Stuck on the Pew (Cause I Fell Asleep) | Crooked Media
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April 12, 2022
Stuck with Damon Young
Stuck on the Pew (Cause I Fell Asleep)

In This Episode

Damon explores his (unconvincing) performance of Christianity with Roy Wood Jr. and Dr. Brittney Cooper.


Damon Young: So one of my friends told me that he doesn’t go to church because he feels like he’ll get struck by lightning if he enters the building. Although the math of his logic ain’t quite mathing right – theoretically, wouldn’t a vengeful God strike him while he’s in the street with his dick out instead of when he’s trying to repent – I get it. That Christian imposter syndrome thing is real. Cause I feel it, too.

But mine isn’t about a fear of judgment. At least not a fear of judgment, from God. For me, it’s, my belief in God has always felt more intellectual than spiritual. It makes sense to me that God exists. But I just don’t feel the spirit the way other Christians seem to. And so while they’re in church, singing and dancing and screaming and crying and catching the spirit, I’m thinking about brunch.

I’ve tried to mitigate this gap between how I feel and I believe I’m expected to feel with the way I pray, which is less prayer and more spiritual bukkake. I pray for health, wealth, happiness, family, friends, world peace, Metta World Peace, new co-workers, ex-girlfriends, and random niggas with gout. Sometimes it’ll last up to 20 minutes.

I’m sure some of this anxiety is connected to how I grew up. We were Christian, but we weren’t in church every Sunday. Any Sunday, really, unless it was Easter, or someone died – well, someone other than Christ. Maybe I would’ve developed some sort of spiritual muscle memory by now.

But, I don’t know. Is that even necessary? Do I need to feel the spirit – do I need to feel God – to believe it. But then, if I don’t feel it, what’s the point of the believing?

This is Stuck with Damon Young, the show where only God can judge me.

And on today’s episode we talk about the performance of believing in God. Basically, why do I feel like a bad Christian if my expression of belief doesn’t look like the good Christians I see at church. And where does this anxiety come from?

[Music Transition]

Roy Wood Jr.: If you look at it like sports, right? It’s the fanatics that drive the reputation of the group. The reputation of Philadelphia sports fans is probably due to the 10 percent of Philadelphia fans that be wilin’.

Damon: So that’s Roy Wood Jr, who’s one of my favorite comedians. He’s also a correspondent on The Daily Show. And I wanted to talk to him because he’s a nigga from the South, so I just assumed he had some insights about God and religion, and performing Christianity.

Roy: Absolutely. It’s not like I’m Tiffany Haddish and I go, tricked ya! Got a little Jewish in me! Eritrean! Like, no, dude, I came up in the Black church. I spent every summer vacation at bible school in Clarksdale, Mississippi, with my grandparents. I was two days a week, maybe three days, two days a week church in Mississippi, got way more religion with my grandmother and my aunt than I did at home, but, you know, I was in the church choir, I was active in the Boy Scout troop at church. Shout out 6th Avenue Baptist Troop 415, you know, support them. But my relationship with the church kind of turned when I got out of college, religion as a whole. I would say that’s when the first kind of still buying into the methodical indoctrination stylistically of how you worship and this is the way that you do it and you must do it like this exactly, or else you will burn in hell.

The first instance of it, I was in middle school. I sang in the children’s choir and my ninth grade year, I got cut from the high school, I got cut from my high school, I didn’t make the team. I wasn’t on it. I got cut. I didn’t make the team. And so I made the decision that season to still be the bat boy for the varsity team so that I could observe people who were better than me in baseball so that I could hopefully get better at baseball. Well now, baseball practice is conflicting with choir rehearsal, and so our youth choir only sings once a month. We sing the same four damn songs. We had a five song bucket. We sing three, and once a year you add a new song to the bucket and take a song out. So it wasn’t hard, bro.

