Actually Believing God Loves You Changes Everything: Jeff Chu

Episode 04

“Does Jesus really love me?” Journalist Jeff Chu has asked himself this question countless times since he was a kid. Jeff grew up immersed in a family of theologians, where knowing and sticking to the Bible’s rules were prized currency. As Jeff approached high school, he realized he was gay. Over time, while he prayed for God to change who he was, Jeff threw himself into his work to escape his inner turmoil and realized he was a gifted storyteller who loved talking with people from all walks of life. A few years ago, Jeff found himself on the road, searching for the answer to his long-held question across America as he interviewed everyone from nice church ladies to members of the Westboro Baptist Church. And as he talked to more and more people about their spiritual beliefs, he concluded that yes: even though Jeff doesn’t feel like it some days, Jesus really does love us all. And if we actually believed He did, we would speak differently, tweet differently, love differently—in a nutshell, believing we’re loved would transform our lives.

Episode Transcript

Narrator:  Hi everybody, my name is Remy. Welcome to the For the Love Podcast, with your host Jen Hatmaker, my mom. She writes books and speaks to crowds. But she mostly loves talking to amazing people every week on this podcast. Thanks for listening! We hope you enjoy the show.

Jen:  Hey, you guys. Jen Hatmaker is here. I am your host For the Love Podcast. Welcome to the show. So right now, we are in a series called For the Love of Faith Ground Breakers.

And we’re talking with women, and men who’ve explored their own faith, and experience, and they’re coming away with questions that frankly, sometimes really rattle our religious cages. And they’re bumping up against long held tenets sometimes to see where the truth is, and they’ve all wondered aloud if the status quo should remain so.

So, all these people have expanded my definition of love, and what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus for sure. I respect them so much. This was a really carefully created docket of people that I wanted on this series. So, I’ve invited every one of them on the show to share their wisdom, because we can just learn so much from them. I know I have.

So, in order to introduce our next guest, I’m going to do something I’ve literally never done in all this time of podcasting. I am actually going to read his Amazon bio. So, I know that sounds lame, but here’s the deal. This is his bio on his Amazon author page, and there’s just no way I can do a better job of describing him than what’s written, and that’s just true. So, you’ll see what I mean as I read it. So, here is what it says on his bio page on Amazon.

“Over his eclectic journalistic career, Jeff Chu has interviewed presidents, and paupers, corporate execs and preachers, Britney Spears and Ben Kingsley. As a writer and editor for time Conde Nast portfolio and Fast Company, he has compiled a portfolio that includes stories on mega hit making Swedish songwriters, a piece for which he went clubbing in Stockholm, James Bond, for which he stood on a Spanish beach and watched Halle Berry emerge from the waves over and over. Undercover missionaries in the Arab world where he traveled to North Africa, and went to church and the decline of Christianity in Europe where he prayed.

“On the wall of his New York office, you’ll find a quote from former senator, John Warner who once told Jeff, ‘You’re a good little interviewer.’”

It continues: “A California native, Jeff went to high school at Miami’s Westminster Christian where he sat behind Alex Rodriguez in Mr. Warner’s World History class. A graduate of Princeton and the London School of Economic, Jeff has received fellowships from the Philips Foundation, The French American Foundation and in 2012, was part of the seminar on debates, and religion and sexuality at Harvard Divinity School.

“The nephew and grandson of Baptist preachers, he’s an elder at old first Reformed Church in Brooklyn, New York. He loves the San Francisco 49ers, the book of Ecclesiastes and Clementines, and he detests marzipan more than he can explain in words.”

Okay, see what I’m saying? Don’t you want to be friends with him?

He is funny. He is smart. He is cool. He is interesting. He’s an impossibly good friend. Also, currently, he’s a seminarian at Princeton Theological Seminary. And we’re going to talk about that quite a bit because he’s also a contributing editor at Modern Farmer. I mean, can you even like . . .  You can’t peg this guy. You cannot pin him down.

We’re going to talk about his book he published a few years ago called Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America. A fascinating book. We’re going to talk about it a lot. You will be better from reading it. I can tell you that.

Jeff reminds me constantly that we need love, and that what we say matters. This connection of love brings us, we need it the way it helps us walk closer to one another, its healing power, and we’re close to Jesus. He is just the best.

And he does not shy away from the hard stuff, okay? He’s someone who really wrestles to find answers without taking his own self too seriously. He’s a very rare soul, and an absolute gem and I’m so excited he’s on the show today. And PS, he and his husband Tristan, are just the cutest. The absolute cutest.

I am absolutely thrilled, and pleased to share my charming and delightful and amazing conversation today with the very wonderful Jeff Chu.

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Jen: Good morning to my friend Jeff. I’m so happy that you’re here. I’m a huge, huge, huge Jeff Chu fan. Hi.

Jeff: Hi, Jen. You know I love you.

Jen: You know what I was just thinking this morning when I was getting ready to jump on with you? About the first time we met face to face, which was in Grand Rapids. Remember?

Jeff: I do remember.

Jen: Uh-huh. We were at The Festival of Faith and Writing. And somehow, I managed to squeeze out 30 minutes with you—which, by the way, I recognized the inherent kindness in that because you’re like a shy introvert. And so, I gobbled up 30 minutes of your quiet time, and grabbed you with my mom.

Jeff: Your mom, who is amazing.

Jen: I know.

Jeff: And it was such a gift to meet her as well.

Jen: I know, she’s great.

Jeff: Not that you’re not awesome, but I love your mom too.

Jen: No, my mom always is just like the bonus person. She travels with me sometimes, and everyone is always like, “It was great to see you, and all of that ,and I really love your mom. Can I have her cell number?” So that’s why I’m used to that. I’m accustomed to it.

So look, I have told my listeners a little bit about you, and what you do, and where you’ve been, where you are now. But if you’ll just indulge me for a minute, I wonder if you could just go back for a second and talk a little bit about your early years. Kind of starting with your kid years, ’cause you’re the grandson and the nephew of Baptist preachers, is that right?

Jeff: Yes, ma’am.

Jen: And in fact, your grandparents lived in Berkeley, and I didn’t even know Baptists were in Berkeley. That was news to me.

Jeff: Only non-white ones.

Jen: That’s true. That’s a great point.

So a lot of us, frankly, can relate to the kind of upbringing that you had. The old hymns, and the felt boards, and the sandwich cookies, and the Kool-Aid and the VBS. I would love for you to talk a little bit about you as a kid, and how it is that you viewed God when you were little. And then, when did you begin to notice that some of your ideas didn’t quite square with the way that you had been brought up to understand God?

