Show cover of This Week In Heresy

This Week In Heresy

This Week in Heresy is a podcast that explores the margins of progressive thought, social justice, and religion. I share the stories of those who are different, on the margins, or doing spiritual and social justice work that just doesn't get a voice in today's media. The people I interview have a different take on spirituality, humanity, religion, and sexuality. They are clergy and laity from Pagan, Christian, Judaism, and many other traditions. They are also human beings with very human stories trying to make the world a better place.


TWIH Episode 81: Planting the Church Unusual with Darnell Fennell #radicalinclusion #blacklivesmatter
This episode we welcome Darnell Fennell, the founding pastor of Just Love, a radically inclusive church plant in Houstan, TX. We discuss what it’s like to create an inclusive church in an area that is seen as more conservative to the wider progressive community. What does it mean to be “church” and what are the difficulties in starting a new church in general? How do you bridge the conversation on race and privilege in a mixed congregation? What is the importance of doing the inner work outside of the worship space?  We also discuss how to pastor people through the ever shifting political and social justice landscape, and the difficulties, financially and emotionally, of being progressive clergy.    Note: Apologies for some of the noise, Skype was being a bit cranky. Also, this was recorded at the end of May before the shootings in Orlando.   Darnell Fennell is a native Texan, from southwest Houston. He is no stranger to church having grown up in the Baptist tradition where he discovered a deep passion for ministry. In 2011 Fennell received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Religious Studies from the University of Houston followed by a Master of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Ca in 2014. As an ordained minister in Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), he has returned to Southwest Houston to begin work on a new church plant, Just Love. Darnell is over church as usual and desires to see a renewed Church, one that takes love seriously.   Links Just Love: Facebook: D. D. Fennell Pacific School of Religion  
43:19 6/30/16
TWIH Episode 80: Learning from Where You're At with Pat Mosley #hb2
In this episode we talk with Pat Mosley, a Gardnerian witch in North Carolina. We talk about how Wicca takes on the culture of where it’s at, and how it’s not that much of a stretch for people to be multi-faith practitioners. Pat discusses his coven, Granny Magick, and his involvement in CUUPs. We also talk politics and #HB2 (also known as the “bathroom bill”) and how, on the ground in North Carolina, there are more people who are against it rather than for it. Pat talks about the uphill battle in challenging their state government and the disconnect of their elected leaders from the people they represent.   Note: After recording this podcast in May, and after another blow up around  transgender women in women’s only spaces (primarily concerning Budapestian Dianic Witchcraft), Pat has announced a call for submissions for a anthology called “Arcane Perfection”. You can click here for more information.   Pat Mosley is a Weirdo Inspired to Create Here (WITCH). He writes semi-regularly at Patheos Pagan, but more of his work can be found at his website. Pat is a Gardnerian Witch, and is currently conspiring to author a book on one Appalachian coven's vision of Wicca in the next year or so. Pat is also a coordinator for Mountain CUUPs (Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans) in Boone, North Carolina--where everyone is welcome to share a meal and sing a spell.   Links
44:50 6/29/16
TWIH Episode 79: The Needles and the Compassion Done with Denise Cicuto #orlando
Denise Cicuto returns in this episode to talk about her call to study acupuncture through a visitation by Kuan Yin. We talk about her journey, not only through acupuncture school, but her spiritual journey with Kuan Yin and her current studies of the spiritual side of acupuncture . We also discuss the nature of Kuan Yin, and how compassion isn’t necessarily “fluffy”. We also talk about the importance of self care when doing activism and after major emotional events such as Orlando.   Denise Cicuto is a Witch and Healer. She is a third degree Priest in the Circle of Cerridwen. In another magickal tradition, she is a Gryffindor. Part of her spiritual mission includes leading an interfaith ceremony for those who have experienced pregnancy loss. The ceremony is called Spirit Babies and takes place at least once a year around the Winter Solstice (TWIH Episode 23: Mourning Pregnancy Loss Through Ritual). You can find some of her spiritual musings, which include incorporating Chinese Five Elements into Pagan ritual, at Through the Dragon Door. A Licensed Acupuncturist, Denise is co-host of TCM Talk, a live show on Periscope focusing on different health issues and how Traditional Chinese Medicine can help. Denise is currently working towards certification in Alchemical Healing with Lorie Dechar and Benjamin Fox. She writes on her own acupuncture blog and also for AcuTake which is a great website for explaining acupuncture to people in a very down-to-earth way. Links Cicuto Acupuncture Circle of Cerridwen (   Books Five Spirits: Alchemical Acupuncture for Psychological and Spiritual Healing by Lorie Dechar
47:17 6/24/16
TWIH Episode 78: The Magick of Pagan Music with Sharon Knight