I miss choir rehearsal. I show up for choir on that Sunday and he lets me sing and then the next week. And this wasn’t 6th avenue, I don’t want nobody to think I’m trashing 6th Avenue. This is another church. Choir director said some slick shit to me in the parking lot. He goes, you were late again to choir rehearsal. I go, Yeah, you know, baseball and getting a ride from baseball practice over here and, you know, whatever. And he goes, son, one day you’re going to have to decide between singing your praises to your Lord and savior Jesus Christ or going to hell. And he fucking walked off and I’m like, 14. I’m like, my nigga, what? Like, I come on Sundays and I tithe and I try to be a good dude the other six days. This is extra-curricular. This is bonus points. What the fuck are you talking about? And that infuriated me. And that was the last day that I went. I went home. I told my mom I’m straight on that. That was kind of the beginning of seeing things differently. And so pretty much from college on, my life has been trying not to judge entire religions based on my interactions with the fanatics.

Damon: Yeah, it’s, just listening to your story and there’s a lot of, I guess, synergy between yours and mine. I didn’t, I grew up Baptist, but I didn’t learn any Baptist anything at school. I went to Catholic school. And so I went through all of that. Where, you know, like I still know all the words to Jesus Christ Superstar. I know that the TV version has different songs than the album version.

Roy: You know, the deep cuts.

Damon: Yeah, I know the deep cuts. And even, you know, I had like a bit of a religious epiphany while I was stealing clothes because they’re this department store downtown Pittsburgh — Coffman’s. I had a system where I would buy a shirt for real, but I would take one of those shirts without the, I would find a shirt that didn’t have a thing on it, and put it in the bag when I go in the dressing room, and then I’d walk out. But then one day this happened and the buzzer goes off when I leave the store. So no one notices, but I hurry up and go back in because I think God is watching me, like I feel God’s eyes on me, like, yo, this nigga, this nigga, you know, he has a mom and dad at home. He has meals. He don’t need to be stealing clothes and he’s out here. I’m going, I’m going to strike this nigga with lightning, OK, when he leaves the store. And so I end up going back in the store, and the thing is, it wasn’t even the stolen shirt that had the censor. It was the clerk forgot to take the sensor off the thing I bought. But that whole experience, it scared me out of stealing.

Roy: Now see, that’s the stuff I rock with man, where you feel like the universe is talking to you. There was a time in the fourth grade where I was about to get jumped, like they would sit and watch you go into the corner store and buy a Faygo and your Laffy Taffy or whatever. And, you know, I’m fourth grade. These are like six, seventh grade, huge, grown men to me. And they would shake you down for your candy. And one day I just didn’t feel like giving it up, man. So they jumped me. And as they’re like getting ready to beat my ass, just an old dude just comes up and breaks up the fight. And as I’m gathering to get up to tell him thank you, he’s gone. Now, I’m not here to tell ghost story, guardian angel, whatever on your podcast, but I’m only telling you that I know in that moment somebody had my back, somebody was looking over me. Period point blank, because the way, where this fight occurred, this old dude couldn’t have just disappeared behind a car. You know, there’s things like that, similar to your downtown Pittsburgh, where you just know there’s something that’s kind of nudging you to kind of look out for you, just looking over you and things like that. So you know, I definitely believe that there’s something. The what, and the rules and regulations on how to get to that next level, that’s where I have questions.

Damon: Considering you know, your background and growing up in a church and, you know, now you’re touring, you’re doing stand up, you’re doing these shows, whatever. I feel like there’s a lot of synergy between, I guess, preaching and stand up. And did you feel like you got any of your rhythms or any other your traits that you use on stage now from the church and from watching preachers and watching pastors and growing up with that?

Roy: More the downsides of it where there are, the lulls and the peaks and valleys of the performance. I think it was Chris Rock who I first heard make that connection, where he talked about the cadence of the Baptist preacher and taking the premise and repeating it multiple times before continuing with the bit. A lot of Baptist preachers, there’s a lot of South Carolina in Chris Rock’s delivery and his style, even the way he prowls the stage left to right. You know, I do think that there is a performance art, which is why it’s interesting now to watch some of these newer, younger preachers. I can’t think of any of their names, but, you know, they don’t have the podium, they wearing sneakers, they got the LED presentation stuff going on in the background. I have watched some of the newer megachurch pastors.

