Episode 29: The Landscape of the Heart

In which we have an interview with Roy Searle, one of the founders of the Northumbria Community. Roy talks about the importance of space, the need to escape the ‘consumer-based faith’, about ‘living life with the questions’ and how our thirst for authenticity can lead us deeper with God. We also hear from listeners with their book recommendations (see below) and Joe engages in the little known sport of hermeneutical gymnastics. Warning: contains the words ‘pith’ and ‘spong’.

Don’t forget the Renovaré Day on Nov 24


Book recommendations

David recommended

  • Mike Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality
  • Mitch Albom, Tuesday’s with Morrie

 Peter recommended

  • Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance

Hannah recommended

  • Tom Wright, Surprised by Hope
  • James K. A. Smith, Imagining the Kingdom and Desiring the Kingdom
  • Greg Boyd, Benefit of the Doubt
  • Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace
  • Tish Harrison Warren, Liturgy of the Ordinary

David recommended

  • Eugene Peterson, The Pastor
  • John Spong , Why Christianity Must Change or Die
  • Brian McLaren, Why Did Jesus, Moses and Mohammed Cross the Road
  • Karen Armstrong, A History of God
  • Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels

Lee recommended

  • Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World



Episode 28: Lots of Books

In which our heroes get up early and talk about books. What books have transformed your understanding of God or of what it means to be a Christian? Nick and Joe share their top five (and Ethel Sadoldperson gives us her recommendations). And we have a special guest appearance from Rachel Davis as well! But what do you think? Let us know.

The Titles

  • Return of the Prodigal – Henri Nouwen
  • Moominpappa at Sea – Tove Jansson
  • Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer – Richard Rohr
  • The Courage to Doubt – Robert Davidson
  • We Make the Road by Walking – Brian McLaren
  • Into the Silent Land – Martin Laird
  • Dance of the dissident daughter – Sue Monk Kidd
  • Unapologetic: Why, despite everything, Christianity can still make surprising emotional sense – Francis Spufford
  • Bitten by a Camel: Leaving Church, Finding God – Kent Dobson
  • George MacDonald: An Anthology or The Gospel in George MacDonald – George MacDonald

Also mentioned

  • New Heavens, New Earth: The Biblical Picture of Christian Hope – N.T. Wright
  • Surprised by Hope – Tom Wright

Episode 27: We’ve got a big announcement

In which our heroes talk about all the feedback from the last episode, reflect on the first ever Day for the Bewildered (including Ethel immortalised in icing sugar) and talk about whether Nick should become a woman for the sake of balance. But more important than that: we have a big announcement. You’ll have to listen to the whole podcast before we tell you. Or you could just fast forward to 29 minutes in, if you can’t wait. Your shout.

Episode 26: Walking each other home

It’s our first anniversary! And to celebrate, we’ve got actual content, with an interview with the very wonderful Jill Rowe, in which she talks about women and gender and being loved and how we are all, in the end, ‘just walking each other home’. So light the candle and sing ‘Happy Birthday’. Warning: this episode does contain a lot of discussion of Joe’s swelling. (It’s his elbow, in case you were wondering.)

Episode 25: ‘Weakness, negligence and deliberate fault’

In which our heroes deal with more feedback from recent episodes. How do we cope with the painful, destructive effects of sin? Do we hold our beliefs, or do our beliefs hold us? Is there really such a thing as prophetic Bongo playing? Also we have a quote from Thomas a Kempis’s famous work The Imitation of Christ and his less famous The Imitation of Bruce Forsyth.

Episode 24: It’s a sin!

In which our heroes discuss sin, guilt and other bad stuff. Do we take sin too seriously? Or not seriously enough? And is there anything we can do about it anyway? Meanwhile Nick has been reading Romans, Joe has forgotten to record Bake Off and Ethel sends us a lovely poem.

Episode 23: Definitely Maybe

In which our heroes deal with the excellent feedback from last episode. After our podcast on creeds, we hear from the listeners about their beliefs. Can we have certainties during the Mid-faith Crisis? Or is it all just ‘maybes’ and ‘perhapses’? Is ‘perhapses’ even a word? So many questions. Talking of which, there’s news of the first ever Mid-faith Crisis Day for the Bewildered. Only a few tickets left so book now!

Episode 22: The schism starts here

In which our heroes try to come up with a creed for the Mid-faith crisis. In what will surely end up as a schism between them, Joe and Nick try to define what our core beliefs are. Is Nick living in the past? Is Joe really going to do the seagull dance? And what do you think are the core beliefs of our faith? Write in and let us know, before Joe is excommunicated and Nick is burnt at the stake.

Episode 21: What we did on our holiday

In which our heroes record the podcast – in a Pod! On holiday! Yes, a bit of an unusual edition this one, recorded on holiday in Scotland. We talk about sacred spaces, about the need for ‘seasons’ in your life, about looking at yourself non-judgementally and, most importantly, whether Nick is a better cricketer than his brother. And best of all, it’s recorded in the Pod – an upmarket shed with a shower, double bed and, sadly, background noise from a rather loud fridge. (Sorry about that.)

The Pod where it all happened.

Episode 20: Letters to our younger selves

In which our heroes write a letter to their younger, less bald versions. And, indeed, where we share some lovely letters that our listeners have written as well. Along the way we touch on Nick’s pathetic need to be special, and what really lies behind Joe’s enduring relationship with the cheese counter.