After a brief TWIH hiatus, we return with our guest Sharon Knight, a pagan musician who does both solo work and plays as a group with her partner Winter in Pandemonaeon. We talk about the art of performing, the magickal experience of being on stage, the future and past of pagan music, and how music influences her work, both spiritually and professionally. We also talk about her latest album and the work that goes into writing, recording, and making videos for an album.    Note: Please excuse the audio weirdness. We were having a bad Skype day.   Festival Favorites Sharon Knight and Winter are internationally touring musicians in the mythic-Celtic vein. Their penchant for combining fierce and gutsy bravado with ethereal beauty, a hearty dose of fantastical lyrics, and an obvious love of storytelling has inspired their own style, “Neofolk Romantique”. This often sounds less Celtic and more “Folktales that ran away with the Faeries at the turn of the century and took cover in an old trunk bound for the circus, which was then commandeered by pirates.” This suits them fine.   They have shared stages with mythic music favorites such as Faun, Omnia, Corvus Corax, SJ Tucker, Tricky Pixie, Heather Dale, Wendy Rule, Stellamara, and many more. They have recently completed a 100% crowd-funded CD and music video featuring several of these artists, called Portals, which they are touring to support now.     Links  
48:32 5/17/16
TWIH Episode 77: The Politics of the Body with Irene McCalphin
Irene McCalphin joins us this week to talk about the intersections of fat liberation and marginalization. Why is it important to have representation in spiritual imagery, both in regards to race and body size? Why is the language of our rituals important? How can we move through learning about these issues of marginalization and come to a place where we can see outside of ourselves to a more inclusive community? Why is it important to keep the language of the diet industry out of spiritual space? How can kink (BDSM) be used as a spiritual tool and a pathway to a positive self image? Note: This episode discusses BDSM used as a way of spiritual expression and as a spiritual tool.   Irene McCalphin is a Bay Area writer, performance artist and eater of food in public. She blends modern movement and words with neoburlesque to create socially conscious art pieces that add voice to marginalized communities and celebrates the human body.   A published author and poet Irene draws attention to the ever evolving intersections of fat, feminism, kink, spirituality and human sexuality. She has facilitated and spoken at events such as NOLOSE, Fat Activist Conference: Tools for the Revolution and Fatty Affair. She has spoken at several universities including Berkeley, Stanford, Mills College and San Jose State. As a producer and presenter she consciously centers marginalized groups for spotlight appearances at events such as BayCon, Folsom Fringe, Red Hots Burlesque and Hubba Hubba Review. Connect to her on social media and find out about all her shows and presentations via facebook, twitter and instagram or follow her at her sorely mismanaged blog.   Links Website: Twitter: @MagnoliahBlack
52:49 4/21/16
TWIH Episode 76: Being Heathen with Cara Freyasdaughter
In this episode, we talk to Cara Freyasdaughter, where we discuss her journey to Heathenism, her introduction to Freya and Freyr, and some of the issues that are challenging modern Heathenism. What are  CUUPs and ADF? What does the lore say about racism and other issues that have been being dealt with within the Heathen community?   Cara Freyasdaughter is a devotional polytheist dedicated to Freya and Freyr who works within a "reconstructed-ish" Heathen tradition. A current member of The Troth and ADF, she writes a biweekly blog on Patheos' Agora channel called "Happily Heathen". Currently, Cara leads Heathen rituals and Runes 'n Lore classes for the White Oak Grove CUUPs group and is a member of the Sinnissippi Tuath ADF Grove in northern Illinois.   Links Email: The Troth ( The Troth is the largest International heathen organization. They are open and welcoming to people from all backgrounds. Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (—While this is officially a “druid” fellowship, all Indo-European mythologies are honored. ADF has a large, active, and diverse Heathen contingent. Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans: "Happily Heathen" on the Patheos Agora Channel ( "Huginn's Heathen Hof" ( "A Community of Gods Surround Me" ( "Freya: The Gold Thread" (   Books Modern Heathen Practice: Original Sources:  
45:48 4/4/16
TWIH Episode 75: Called by Kali with Chandra Alexandre
In this episode we talk to Dr. Chandra Alexandre about her journey with Kali Ma and her experiences with the Divine Female. Not only through her travels and learning in India, and her current work in the Bay Area. What is Tantra and the SHARANYA practice? Why is daily practice important and how do you keep up a daily practice? How do we approach the everyday to support our own practices? Note: Apologies for the Skype issues towards the end of the show. Skype was not cooperating well at the time.  Dr. Chandra Alexandre is a Tantric Bhairavi, an initiator in the tradition of Kali, and founder of SHARANYA.  She holds a PhD in Asian & Comparative Studies from the California Institute of Integral Studies, a Doctor of Ministry degree, and an MBA in sustainable management. She accepted the non-dualistic path of vamacara Tantra at Kamakhya in Assam five years after her initiation on the dakshinacara path in 1998 in Orissa. Her life's work is dedicated to personal trans-formation in service to social justice.   Links (home site) (an online mystery school)
42:58 3/30/16
TWIH Episode 74: The Polytheist Death Guild with Rebbeca Lynn Scott
In this episode we talk about death and dying with Rebecca Lynn Scott, founder of the Polytheist Death Guild. She talks about her own experiences that lead her to creating the Guild and the importance and necessity of death rituals in our society. How do we talk about death in our society? How are we able to express grief? Do pagans (of any traditions) have a healthier view of death than other traditions?   Rebecca Lynn Scott is the founder of the Polytheist Death Guild and author of A Litany to the Many Dead, a set of prayers to those who have died. She is an Hellenic polytheist, a Hekatean, and a Dionysian. She is currently engaged in writing the funerary and mourning rituals for the Starry Bull tradition of Bacchic Orphism. She lives with her wife and assorted critters in Seattle.   Links Email: Polytheist Death Guild: GYST - Get Your Shit Together The Green Burial Council The National Home Funeral Alliance My Gift of Grace card game Where to join Bacchic Chat for PDG chats Spring Mysteries Festival   Books  A Litany for the Many Dead