Jeff: I grew up in a very Baptist family. It was Southern Baptist missionaries who converted us. They came to China, and I’m sure a lot of folks grew up with those stories of the missionaries that the mission board sent to China. My faith is a direct result of people who took that big risk to travel halfway around the world to proclaim the gospel.

I knew God had been good to my family. My grandfather was the first convert in his part of the family, and he grew up to be not only a pastor, but also a Bible college professor.

But after the communists took over in 1949, the communists, interestingly, were a little bit more into walls. And the story goes that one night in the early 50s, it was maybe 1953, 1954, he had this gut feeling—the Baptists would call it “the Spirit”, and non-Baptists would call it “a gut feeling.”

Jen: Right.

Jeff: He packed a bag, and the next morning he left for Hong Kong, and he knew he would not go back to his homeland. The following week, the communists came and they arrested the entire remaining faculty of the Bible college.

Jen: Wow.

Jeff: And many of his colleagues were imprisoned for years.

Jen: Oh my gosh. Wow.

Jeff: So it’s a terrible story. I have asked myself, and I asked myself when I was a kid, Why did my grandfather escape? Why didn’t his colleagues? And my faith could never really make sense of that. I was taught to be thankful that I had my grandfather, and I was brought up to believe that for some unknown reason, God had called my grandfather out of China. And he was saved from that particular kind of suffering.

So I grew up with this kind of story, this amazing story, but also a terrifying story.

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: So I think as a kid, and into my adulthood, I’ve both been afraid of God but also in awe of God.

Jen: Yeah. I get that so much.

Jeff: I’ve learned in seminary that you can translate the Hebrew word for fear in different ways, and sometimes it can be fear that makes you want to run away. And sometimes it can be that kind of awe that makes you want to draw closer. But when I was a kid, it wasn’t really the good kind of fear.

Jen: Same.

Jeff: I was worried that I could never do enough to please God.

So, I’m this Chinese kid with no athletic skills and a big bowl haircut. And that is just not a recipe for popularity.

Jen: Right.

Jeff: And then comes the season when I start realizing I’m having crushes on boys.

Jen: Yeah, and this is what? High school?

Jeff: It was the end of junior high, beginning of high school.

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: I was going to a very conservative Christian school. In ninth grade, when I was in ninth grade, my Bible teacher was outed. And I just knew that if anybody ever found out about my feelings, I would be in serious trouble.

Jen: Right.

Jeff: And so I think for years, I conflated that whole system with God, and I was so afraid of being found out by the system, and I was afraid of being found out by God, which is hilarious because I thought I could hide anything from God.

Jen: Right.

Jeff: Every other night I was begging God to change me. So obviously, I was telling God something about what was going on. But as we all know, the 14-year-old brain isn’t the most logical thing in the world.

Jen: So true.

Jeff: I think you and your listeners have talked about that at some point. So that was my childhood.

Jen: Yeah.

So you grew up. You got this fabulous education, making your mom very proud. You become a journalist. Plus, you’ve told stories from some really, really powerful people, which is super cool. At the same time, I notice that you are really passionate about telling stories of ordinary people. You do both.

Can you talk a little bit about how you began to get your arms around the power of storytelling, your own giftedness in it, and then how you moved into sort of your adult career?

Jeff: My parents may be proud of my career now, but writing is not on the Chinese parents’ Approved List of Professions.

Jen: That’s right. That’s a short list, right?

Jeff: When I first got my parents down to say, and this was when I was 23, that I wanted to be a writer, my dad’s one sentence response before he left the room was, “Investment banks need writers too.”

Jen: Oh, God. Oh, mercy. Okay.

Jeff: So I really owe my career to one college professor. I only ever took one journalism class.

Jen: Really?

Jeff: And it was after I did an assignment, it was during a presidential election. And I profiled the lady who sits outside the cafeteria and swipes our ID cards for meals.

Jen: Wow.

Jeff: Yvonne Johnson was nearing the end of her career. She was about to go into retirement. She lived in Trenton, New Jersey, and she was going to move to Florida. And I wrote a piece for this class about what Yvonne Johnson was going to do in terms of voting during the election. And my professor came to me, and she said, “Jeff, you can do this.”

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: So, look, I’m not gonna lie and tell you that becoming a journalist was some great altruistic mission to heal the world because it wasn’t. I became a journalist because it was fun. I got lucky that I found a magazine that was willing to pay for me to travel and explore the world.

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: And this was before the media was the financial mess that it is now, and it was still possible live as a journalist. And I started out in London, and I got to go to film sets and interview movie stars.

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: I went on the campaign trail with politicians, and it was a dream, especially for someone who’s suffering from internal turmoil.

Jen: Totally.

Jeff: That kind of immersive experience is the best kind of escapism you can get for a while, right? The first story I ever had in the print edition of Time Magazine, and that’s where I started my career, was a review of the movie Billy Elliot.

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: It only ran in the European edition, I was working in London. But Billy Elliot is this fantastic movie, for those who haven’t seen it, about a normal kid who’s out of place in his family, and in his part of society. And it’s through his art that, not only is his own life changed, but so are the perspectives of those around him.

And I think my work started cracking me open a little bit, and I got to interview more people and I realized how boring a lot of famous people are.

Jen: Huh, fact. Yes.

Jeff: It’s a chore for them to talk with journalists, and I realized some of them were just making stories up to pass the time. And then real people, wow, a lot the stuff they go through, and the number of times people have said to me over the years that nobody ever asked them for their story. That they never thought anyone from a magazine would care what they had to say. That they never imagined that their lives mattered. That broke my heart, and I think it changed my direction a little bit. I hate now that we call anyone ordinary.

Jen: The word has a lot of weight to it now.

Jeff: Nobody is ordinary.

Jen: It’s true.

Jeff: Every family is pretty much a soap opera and a reality TV show.

Jen: That’s true.

Jeff: But the biggest honor of my life has been to sit at people’s kitchen tables, and in their living rooms, and hear about what they love, and what they struggle with, and what they care about, and what they believe and what they want to believe. And I love doing that, and I still hate coffee hour at church. It’s very interesting.

Jen: I like this, because I appreciate you saying that your career was a very fortuitous way to just outrun your own internal turmoil, which it was. Never. Never still and never alone. So boom, just like that, you can just hustle your way right past it.

But eventually, I mean, just eventually that, that’s not sustainable, that won’t last. You can’t outrun yourself, your life, your heart, what you love, who you love.

