@ Sea With Justin Mcroberts



Speaker, author, musician, curator


  • Poetry, Love and Control

    10/06/2021 Duration: 06min

    A number of years ago, I sat in on a reading by the poet Gregory Orr. Gregory Or was then (and is now) a favorite poet of mine. In fact, he’s a favorite writer of mine. He was maybe five or six pieces into this reading when a conversation struck up between two of the other gentleman in the room. Sitting behind me, I heard one of them saying, loudly enough for me to hear,  “I don’t understand any of this” I’d definitely heard that about poetry or about poems before. I’ve probably even said that even as an English major and someone who writes poetry. “I don’t get it” So, that’s not the remarkable part of the story; to say or hear “I don’t understand this poem or poetry.”  What was notable was that the person he was talking to gave that moment of pause and said…“Actually, not everything is meant to be understood.” This need or desire and me to understand is, in essence, an expression of control. When I talk about “getting” something, when I talk about “understanding” something, part of what I mean by that is tha

  • Tanner Olson

    03/06/2021 Duration: 51min

    In a bio of mine, I describe myself as someone who desires to “provide language for the process of life and faith” I am a “words” person. Not everyone has to be or is. But I certainly care quite a bit about the words I use and the words that I take into my life. A lot of that came from a book I read a number of years ago by Marilyn Chandler McIntyre. The book is called “Caring For Words In A Culture Of Lies.” Right smack dab in the middle of the book is this notion she writes out with beautiful words. It says “The business of telling the truth and caring for the words we need for that purpose is more challenging than ever before simply the scale on which lies can be and are propagated can be overwhelming“ Because of that urgency, I’ve moved from just admiring and enjoying poetry to understanding poetry as a gift to great good and powerful culture. For a number of years, Tanner Olson has been making poetry and putting it in the world. He’s also one of those artists who recognize that the work he does requires

  • Staying Power

    27/05/2021 Duration: 06min

    During studio sessions with younger or inexperienced musicians, my dear friend and music producer Masaki Liu would often be asked questions like “What do you think about our chances?” Or “Do you think we can make it?”And, more often than not, he’d consistently respond with an intentionally cryptic piece of encouragement that went pretty much like this, word-for-word: “If you keep at it and stick with it, stay together as a band and keep making music, you’re going to be around for a long time.” Often enough, the band would take that as a compliment, though it wasn’t entirely intended to be. See, in that moment, what the band or artist wanted to know and hear was that they were good enough right there, right then. And that, because they were good enough, right there and right then, they had a more secure and hopeful future. The thing is… like just about everyone, including me when I started recording with him, … that young or inexperienced artist or band wasn’t good enough to “make it” right there, right then. 

  • JJ and Dave Heller

    20/05/2021 Duration: 01h04min

    Close to 20 years ago, I sat in a park near my place in The Bay Area, talking with Dave and JJ about their hopes and dreams. Having spent the first few years of their musical career between Arizona and California, they were right on the edge of a move to Nashville.They wanted to take a full, big league, swing at their work and believed that move would do it.Which is to say, they were doing what I regularly tell my clients to do, especially when young and less attached:They were betting on themselves and it has been a sincere joy to see them keep doing that.Because among the many rewards and awards available to professional artists, the joy of having stayed, over years and then decades is among the richest and most valuable.This is my conversation with JJ and Dave HellerCheck it out. Links for JJ and Dave Hellerhttps://www.jjheller.com/ Links for Justin :JustinMcRoberts.comSupport this podcastPre-Order the new book - It Is What You Make ItHearts and MindsAmazonBarnes and Noble Episode Sponsored by BetterHelpCh

  • Listening Comes First

    13/05/2021 Duration: 05min

    In the 8th chapter of the biblical book of acts is a fascinating story about a man named Philip.Philip, a member of the early Church, hears what the writer of the story names as the voice of God saying “Go south.” So, he does And as he does, he comes across an Ethiopian eunuch riding in a chariot You know... like ya do. Upon this encounter, Philip hears what the writer of the story identifies as the voice of God says “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Which Phillip then does. And standing there long enough, he hears the eunuch in the chariot reading from what we now call the Old Testament prophets; readings Phillip and his new religious community would be familiar with. From that moment, Phillip then engages in a deeply resonant conversion with his new friend in which he is asked to help guide and clarify the spiritual awakening Already taking place in the heart, mind, and spirit, and body in the chariot. Which is to say, the entirety of this story is predicated on Phillip’s ability, capacity, and choice