44:31 3/15/16
TWIH Episode 73: Paganism and Shinto with Megan Manson
This week we talk to Megan Manson, a pagan who also practices Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan. Megan talks about her path to Shinto, some of the history of Shinto and how it relates to the other religions practiced in Japan. We also talk about how religion co-exists together in Japan and how it differs from how religions get along in the West. What is the difference between Japan and the West in regards to religious identity? What does it mean to be multi-faith, and how do we explain it to others?    Megan Manson is an eclectic Pagan from the UK who also practices Shinto, the Japanese “Way Of The Gods.” She is actively involved in the field of Japan-UK relations, interfaith activities, and  her local Pagan community.   Links Email: Patheos Blog:    
43:34 3/9/16
TWIH Episode 72: Honoring Death with Robin Griffith
Robin Lynn Griffith joins me in this episode to talk about death and dying. Both of us are called to minister to the dying and while, for the two of us, this is a normal process, for most people in our culture, death is something you just don’t talk about. Why does our society tend to try and banish the idea of death? Why are we so afraid of something that is inevitable? Are we doing a disservice if we don’t allow someone to really grieve in their own way or telling people to just “get over” their grief? When does one’s grief need more professional help? Should we be talking a lot more about end of life issues than we currently do?   Robin Lynn Griffith is a Spiritual Woman, a Clergywoman, a Fire Dancer, A Priestess of Queen Isis, an Herbalist, and a Grandmother.  Robin’s personal, spiritual, and professional experiences provide for her to be a conscious, aware, and mindful End of Life Midwife or Doula.  Robin lives in the San Francisco Bay Area of California and has been active in her local Spiritual and Religious Communities for well over 18 years. She has a vast network of community and many valuable resources at her fingertips. As a Spiritual woman, and a successful Coach, she has supported individuals, family, and friends as they find themselves facing sacred moments in a person's earth journey.  Leveraging song, stories, simple Presence, honorable rituals, and intimate connection Robin hopes to provide her clients with openings for Love, Peace, Empowerment, Release, and Forgiveness.    Links  Email: Website: Kaiser Santa Clara Volunteer Services (To inquire about No One Dies Alone)
53:16 3/1/16
TWIH Episode 71: Creating Interfaith Families with Rabbi Mychal Copeland
In this episode of TWIH we talk to Rabbi Mychal Copeland, editor of “Struggling in Good Faith: LGBTQI Inclusion from 13 American Religious Perspectives” and Director of InterfaithFamily/Bay Area. We talk about her decision to go to rabbinical school, the varied interpretations of the bible, and how to navigate being part of an interfaith couple. How does being an interfaith couple today compare to the past? How does talking together about people’s experiences with religious traditions help families work out how to get along spiritually? How do we heal from our respective church burn when one’s partner (or partners) is practicing a form of the tradition that caused it? How can community help significant others through the ups and downs of an interfaith family in our society?     Rabbi Mychal Copeland is the Bay Area Director of InterfaithFamily after having served as Rabbi at Hillel at Stanford for 11 years.  She has worked with interfaith couples and families throughout her rabbinate, and her blog about interfaith family life can be found at  Mychal writes a monthly Torah column for the J: Jewish News Weekly of Northern California.  She is the co-editor of Struggling in Good Faith: LGBTQI Inclusion from 13 American Religious Perspectives [Skylight Paths Publishing, 2015].  She is passionate about opening the doors of Judaism wider and leading people towards a profound spiritual and religious life that embraces all of their disparate identities.  Mychal is married to Kirsti Copeland and they have two children.   Links Website: Facebook for Struggling in Good Faith: Rabbi Mychal’s Huffington Post Blog Facebook for Interfaith Family:   Books Struggling in Good Faith: LGBTQI Inclusion from 13 American Religious Perspectives edited by by Rabbi Mychal Copeland MTS and D'vorah Rose BCC
61:16 2/23/16
TWIH Episode 70: Hospitality and Sacrifice in Asatru with Alf Herigstad
Heathenry is going through a difficult stage in it’s evolution, especially lately. In this episode, we talk to Alf Herigstad founder of the Hawk’s Hearth Kindred, about his tradition of heathenry and the various issues that are important in heathenry today. What is heathenry? Why is there racism in heathenry? What are people doing about it? What does Heathen lore say about difference, and how does racism go against the edict of hospitality? Alf also talks about doing prison ministry, being on a Norwegian reality TV show, and his tradition’s use of animal sacrifice.   Note: This episode talks about animal sacrifice and farm life.     Alf Herigstad grew up in Washington State where he and his wife still reside on a small farm.  He is a veteran of the Army, a former owner of several construction businesses, as well as a former long haul trucker and real estate agent.  His employment list is long and varied because, as he says...he likes to learn new things.     