Exvangelical is a podcast dedicated to personal stories about living in, leaving, and coming to terms with the messed up subculture of evangelicalism–and exploring the wide world of faith, belief, and disbelief outside of it.
Hi. I’m Blake Chastain. I’m a writer living in Chicago, Illinois with my wife and daughter. Before I lived in Chicago, I grew up in Indiana and the southwest suburbs of Chicago. I am thoroughly Midwestern.
I am also thoroughly (ex-) evangelical. My family attended United Methodist churches all throughout my youth, but despite the mainline moniker, much of the pervasive culture I was in–especially through youth group materials and the Christian bookstore I worked at during high school–was de facto evangelical. I took my faith seriously. I still do. In fact that’s why I’m no longer evangelical. Here’s some of my credentials.
I attended Christian college. The run-up to and subsequent invasion of Iraq, coupled with studying New Testament Greek, resulted in a crisis of faith that rattled me. (This is commonly called deconstruction.) Additional crises, as well as an incident of church/spiritual abuse, furthered the deconstruction as the years passed. As fate would have it, I studied evangelical politics in graduate school, and I stumbled upon the “Creation Care” movement, which rekindled an interest in Christianity–albeit outside the evangelical framework.
Over time I realized there was a lot to continue to deconstruct. The evangelical worldview affects the whole person. It leaves no part of you untouched. It forms your social, cultural, political, sexual, and gender identities. To reject it is to reject your entire sense of self and society. This is no small thing.
Now I talk with others whose lives have moved beyond evangelicalism and share their stories. By growing up or living in the evangelical subculture, we all have a cultural shorthand to refer to. Those things have resonance. I believe, however, that the true value is in the individual stories that are shared on the podcast. I hope you enjoy the stories you hear, and the things you read, and that you reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.