  • Nick Laparra

    06/05/2021 Duration: 01h02min

    The @ Sea podcast started out to be (and I hope continues to be) a helpful and hopeful guide through sometimes murky or turbulent cultural waters. Some of what that looks like is talking to people I don't align with politically, ideologically, culturally,...Not because it's enough to simply "celebrate diversity" but because the discipline and practice of listening is the key to moving beyond division to understanding and then towards care. One of the reasons I gravitate towards podcasts is for this very reason.My guest on this episode is Nick Laparra, whose "Let's Give A Damn" podcast is among my favorites. Not only because of the variety of his guests but I like the way he approaches his work.Nick is always prepared. He's also legitimately thoughtful (without being "heady") and curious (without being invasive).I think that makes for great listening.This is my conversation with Nick Laparra Links for Nick Laparrahttps://www.nicklaparra.com Links for Justin :JustinMcRoberts.comSupport this podcastPre-Order the

  • Hermeneutics, LGBTQ Youth, and the Pursuit of Love

    29/04/2021 Duration: 07min

    I remember being in a conversation, I think it was my Junior year of college, in which I was fully introduced to the term “hermeneutics.” I’d been familiar with “interpretation” before but the idea that there was a field of study based on the interpretive potters of readers was fascinating to me. It actually gave me a bit of altitude in understanding and appreciating the differences I was running into among people, specifically around religious ideas. The conversation was set up around a presentation we’d just heard by a Grad Student, who had written a paper on what she called “A Feminist Hermeneutic.” During our talk, one of my fellow classmates communicated his discomfort with the presenter’s angle, at one point saying “if you read the Bible, or anything, through a ‘feminist lens’ all you’ll end up with is feminism and not the Bible or whatever else you’re reading.”For a while, that thought stuck around and controlled the conversation as we talked about how important it was to read “great works” clearly and

  • Kevin Garcia

    22/04/2021 Duration: 01h02min

    I ask just about all my guests about life online. I'm of the opinion that "real" life happens there and I'm increasingly interested in the way it does; particularly when that happening takes on labels like "religion" or "faith" or "spirituality." I think a fair amount of personal formation takes place online and I'm intrigued (art least) by the people who take that formation seriously as well as take some degree of responsibility for it.My guest in this episode is Kevin Garcia, who has called himself a "digital pastor." And while I know there are a number of folks who might balk at that term out of wonder or even concern, I'm pretty sure there's a lot to it.There's certainly a lot to Kevin, who works with (and pastors) people at the intersection of faith, sexuality, and touch of psychotherapy. In that work, Kevin converses with, teaches, and digitally pastors people who often lack access to invested leadership and spiritual care.This is my conversation with Kevin Garcia.Check it out. Links for Kevin Garciahtt

  • Ideology As Idolatry

    01/04/2021 Duration: 06min

    I feel like I’ve always been aware of the sociopolitical battle lines between differing thoughts on “abortion” or preemptive war, but the comprehensive, nearly wholesale division and split between people with competing ideologies nowadays is … heartbreaking and scary. In other words, it’s no longer just that I think you’re wrong about this or that; it's that, if you entertain these specific thoughts, then you are aligned with that particular culture, which means you’re in this camp and part of this tribe and, as part of that camp/tribe/people, WHO YOU ARE offends and threatens me. I think the grief for me here is that, in conversations about competing ideologies these days, I am treated as if I am my ideas. Thing is: I’m not. I have ideas and some of them are weighty in my mind. But, as important as any of them might be, I’m not defined by my ideas. Heck a number of them are in conflict with other ideas in me, not to mention in conflict with some of my feelings and even the ways I choose to live despite some

  • Karen Swallow Prior

    25/03/2021 Duration: 49min

    I don’t know when the words “liberal” or “conservative” became insults. What I do know is that I can’t remember a time when they weren’t. So, maybe it’s always been this way to some degree. I’m not sure. My guest on this episode of the podcast is a voice who shows up on what many might call the “conservative side” of conversations, online and off. I’ve watched her navigate the nuances of those engagements without slipping into the snark and dismissiveness that has become a hallmark of political argument.  I’ve also marveled at her capacity to both belong to and deeply critique her own culture.A Ph.D., she is a Research Professor of English and Christianity and Culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is an author and contributor to a library of books including a very interesting book entitled “Cultural Engagement: A Crash Course In Contemporary Issues.” This is my conversation with Karen Swallow Prior. Check it out.  Links for Karen Swallow Priorhttps://karenswallowprior.comhttps://twitter.co

