Episode Twenty-Seven: Evangelicalism with Aaron Niequist


Today I sat down with author, liturgist and pastor Aaron Niequist to talk about Evangelicalism.

After leading worship at Mars Hill Church (Grand Rapids, MI) and Willow Creek Church (Barrington, IL), Aaron created A New Liturgy - a collection of modern liturgical worship recordings. He then curated a discipleship-focused, formational, ecumenical, practice-based community at Willow Creek called “The Practice”. Aaron recently finished a book called The Eternal Current: How a Practice-based Faith can Save us from Drowning, and continues to create resources to help others flesh it out.  But that’s just job stuff.  The best part of his life is his wife Shauna, and their sons Henry and Mac. 

In this conversation we discuss Evangelicalism, its problematic connection to politics and power, the good stuff, the baggage and everything in between.  Aaron and I are both deeply connected to Evangelical culture and this topic is both personal and tender.  Aaron was both prophetically honest and lovingly graceful with this expression of Christianity and our conversation impacted me in many ways.

Find more information about Aaron at his website.  Follow him on twitter, instagram and Facebook.  And buy his book!  The Eternal Current: How a Practice-based Faith can Save us from Drowning is out now and available where ever books are sold!  You can meet Aaron this Sunday (August 12) at The Practice at Willow Creek church.


Also mentioned on the show.

Include and Transcend video

The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard


Episode Twenty-Six: Abortion with Karen Swallow Prior


This week I sat down with professor, author, speaker and pro-life activist Karen Swallow Prior to talk about abortion. This issue is complex, nuanced and emotional and Karen and I worked hard to be respectful and thoughtful throughout the discussion.  There are no easy answers with this topic and Karen’s beliefs are compassionate and consistent.


This was another conversation that was at times almost more about how we have this conversation than it was about the conversation itself.  I appreciated Karen’s respect and conviction and she gave me a lot to think about.


Here are some articles to read with regard to this topic.  Check out Karen’s beliefs on the issue in her own words.  This is Lisa Sharon Harper’s call to Evangelicals to hit pause on the culture war and the greater implications that will come with our supreme court nominations, which I found very interesting.


Connect with Karen!  Follow her on twitter or find her over at her website.  And take a look at her new book coming out this fall, On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life Through Great Literature.  Her other books are Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me (T. S. Poetry Press, 2012), Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist 


Also discussed in the episode:

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens


Episode Twenty-Five: Local Politics Part Two- Republicans


It's time for part two of our local politics series!  This week Marty Keller was in the hot seat.  Marty is a lifelong republican who was elected and served his township as an elected trustee.  Marty and Colleen talked about why Marty is a republican, some ways the party has changed and what serving at the local level has looked like for him. 


Marty is currently the executive director of Milton Township’s CERT program, a program designed to help prepare the community to respond in emergency situations.  He also serves as the vice president of DuPage County’s historical museum foundation and as a board member of the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce.  Up until recently Marty was elected to and served on our township’s trustee board.



Also mentioned in the episode:

I’m Still Here Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown (in intro)

Centennial by James Michener

Episode Twenty-Four: Local Politics Part One- Democrats


We're tackling the most contentions of issues- politics.  In part one I sat down with Walt Zlotow, the chairman of my township's democratic party.  We talked about the Democratic party, why Walt's identified with this party and what it looks like to serve in politics at the local level.


Walt has been the Chairman of the Milton Township Democratic party for four years, active in local politics for the past fourteen years and a democrat his whole adult life.   He’s a retired Glen Ellyn resident for 31 years and is passionate about progressive causes 


You can find more of Walt’s thoughts on politics and progressive issues over on his blog Heartland Progressive.  Check it out!


Also discussed in the episode:

Arsenal Democracy by A.J. Baime


Episode Twenty-Three: Diversity in Literature with Tayyaba Syed


We’re talking about diversity in Children’s lit this week!  Joining me is author Tayyaba Syed.  Tayyaba is a writer, wife, mother and Muslim woman who is on a mission to give her children and other Muslim kids mirrors in the books they read.  We chatted about why this is important, what she’s found as she started exploring how Muslim’s were represented in literature and the way things are changing.