Raised as a Christian Alf at one time had an ambition to become an evangelical preacher and was very active in his local church.  After life took several turns he found himself disillusioned with that path.  Being descended from Norwegian immigrants he turned to one of his life-long interest; that of researching his heritage...that led to his discovery of Asatru    Alf first became interested in Asatru around 2005, he began attending a Kindred local to him.  He took to it immediately and after intense study eventually attained a position in the kindred.  He was ordained / appointed as a Gothi in 2008.  Then, in 2011 founded a new Kindred; Hawk's Hearth, which currently consists of about 30 members.   Alf is the host of a new podcast; Being A Better Man.  A secular program devoted specifically to the character of men.  The idea is to be a better man today then we were yesterday...then do that every day.  Although the program is secular in nature, his opinions are strongly influenced by his heathen philosophy and in that way he is infusing his listeners with a healthy dose of Heathen principles...which he says is basically just common sense.    Links:     Hawk’s Hearth:  (website still being added to and updated) Alf’s Podcast: Alf’s email:
49:56 2/15/16
TWIH Episode 69: Dirt Heart Witch with Jenya T. Beachy #pantheacon
Jenya T. Beachy joins us in this episode to talk about the Feri tradition, farming, and the importance of self care. What is it like to live with the land? What does it mean to be a Root Worker? What is the meaning and nature of Power? Jenya describes her journey into witchcraft, her experiences with Cora Anderson, and why she decided to go live on a farm with goats and chickens.   This episode is part of a series of interviews with people who will be presenting at Pantheacon 2016.   Jenya T. Beachy is a Teacher, Preacher, Rootworker, Farmer, and Writer of the popular blog, “Dirt-Heart Witch”. She has been walking the Twisted Path of the Craft for over 25 years, studying the old ways and forging new ones. Her Work combines the clean, simple magick of the Kitchen Witch and the dark, wild magick of the Mad Poet, all mixed up with a wild devotion to the Heart of the Cosmos. One of Jenya’s favorite forms of Witchery is concerned with connecting to the myriad consciousnesses of the worlds, from microcosm to macro-, in all their forms and powers.   Links   Jenya’s Facebook   Website:
54:51 2/11/16
TWIH Episode 68: The Unnamed Path, Gender Identity, and Body Image with David Shorey and Chase Powers #pantheacon
In this episode we talk to David Shorey and Chase Powers, both members of the Unnamed Path, a magickal tradition for Men Who Love Men. What is the Unnamed Path? Why is single gendered space important to some people? Why do people get stuck on the gender binary, and why do people get bent out of shape when people want more inclusivity in single-gender spaces (i.e.: inclusion of transgender, bisexual, multi-faith, etc.)? What is the importance of language in gendered space? And…what about Beltane?   Note: Apologies for the Skype noise. Skype was not being our friend during the interview!   This episode is part of a series of interviews with people who will be presenting at Pantheacon 2016.   David Shorey is an Initiate and Teacher of The Unnamed Path, a spiritual tradition for men-who-love-men. In addition, David is a student of Druidry and member of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. He is also an Apprentice in Faery Seership under Orion Foxwood. David lives in San Diego with his two partners, Tommie and Virgil, and their dog Murphy.    Chase Powers is an Initiate and teacher of the Unnamed Path, and a student of Anderson Feri, currently living in Houston, Texas. Between spiritual work, video games, and graphic design, he still finds time to fight with people on the internet and make bad jokes.     Links   David’s Email:   Website:   The Unnamed Path Facebook page:
59:07 2/11/16
TWIH Episode 67: What's So Funny About Being Pagan? with Angus McMahan #pantheacon
In this episode we talk to Angus McMahan about the role of humor and storytelling in society and in the pagan community specifically. What makes you laugh? What is it about humor that helps us understand things that we may not know about it? How can humor help us make breakthroughs when other things can’t? What is the line between the humorous and the political? We also talk about our most interesting experiences doing tarot… This episode is part of a series of interviews with people who will be presenting at Pantheacon 2016. Angus McMahan is a gregarious solitary who can usually be found playing strange drums strangely at various Community Seed rituals. He is a lego sculptor, a cross-country marcher, a crop circle inspiration, a breathtakingly slow triathlete and a writer of no great renown.   Links Email: Angus’ Website:  Angus’ Patheos blog: Books The Witch's Athame: The Craft, Lore & Magick of Ritual Blades (The Witch's Tools Series) by Janson Mankey
55:37 2/3/16
TWIH Episode 66: Wholeness and Humanness with Laine DeLaney #pantheacon
Laine DeLaney joins us in this episode to talk about her journey from her childhood religion of Islam to her current Heathen and magickal traditions.  What does it mean to be a Heathen? Do you have to be of Northern European descent to be a “proper Heathen”? Is there really such a thing as an “unbroken” tradition? Why is hospitality important? We also talk about how accepting people as they identify themselves and accepting their humanness is important in accepting the “Other.” This is part of a series of interviews with people who will be presenting at Pantheacon 2016. Laine DeLaney was born in Western New York and has spent much of her life trying to escape its pull, but recently has made a new home in San Diego, California. She has been a member of several traditions and has acted as a clergyperson, spiritual guide, and seeress for various groups and communities. Laine writes for pleasure (science fiction on her Empyrean Dreams blog and other random fiction), for profit (as a custom content creator), for activism (in her columns in various LGBT publications), to discuss Pagan issues (on The Lady's Quill on Patheos Pagan and Pagan Church Lady on WordPress), and because she has difficulty stopping. Links Email: Website: Pagan Church Lady Pagan Church Lady on Facebook
