We talk about the concept of the American Dream as well as downward and upward mobility, the ways in which our systems are designed with some inherent injustice, and what is necessary to begin to affect that.

Follow Lindsy on Instagram.  Check out her podcast and follow it on Facebook and Instagram.

Year of Action:

Spend some time researching and considering the American Dream.  What do you think it is?  Do you think it’s accessible to everyone?  What does the American Dream actually look like and how does it play out for ALL people?  Spend some time coming to you own understanding of the American Dream and it’s possible limitations.  If you want to go further perhaps check out some of the resources Lindsy mentioned.

Also mentioned on this show:

The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein

Rethinking Incarceration by Dominique Gilliard

Tattoos on the Heart by Father Greg Boyle

Episode Fifty-Six: Trans Identity and the Church with Ellie Dote

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This week we are talking about the intersection of trans identity and faith.  My guest, Ellie Dote, is a deeply faithful Christian who has transitioned from male to female.  She is on a mission to start the conversation about how and where trans people can belong in faith communities.  Ellie and I chat about her story, theology and the role she sees her presence play in faith communities.

Connect with Ellie!  Find her personal website and business page or follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

My Year of Action challenge for you is the same no matter how you feel about what Ellie said.  I encourage you this week to seek out the stories of trans people, particularly trans Christians.  Consider whether you need to see the human people in this issue more clearly and how you can do that.  And if you are a person in a community of faith who would like to see your church more open and accepting of the trans community consider asking your pastor, “would my trans friend be welcome here?” Start these conversations.

Also mentioned in the episode:

The Reformation Project

Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans

Episode Fifty-Five: Mass Incarceration and Prison Reform with Dominique Gilliard


Today we are continuing with a topic we first explored in episode 46: Post Incarceration Employment and Rehabilitation.  My guest Dominique Gilliard and I are chatting about mass incarceration and prison reform today.  Dominique DuBois Gilliard is the Director of Racial Righteousness and Reconciliation for the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC). He is the author of Rethinking Incarceration: Advocating for Justice that Restores.  Dominique and I discuss the many different aspects at play when it comes to issues in our prison system, solutions that can chip away at these injustices and some countries that are having success at restorative justice.

Connect with Dominique!  Check out his website and his book!  Find him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  

Year of Action Challenge:

If you found yourself skeptical of what Dominique was saying I encourage you to head over to the show notes for today’s episode and check out his resource from the Walk Towards Love website as well as any of the resources listed from our conversation today.  There’s a lot of really great research happening right now in that field. And it’s worth researching yourself.

And if you feel spurred to action after this conversation I think a great first step is doing a little research into what banks and companies profit off of our current prison system.  Can you write a letter to your bank?  Choose different brands to avoid contributing to this system?  Or, even better start a campaign to encourage those companies to use the profits they make to help the formerly incarcerated return to society and to employ the formerly incarcerated.  It seems like there are a lot of different solutions to these issues.

Also discussed in this episode:

Rethinking Incarceration: Advocating for Justice that Restores by Dominique Gilliard

Washington Post: Five Myths about Incarceration 

Walking Towards Love curriculum

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann

The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B DeBois

Episode Fifty-Four: Sexual Orientation and the Church (part 2) with B.T. Harman


We are continuing our conversation this week around sexual orientation and the church with B.T. Harman.  B.T. is the creator and author of the website Blue Babies Pink: A Southern Coming Out Story in 44 episodes.  First as a blog, and then later in podcast form, BBP details B.T.’s story as a young man growing up in the church and coming to terms with his sexual orientation as a gay man.  B.T. is a freelance content-creator for millennials and the brands that serve them. His consulting work focuses on brand strategy, design, marketing, social media, leadership, and more. 

B.T. and I chat about how he went from denying his orientation, to a commitment to celibacy to finally taking an affirming stance and getting married himself.  We also chat about whether this is an issue in which faithful Christians can disagree and how you can love and support affirming brothers and sisters whether or not you agree with them.

Connect with B.T.  I HIGHLY recommend you listen to the Blue Babies Pink podcast or read the blog.  You can also find B.T. on his website or follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. He’s a great follow!

Year of Action

Do, as B.T. says, the work on this issue.  Regardless of where you stand on the issue of sexual orientation in the church, whether you are affirming of gay marriage or not, I encourage you this week to seek out the story of a gay christian.  Seek out many stories, as it is all deeply personal and nuanced.  Suspend your opinion on the issue and seek out the story of someone who maybe falls on the opposite side of you theologically.  Try to understand where they are coming from and the path they’ve walked. As BT said, do everything you possibly can to empathize from a human connection.

Also discussed in the episode:

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell

Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott

Episode Fifty-Three: Depolarizing Politics with David Lapp


This week’s guest will give you hope for the state of politics in this country.  My guest today is David Lapp, co-founder of Better Angles, an organization determined to depolarize politics in our country.  Better Angels hosts Red and Blue workshops around the country with the goal of promoting respectful dialogue and better understanding between the two political parties.  David and I talked about what is needed to depolarize politics today, surprising things that have happened in his workshops and why it’s worth it to stay in these conversations even when they are messy.

To learn more about David and Better Angels head to his website Better Angels USA and follow the organization on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  

Year of Action Charge:  Find someone who is on the other side of the aisle politically from you and have a conversation.  Work towards respect and connection and stay in it as best you can.  Don’t try to change each other’s mind, just try to hear each other well.  We can do this.

Also mentioned in this episode:

Pantsuit Politics podcast and I Think You’re Wrong But I’m Listening by Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers

Video of BLM leader speaking at Trump rally

Joy of the Gospel by Pope Francis