Episode 19: Marginal Gains

In which our heroes discuss change and transformation. How do we change? What does it look like? How can Nick claim to have changed when he is, essentially, doing the same jokes he was 20 years ago? Talking of which, Nick’s new book is almost out, Joe has being doing odd things with stones on a beach and both the boys try to bring more pith into your life.

Episode 18: Don’t make me angry

In which our heroes sit in Joe’s garden, listen to the birdsong, chill out and discuss… er… anger. What makes us angry? Is it always wrong? How do we deal with it? Also, we hear about Nick’s inability to answer emails, we have our competition winner, and we reveal an entirely new Myers-Briggs category.

Episode 17: Lifting the Label

In which our heroes discuss the use and abuse of labels. Are you liberal or conservative? Progressive or traditional? Catholic or evangelical? What do we really mean by these labels, and how can we avoid using them in a way to make ourselves feel superior? Also we welcome the return of little Marty Buber and we have a genuine competition, just like real, grown-up podcasts do!

Episode 16: How to be a Bad Christian

It’s our second ever interview! It’s another man called Dave! Joe interviews Dave Tomlinson, author of How to be a Bad Christian, The Bad Christian’s Manifesto and his latest book, Black Sheep and Prodigals. We talk about how it’s a bad thing to leave God in the hands of the experts, the limitations of language and the role of stories in the Bible. Meanwhile, there’s feedback from the article in Christianity magazine and, in a shock development, Nick is very happy.

Christianity Magazine: Help I’m Having a Mid-faith Crisis!

Dave Tomlinson

Episode 15: Telling the Truth

In which our heroes discuss how hard it is to be truly honest and what stops us from letting others see behind the masks we wear. Along the way we take feedback from listeners, wonder at our sheer inability to organise our diaries, and Nick reveals how all other writers are, in fact, his enemy. All this, plus Ethel Sadoldperson’s campaign to become an MP. Oh, and Joe’s audio sounds truly terrible. Sorry about that. Just being, you know, honest.

Episode 14: Waiting for Resurrection

In which our heroes discuss the necessity of waiting and the hope of resurrection. It’s Easter Saturday, a day when, in the gospels, nothing much happens. Hopes have been dashed, dreams have been crushed, and all there is to do is wait… But waiting itself has value, has worth. And God is a God who waits. Along the way we discuss Nick’s shambolic time management, and Joe bonds with a squid.

“Waiting can be the most intense and poignant of all human experiences – the experience which, above all others, strips us of affectation and self-deception and reveals to us the reality of our needs, our values and ourselves.”
from The Stature of Waiting, by W.H. Vanstone

Episode 13: Values, not vision

In which we feature our very first interview! Joe interviews Dave Steell, who leads One Church, Brighton, and discusses the idea that, with the right values, the vision takes care of itself. It’s about who we want to be, not just what we want to achieve. And either side of the interview, we launch a liturgy for the bewildered, talk about forest church, and discuss whether churches should offer refunds.

Episode 12: The Problem of Prayer

In which our heroes discuss one of the key practices of the Christian life. Yes, it’s the first of a series we’re calling by the catchy title of Stuff we have to do as Christians, even though we might not like it and we’re no longer part of the official church, so suck it up. And this week is all about prayer. Does it work? Is it ever right to pray for a car parking space? How do we speak our prayers out loud without looking like a crazy person? All this plus exciting news of the Mid-Faith Crisis weekend!

Episode 11: We all need to belong

In which we look at what it means to belong. Joe shares his life story, Nick has been giving himself, and we discover the menopraise, which is like the menopause, but for churchgoers. Also there is a lot of childish argument at the beginning. And quite a lot during the rest of the podcast, come to think of it…

Episode 10: Yes, but are you ‘born again’?

In which our heroes look at what it means to be saved. What does it mean to be born again? Should we even still be using the phrase? We explore surrender and rebirth and all the possibilities that opens up for us. Along the way, Nick gets grumpy about the Celts, Joe defines pantheism, and we float the possibility of a real, live Mid-faith Crisis get-together.

Episode 9: Get grumpy about something that matters

It’s a feedback show! In which our heroes share some letters and emails from some of our listeners – all of which are more profound, intelligent and deeply moving than the normal rubbish we provide. Along the way we explore how to disagree well, why The Velveteen Rabbit is one of the great books of spiritual formation, the need for us not to give into cynicism and how to channel our grumpiness into good.

And read the Velveteen Rabbit.

Episode 8: The good news, part one

In which our heroes discuss the gospel. What’s so good about the good news? Along the way we explore the concept of a press release from the kingdom of God, and how Jesus invites us to join our kingdom with his – because we all need a bit of regime change, folks. Meanwhile, Nick rants about language, we welcome back the trousers of ambiguity and Joe mysteriously fails to set off the sermon alarm.

Episode 7: I’m H.A.P.P.Y

In which our heroes discuss happiness. Happy new year, everyone! But what does it mean to be happy? Can we really pursue happiness? What really makes for a happy life? Along the way, Nick blames the Declaration of Independence, we explore why new year’s resolutions never last and Joe claims the greatest gift of Christmas is actually cheese.

Episode 6: ‘Do not be afraid…’

In which our heroes celebrate Christmas. Why is it good news? It’s a special Christmas episode, enlivened by the fact that Joe and and Nick are actually in the same room for once. We look at how the Bible really depicts Christmas, why it really is a cause for celebration, and the hope of its key message: ‘Do not be afraid’. Plus a look at some stupid Christmas carol lyrics, whether you can get epiphed at epiphany, we have actual poetry and Joe makes heroic attempts to pronounce Lamb shawarma.