A few podcasts back, Randy’s son Lukas and my son Tristan joined us for a wide-ranging, very compelling four-way conversation about how Gen-Z-ers approach matters of spirituality, faith and lack thereof. As conversations do around here, that one got all of us thinking – Tristan in particular. And all that thinking has produced a few questions that Tristan would like to pose to Randy – mostly about faith. Tristan and his sister grew up in a home where no religion was practiced. Both my wife and I are full-on atheists. Christmas was celebrated as a Western cultural “do”. We mostly remembered also to light Hannukah candles to keep the grandparents (my parents) happy. Religious faith was seen as a kind of exotica.
Back when Tristan and Lucas were kids in high school, back when Randy was still the pastor at the Silver Lake Community Church in the Silver Lake section of Los Angeles, Tristan and Lucas were part of a weekly discussion and community service group based out of Randy’s church. Randy would invite some of the homeless men that got food from the church to talk to the group. It was quite eye opening for them – in the best ways possible. If anything, it put human dimensions to the problem, gave people with whom they’d avoided eye contact in their own neighborhood (homeless in LA is a massive problem) eyes that couldn’t be denied.
There was a religious component to the meetings but questioning that component was absolutely allowed. The point of the exercise wasn’t to push the religious aspect of Christianity, it was to push Christianity’s innate sense of community – one of its absolute strengths. We should embrace the poor because they’re part of “us”. And we could be them under just the right (wrong) circumstances. In addition to homelessness, the group talked about other contemporary (for the time) problems. I suspect that’s when Tristan and Randy’s one-on-one actually began. Today’s podcast is an extension of that – one intellectually curious young person’s curiosity about something not practiced in that young person’s home: religious faith.
If you’ve ever questioned faith – if you’ve ever questioned your own faith – this conversation will surprise you. Hey, it’ll surprise you even if you’ve never thought for two seconds about faith.
Or, if you’d prefer to watch…