  • Fear and Booze & Beer and Taboos

    18/03/2021 Duration: 05min

    When Donald Miller’s book “Blue Like Jazz” was initially making its rounds through religious circles, one of the hot topics of conversation had to do with cultural taboos. Namely, that there was a pastor in the book who cussed and that drinking alcohol was somewhat normalized. As someone who grew up around people who both cussed and drank, I wasn’t scandalized at all. But a lot of folks seemed to be and a lot of that scandalization seemed a tad fearful.But not all of it. There was also a measure of care; a desire to protect people from things that might, for one reason or another, hurt them or cost them. There’s no question that, in the case of alcohol, there are reasons for caution. Communicating that caution without being condemning or overly-judgmental can be a bit tricky. Which is why I really prefer hearing care-takers approach issues like booze or cussing or tattoos or sex say something more like “I’m not comfortable with this and, having thought a lot about it, here are my reasons.” That rather than si

  • Harding House Brewery

    11/03/2021 Duration: 38min

    The very first beer I ever had was, I believe, a Bud Dry. That’s probably not true for a lot of folks, but it’s part of my story and I like it as someone who tests as a 4 on the enneagram. At the time, beer pretty much only showed up at parties or in TV commercials and was never any talk about “hops” or or “malt” between beer drinkers. Which is to say, the culture around beer was thin. That’s not the case anymore. The most recent beer I had was last night at a neighbor-friend’s birthday party where we tasted 8 different beers from local breweries and talked about the differences in composition and flavor and complexity; the way people talk about wine or paintings or songs. Beer culture is a vital social space that, as a culture, provides a doorway into relationship and conversation even broader than wine or fine art does; probably more like music. Which is the thing I like most about the team at Harding House brewery in Nashville, TN. And why it means so much that, among the many excellent beers they’ve brewe

  • Deconstruction and Fundamentalism

    04/03/2021 Duration: 10min

    I just got off the phone with a long-time friend who is now a coaching client. It's the call I needed in order to finish this script. This beloved friend began the conversation with the nearly universal phrase: "I feel like I'm always in the middle."And I get that. Even though I disagree a bit. I don't think he's in the "middle," per se; I think he's trapped in a relationship with people who hold somewhat opposing perspectives (political, social, theological) and hold those perspectives more tightly and more dearly than they do the people around them. In other words, he is in a relationship with fundamentalists who hold differing opinions; People who are so sure that what they think is correct and who are so sure that the things they think are important that they are willing to sacrifice relationship in order to hold onto their perspectives and ideas.That's the actual trauma and tragedy of Fundamentalism; it strips people of their humanity and rends us from those we would otherwise love. I'm not allowed to be

  • Laura Joyce Davis

    25/02/2021 Duration: 51min

    The ethos and heart of my next book is that just about nothing "is what it is." Instead, as the title of the book would have it, It Is What You Make Of It.I realize that shifting from "it is what it is" to "it is what you make of it" is a long process and can be a bit daunting.  More so when the "is" we have to work with,  our circumstances and opportunities is really sideways.When things go wrong or the unexpected takes over, it can feel like the most natural thing to do is  to navigate to, grab hold of, and cling to something  "solid" or "sure."What if, on the other hand, and on occasion, I read a lack of "solid ground" or the absence of a "sure thing" as an invitation into adventure?That's what I find inspiring and formative in Laura Joyce Davis. That, while I don't blame a soul for looking to "sure things" and more "solid ground" during the COVID era,  she and her family took it as an opportunity to dive headlong into the unknown and see what they could make of the pieces they found there.She is a writer

  • Pain & Strength

    17/02/2021 Duration: 05min

    I think it was 6 or so years ago, I was in a session with a therapist who practiced cranial - sacral therapy.Which, in short, attends to the alignment of the body between the cranium (my noggin) and the sacrum (which is pretty much my tailbone). It’s a series of long tensions and pulls rather than muscle squeezing and all that.About 15 min into the session, she asked me, “It feels like you have some injuries on your left side.”“Yeah, probably.”She paused and then pulled me over onto my back and said, “tell me.”I’d never been asked before to recount my history of injuries. Regardless, I could recall all of them.broken anklemultiple sprained ankles (6-7)hairline fracture of my tibiaACL tearsome other mind of knee blowoutdislocated hip3 broken ribs (2 occasions)Broken collarbone (2x)Broken shoulderBroken wrist (2x)Hairline skull fracture (2x)All of it on the left side of my body.“That’s a lot of trauma.”My brain immediately reacted with something like, “What?! I don’t have ‘trauma.’ I just got hurt a few times.”