Damon: I have one of them. The pastor at my church, that’s him. He wears J’s. He hoops. He’s like three years younger than me.

Roy: So in the last years of my morning show in Birmingham, we used to do this segment called Ask the Reverend, and we would have a pastor on. And, you know, he would talk spirituality and rap with the callers about, you know, whatever they were going through and just upliftment. Right? And this cat, this is my first time, you know, meeting these type of cats. But this is Pastor Mike McClure of the Rock Church. And Pastor Mike used to come on and he had church service on Sundays and he had like three or four services. And he would do a service at like I think like 3:00 in the afternoon or something. He would do one at like 9:00 in the morning and 3:00 in the afternoon. And he was telling us how, you know, there would be dope boys, you know that was either just coming off of, you know, working, or just waking up from working all night who would still come to his church, you know, very much a come as you are type situation. And I do think that that part of, that evolution of the pastor has helped to normalize religion to people who normally wouldn’t have come to the buttoned down, you know, old school, MLK, wooden podium, church van, with the funeral home on the back of an ice cream stick type situation.

The thing that pastors do now, in my opinion, that pastors that I saw coming up did not do, is that they use silence. They’re not in a rush to get to the next line of their sermon. And it helps to really settle in emotions and so, you know, I’ve been trying to do a little more storytelling.

Comedy Central had me host “This Is Not Happening” for a couple of years. And that show really taught me, you know, the pacing and connecting with people and how pauses are just as important as the words, so I have probably learned more of that, that’s probably something that I’ve been able to use more than just the ha, heh, ha, heh, wahhhh. Performatively, that’s just not what I do in general. So it doesn’t really help me in the long run.

Damon: I feel you because, like, when I go to church now and the and the pastors that I guess speak to me a bit more, they’re giving TED talks. That’s what, that’s what they’re all doing. Like they’re preaching the word or whatever. But it’s the same rhythms and the same like techniques that people use when they’re doing these talks in front of people that are on YouTube or whatever. And another like distinction between like the churches that I went to when I was younger and even like, you know, my wife’s church, my wife’s home church, which is like this old church in the hill district with like 16 members.

Roy: Hanging on.

Damon: Yeah. And the pastor there, and we don’t go, we go to another church, but the pastor there when we would go, talks about hell a lot. And I remember growing up and hearing conversations and references to hell a lot. Like, you better not do this, you better not drink this, you better not eat this, you’re going to hell. But the preachers now, the younger preachers, the cool preachers, whatever, they don’t talk about hell. They talk about heaven, they talk about salvation, but they don’t talk about hell the way that the older preachers did. And again, that could just be an accident or just the things that I’ve experienced, witnessed. But it feels like there’s been a distinct change in the messaging.

Roy: There’s definitely less intimidation tactics. You know, and there’s definitely more of a hey, here’s how you make this work for you. Which I think is dope, you know, I think that’s, you know, very enjoyable, but, you know, at the end of the day, I just think people are looking for community and religion provides that. And, you know, much like a sports team, you just got to find the one that works for you and the fan base you rock with.

Damon: How do you feel, you know, we’re talking about just contemporary Christianity and whatever, about gospel rap?

Roy: I just never know who it’s for. We again, going back to my radio days, we played gospel rap on Sunday mornings, it’s called gospel jams and we would do a straight up gospel rap. And like the Kirk Franklin type stuff from 8:00 a.m. to about 11:00 a.m.. 11:00 a.m., we get on back into some R & B, then you get a little Jon round two. But whatever gets people to come and see it. I think the thing rap fans have to understand is that gospel rap is not for you. The same way the impossible burger’s not for meat eaters. You know, gospel rap is the impossible burger of rap music.

Damon: That, you know, I’ve never heard it put that way.