62:46 1/26/16
TWIH Episode 65: Being Intentionally Inclusive with Shauna Aura Knight #pantheacon
Shauna Aura Knight joins us in this episode to talk about ritual practices that can make our public rituals more inclusive. What do we mean by inclusivity? How do we make the welcome clear so that others know that they are welcome into the ritual? Why are people so averse to using more inclusive language or making accommodations for allergy, disability, and gender issues? What is the responsibilities of public priests to ensure that their rituals are inclusive as possible? How do you take ownership, as an ally, of your process, especially in admitting when you’ve done something wrong  even if it was unintended? What happens when you realize that the pagan community isn’t a monolith of belief? This is a first in a series of interviews with people who will be presenting at Pantheacon 2016. Shauna Aura Knight is an artist, author, ritualist, presenter, and spiritual seeker, Shauna travels nationally offering intensive education in the transformative arts of ritual, community leadership, and personal growth. Shauna is passionate about creating rituals, experiences, spaces, stories, and artwork to awaken mythic imagination. She is the author of The Leader Within, Ritual Facilitation, and Dreamwork for the Initiate’s Path. She’s a columnist on ritual techniques for CIRCLE Magazine, and her writing also appears in the anthologies Stepping in to Ourselves, A Mantle of Stars, Calling to our Ancestors, and Bringing Race to the Table. She’s also the author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance novels including The Truth Upon Her Lips, A Fading Amaranth, A Winter Knight’s Vigil, Werewolves in the Kitchen, Werewolves with Chocolate, and more. Shauna’s mythic artwork and designs are used for magazine covers, book covers, and illustrations, as well as decorating many walls, shrines, and other spaces. Links  Email: Website: Facebook: Pantheacon 2016 Schedule
69:03 1/6/16
TWIH Episode 64: Tradition, Secrecy, and the Life of a Public Witch with Storm Faerywolf
Storm Faerywolf joins us in this episode to talk about the Feri Tradition, being a public witch (or warlock, in Storm’s case), and the role of secrecy and privacy in modern witchcraft. What does it mean to be a public witch? Why do humans have a need to define what other people’s paths are and hold absolutist attitudes about what is “right” and “proper”? What is the role of secrecy, and what is the difference between secrecy and privacy? Is secrecy still necessary in the age of the internet? We also talk about cultural appropriation, privilege, and the power of walking between the worlds. Storm Faerywolf is an author, teacher, artist, warlock, priest, and initiate of the Faery/Feri tradition of witchcraft. With nearly thirty years experience practicing the Craft and teaching for more than twenty, Storm has lead open circles, given lectures, and taught both public and private classes in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the U.S. He holds the Black Wand and is the founder of BlueRose, his own school and lineage within the Faery tradition, offering classes both in-person and online. He is the author of The Stars Within the Earth, and the forthcoming Betwixt and Between: Exploring the Faery Tradition of Witchcraft. For more information about his classes, books, CD’s or art visit his website. Links Website: The Mystic Dream (Storm's store)
63:28 12/23/15
TWIH Episode 63: Druidism, Accessibility, and Music with Elly Hadaway
In this episode we talk to Elly Hadaway who is a musician, Druid, and Quaker, who is disabled. We talk about the intersections between Druidism and Quakerism, accessibility and sometimes lack thereof, in the pagan community, and her recently released EP “Tell Me Where the Ocean Went” (which you can buy through the BandCamp link below). The song at the end of the show is "I Am The Mountain" from her new album. Elly Hadaway is an English folk singer, ukulele player and songwriter, who's also been a jazz bass player, classical soprano and choral composer. They are a Christo-Pagan Druid, and their work draws on a deep love of nature and a fascination with the stories that lie in landscapes. They spend rather too much time being stuck inside due to their disabilities, and far too little time yomping up mountains and engaging with the Gods." Links Bandcamp page: Facebook Twitter: @ellythefolk
46:07 12/14/15
TWIH Episode 62: Taking a Third Path: Being an Atheist Pagan with Esther Bamberg
In this episode we talk to Esther Bamberg, a pagan atheist. What does it mean to be a pagan atheist? How does conversion contribute to misunderstandings? Can you be an atheist and still work magick? Does spiritual work necessitate a actual belief in a deity in order to give fulfillment? If someone identifies as part of a tradition or spiritual path, why do people tend to question a person's identity just because they don't practice the same way? Esther Bamberg is very much into the virtue of action. The rewards of virtue are many, but the one she likes most about action is having done it. She gets a lot out of it personally. This is why she has volunteered for Pcon for almost two decades, and why in 2015 she helped organize and participated in a pagan atheist awareness event at Pcon. It was this work which led to this interview. Esther's credentials, memberships, ordinations, associations, degrees, etc. are private. She knows it is expected to list them in a bio like this, but she'd rather talk about how she can help. It isn't that talk is cheap. Conversations matter. But discussion and debate are activities. They are something you do. Links Email:
51:47 12/8/15
TWIH Episode 61: Women of the Wall with Rachel Cohen Yeshurun
In this episode we talk with Rachel Cohen Yeshurun of Women of the Wall in Israel who regularly reads the Torah at the Western Wall in defiance of law on the New Moon with other women. We talk about the history of why women haven’t been allowed to pray equally at the Wall, the role of the current government in that discrimination, and how it relates to Israeli LGBTQA rights. What does it mean to be able to pray together? Why is it important to have equality for all genders in religion? Note: This interview was recorded at the beginning of October. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get it released before the prayer times mentioned in the interview. However, Rachel does mention that the prayers at the Wall happen monthly, and that you’re welcome to join them on the new moon from wherever you are to pray in solidarity with them. Rachel Cohen Yeshurun was schooled at Bais Yaakov of Montreal and was active with Beth Ora Synagogue youth. Rachel made aliyah in 1989 but took 22 years to discover Women Of the Wall! She received a Bsc. in Mathematics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and is currently studying towards a second degree in Computer Science. Rachel works as a computer programmer and is chair of Kehilla Masortit Ma’aleh Adumim. She was the chair of Women of the Wall, and more recently taking on the role of gabbait for the group. Links Women of the Wall Website Facebook: Blowing the shofar - with Rachel pictured on the left with the Torah scroll they managed to smuggle in: Video (with English subtitles) where you can see Dana Sharon, the chair of Jerusalem Open House, in tears as she's honoured with the Torah scroll reading in memory of Shira Banki who was murdered the week before at the Jerusalem Pride parade by an Ultra-Orthodox fanatic: Here's one of my Rachel’s favourite videos. This has music produced by Women of the Wall's chair Anat Hoffman's daughter who is an aspiring movie producer: An education video done by Women of the Wall intern and HUC-JIR Rabbinical Student Allison Cohen:
47:54 11/30/15
TWIH Episode 60: Challenging the Articles of Faith with Dr. Matthew Becker
In this episode we talk to Matthew Becker who used to be a minister in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), a conservative denomination of the Lutheran church that does not ordain women. We talk about Matt’s personal growth in the LCMS, how he came to question the more conservative doctrines of the denomination (specifically Creationism and women’s ordination), and the heresy charges and tribunals that he had to go through, which, ultimately, lead him to leave the LCMS all together. Dr. Matthew Becker, M.Div., M.A., Ph.D. was born in Salem, Oregon, in 1962. He attended public schools there and graduated in 1984 from Concordia University, Portland, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in the liberal arts. That same year he entered the Master of Divinity program at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri. After receiving his Master of Divinity degree from Concordia Seminary in 1988, he entered a doctoral program in theology at the University of Chicago. While a student in that university, he was privileged to study under such notable theologians as Brian Gerrish, David Tracy (his Doktorvater), and Martin Marty. During that time Dr. Becker also took courses at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. In 1990 he earned a Master of Arts in Religious Studies degree from the University of Chicago. In 1996 he passed his doctoral examinations with the mark of “with distinction.” His dissertation, "The Self-giving God: Trinitarian Historicality and Kenosis in the Theology of Johann von Hofmann (1810-1877)," was completed in the summer of 2001. A revised version of this work was later published as The Self-Giving God and Salvation History: The Trinitarian Theology of Johannes von Hofmann (T&T Clark, 2004). This work examines the theology of one of the most important Lutheran theologians of the nineteenth century. Dr. Becker was ordained into the Lutheran ministry in 1989. Until July 2015 he was a rostered clergyman in the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod (LCMS). He is currently seeking ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). For five years he was an assistant pastor and later associate pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, West Dundee, Illinois (1989-94). For two of those years he also served as an interim pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Chicago. In addition to his academic responsibilities, Dr. Becker has served as the Secretary of the Northwest District of the LCMS (2000-4). Between Oct 2010 and March 2014 he served as the interim pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Michigan City, Indiana. Dr. Becker and his wife, Detra, were married in June 1993. They have a sixteen-year-old son, Jacob. Links Dr. Becker’s Blog Email: Books Fundamental Theology: A Protestant Perspective God Opens Doors: A Centennial Celebration of the Northwest District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
60:19 11/23/15
TWIH Episode 59: Women and the Mormon Church with Debra Jenson