And so, you eventually went on a spiritual pilgrimage. You wrote a whole book about it, and it’s a book that is so—I just want everybody to know this. I know that they can already tell just by listening to you, but it’s very compulsively readable. I mean, you pick it up and by the time you put it down, you’ve missed your appointments, the kids are hungry, you skipped dinner. I mean, it’s like, you’re just such a good writer.

Can you talk about that season a little bit? Your book, Does Jesus Really Love Me?, how that came into being, what was going on in your own spiritual life at the time, your own heart and soul.

Jeff: So early in my journalism career, I was told that nobody’s a real writer unless you’ve written a book. And even in this internet age, right? There’s this idolatry of books.

Jen: Totally.

Jeff: And it might sound a bit rich coming from you and me, given that we’ve both written books, but there are all kinds of writers. If you keep a journal, you’re a writer. If you preach sermons, you’re a writer. If you write angry emails to your children, you’re a writer, right?

Jen: Exactly.

Jeff: But anyway, I believed the lie that I wasn’t a writer. So, I was some years into my non-writing career, and one of my closest friends who works in book publishing said to me that it was time for me to write a book. And I replied that I didn’t really know anything about anything.

I’m a huge dilettante, and so, one week I’d be writing about food, and the next week I’d be writing about politics. And it’s just a strange game where you’re giving yourself a crash course in a subject, and you have to be an expert for 800 or 1000 words, and hope you don’t make any mistakes.

800 words is one thing, 80,000 words is another, right?

Jen: Right.

Jeff: So my friend and I were on this little road trip, and she was nagging me about this book thing. And she said, “Well, you should just write a book about Jesus.”

And I replied that my mom would say I didn’t really know a lot about Jesus. I wasn’t really going to church that much.

And then my friend said, “Well, you should write about a book about being gay.”

And I replied that a lot of people would say I didn’t know a lot about being gay.
Jen: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Jeff: I don’t fit a lot of the stereotype of gay guys and standard white gay culture in America.

Jen: Right.

Jeff: But then we started talking, and I realized there are so many books out there on homosexuality and Christianity that talk at you about doctrine, and hermeneutics and big words I don’t understand, and how you should understand scripture. But there weren’t a lot of stories. And I wanted stories.

I was still working out some of my theology, and I still am. I think that’s a lifelong thing for most of us, and I really didn’t want people telling me what I should think. I wanted to hear about the journeys other folks had been on with their sexuality and with their faith, and I wanted to see how those stories resonated with mine or didn’t.

I have spent my whole life being preached at from all different angles.

Jen: Right.

Jeff: One of my college chaplains told me that once I sorted out my relationship with my Heavenly Father, that would translate, and it might transform my relationship with my earthly father, and that would take care of this gay thing.

Jen: For sure. Just a simple formula.

Jeff: It is.

Jen: It’s foolproof. Yes.

Jeff: But I was never good at chemistry or math, and so, well . . .

Some of my friends on the other end of the theological spectrum told me I should abandon any notion there was a God at all. I shouldn’t speak to my parents until they came around.

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: And that would take care of this whole religious angst thing.

Jen: Wow.

Jeff: What was fascinating was, almost nobody asked me what I wanted, what I hoped for, what I was worried about, what I was thinking about God or not thinking about God. And everybody else seemed so certain about the answers, and that struck me as very odd.

Jen: Yes.

Jeff: So I did the only thing I know how to do, which is to interview other people, which is what I do when I don’t know what to do with myself. And I did that for just over a year. That’s how the book happened.

Jen: Yeah. Yeah.

How did you find that writing process? ‘Cause that was completely different type of writing, really, ’cause it also was so personal at the same time. Like, did you find that year deeply affected or informed your theology, or your ideas, or your interpretations? And I’m curious what you personally discovered over the course of that.

Jeff: So I think the biggest lessons have come in the years since the book writing process. Like, writing a book is such a horrifying, excruciating, out-of-body experience anyway. And when you’re writing about your own opinions every day, you are faced with this ginormous imposter syndrome, where you just really are afraid to let the world know anything about you for fear of rejection.

Jen: Totally.

Jeff: Oh, my gosh, someone is going to get two pages into this, and they’re gonna think, Wow, you’re boring.

Jen: I don’t believe. Right, or you don’t have this figured out and you supposedly wrote a book about it. Yeah, I mean, this is so relatable. And so, true.

Jeff: Wow, I give $15 for a book, and his answer is, I don’t know?

Jen: Totally. Exactly. How dare he.

Jeff: It was terrifying and it’s only now, I think that I can look back at that experience, see some of the ways in which meeting different people from different places on the theological spectrum was such an important experience for reminding me of the possibilities that exist in searching for God.

Jen: Totally. And people, and their stories have been, I would say for me too, probably the biggest boulder in the river in which diverts the flow, affected me the most, changed me the most. And there’s just something about taking the idea of God and theology out of this sterile territory of academia and putting it into like the soil of human experience. And it just, that’s for me, where it comes to life.

Jen: I think one of the most thought provoking stories in your book is when you talk about your visit to Westboro Baptist Church, and how you came away with thoughts, and feelings that you weren’t expecting. Can you talk about what happened there, and what you learned? I was actually shocked by your visit.

Jeff: So it was super important for me if I was even going to pretend to try to cover big chunks of the theological spectrum in America on the issue of sexuality that I go to Westboro Baptist Church.

They won a case at the US Supreme Court that confirmed their right to do what they do. So I wasn’t going to ignore them.

So I spent five days there. I went on pickets with them. I went to church with them. I had dinner with them. And it was really an effort to try to understand who the human beings were behind the signs, because it’s so easy for us to use them as the picture of hate.

Jen: Sure.

Jeff: And it actually lets a lot of people off the hook, because their language may be stronger than that which polite church folks would use, but their theology isn’t really that different.

Jen: It’s a great point.

Jeff: It allows a lot of people in churches to say, “Well, I’m against same-sex marriage, and I’m against homosexuality, but I would never use that language. Therefore, I’m better.”

Jen: Yeah. Yeah.

Jeff: So, the thing for me about Westboro. that whole trip was really transformed on the Sunday when we went out picketing. And it was a super hot day, and we’re standing on a street corner and there was a six year old boy named Ben.

Ben couldn’t read the words on the sign that he was holding. He’s standing at the roadside with a sign that’s preaching at people driving by on their way to church on Sunday morning, and he can’t read those words. And I thought, What kind of accountability should he have for that? And I couldn’t, I was just sad. He was this adorable kid who loves jumping on a trampoline in the backyard, and was scared about going to a public school for the first time, just like any normal six-year-old would be.

Jen: Right.

Jeff: And the question I left with, and the question I have mulled over many times over the years is, At what age am I allowed to hate Ben?