Roy: It’s not for you. It’s for people who want something close. Yeah, so just you have to leave that alone. I do respect the fact that gospel rappers are kind of resigned, and they know like it is all I’m gonna sell, 30,000 copies. But I’m a clean up – yo, it’s so much money on that church circuit, bro. There’s comedians you’ve never heard of, or comedians you haven’t heard from in decades, that are out there making comfortable mid six figure salaries and all they do is perform in churches. However because they are beholden to that world, they can’t even dabble in mainstream secular, cause it’ll mess up the rest of their bread. That’s a market that’s very, very hard to please, so the comedians that do it and do it well, they make a great living. I would imagine gospel rap is no different, I’m sure. And if it’s one thing the church got, it’s money. They raising money for a jet, pay for this comedy show.

Damon: Yeah, the thing that gets me is when you know, you have like some of the most vulgar, most like trappiest rap songs that are remixed for gospel, like I ain’t a killer but don’t push me, revenge is like the sweetest joy next to getting Jesus. It’s like, wait what? Alright thanks man, appreciate it.

Roy: Man, appreciate you man, have a good one.

[Music Transition]

Woman’s voice: Dear Heavenly father, we come before you on today with humble spirits.

In Jesus name, we acknowledge that we are undeserving of your great power, Lord. Lord, we are low. Lord, we are mere sinners and like dirt. Lord, we are dog poop, Lord. Dog poop left behind by careless, sinful, and badly dressed dog owners, Lord.

We are undeserving of your great power lord, like fowl, odorous, dog poop Lord, poorly placed and left behind on the sidewalk of life, father god. We pray in Jesus name that you might be our pooper scooper, Lord. Find us in the bush, Lord.

Pooper scoop us up father god and carry us out of the treacherous debris of life, Lord. Fertilize us with your love in Jesus name, father God, let our evil decompose, and let our hearts be recycled and renewed in the faithful compost of the Holy Spirit. Rake us into your fruitful soil, lord, so that we might be transformed to bear righteous sweet fruit in your precious name we pray. Amen.

[Music Transition]

Dr. Cooper: I would appreciate it if preachers preach their questions more than they stood up in pulpits and said, God gave me the answer.

Damon: That’s Dr. Brittney Cooper. She’s an associate professor of Women’s and Gender studies at Rutgers, and the author of Eloquent Rage, and is even a preacher herself. And I wanted to talk to her about God cause I just feel like she knows him better than I do.

Dr. Cooper: I mean, we’re all skeptics, like really thinking people. Most of us come to the text and the faith with way more questions than answers. And the thing that draws us back, there is some sense that for all of the ways it defies logic, there feels like something fundamentally true about it. And that’s why we show up. But it’s not because we actually don’t have lots of questions. And I think we would do people far more service if we said, like when I see this in the text, I have a problem with it. Right? Because I think that there is something that happens when we can grapple with the things that don’t work for us about this, as opposed to imposing answers on people over and over again. I think it would really free folks up a bit.

Damon: Like, ok, sometimes I’ll go to church and I’ll see people who are feeling the spirit, feeling the holy ghost, feeling the presence of God in the room and I just don’t feel it.

And I believe in God, right, but I am not there where they are, and so a part of me sometimes is like, you know, maybe, maybe if I, if I start speaking in tongues, you know, it’ll just, it’ll just, it’ll just come to me, like, I’ll just start, almost like like a kid that’s that’s modeling the alphabet, saying the alphabet over and over again, you know, so that they eventually just know the alphabet. It’s like, OK, if I just like start doing that, then the spirit is going to come from heaven and just just go through my head and I’ll have it.

Dr. Cooper: Yeah. I mean, you know, I mean, there is something to be said for faking it until you make it. I will say that I’ve never, I don’t speak in tongues. But here’s the thing, I find that moment when everyone else is having a whole spiritual experience and I’m not to be so anxiety producing. I’m embarrassed. I’m looking around. Really what happens is that I get annoyed because I am just like I mean, I don’t know. And the thing that’s crazy is that that was the cause of so much of my childhood anxiety. Like, I would go to church every week. I would be like, you know, I mean, literally like eight years old, nine years old. I would just be like the Lord’s going to come back and I can’t even walk down the aisle, and I can’t even profess any of this stuff, but mostly it was because I was like, well, I’m watching, you know, you know, Miss Mabel or whoever fall out on Sundays and the usher have to come and, you know, fan her. And I don’t want to fall out, like I’m just listening to the preacher.