Connect with Tayyaba!  Find more info about her on her website, or follow her on instagram or facebook!  And be sure to check out her books, particularly The Blessed Bananas.



Also mentioned on the show:

The Blessed Bananas by Tayyaba Syed

Ms. Marvel (Muslim superhero)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl


Episode Twenty-Two: Fake News and the Media with Tim Race


We’re back!!  Today’s episode has been a long time coming!  This week I sat down with Tim Race.  Tim is a former editor of the New York Times, among other things and we discussed fake news, the media and how to be a responsible consumer of news in today’s society.  This is a topic that comes up again and again as people grapple with the polarization of our society and how it’s stoked and played out in our news media.  I was thankful for Tim’s thoughtful perspective.



Connect with Tim!  Find him on twitter or linkedin.  Or you can even email him directly at timrace@gmail.com


Also discussed in the episode:

BBC News

All Sides website

The Attention Merchants by Tim Wu

American Pastoral by Phillip Roth

Bonus Episode: Special Announcement for A Year of Listening Listeners

Hey there!  So you may have noticed that this week’s episode is a much shorter than normal.  Last week I presented another recap episode where I sat down with a few friends and discussed what we’d learned from listening to episodes 12-20, the second set of conversations.  A Year of Listening will be taking a short break for the next few weeks so I can gather my thoughts, find great guests and continue to have quality, civil conversations about hot button issues.  


I will be active on our social media pages and would love for you all to join the fun.  If you don’t follow A Year of Listening on Instagram and Twitter can I make a request for you to consider doing so?  I’ll be posting book recommendations, article suggestions and soliciting feedback for future topics.  You can find us on Instagram and Twitter @yearoflistening.  Additionally, I’ve started a closed facebook group for the show.  Anyone is welcome to join, but I’ve chosen to make the space closed so that people can honestly post their thoughts and questions about these conversations.  A closed group just means that you have to join in order to post and see what others have posted.  My hope is that this becomes a virtual community where people can wrestle with hard issues, listen to opposing viewpoints and dialogue respectfully.  I have been hesitant to dive into the Facebook world with the show because, well frankly, Facebook has been a frustrating space for these conversations.  BUT I’ve come to see some real value in closed groups and I want to see if this could be a good community building space for the show.  So if you are a regular listener to the show, or you want a safe place to practice civil dialogue and good listening, come on over.  Search for the A Year of Listening Podcast group on facebook (or just click right on that link!), request to join and I’ll be sure to include you.  


Also, I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to hear from you!  I want to hear your ideas, your questions, your suggestions, your pushback, all of it.  I’d love to get guest recommendations.  Or maybe you feel passionate about something you’d like to discuss with me.  You don’t have to be an expert about the topic, you just have to be willing to have a thoughtful, nuanced conversation. So, get in touch, slide into my DM’s or email the show at ayearoflistening@gmail.com.


So, I’ll be back on June 28 with a new conversation and in the meantime, catch up on old episodes you may have missed, read something that challenges you, follow a new voice that’s different from your own.  And, if you feel so inclined, give the show a positive rating or review on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts.  Whatever you do, keep listening to others.  I’ll be back soon!

Episode Twenty-One: What We Learned (Episodes 12-20)

My sister Ryann, with whom I'd be lost without...

My sister Ryann, with whom I'd be lost without...

She's been a favorite for over 15 years now...

She's been a favorite for over 15 years now...

Time for another recap episode!  Every 9-10 episodes I'll pause and sit down with some listeners to discuss what they (and I) learned from listening to others through these conversations.  This time I'm talking with my sister, Ryann Kehoe and long-time friend Sarah Ruger to discuss the conversations in episodes 12-20.  We discuss what they learned from listening to these conversations, common themes that emerged and things that challenged us.  Ryann and Sarah are thoughtful, insightful women and it was really neat to see what emerged from their reflections on the conversations!