Jen: Hmm. Wow. Yep.

Jeff: Does it happen when he’s 13 and going through puberty? And then I’m like, Okay, now I can hate you. Now, I can be angry with you. Now, I’m allowed to not extend grace to you. Or is it when he’s 18 or 21?

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: How does that work? And I couldn’t ever figure out a moment at which my own faith or my understanding of God’s love would let me off the hook.

Jen: That is like a gut punch. It’s just such a gut punch, and this is something—you’re one of my best teachers about this, this love bit that you just touched on: both the love that Jesus has for us, and the love that we are supposed to have for one another.

Our obligation to share love with the world is perhaps a little bit more simple than we’ve made it, although it’s really, really complicated as you just said. It’s hard. It’s hard.

At the end of your book, I kind of walk away with the sense that, throughout your whole life, love is maybe something that you’ll redefine over and over again, and that you will never stop wrestling with it. And I appreciate that, because I think we’d like to draw clearer lines in the sand around who God loves and why, how we’re supposed to love and why, who we’re supposed to love and why.

I wonder if you can talk about that just a little more. I mean you funneled into there a little bit with Ben. But what do you believe about this? Have any of your feelings about love, like, both how we are loved and how we are supposed to love changed or shifted or evolved since the book? What does it look like for you to love others? Kind of grabbing the tail end of that story and then carrying it forward now.

Jeff: I have been thinking a lot about the instruction that Jesus gives us to love your enemies, right?

Jen: Mm-hmm.

Jeff: I’m working on a sermon that I have to preach in a couple weeks. And it occurred to me the other day, and I’m sure I am not the first to think this because I don’t really have that many original thoughts, but that’s okay. What if the enemy I most have to love first to make this whole thing work is me? What if I am my own worst enemy?

I mean, I have wasted gazillions of hours, to use a technical term, over the years beating myself up. I think the greatest struggle in many of our lives that we don’t really want to talk about is to believe that each of us is truly loved by God. And if we don’t feel God’s love, then how are we going to radiate that love into the world?

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: Right? So, I can talk a pretty good love talk, and I think most of us who grew up in church can. I believe in God’s love in an intellectual way, and I will insist on it all day long.

But late at night when it’s just me, and my thoughts and my fears, do I feel God’s love? No, not most of the time. This week, I confessed to my small group that most days I don’t really believe God loves me.

Jen: Wow.

Jeff: Not just as I am, as the old hymn goes. And I don’t think most of us do. Because, I think if most of us really believed God loved us, and the us is crucial here, wouldn’t we behave differently?

Jen: We would.

Jeff: Wouldn’t we be kinder? Wouldn’t that love transform us, and how we tweet, and what we put on Facebook statuses, and how we treat one another and how little or how much we give to other people?

Jen: You’re right.

Jeff: Okay, so here’s, and maybe this is a different way to frame it slightly. Sometimes we talk about love and we say we feel loved, but we also think God loves us like we do, I mean. So God loves transactionally.

Jen: Sure.

Jeff: God loves by giving us what we want and spoiling us. Or God loves us by saying nice things to us, and encouraging us to say nice things about each other. And that’s not really what I’m talking about. I think those are really limited expressions of love, and they’re not necessarily bad, but they’re also not whole. So we impose our kind of limited human love on God, who I think and I hope loves very differently and more holistically than we do.

I think in English, we just don’t have the kind of nuance that maybe other languages have to describe the different kinds of love that exist. So, it’s not just like Valentine’s Day romantic love.

Jen: Sure.

Jeff: Or sexual love, or the love one has for one’s family, or the love you have for your closest friends. There’s also the love that unlocks something in you, or the love that moves you to explore something new, or the love that grows slowly in your heart. And I just don’t think we’re good at having that nuance.

Can I read you something?

Jen: Can you, please?

Jeff: This is a little snippet from my most recent writing. I’m working on some writing about The Farminary, which I love.

Jen: Yes. I’m all ears. I want to hear all about that one.

Jeff: So, it’s never been shared before publicly and so, I ask for your grace.

Jen: Yes.

Jeff: But it’s a little thing about how I’m a better friend now because of a goat I met.

Jen: Okay.

Jeff: Okay.

“I don’t know much about goats, beyond that I enjoy a good goat curry. I can’t say that I wouldn’t eat goat curry again, either. But to be clear, I wouldn’t eat August curry. August is the baby pygmy goat who I love. I like to think that I have the ability to differentiate between a regular curry and an August curry.

Jen: Yes.

Jeff: “I never spent significant time with any other goats. I have no sense of whether August is an extroverted weirdo or whether she’s quintessentially goat-ish. So, when I say that August seems doglike, I say it knowing that it may be an affront to species purists who think it’s insulting and typically human not to be able to see a creature just for what it is, rather than what it’s like.

“One of my little rituals with August was a game of Chase. I would freeze, and she would face off against me. And then suddenly, I’d take a big step towards her and she would take off, bounding onto the wheel rail the trailer and then around the back, and then we do it all over again.

“Another was a game of Peekaboo. I would chase her in one direction around the trailer, and then double back, and she’d either chase me around one corner or peek around another to see if I had reappeared.

“If I or anyone really—I don’t want to make dubious claims of exclusivity, because in terms of laps, August was equal opportunity—if I sat on the milking stand or on the ground creating any surface approximating a lap, she was on it. Unlike her mom, Daisy, who seemed mostly to tolerate us, except when we thought to scratch that one spot between her horn, or when I gave her some of the sweet grass that grew only outside their pen.

“Hebrew tradition gives us the concept of the scapegoat. On Yom Kippur, one goat was slaughtered as a blood sacrifice. A second goat was sent into the wilderness never to return. The goat was burdened with carrying the sins of the people away from the community, and its banishing symbolized the departure of these acts of wrongdoing along with all their consequences.

“It’s funny to think of the scapegoat tradition in light of August’s ministry, and I don’t use the word ministry lightly. There’s something about August that was transporting, that did do something of what a scapegoat was supposed to do.

“In her presence, all the bad feelings disappeared. All the worries that dogged me the rest of the day. All the anxieties about things I had done or not done. And all the shadows of sin that otherwise clouded me.

“It was as if some invisible part of her goatly spirit did play the traditional role of the beast of burden, carrying away all the bad feelings in to some wilderness. Yet the rest of her, enough of her, elaborated on the traditional narrative, remaining as reassurance and telling a new story: that our sins do not have lasting power to break fellowship.

“Three days before the goats went home, I went out to the farm in the late afternoon when I knew nobody else would be there.