I was even a kid who, while I liked the choir, I really didn’t care about the choir that much. I was just like, I just want to hear what the preacher has to say. It was all really nerdy and cerebral to me. And I spent many, many, many years as a young person just feeling like I don’t, I mean, like I don’t feel anything. Am I supposed to feel something? Like I believe this is true, but that feels really detached or whatever, and it freaked me the hell out and what it really is. So what I’ll say to you is like, I felt like an imposter as a Christian for I would argue most of my life, as a like, I don’t really get the thing that other people are doing. What are you doing? Like, I’ve never thought. Like, I need to lay out, I need to lay out on the ground. I have been overtaken by the spirit and I’m not in control of my body, never like, I’ve never had that experience.

And when other people start to do it, I don’t go to churches where speaking in tongues is like the order of the day, not because I don’t think it’s real, but because I just think that I would appear falsely there. Right. And, you know, and my joke as a preacher and with my friends, I’m always like, if I were shouting Christian, because I don’t shout, you know? And even when I started to preach, like, one of the things I’m thinking about is I’m like, but I can’t preach like all those pastors who get happy in the pulpit. And they yell and scream and lay out and mop their brow with a handkerchief.

None of that feels authentic for me at this juncture. And so I often think I’m a faker.

Damon: Well, I’m glad, I’m glad you said imposter, because I think that’s the word that I’ve been searching for, for this entire feeling that I’ve had since I was a kid also. And I also had and I still have that anxiety when I go to church and I see people around me who are, you know, who are acting a fool basically, who are acting a fool. And I just, I just don’t feel it.

Dr: Cooper: When I’ve had male pastors. Good, good, Black preaching like follows the rhythms of sex, right? Like, it’s a steady, steady, steady kind of build. And as you build to the crescendo of the sermon like you are building, until you get everybody to shout, like you are building, building, building, until there’s an eruption of the crowd. And then after there’s an eruption of the crowd, then the preacher stops, takes a breath and then starts talking real low like pillow talk. And everybody’s inhibitions are lowered. And that’s when you’re supposed to come to the altar. That’s when you’re supposed to, like in that moment where, you know, after you you know, after you’ve reached your climax and, you know, and and then all the you know, all of the things that you say in those you know, those sort of waning moments of sex. And I was like, oh, church is really erotic.

Damon: Deeply erotic experience, yeah.

Dr. Cooper: It’s really erotic. And so in that, when I see women in particular becoming very emotive or even men becoming very emotive, I’m like, it’s less about, to me, that’s not, I mean, not that it can’t be spiritual, but it’s also really erotic.

And it’s like, it’s an erotic energy and it feels that way. And that coupled with the way that the church engages in like a politics of sexual repression, then I think it becomes a way that people feel like they can express erotic energy communally. I think churches are the one place where Black women can lay out and cry and know that people are going to attend to them, where you can publicly say all is not well, and you can leave it all on the pew, the floor, the altar, the whatever. You can wildly sort of express your body in church. And the only other place you really can do it is in the club and be in community and have that be affirmed as something communal.

And so I think that those are, I think some of that is what’s going on, is that there’s so much repression of our erotic energy, life force, body, that and the stuff where it isn’t suppressed. The rest of the world just understands, you go to the club, you smoke weed, you fuck. Right? But for us, we are like, well, well, Jesus doesn’t like that. So then you just do all of those same actions? You just do them at church, right? You get hot, you know, you lay out. And so that’s what I started looking at, women shouting in church. And I was like, this is orgasmic for them. As a person who is not, never needed or wanted the church for my orgasms, then that ain’t gonna be me in church. Right?

[Music Transition]

Damon: How does your feminism, inform spirituality and vice versa?