Episode Twenty: School Choice with Ashley Frasier


This week I'm sitting down with teacher, coach and all around amazing woman, Ashley Frasier.  Ashley is one of my oldest and dearest friends.  She's been in education for more than 15 years and has worked in both public and charter schools.  We sit down this week to discuss school choice.  

School choice has been a hot button issue lately with the idea of vouchers being a polarizing topic in education.  Ashley and I break down the different choices in school and talk about what school choice does and could look like in communities who don’t currently have many options.


Also discussed in this episode

Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee



Episode Nineteen: #ChurchToo and What to Do with Caryn Rivadeneira

Me and Beast On Steps.jpg

This week I sit down with author and ministry worker Caryn Rivandeneira to talk about what happens when sexual harassment happens in church. Do we treat it the same as when it happens in secular workplaces? Is there room for grace and redemption for the perpetrator? What is the best way for churches to support victims? Caryn and I delve into all of this and more on this week's episode.

The #MeToo movement has opened our eyes to the prevalence of harassment in the workplace, and #ChurchToo helped us see that it wasn't just a problem for the secular world.  It seems that in the church the problem has both greater capacity to harm and also a greater call to respond in a way that loves and protects the victim first and foremost but also loves appropriately the perpetrator.  It's messy, challenging work, but Caryn and I explore what that might look like this week.

Connect with Caryn!  You can find her information at her website or follow her on Twitter and FaceBook.

Also discussed in the show:

The Age of Innocence by Edit Wharton

Wonder by R.J. Palacio



Episode Eighteen: Empowerment and Equality are Not Zero Sum Games with Jennifer Iannolo


This week's guest is Jennifer Iannolo, a speaker, entrepreneur, and all around go-getter who sat down with me to discuss empowerment, equality and equity.  Jennifer is the founder of the Concordia Project, a non-profit designed to disrupt the conversation about empowerment through think tanks, salon dinners and global studies.  Jennifer has a new way of thinking about empowerment that focuses on self-direction and empowerment for everyone freely.  There isn't a limited amount of power that we're passing off between each other.  What I appreciated most about this conversation was that it addressed the growing concern I have about the effect our current dialogue about empowerment is effecting young boys.  In man ways this conversation furthers the one that Melissa Agnes and I had a few months ago.


Find out more about Jennifer on her website.  And check out The Concordia Project and consider how you might get involved with this incredible work!  You can find Jennifer on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.


Also discussed in this episode:

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

The Physiology of Taste by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin




Episode Seventeen: A Conversation about President Trump with Boone Cutler


This week we brought back episode thirteen's guest, Boone Cutler.  You'll remember Boone as a veteran, radio host, author, and creator of the Spartan Pledge, a pledge for Warfighters designed to combat the epidemic of veteran suicide.  Boone is also a long time supporter of President Trump.  He and I sit down to chat about President Trump.  Ultimately this conversation had less to do with Trump and more to do with how we talk about this polarizing figure, the assumptions we make about people who disagree with us, and how we can move forward as a country.

I'll be very honest, I'm nervous to put this episode out into the world.  From every side, this conversation leaves room for someone to be angry, disappointed, frustrated or unhappy.  There are plenty of people who will hope this conversation is a winner take all situation, with one person laying out the exact perfect argument that will leave the other side speechless, defeated.

But that's not real life.  And that wasn't the point of this conversation.  Neither one of us was ever going to convince the other person of our "rightness."  The point of this conversation was to listen.  To speak our truth and viewpoint as kindly as we know how.  To stay in even if there's tension or disagreement.  To learn something from the other person.

This conversation was two humans trying to do just that.  We didn't do it perfectly.  I'm sure there are a million things people wish both of us said differently.  But this was the very real conversation we had.  And I think it was a worthwhile one.  Because we left it well.  We found some middle ground.  We held the tension and sought peace.  