“I went in, and sat on the ground and August jumped onto my lap as I knew she would. She buried her face in my chest, urging me to scratch her head and neck as I knew she would. And then, I just flopped on to my back and I let August climb onto my chest.

“For the two or three minutes that my back was against the ground, and she was using me as a climbing platform, I felt happy, I felt joy. I felt lighter, as if August had noticed the worry and the anxiety, the doubts and troubles that regularly weighed me down, and she had asked if she could carry all that for me for a few minutes so I could rest.

“In my entire adulthood, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve laid in the grass and let my head touch the ground. Always some fear has kept me from doing so. Fear of impropriety, mainly, of doing something that seemed less than adult and less than dignified. Fear of grass stains, which can be really hard to get out of a shirt. Also, fear of bugs.

“But what is it that allows other creatures, our dogs, our cats, this goat to unlock our vulnerability as they do?

“There is no fear in love, 1 John 4:18 says. But perfect love drives out fear because fear expects punishment. The person who’s been afraid has not been made perfect in love.

“The verb tense in that last verse is interesting that it isn’t the person who makes me himself as perfect but rather, there’s some outside agent facilitating or orchestrating this process of being made perfect in love.

“In her essential goatiness, and in her unadulterated Augustness, August was, for a season, the embodiment of that for me.

“Whenever I was with her, I was utterly unafraid. And not only unafraid, but also free, which is to say, I felt more myself than I ever had.”

Jen: Oh, I love it. August! Oh, that’s such good writing, Jeff.

I wonder if you could tell everybody a little bit about The Farminary just ’cause they’re thinking, I thought this guy was a journalist, why is he writing about a goat named August, and I don’t understand what’s happening?

Jeff: So, The Farminary is a 21-acre farm that is the best classroom at Princeton seminary, and I would say at any seminary. And we grow things. We grow a lot of sermon illustrations.

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: Just before we started our conversation today, we were pruning a grape vine that hasn’t been pruned in four or five years, at least. And we were coming up with all kinds of heretical uses of that illustration in sermons.

Jen: I love it.

Jeff: The director of the farm, Nate Stucky, who’s a dear friend of mine, he likes to say that the main thing that we grow at the farm is soil. We do a lot of composting.

Jen: I know. That was one of your best sermons out of The Farminary that I’ve ever heard in my life and I’ve heard, I don’t know, a million?

Jeff: I didn’t know how much I liked compost, and dirt and rotten vegetables until I got to the farm. And it has been a place where, through digging in the dirt, through weeding, through playing with farm animals, through growing chickens and slaughtering them, I’ve begun to see what love could be.

My very first class I took there on the very first day of class, the two professors said, “We expect love to grow here.”

Jen: That’s great.

Jeff: I’ve never heard that from anyone in a church, in a classroom?

But setting that expectation, we expect love to grow here. Okay, what does that look like? And that’s what the farm has been.

Jen: Yeah, I’ve learned a lot from you, and your experience on the farm, going back to school, going back to seminary.

I’d love to talk to you, if you wouldn’t mind for a minute about, you’re an observer, you’re a journalist, you’re a storyteller of faith. That’s a part of you who you are. A big part.

You’re on the front lines of a lot of conversations that are current, important, fragile, shifting. I would love to hear . . .  I’m curious about what you’re hearing, the conversations you’re both listening to and contributing to, in and around the church with the LGBTQ community and our brothers and sisters. Maybe even more so from when you first started writing your book, because it’s been a few years since. And there’s been a lot of shifting. I mean, even since then. And so, what do you think about what you’re hearing and seeing right now?

Jeff: So one thing that’s different from when I wrote the book is, I didn’t really address the T or Q in LGBTQ.

Jen: Yeah, that’s a great point.

Jeff: I don’t even think I did a good job with the B.

Jen: Great point.

Jeff: And I’m so thankful that those siblings have emerged from the shadows more and more over the years.

Jen: That’s good.

Jeff: And they’ve been so brave in telling their stories, and lifting their voices, which is so risky, and so hard, and also so beautiful.

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: So I think there’s much more diversity, in terms of the conversations we’re having about sexual ethics, about the effects of purity culture, and that’s not just about gay gay people. Right? Like that’s across the board.

Jen: Right. You’re right. Totally.

Jeff: That’s a really hard conversation to have, and that is a really hard conversation to have with grace.


Jeff: I think those folks and the majority, pastors who taught some of those classes, folks who were giving their kids purity rings.

Jen: Sure.

Jeff: There can be a lot of pain in terms of defensiveness, and a different kind of hurt than is experienced by the folks who are the recipients of that teaching, and the recipients of the purity rings, right?

Jen: Interesting point.

 And we’re really struggling to have a gracious conversation about that.

Jen: Yeah, I see that too.

Jeff: I’m thankful for the boldness of some voices who are questioning the status quo. My friend Nadia Bolz-Weber has this new book out called Shameless that talks about purity culture, and how we look at sex. And it’s brave, because I think it’s going to upset some people and compel some uncomfortable conversation about what the church is done and said about sexuality.

There’s the poet Emily Joy, who’s done such tremendous work around the #churchtoo.

Jen: That’s right.

Jeff: And we need to be able to listen better, and to absorb these stories and to ask more questions, as opposed to being defensive about it.

And for those of us who have suffered from purity culture, I think we need to understand what the function of our stories is. Because there’s storytelling that’s meant to be cathartic, storytelling that is meant to express pain and lament. And then there’s another kind of storytelling that can overlap, but it doesn’t necessarily. And that’s storytelling that’s meant to persuade.

Jen: That’s good.

Jeff: And we have to be able to have the thought, and the care to differentiate and not just tweet at people as if however we do it is going to be fine.

Jen: That’s good.

Jeff: What are our goals? I’m grateful that young people are growing up now with more access to more stories, to thoughtful and provocative voices. I didn’t have that when I was a kid.

Jen: I know that we can’t really predict. But if you had a looking glass into the future of maybe like, let’s just say 20 years from now, what would you guess? What do you think? What’s your prediction on what the church is going to look like?

In particular, I’m meaning, the American church. Obviously, it has a completely different expression in other parts of the world. But the one that most of us are familiar with, what do you think it might look like in, let’s say, 20 years?

Jeff: I think it’s going to be less white.

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: I think it’s going to be much more diverse in terms of worship style, maybe even in terms of theology.

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: I think the questions about sexuality aren’t going to be dominating in the same way.

Jen: Yeah, I agree.

Jeff: I think we’re still going to be hurting each other a lot. I don’t know what the issue will be, but we’ll come up with something. And that grieves me, but I think that’s the human story, right? We like to think that we’re on a trajectory of progress, and in some ways we are, right?