Dr. Cooper: So for a long time, I really thought about them as being separate, and so I was. Living in Atlanta in a PhD program, which is when I first began to call myself a feminist, I’ve been a heavy church girl since I was a little girl. And so I just literally, I separated them out. But this curious thing started to happen where I would be in Sunday school. So I remember a particular Sunday school lesson and we were talking about the story of Vashti and Esther. The study Bible that I had was like giving Vashti a hard time and talking about how Esther did everything right.

And I was like, well, he asked, the king asked Vashti to dance naked in front of all his drunk friends, and she said no. And then he cast her out. And so all the Sunday school people were like, she should have done what God told her to do. And I was like, God didn’t tell her to do that, the king told her to do that. And that’s not appropriate. So I’m like going toe to toe in Sunday school.
And at some point later, like I realized, oh, my God, these worlds have collided. I, you know, what I mean? Like, I’m not doing a good job of keeping my feminism out of church very well anymore. And it allowed me to really begin to reckon, which I have done over a number of years, with the received thinking that I had about women being pastors and preachers. I didn’t grow up seeing women pastors and preachers. Like I didn’t even hear a woman preach from a pulpit until I was in college. And I still wasn’t sure that it was right, but I really liked her. And so even many years later, I still gravitated towards very male centered, leadership dominated kind of churches. And I didn’t fully get out of that until I was in my thirties. So feminism was like this very insistent kind of. You know, like underneath narrative going, ask more questions, ask more questions.

And so eventually, the more that I listened and tuned in to my feminism, the more it forced me to sort of reimagine myself as a churchgoer, as a Christian, and to really kind of reckon with the way that the church, the Black church in particular, which is the church that I am most familiar with, like participates and perpetuates patriarchy. And there was just no silencing that once I fully, fully tuned in.

Damon: I guess you had grown up in this tradition of Black male leadership and, you know, you first realized that there was some friction or there was some contradiction or something there when you were in grad school. But it wasn’t until you were in your 30s that you had kind of I don’t know, learned how to subvert just the expectation of Black male leadership. What, what took so long?

Dr. Cooper: Like, I’m definitely a late bloomer to the woke Christian thing. But for a couple of reasons. One is because, once I had like, I didn’t come up in a church where you couldn’t ask questions, and I was very resistant to the idea that, what it meant to be an intellectual or to be woke or to be conscious of injustice, meant that you therefore had to be an atheist or a nonbeliever. And so that resistance made me sort of double down sometimes in the wrong ways around the dogma of Christianity.

But the other part of it is like one, I’m kind of a good girl by nature and I like being one. And I had also felt because I grew up working class and I had come from such harrowing circumstances as a kid surviving like an abusive parent. You know, my mom hustled and worked hard. But when I looked at my life, I was like, I don’t understand why liberals who think that they got all of this stuff, even from a liberal perspective, by their bootstraps or by their privilege or however they think about it. For me, the story is the story of God’s grace and provision and, you know, and sort of supernatural things seeming to come into focus for me at really critical moments. And it felt really hard. It felt like to have this super critical perspective of the faith would be to walk away from the things that felt true to me about my journey with God. And so it made me resistant.

But the other thing, quite frankly, that made me go like, OK, you got to think about this differently is I was horny, and had been abstinent for most of my 20s and miserable trying to do the church girl thing. And I remember very clearly like being about 29 and just being like, this is not working, I’m not going to make it, like I have to get some, but also I don’t want Jesus to like, caste me out and not bless me. And I remember like wrestling like over the course of a weekend and just being like Lord, like, is there a better way because this is, this feels miserable and honestly feeling like a very deep break in my spirit, where I felt God being like, Girl like, you’re good, like, no, stop worrying about this thing. And then it’s sort of being affirmed in a couple of places where I was with people that I trusted to be spiritual and spiritually connected. And that was mind blowing for me because I was like, well, if you’re saying that it’s OK for me to go out and like, get some or to have a sexual life as a single person, then what else have I been wrong about? And here we, and so then the journey really commenced. But it actually began on the ground, began on the ground of sexuality, quite frankly.