And for me, I had some big takeaways.  First and foremost, I've got to stop dehumanizing people with whom I disagree.  I have to be able to believe the best about them.  Even if I don't want to.  Listen, it would have been much easier to just assume the worst about Boone and try to argue my way through that conversation.  Hell, it would have been easiest to just avoid the conversation and Boone all together.  I can live in peace and harmony with every one who agrees with me all the live long day.  But I don't think that's the way forward and I don't think that's helpful for the bigger picture.  There is a tension that needs to be held in these conversations.  I can absolutely believe that President Trump has used racism and bigotry to gain power, but I don't have to believe that Boone is racist because he doesn't see it that way.  Calling him a racist doesn't get us anywhere.  Believing the worst about him doesn't continue the conversation.  

Another takeaway is listening respectfully to what someone says doesn't mean I agree with them. There was plenty of stuff I said that I'm sure Boone vehemently disagrees with.  But he listened respectfully.  And that matters.  If we can continue showing up to conversations like these without shutting down stuff we don't agree with, we can continue having the conversations.  These are conversations that happen over time, with thoughtful dialogue.  No one is persuaded away from their beliefs by bullying or 140 characters.

And, Boone made a comment towards the end of our conversation that stuck with me.  He said something to the effect that if we start our conversation around the polarizing thing we're going to get stuck.  We should approach these kinds of issues around where we agree.  I loved his idea of listing what is important to us for our country.  I think he's right that our priorities around these lists will be different, but there will be agreement and that's a good place to start.

I am very thankful to Boone for being willing to have the conversation.  I hope and trust that my listeners will be respectful and appreciative as well.  It is no small thing to put oneself out there like he did.  It was risky and vulnerable and I'm thankful he showed up to the conversation.  


Find information about Boone on his website.  Connect with him on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.  

Episode Sixteen: Gang Bangers as Saviors with Mark Culliton


This week I chatted with Mark Culliton, the brainchild behind College Bound Dorchester and the Boston Uncornered Initiative.  CBD and BCI use education to end systemic generational urban poverty.  By providing mentoring and stipends for gang leaders to attend college Mark and his organization are changing the lives of gang members and who in turn go back to change their own neighborhoods.  It's a totally new way to think about how we approach urban poverty and gang involvement, one that uses members most destructive to the community to ultimately transform it.

It was a fascinating discussion, one I thoroughly enjoyed.  

Connect with Mark on twitter, instagram and facebook.  And check out College Bound Dorchester at their website here or on facebook!  It's an amazing organization, doing some really cool things!

And, it's true, Mark really does run marathons in crocs.  Here's the proof:




Also mentioned in the show:

Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh

Sapiens: a Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari



Episode Fifteen: The Problem with Helping with Laura Gassner Otting


This week I sat down with speaker and leader Laura Gassner Otting, who wants you to stop asking "how can I help?"  This was a fascinating and humbling conversation that flips the script on how we engage with problems.  Rather than trying to figure out how we can be the solution to the problem Laura wants us to ask, "what needs to be done?"  This simple switch can lead to more effective solutions and the right people providing them.  This conversation made me rethink how I engage with problems and helped me realize how important it is to take myself out of the center of the solution.


You can see Laura's TEDx talk on the topic here and find out more information at her website.  Follow her on instagram, twitter and facebook!


Also discussed in this episode:

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair



Episode Fourteen: Unconscious Bias with Tony Chatman


This week I sat down with author, speaker and recognized thought leader Tony Chatman to talk about unconscious or implicit bias.  Tony helped me to understand what an unconscious bias is, how to tell what yours may be (because everyone has them) and how to check and challenge our unconscious biases.  He also helped me to understand what happens when, as a society, we don't start to recognize and counter our unconscious biases.

In this episode Tony and I both referenced an online test to see what your implicit biases might be.  You can go here to find more information and take an implicit bias test.

I also mentioned on the episode that I use social media to help me follow and engage with different types of people.  On twitter and instagram this week I'll be sharing some of my favorite follows in this category.  Check A Year of Listening's instagram and twitter feeds for that info.  (And also, follow A Year of Listening on the socials!!)