Jen: Right.

Jeff: We’ve made some strides on the various forms of bias, and prejudice and discrimination, but we always come up with some new way to exclude people, and to tell them they’re not welcome at the table, and to inflict harm. It’s just what we do as sinful human beings.

Can you tell I’m kind of a pessimist sometimes?

Jen: You know what? I think what you are is a realist, and that is the truth that there isn’t, there isn’t a moment in human history where we have not been hurting each other. So it would be probably foolhardy to imagine 20 years from now we will have found it. We will have finally evolved into the place where the church is maybe what Jesus had dreamed of.

Let me ask you this. I’m sure someone who works in media, happens to be a believer, I’d like to gauge your thoughts about what it’s like talking about faith in a public way.

It’s a pretty hard road to hoe, actually, just to try to portray Christians in the media, especially right now in such, where everything is so incredibly convoluted. The truth is, there’s just so many of us, and we all believe so differently, clearly. I mean, if that it wasn’t clear before, it’s certainly clear now.

And I wonder, we hear a lot right now about “the Christians this,” or “the evangelicals this,” or the whatever. Is it even possible to portray us accurately? I also wonder if you think it’s possible to have nuanced faith conversations in a mass media environment? And I would just love to hear your thoughts on that as somebody who is both a part of the community, and reports on the community, and consumer of mass media and what they have to say about us. What do you think about that?

Jeff: I have struggled with the level of religious literacy in the mass media for a while. I think reporting is getting better. I can think of folks who are doing it well. Elizabeth Dias of The New York Times, does it well.

Jen: Yes, she does.

JeffEmma Green of The Atlantic is fantastic.

Jen: Yes, I love Emma.

 Sarah Bailey at The Washington Post is excellent.

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: So, there are some folks who are doing really good work. But on the whole, the media doesn’t always get—and I hate just saying “the media.”

Jen: I know. The media is very, very broad and it’s not a monolith at all.

Jeff: But now that we’ve issued the caveat, the media is like broad brush strokes.

Jen: Right.

Jeff: The media doesn’t always realize how almost every story now has a religion angle to it. Almost every story out there has a faith and morality angle to it, whether we’re talking about President Trump, or we’re talking about the Israeli Palestinian conflict in the Middle East or we’re talking about Saudi women trying to get more freedom. These are all religions strokes.

Jen: That’s right.

Right? And so, you need religious literacy to understand them well.

And in terms of nuanced conversation, I think we need to be a little more daring in terms of being willing to listen.

Jen: I appreciate that.

Jeff: And I say daring because I think it’s easy to be defensive. I think it’s easy to enter every conversation in bad faith, and look at a tweet and pick out the things that are wrong, because we’re all doing a bad job on the whole, right?

Jen: Yes.

Jeff: We’re all doing a job at maintaining any depth of nuance for an extended period of time. Our platforms don’t encourage us to have nuance.

Jen: That’s right.

Jeff: But I think it can be done. I have to believe it can be done.

I’ve heard people critique social media as like, “Oh, it’s terrible because you’re presenting this curated self.” And like, I just want us not to even talk like that, because honestly, show me a church on Sunday morning where folks aren’t showing up as a curated self.

Jen: Totally. You’re right. Same.

Jeff: We are all doing that all the time.

Jen: Mm-hmm.

Jeff: So, if I’m going to curate myself in having these conversations, I want to curate my best self, which means my most hopeful self.

Jen: That’s good.

Jeff: Which means, my most restrained self, which means the self where I encounter someone who’s being an ass to me on Twitter and I’m like, what’s going on with that person deep down?

Jen: Good.

Jeff: Why are they so mad at someone they’ve never met before?

Jen: That’s good.

Jeff: I mean, when they call me a moron, I’m like, “Yeah, actually, I kind of am.”

Jen: Right. Yeah. And, yes. I appreciate that, and I appreciate you saying that, that takes, ironically, like a measure of courage to move into a space of listening.

But frankly, it does take more courage to say, “I’d like to hear more. I’d like to hear more about what you’ve experienced, or what your story is or what your interpretation is,” and then face the consequences of that come what may.

But I find that tender posture, that curious posture, even, is not rewarded inside the church that often. Or certainly not in certain areas. In some ways maybe, but definitely not it all.

And so, I would agree with you that I actually find it more courageous to be a bit of a humble listener or learner in a lot of these conversations as opposed to what is often heralded as courageous, which is bold, and loud, and certain, and sure, and coming in like a wrecking ball.

But I submit that that is just a better way to live too. Something in my soul and spirit quiets when I can press into those practices, I feel a settling a bit. I don’t know.

So, how would you counsel us to sort of rope in some of these practices for sincerely curating our best selves?

Jeff: So, one question is, how much time do you spend in a given week sitting in silence? And by silence, that means like you not talking.

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: You just on your porch listening to the sound of whatever’s around you, right? Because silence isn’t really silence. There are other things going on that when you’re talking, you’re choosing not to allow space for.

Jen: That’s right.

Jeff: The other thing is, I learned some of this from my husband, who, I would say, is a far more humble person than I am.

My family is still a struggle. They are where they are theologically and we are where we are. So my dad chooses not to have a relationship with my husband, but they met accidentally once, and it’s a long story. But they weren’t supposed to, and they had a brief awkward interaction in a driveway.

And afterwards, these friends asked my husband, “Wow!” They said that, “That must be so hard to be rejected.”

And he said, “Oh, it’s not me. They don’t know me. He’s not rejecting me. He’s rejecting the idea of me.”

Jen: That’s right.

Jeff: And so, he didn’t take it personally because how . . .  and that was so instructive for me, right? Because my fragile self would be like, Oh my gosh, I’ve been rejected and here is my 10,000 reasons-long list of why.

Jen: Same.

Jeff: And so, where does Tristan get that centering, and that presence of mind to say, “I know who I am, and he doesn’t know who I am. And this rejection is about a concept and an idea. It’s not personal.”

Jen: Wow.

Jeff: So, I want to be able to do that more.

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: And it’s about practicing. I would bet if folks went to their pastors and said, “So, how many classes did you have on preaching or speaking in seminary, and how many classes did you have on listening?”

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: “But which of those practices is more crucial for a faithful Christian life?”

Jen: That’s good.

Jeff: If you look at scripture, if you look at the greats of the faith, I think of Hannah, who listened for what God was telling her to do as she waited for a son, right?

Jen: Right.

Jeff: And she suffered the torment of her husband’s other wife. And I think of, you know, Hagar who is listening for a word from God when she felt like this outcast. And I think of all these giants of the faith. Anna, who waited in the temple, right, for her Messiah. And they were listening, but we don’t spend a lot of time talking about that.