Damon: Well, so that’s interesting. So the sex, the sexuality thing was the catalyst.

Dr. Cooper: Yeah, I mean, very much so, because, look, sexuality is actually one of the things that we use to control women in the church. And so, so much of whenever you go to church and people are talking about sin, I mean, they might be talking about some drinking and smoking wild party that you have, but most of the time…

Damon: It’s always sex.

Dr. Cooper: It’s always sex. It’s the thing that you’re made to feel guilty about. It’s the thing where you’re like, the Lord is looking at you crazy because you had sexual desire of some type. We do so much fear mongering in the church and so much blaming of our community over it. We’re like, well, you wouldn’t be struggling if you hadn’t had sex and got that baby, you wouldn’t be struggling, if you hadn’t had sex and got that STD, you wouldn’t be struggling if you hadn’t had sex and got caught up with this man. And it’s always a sort of wagging our finger at women as well and being like, you’re all caught up on this no good man, but is because you’re having sex outside of marriage or whatever. It was a super limiting and conservative, you know, form of like social control.

And so I do think it’s interesting and also sort of really basic that once I could break free of the shaming around sex and sexuality, then everything else was on the table.

Damon: While you were experiencing that, was there ever a moment where you felt disconnected from God, not just from the church, but from God?

Dr. Cooper: Look, yeah, like. Look, I will say even now, there are moments sometimes when I just think to myself, do you really believe this shit? Like, do you really believe that Jesus was born of a virgin? Do you believe that Jesus got up out of the light? It’s sort of, it’s just completely implausible. You know, so I still to this day, probably this week, I still believe that. And so I’m like living in the contradiction where I feel, I felt very clearly like an affirmed call to like you are to be a preacher of the gospel, a gospel understood in many ways. And also like but we know the bible is like a super problematic document. And so it’s really weird to kind of try to sit in all of that and make sense of it. And I feel like I’m just at the beginning of that journey.

And, you know, in fact, you know, my friend said to me, she said she said, yeah, she said exactly. She was like, some of us are more honest about that than others. And I was like, So are you having no experience of the technology that the Lord told you at 3:00 in the morning, whatever the thing was like? Oh, my God.

[Music Transition]

Damon: So I think hate I gospel rap for the same reason I get annoyed when niggas catch the ghost at church

Like, with gospel rap, it’s the juxtaposition of themes. I’ll hear a trap beat with the trap drums and the trap bass, and I’ll anticipate larceny, trapping, murder. But then the actual lyrics start.

I’m trappin for my homies
I’m trappin to the grave!
I’m trappin for Jesus
I’m trappin to be saved!

And now instead of murder, I gotta think about Jesus. And I feel the same way when someone in a pew behind me catches the ghost. It’s like, why are you trying so hard? If he’s everywhere, he hears you, and he sees you my nigga. What are you trying to prove?

Of course, as both Brittney and Roy alluded, your relationship with spirituality, Christianity, God, whatever, is your relationship. Which I guess makes sense. What other people do and feel don’t matter. But if the feeling aint there for me, what kind of relationship is it? I guess it’s just mine. Just my relationship with God. That should be enough. But that’s not enough to make me feel like a good Christian. Do I feel like a bad Christian? No. Just a fake one.

[Music Transition]

Stuck with Damon Young is a Spotify Original Podcast from Gimlet and Crooked Media.
It’s hosted and written by me, Damon Young.

Ruben Davis is our Executive Producer. Our producers are Ashley Velez, Morgan Moody, Carlton Gillespie, Priscilla Alabi, Stephen Hoffman, and Corinne Gilliard.

Mixing and Sound Design by Jesse Naus, Charlotte Landes, and Veronica Simonetti.
Theme Music and Score by Open Mike Eagle.

From Crooked Media, our Executive Producers are Tanya Somanader, Sarah Geismer, and Katie Long. From Gimlet, our Executive Producers are Rosie Guerin, Krystal Hawes-Dressler, Collin Campbell, and Lydia Polgreen.