I highly encourage you to check out Tony's webpage and to follow him on twitter, instagram and facebook!  And read his book The Force Multiplier!

Also mentioned on the show:

Authentic Christianity by Ray Stedman

Episode Thirteen: Veteran Care and Suicide Prevention with Boone Cutler


This week I chatted with Boone Cutler, a veteran, radio host, author, and creator of the Spartan Pledge, a pledge for Warfighters designed to combat the epidemic of veteran suicide.  In this conversation we discussed suicide prevention among vets, medical care for veterans and the "Warfighter mentality."  He also explained some new ways of thinking about PTSD among those in the Warfighter community.  It was an illuminating conversation for me, one that informed and reframed how I think about the Warfighter community.

Find information about Boone on his website.  Connect with him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  Information about The Spartan Pledge.

Check out Boone's book Voodoo in Sadr City.

Also discussed in the show:

The Art of War by Sun Tzu (Denma translation)

Ken Burns: America Lives (Elizabeth Cady Stanton documentary)




Episode Twelve: How to Have Polarizing Conversations Well with Phil M. Jones


This week's episode is a good one!  I sat down with author and speaker Phil M. Jones to talk about the how tos of having good conversations about polarizing topics.  What can we do and say to drive conversations that lead to openness and positive impact?  Phil had so much grace and insight and will leave you feeling able to tackle even the most polarized conversations in a way that keeps the relationship in tact.  For those of us who want to enter into discussions with friends and loved ones well, this episode is for you!


Find Phil's website here.  Follow Phil on Twitter, too!


Information on Phil's book Exactly What to Say.


Also discussed in the show:

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie



Episode Eleven: What We Learned (Episodes 1-10)

Kelly, Charity, me, and Lauren.  They've been making me a better person for years.

Kelly, Charity, me, and Lauren.  They've been making me a better person for years.

It's a recap episode!  Every 10 episodes we're going to pause and take stock in what we've learned from listening well to people's knowledge and opinions about these polarizing topics.  I'm going to sit down with some listeners to chat about their thoughts from each episode, what challenged them or changed their mind, and what surprised them.  

This week I chatted with a few of my nearest and dearest friends, Lauren Lindberg, Charity McClure and Kelly Phillips.  These smart, thoughtful women had interesting insights and thoughtful commentary on the conversations from episodes one through ten as well as on the greater issues themselves.



Episode 10: Mental Health and its Stigmas with Dom Gaskin


This week I'm chatting with Dom Gaskin about mental health, stigmas surrounding it and how to help loved ones who are struggling with mental health issues.  Dom works in the mental health field and has dealt with her own struggles when it comes to this issue.  She shares honestly and vulnerably.  We also talked about how the stigmas attached to mental health can be particularly strong in certain communities and how the health insurance system can get in the way of good services.

Discussed in this episode:

National Alliance on Mental Illness (nami.org)

The Giver by Lois Lowry



Episode Nine: Gun Control


On this week's episode I am talking with Mark Olson a formal naval officer and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran about the issue of gun control.  Mark is a gun owner whose perspective includes a good understanding of the history of the second amendment and gun control thus far, as well as the bigger picture of gun violence beyond the mass shootings that garner the most media attention.  

This conversation was recorded before the most recent deaths in Parkland, FL but will still be incredibly timely.  I really appreciated the way Mark gave insight into the mindset of law abiding gun owners as well as provided some ideas to advocate for real change surrounding gun control and gun violence.  After our conversation I include some thoughts from Mark in light of the recent events in Parkland, so listen to the end to hear what I think is incredibly applicable suggestions for people who want to move the ball forward on gun control as this discussion progresses post Parkland.

Connect with Mark on Instagram! And check out his podcast Port Calls and Politics!  (You can also follow the show on facebook or instagram.)

Also discussed in this episode:

Gun Fight by Adam Winkler

Blog post from Rage Against the Minivan regarding some mental health measures that can be taken with regards to gun control.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

Freeway Crack in the System