by Samantha Jo Haub
This past February, Mark Sandlin and Reverend David Henson produced their first podcast of the Moonshine Jesus Show. The faith-based podcast examines pop culture, politics and even a little “best” and “worst” Christian news of the week as they chat over a couple of strong beverages. Since the start of their show, they have added hashtag games, such as #StuffWhiteChristiansSay, which has gained a life of its own on Twitter, as well as guest musician David Wimbish, who performed tracks from his upcoming album.
Mark Sandlin is a Presbyterian Minister, co-founder of The Christian Left, and writer for an online blog, The God Article, and The Huffington Post. David Henson, the journalist-turned clergyman, now serves as a pastor in the Episcopal Church and blogs at Patheos.com. After meeting through social media, the two pastors walked into a bar and developed the idea for their show, scribbling the first outline on a beer napkin. The show was originally named “Two Beards and a Brew”. However, both are straight and happily married, so they decided upon The Moonshine Jesus Show.
The rapid popularity was stagnating, and in the first couple of weeks iTunes had featured the show as one of the New and Noteworthy podcasts for religion. They now have 25 episodes posted to Podbean and iTunes and boast over 29k hits on the Podbean site.
According to Henson, the secret of the show’s success lies in their candid conversations recorded live; often discussion topics are only settled upon minutes before recording. The exquisitely composed music throughout the show along with Mark’s editing skills from a past IT career combine to make it a well-polished podcast production. It is possible that the immediate popularity among listeners is a sign of a progressive wind sweeping some Christian churches.
The bearded tag-team serve up faith and self-inflicted humor, garnished with recommendations from their own beer and liquor enthusiasm. Compared to other “religious” shows, they promote an inclusive message that respects all other religions and backgrounds and encourages unity as opposed to fueling theological, race and economic divisions. So far, Sandlin and Henson have covered a variety of progressive topics ranging from gay rights to the Cosmos and anti-intellectualism to modern racism in pop culture to the legalization of marijuana.
From their debates over the interpretation of scripture in their lectionary casts, it is evident they encourage critical thinking as opposed to just top-down preaching. Henson mentioned, “I am a pastor, and I still actively question my faith. If we have all the answers, then what’s the point?”
The most uplifting message I gathered from listening to their podcasts was the encouragement for unity through social activism over religious identification. When asked about their views of why Jesus came to earth and the “S-word,” or salvation, Henson responded, “Jesus came to show us how to live, a way of life that lines up with who God is. It is about standing up for and speaking out in solidarity with people who are often oppressed and marginalized.” Salvation is an ongoing process of restoring relationship with God and mankind—as opposed to the single prayer sometimes presented by evangelicals. In Sandlin’s words, “I believe Jesus came to teach us how to love each other, and that happy little circumstance grows us closer to God… It’s that simple for me.”
For more laughs, brew reviews and a very current and progressive perspective on the world we live in today, please listen and subscribe to The Moonshine Jesus Show at their website or via iTunes.