Jen: You’re right.

Jeff: We’re busy talking about Paul, and maybe Paul said too much sometimes.

Jen: Yeah. I love that instruction, and I love that. I love that bit about Tristan. And so, I would love a little bit speaking of Tristan, of a little epilogue on your life in the book you were real candid about your relationships you have with your family. You just mentioned people close to you how living your life and truth affected them.

I wonder if you could talk a little bit about what those relationships look like today. Are you comfortable doing that, and telling us a little bit about Tristan too?

Jeff: Tristan has been such a rock. When we met, I wasn’t going to church. We met online on

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: There was nothing in my profile about religion.

Jen: Wow.

Jeff: So the fact that we’ve gone on this journey together is a little crazy.

Jen: Yeah, it is.

Jeff: As I said, my family is still where they are theologically. They go to a Southern Baptist church. My mom struggles a little bit with the public elements of my work. She’s a very private person. My dad is a very taciturn person, doesn’t really like to talk much about these kinds of things.

So we talk about the weather. We talk about the San Francisco 49ers. We talk about golf.

Jen: Yes. Right.

Jeff: And my mom and I talked a lot about food.

Jen: Sure.

Jeff: We cook together.

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: I have learned a lot from my mom about, even amidst our theological differences, every year or two, she shows up and she will spend a few awkward days with me and Tristan.

Jen: Yes.

Jeff: And she will cook for us and feed us because that’s what she knows how to do as a mom, right?

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: And I can’t imagine what kinds of struggles that are going on inside of her, because her theology says, there’s a good chance that I’m going to hell. And for me, that really unlocked something a few years ago when I realized that her fears for my salvation were a reflection of her love.

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: She can’t understand it any other way. Our world views are different. Our conceptions of hell are different. Our conceptions of what God is going to do after this life are different, and the only way she knows how to conceive of her love, and channel her love is by praying for us and for our salvation, and to be able to see that as love has taught me something.

Jen: That’s beautiful.

Jeff: So we struggle along like most families do, right?

Jen: Sure.

Jeff: It’s just that our issues are a little different than other families.

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: And I don’t want to say it’s better or worse, because that’s a stupid comparison.

Jen: Sure.

Jeff: It just is.

Jen: Yep. I’m going to link over on the transcript the bit of writing that you did about your mom coming to cook. And I wonder if you could just—and I don’t want to give it away—but just tell the just a little piece of it about the chopsticks. Is that giving away too much?

Jeff: No, I can tell that.

Jen: Okay.

Jeff: So that story that you’re referring to was about my mom’s first visit after Tristan and I got married. Because of my parents’ theological convictions, they did not come to our wedding.

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: As I’ve been on book tour, and as I’ve read this story at various festivals, I’ve had folks come up to me and say, “You deserve better parents.” And my response to that is always the same. “Don’t talk about my mom and dad that way.”

Jen: That’s good.

Jeff: Because I honor my parents for the sacrifices they’ve made, and for the ways they’ve known how to show me love, and I love the parents who I have.

Jen: Yes.

Jeff: That doesn’t mean the relationship is easy. But this story about my mom coming to cook, it was, I guess about a year after our wedding. And the first thing she pulled out of her bag when she showed up was a pair of chopsticks, because every person in our family has a pair of chopsticks of their own and Tristan didn’t. And so, these were for Tristan.

Jen: Yes.

Jeff: And honestly, I was surprised.

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: Right? I was super surprised that she did that, because that is making an acknowledgement that goes beyond that at least one small part of her theology.

Jen: That’s right.

Jeff: And how does that make sense? Well, I don’t think it has to. I don’t think we have to fit everything into a neat and tidy box.

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: And I guess the God I believe in makes room for these kinds of mistakes, right? And these type of understandings. I hope so anyway.

Jen: Same. I love that. I love that story. I love that writing. Guys, you can go to it over to the transcript, and I’ll link over to it because it is profoundly beautiful. I thank you for sharing those parts of your life with us. That it’s so healing for a lot of us, and instructive, and useful and I’ve just learned a lot from you.

I’ve learned a lot from the way that you live, from your posture with other people, and I followed you long before you and I met. I was like a quiet little Jeff Chu follower. I actually started following you . . .  Did I ever tell you this? I’m not sure.

Jeff: I am so uncomfortable right now.

 I started following you. You were tweeting from a conference, and it was . . .  What’s the conference sort of the Gay Christian Network conference?

Jeff: Yeah. It’s called Q know now.

Jen: So, this was years ago.

Jeff: Yeah.

Jen: And this was in my little, very hidden, private season of, like, investigation. And this was way before I was prepared to discuss this in any way that was visible. And so I was, like, quietly lurking in the shadows. Like, Who can I learn from? Like, I have got some big time questions. It’s going to rock the boat.

And that is how I came across you. I was following the hashtag during the conference, and I found you and I’m like, Well, who’s this guy? What’s this person about? And so, I followed you for at least a year, I think. before I ever said anything to you. Like, Hi, I think you’re nice.

Jeff: Like you went to the junior high dance.

Jen: Yes. Hi, do you have room for one more friend? Yes or no? And so, I think I’ve told this. Maybe I haven’t, but you were literally one of my earliest teachers. And I only learn by watching. Just observation. Just watching the way that you spoke, and the things that you said and how you responded to people online.

And it was really, really important to me at the time. It’s important to me now, but at the time, you were laying pavers in front of me that I did not have. I was in a different wilderness, and didn’t know where to walk.

And so, you just put little stones in front of my little feet, and I just kept walking along. And so, I want to thank you, going way back to who you are, and how you’ve always been, and how you’ve led with or without intention to be a leader. That’s just what you’ve been to me. And so, you are really important to me. And now I’m glad that we’re friends and glad we’re friends.

Jeff: I am glad we’re friends too.

Jen: Yes.

Jeff: But all that makes me really uncomfortable. I love you, but . . .

Jen: Yeah, I know it does and I don’t care. This is my podcast. So, I get to say whatever I want to on it, and you can’t hang up.

So, okay, real quick wrap up.

Jeff: Yeah.

Jen: These are just a quick questions like top of your head that we’re asking everybody in the faith series. Here’s the first one. If you could just have dinner with one of your faith heroes, who would that person be?

Jeff: So remember, I’m not all about the famous people anymore.

Jen: Yeah, you’re not and a faith hero can be famous or not famous.

Jeff: I would love to have dinner with my grandmother again. My dad’s mom.

Jen: Yes.