  • Jennifer Ko

    11/02/2021 Duration: 32min

    Often enough, the topic of pain gets tied up into the same kind of conversations had about “evil.”  Spoken of as a “problem” or a thing to be avoided. A thing that diminishes the human experience and limits relationships. Oddly, pain, including physical pain, is perhaps the most common human experience. in the eternally wise words of REM’s Michael Stipe: “everybody hurts”And there might not be anything quite as soul-binding as suffering together. Which is what makes the work Jennifer Ko does so beautiful, so good and so humanly true. Chronic pain and physical limitation take center stage in Jennifer’s story and her work. And rather than speaking in terms of “problems” and “ways to avoid,” Jennifer shares the reality of her pain as an experience and expression of her full humanity. I am regularly informed and inspired by who she is and how she shares herself. This is my conversation with Jennifer Ko. 

  • Sacred vs “Ordinary”

    05/02/2021 Duration: 07min

    I didn’t know a lot about the actual life of Jesus before I was in my mid-twenties. Honestly, even after I started calling myself a Christian (which is far more interesting conversation now than it was then),  What actually led me to do the work of discovery and research wasn’t a sermon series; it was seeing a series of books or short documentaries on what people were calling the “Lost Years” of Jesus’ life. As the 4 biblical accounts of Jesus’ life have it, we can read about his birth, which is mostly about his mother’s faith and the political environment he’s born into, and then we actually get nothing until he’s right about 12 when he wanders off from his parents and ends up in a conversation with religious elders. THEN, there’s nothing until he’s about 30. In fact, all there is to read of the actual life of Jesus is roughly 3 years.So, I started noticing these books in which a whole slew of folks basically gave in to imaginative conjecture about what Jesus was doing as a young adult into his mid-twenties.

  • Kayla Craig

    28/01/2021 Duration: 54min

    If you've been around me for any significant time, you'll likely know that my mother is a hero of mine. not in a cute "I love my mom, you guys" kind of way but more like "I hope I can be the kind of resilient and faithful and strong as that person" kind of way. From her very difficult childhood, marked by various in-house abuses and financial destitution to her adventures west to CA from Albuquerque, NM to the ways she held our family together while my father was falling apart and, more recently the relentless ways she cares for me and my kids, I marvel at her parenthood. Which leads me to this: The significance of parenthood seems to often allude faithful and respectful conversation. Either idolized in a kind of glass box and set aside untouched by critique or minimized in a smaller cardboard box and cast aside so that it doesn’t touch other vital things.Parenthood often gets treated as the alter on which all other aspects of life must be sacrificed or the pit of despair that must be avoided so that other as

  • Labels vs Relationships

    21/01/2021 Duration: 06min

    Most of the guests I host on the podcast share some kind of faith in common. For many of them, that faith carries the label of "Christianity." for others, that label doesn't fit quite as well or as comfortably.My last guest, Jon Steingard, is one such guest for whom religious labels are somewhat unhelpful, at least at this moment in his life and career.But, then again, maybe it's not about this moment or season for Jon, or for people like Jon, and maybe there are a whole lot more people "like Jon;" folks who feel placeless and are somewhat comfortable with that. . Maybe the fact that religious labels are so unhelpful and inaccurate with Jon "right now" actually says something about the ineffectiveness and extreme limitation of those labels.In 2008, I released an album called "Deconstruction" after doing a fair about of my own deconstructive work, theologically and philosophically, and socially.One of the questions I started getting from folks was some form of "okay, where are you now?"Where are you on this to

  • Jon Steingard

    14/01/2021 Duration: 59min

    Jon Steingard spent 16 years as a musician, songwriter and front man in a band whose success had its context in what some call the "Christian market." I've spent a bit of time there myself and there's a whole conversation herein about whether or not a marketplace can be "christian,"  (I think it can't). But that's what's significant and odd about that conversation is that what seems to bind that marketplace and its buyers together as a tribe is agreement on a very particular set of theological and social conclusions.So, when Jon began to question, doubt and distance himself from many of those theological and social conclusions, it meant having to intentionally begin a the work of reinvention. If you're a consumer of religious culture, particularly the religious culture Jon took part it, you might know that such a reinvention often comes with what can be a volatile mixture of frustration and disillusionment and respect and clarity and ... well... it can be a lot.So it's not that Jon has been undergoing a decon

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