This is PEP Talk - the paid-subscriber podcast for The Post-Evangelical Post. In recognition of the public release of Substack Notes, I am making this available to all subscribers - and of course will share it on Substack Notes.
In this episode, I provide a primer on my work:
I’ve hosted the Exvangelical podcast since 2016.
I started the #exvangelical hashtag that same year. Its use across various social media platforms (and alongside other hashtags like #deconstruction and #churchtoo) has contributed to the development of a robust counterpublic to the dominant narrative around religion in American culture.
In 2020, I developed a season about the systems & institutions of white evangelicalism and their relationship to Christian nationalism called Powers & Principalities. On that season I spoke with the likes of, , , , and (listed in order of appearance), among many others.
As mentioned in the About page, “The Post-Evangelical Post is a newsletter about belief, technology, and society—with a focus on white evangelicalism and its influence in American society—by me, Blake Chastain. I also host the podcasts Exvangelical and Powers & Principalities, and write extensively about topics related to deconstruction, faith shifts, identity, and media/technology.”
I donate 25% of net proceeds. You can learn more about that on the Support page.
Notes on Notes
Overall, I think Notes has promise. I remain confused about the use of “Bestseller badges:”
I elaborated on that in a Note reply to(I'm still learning the more social aspects of this - and it's worth noting that from a technical POV, I couldn't find this in my notifications and had to navigate to D.L.'s publication, then profile, then Notes page to find again to embed here - because replies aren't listed on Notes profiles yet):
Despite these concerns - it remains largely peaceful (though I have already been significantly misunderstood once, and transphobe trolls have already left comments on a post I put in my now-redundant(?) Chat - so people remain people).
That being said, if Notes does help writers gain more steady support (something I have always struggled to gain; I maintain full-time employment outside of this work), I will be glad for it. I currently have less than 100 supporters, so I do not have a badge of any kind.
I do not know if Notes will ever be able to cultivate the sorts of “counterpublics” that Twitter once allowed, which I wrote about here while speculating about the initial announcement Musk’s acquisition of Twitter:
Following the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 insurrection, when Christian nationalist imagery was abundant in the footage of the rioters who invaded the Capitol Building, white evangelicals began working to undermine the counterpublics that had sprung up in recent years via the constellation of related hashtags like #exvangelical, #deconstruction, #decolonize, #ChurchToo, #LeaveLoud, #EmptyThePews, and #ExposeChristianSchools, among others. Sites like The Gospel Coalition began running stories decrying “deconstruction,” David Jeremiah said exvangelicals were the sign of the end times from the pulpit, and Christianity Today ran cover stories about deconstruction.
They seek to counter the counterpublics, which is understandable from their perspective. However, the imbalances that exist in the world beyond the glass rectangles where culture wars are waged are stark, and while they are not visible in the information environment, they are visible in other areas—particularly with regard to access to political and financial capital. Entrenched white evangelical interests drive GOP politics almost exclusively, for example, and they have ample attention in and access to mainstream “liberal” media as well as their own media ecosystems and complementary coverage in the conservative media sphere.
It’s within the context of those real-world power & capital imbalances that my uncertainties lie. Will a Musk-run Twitter allow such counterpublics to flourish? Twitter already has imbalances, such as “blue-check privilege” for verified users, the natural way those with established platforms or celebrity accumulate “clout” in any new media environment they enter, etc. My fear, which you may share, is that the counterpublics that have grown on Twitter will run afoul of Musk’s supposed “free-speech absolutism” in the process of calling him or others who wield great power into account. Judd Legum has already compiled a number of examples of this.
(FWIW, most of my concerns were validated in the last few months.)
But I can remain somewhat hopeful about the future for a little while.
Thanks for reading. Peruse the site/newsletter archive. Say hi on Notes. And if you want to support my work, you can do so here:
The Post-Evangelical Post is a reader-supported publication. Subscribe for $5/month - 25% of net proceeds are donated.