Jeff: She died in my senior year of high school.

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: We already had her plane tickets to my graduation.

Jen: Wow. Gosh.

Jeff: I don’t think it would be an easy meal ’cause she was pretty conservative, theologically.

Jen: Sure.

Jeff: But my love of Scripture comes from her. She was a Bible teacher.

Jen: That’s good.

Jeff: My love of fried rice comes from her. I have not had fried rice like hers since she died, and God knows I’ve tried to make it.

Jen: Sure. You even made with the brisket.

Jeff: I made it with brisket cubes. She did not make it with brisket.

Jen: Now, that’s very sacrilegious to your cultural heritage.

Jeff: But it’s delicious.

Jen: Oh, I don’t doubt it for a second.

Jeff: My love for my heritage comes from my grandma. She always taught me that I was Christian first and Chinese second.

Jen: Interesting.

Jeff: And she formed my faith more than anyone I know.

Jen: That’s a great answer. What was her name?

Jeff: Mo Lan.

Jen: Nice.

Jeff: So Chinese names are significant, and I don’t know what was up with my great-grandfather.

Jen: Okay.

Jeff: So, he could have picked the same characters and it could have meant, like, “gorgeous orchid.”

Jen: Okay.

Jeff: Like, he picked the characters that meant, like, “longsuffering.”

Jen: Oh, wow.

Jeff: Which just seems rude!

At the bare minimum of it, its heavy handed, and so . . .

Jeff: It’s not subtle.

Jen: It’s not subtle. It’s just, it’s a lot.

Okay. Do you have either a verse, or even a quote, or an idea from another face leader that kind of captures the essence of your faith? And this is . .
Jeff: Jen Hatmaker, I grew up a good Baptist boy. Of course I have a Bible verse.

Jen: Of course you have one except the ready.

Jeff: I’m gonna have a Sword Drill right now.

Jen: I used to win this.

Jeff: I’m sure you did.

Jen: You know I did. Me and Rachel. Rachel and I both win those all the time.

Jeff: Romans 8:35 to 39, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we’re being killed all day long. We are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I’m convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Jen: I haven’t heard that one in a while. That’s good. That was good to hear.

Jeff: I get choked up almost every time I read it.

Jen: That’s one of the best. That’s one of the greats.

This is the last one. I ask every guest this every series. It’s from Barbara Brown Taylor, of course, and it can just be whatever you want it to be. This is, it can be serious, it cannot be serious. So it’s your choice. What’s saving your life right now?

Jeff: I would say friendship. Some of the best friends I have ever had in my life.

Jen: I like that.

Jeff: I would say cooking time in the kitchen.

Jen: Yeah.

Jeff: I get to cook a 10-course dinner as part of my senior thesis.

Jen: Oh my gosh! Are you kidding me? Did you propose that?

Jeff: Yes. Yes.

Jen: You’re gonna have to say a little bit more about that. I’m sorry. I was going to let you off the hook in the next 20 seconds, but I just need to know a teeny bit more about this.

Jeff: So it’s going to start out with a gin cocktail with rosemary and sage that I’m growing right now, and a gin that comes from the part of Northern California I was born in.

Jen: Oh my goodness.

Jeff: And brisket fried rice is going to be on the menu.

Jen: Yes!

Jeff: Tristan has orders. He’s going to be in Austin in April right before the dinner.

Jen: Yep.

Jeff: And he has instructions to bring back two pounds of brisket from Micklethwait Craft Meats.

Jen: Yes.

Jeff: Which is my favorite. We have saved one of the birds from our last flock of chickens from the farm, and I’m going to smoke that with one of my professors with a Chinese rub.

Jen: Oh, my gosh.

Jeff: So, it’s his smoking method and my rub.

Jen: Anything.

Jeff: And I’m still experimenting.

Jen: Oh, it’s so amazing. How is this your thesis?

Jeff: So I’m writing a creative nonfiction thesis about the farm. So the little goat story that I told you is part of my thesis. And then, the last bit, because my professor Nate Stucky, he says, “Death never has the last word and God always points us toward the feast.”

Jen: That’s good.

Jeff: So how could I end my thesis without a feast?

 I have goosebumps. Like, I just have the best thesis proposal I’ve ever heard in my life.

Jeff: And then the other thing that saving my life right now, thanks to Sarah Bessey, is Schitt’s Creek.

Jen: “Oh my gosh, David!”

Jeff: I can’t believe that I lived and had any laughter and joy in my life before Schitt’s Creek.

Jen: I know. I was reborn when I discovered  Schitt’s Creek. I have the T shirt. Like, I’m all in. I’m with you.

Jeff: God’s grace shows up in unexpected ways.

Jen: You’re the very best. You are the very best. Can you just tell the folks like where they can find you?

Jeff: So, you can find me on Instagram @byjeffchu. Some other rude Jeff Chu took @jeffchu.

Jen: Terrible.

Jeff: So it’s @byjeffchu. Instagram is my favorite. You can also find me on the Twitters, where I show up from time to time, but I need breaks from Twitter.

Jen: Same. Twitter’s real stressful. Instagram is like prom every day. It’s fun.

All right, friend. Thanks for being on the show. You are the greatest.

Jeff: I love you, Jen.

Jen: I love you too. Talk to you soon.

Jeff: Take care.

Jen: I mean I just dare you to not fall madly in love with him. I dare you to try. Oh, he’s so dear, and when he started reading that bit about the goat, I was just like, I’m gonna die of charm. I’m just going to die right here of his charmingness. 

Isn’t he great? I’m going to put a bunch of pictures of Jeff over on the transcript over at And also his books, and links to all his social media spots, and he’s just such a wonderful and rare soul. I feel so lucky that I essentially forced him into friendship. Anyway, he’s the best.

This whole series, you guys, is just off the charts. It’s fire-engine-hot good with literally the best leaders I’m paying attention to right now. So you’re not gonna want to miss a single word of any of it. Come back next week. Can’t wait for it.

Thank you for listening, subscribing. We actually have done a faith series before, and you guys loved it so much that you asked for more. And so I’m thrilled to do it. This is a long series. The first time we did a faith series, it was a long series ’cause it’s just so rich, and full and good.

So come back, share it with your friends. Throw the, your little favorite podcasts up onto your social medias, and bring us new listeners, which you guys do all the time, which is amazing.

Okay, you guys are the best. See you next week.

Narrator: That’s it for today’s show. Hope you enjoyed this chat. Be sure to subscribe to my mom’s podcast and give it a “thumbs up” rating if you like it. From the whole Hatmaker family, hope you have a great week and see you next time!

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