In this episode of TWIH, we talk to Debra Jenson, Chairperson of the organization Ordain Women, which seeks to change the LDS church’s stance on ordaining women (and girls) into the priesthood. Debra gives us an overview of Mormonism and what it was like to grow up as a young girl in the faith. We also talk about what it is like to be a female parent in an organization where your role in the spiritual life of the community is limited and  why it’s important to the life of the church to include women in the same sacraments as men. Note: This episode was recorded before the announcement by the LDS church about LGBTQA parents and the restrictions of baptizing their children. This post from the Ordain Women website discusses this decision. Debra Jenson is from Ogden, Utah and is the current Chairperson of the Ordain Women Executive Board. She writes: “I am lucky to be married to a wonderful man I don’t deserve and we have three great kids. I love movies, biking and swimming, and Neil Diamond! I am finishing a PhD in Communication and work for a non-profit organization that serves people with intellectual disabilities and I serve in the Relief Society Presidency. I have been an active Mormon since I was 13: I came for Girl’s Camp and ended up staying for the gospel. The knowledge that I am a daughter of a Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother who love me gave me the courage and confidence to try just about anything, from competing in triathlons to parenting. I have struggled with the role of women in our church since I came here as teen. Now that I have children of my own—a teenage son and two Primary-age daughters—I see this inequality in even more startling ways. It is increasingly difficult, with each passing year, for me to explain to my daughters why they will never be old enough to pass the sacrament. I want my daughters to be full and faithful servants: walking to collect fast-offerings or cleaning up the sacrament table after church. And I dream of standing next to my husband to give a parents’ blessing together. I am a Mormon and I believe women should be ordained.” Links Email: Ordain Women Website The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
68:32 11/16/15
TWIH Special: Podcasting As Ministry #ThanksPodcasting @libsyn
The awesome folks over at, who host the audio for This Week In Heresy, are trying to start a movement to help people know more about the power of podcasting. It's also to help promote the larger podcasting world because: "Podcasts that are covered in mainstream media, as well as those that are highlighted and featured in almost any podcast directory, are well known, established networks and entities ie. NPR, ESPN, Earwolf, WNYC, TWiT, 5by5, etc. etc. and so forth." While I love, and listen to, a lot of the podcasts from these networks and groups, there are also a ton of podcasters out there, like myself, that are putting out amazing content who deserve to be heard just as much as the big guys. The stories, information, and personalities that you can meet by listening and sharing podcasts is infinite. To be honest, I don't know the complete impact that my podcast has on others. I do hear from time to time from people who tell me how much they really appreciated a podcast, or that it helped them, or even changed their lives. That, I think is the power of the podcast: you don't need a whole lot of equipment (well, unless you want it...I mean, I do because I'm a sound nerd and a ham) and it doesn't take a whole lot of money to get started. It creates connection no matter who and where you are. So, thanks, podcasting, you've enriched my life. And thanks to for letting me noodle about it's importance! Also, if you like my podcast, or any other independent podcaster, sharing their podcast via social media is really important, and if you can, please help us out financially (if we isn't free, yo...). Thank you for listening and for sharing!
09:12 11/16/15
TWIH Episode 58: Baptist, but not That Kind of Baptist with Paul Schneider
In this episode we talk to Paul Schneider, one of my good friends and Baptist seminarian about his journey, and his church’s journey into affirming LGBTQA people and radical inclusion. We also talk about the realities about the way that traditions can be used to harm people, regardless of faith path and how clergy need emotional and personal support in order to help them avoid harming those they serve. How does clergy isolation create the idea that we have to “do it all ourselves” and not ask their communities for help? (Even Jesus has his disciples…) Note: Apologies for the lack of episodes recently. One of my covenmates was suddenly ill and is in the ICU. If you can help them in any way, prayer or otherwise, we would all greatly appreciate it. Paul Schneider was born, raised and still lives in Oakland, California. Raised at the First Baptist Church of Berkeley, Paul was part of the church leadership when they were joining the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists. Now a father, husband, and seminary student at the American Baptist Seminary of the West, Paul is pursuing a deeper understanding of Liberation Theology, struggling with quiet, and dynamic liturgy. Links: Blog: Twitter: @Logon_Paulos
60:13 11/10/15
TWIH Annual Samhain Special: The Descent by Mage of Machines
This week’s episode is our annual special Samhain edition of This Week in Heresy. This approximately one hour meditation is a journey to the Underworld and the Isle of Apples, under the protection of Inanna, to commune with the Beloved Dead. The music was written, composed, and performed by Sarah Thompson, also known as Mage of Machines. You'll recognize a little bit of this album as the show intro and exit music for both This Week in Heresy and The Heretic Speaks.  Some of you, if you had attended Pantheacon in 2013, will also recognize this music. The Circle of Cerridwen, with friends, performed The Descent live with an early edition of the music. The final edition of the album was released on Samhain 2013.  Sarah Thompson is your Guide. Inanna is voiced by Calyxa Omphalos, and Rev. Gina is the voice of Ereshikgal. The script was written by Rev. Gina and Sarah Thompson.  We offer this as a Samhain blessing for you, as a gift to the community, and to honor the Beloved Dead.  The album version of The Descent is available via iTunes. If you are looking to purchase it through other platforms, click here.  
68:31 10/26/15
TWIH Episode 57: Atheism, Science, and Culture with Maria Vorontsova
In this episode we talk to Maria Vorontsova, who is a botanist at Kew Gardens, who was born in Russia and came to the UK when she was young. We talk about her experiences of religion and atheism in regards to her Russian roots and in her interactions with people during her field work in Africa. What does it mean to be an atheist? Does atheism mean that someone doesn’t have a moral compass? Where does atheism fit in with interfaith dialog, and why does the interfaith dialog NOT include atheism? Maria Vorontsova studies grasses and everything about them at the Kew Botanic Gardens in the UK, with a particular focus on tropical African diversity and poorly known lineages, their evolutionary history, and the history of tropical grasslands and savannas. She is also interested in the history and development of classifications and in botanical nomenclature and bibliography. She looks after GrassBase and develop it to bring together global taxonomic knowledge across all Poaceae and to build it into a broad research utility. If it is about grasses, she wants to hear about it! Links Maria’s Kew Page  Email:
39:07 10/5/15
TWIH Episode 56: Embracing the Seeker with Davie Floyd #tfam
In this episode, that was recorded at The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries Convocation in July, I talk with Davie Floyd about her multi-faith practice that includes Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Sufism (amongst other work). How do we become a personal sanctuary of inclusion for people to help them discover their own paths? How do we support the seeker, and how can we help people find what they need? What does it mean for someone to be spiritual? How are we evolving as a society and as human beings? This episode was recorded on location at City of Refuge UCC during The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries Convocation on July 17, 2015. Davie Floyd is a life-long member of the Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas, TX where Rev. Curtis W. Wallace is the pastor. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Cognitive Studies and Education at Columbia University in New York. While in New York, she has joined Romemu, a Jewish renewal synagogue where David Ingber is Rabbi. She also regularly attends services at Rivers of Living Waters where Rev. Vanessa Brown is the senior pastor and often practices mindfulness with the Riverside Sangha which follows the Buddhist teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh. She is involved with several interfaith organizations in New York City. Though she is deeply spiritual and religious, her beliefs are largely agnostic. She lives a life oriented around realizing her full potential and coaching others to do the same. Links Email: Romemu Synagogue: Rivers of Living Water Church:
41:44 9/8/15
TWIH Episode 55: Multi-Faith Education and Dialog with Denise Cush
In this episode we talk about interfaith dialog and religious education with Denise Cush. How do people learn about interfaith and mutli-faith practices? What are the differences between the way religion is viewed and taught in the United States and the United Kingdom? What is the importance of face to face dialog and experience in interfaith work? Denise Cush (BA/MA Oxford, MA Lancaster, PhD Warwick) is currently Professor of Religion and Education at Bath Spa University. She has taught Religious Studies in a sixth form college, trained both primary and secondary teachers in religious education, and taught Study of Religions at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Until recently she was Head of the Department of Study of Religions (now Religions, Philosophy and Ethics) at Bath Spa. She is deputy editor of the British Journal of Religious, a major international journal. In addition to religious education, her teaching and research interests include Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and alternative spiritualities such as Paganism. Links Website: Email: Books Celebrating Planet Earth, a Pagan/Christian Conversation: First Steps in Interfaith Dialogue
43:59 8/31/15
TWIH Episode 54: The Dynamics of Awareness with Deborah Blake
In this episode we talk with author Deborah Blake about daily practice and how we can get hung up on what “proper” daily practice is. We explore how daily practice can be just a part of our mundane practices, and that what is right and “proper” depends on your own spiritual needs. How do we cultivate a practice that works for us? How do we determine the regular practices in our groups or covens? Are we walking our talk? We also talk about the advantages and disadvantages of both group and solo work, and the ins and outs of working in community.    Deborah Blake is the author of the Baba Yaga paranormal romance series, including Wickedly Magical, Wickedly Dangerous and Wickedly Wonderful (Berkley) as well as eight books on modern witchcraft from Llewellyn Worldwide. She has an ongoing column in Witches & Pagans Magazine and was featured in The Pagan Anthology of Short Fiction.    Links Author Website: Blog:   Books The Circle Within: Creating a Wiccan Spiritual Tradition by Dianne Sylvan Everyday Witchcraft: Making Time for Spirit in a Too-Busy World by Deborah Blake
61:23 8/18/15