Art + Faith with Makoto Fujimura

December 3rd, 2021

The existence of the division and hatred in our world is undeniable. Religion is often enlisted to fuel this division and to fuel dehumanization. Many of us have longed for more beautiful, hopeful ways to envision the world, to relate to those with whom we disagree. This episode of Rector’s Cupboard invites us to consider the words and work of one person who is demonstrating a vision of hope and love.


Theology and art and spirituality and philosophy and ethics are often thought of as separate disciplines. In our actual lives, our spirituality, our beholding of beauty, and our desire to live well are experienced together. Artist (and theologian) Makoto Fujimura shows us in visual art, in writing, and in conversation some of what matters most in life. He places before us the call to reflect the image of God in living out a “theology of making”.


Is it possible that Christian faith might be considered beautiful? While so much ugliness has existed in bad religion or distorted theology, the call of goodness and beauty and truth remains. People like Makoto Fujimura help us to hear that call.


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Becoming Church with Luke Edwards

November 19th, 2021

Do you attend church? Is church something that you used to attend?


Luke Edwards is Associate Director of Church Development for the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. Luke has written a book called “Becoming Church: A Trail Guide for Starting Fresh Expressions”. Luke’s work and writing address the reality that church is changing. The default model of a bunch of people in a big room facing the front which has become a stage is not the only way of gathering. Fresh Expressions helps people who are interested in gathering, but may not be interested in church as we have known it.


We had a great time speaking with Luke and we are grateful for people who have gone up ahead on the trail.

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Fear and Abuse, Hope and Compassion within Religious Culture with Jessica Leslie

November 5th, 2021

Just a note, this episode discusses domestic violence and spiritual abuse. It might be difficult for some listeners.

If you’d like more resources on domestic violence check out There are informative articles and services available if you or someone you know needs help.


The Cupboard welcomes Jessica Leslie to tell her story of growing up within a form of the church that could be described as cult-like. Jessica grew up in an expression of religion that was often dominated by fear. She experienced abuse within her own family and then found healing and compassion within a different church. When she became an adult Jessica spent years with YWAM, a Christian missionary group working with young people. She now describes her experience of YWAM as, again, being part of a cult. Jessica has faced more than her fair share of pain and struggle, but she demonstrates strength, compassion, and a sense of joy and life as she tells her story.

Jessica's article referenced in this episode: 

I Escaped an Australian Cult - The Australian Woman’s Weekly, May 17, 2016

Tasting Notes:

This episode we enjoy some wonderful Barrel Aged Amaretto from Sons of Vancouver Distillery in North Vancouver. The Barrel Aged Amaretto is a limited release and is available now.

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God Turned Toward Us with Will Willimon

October 22nd, 2021

The Cupboard welcomes back Rev. Dr. Will Willimon. He is a pastor, former Archbishop in the United Methodist Church and the author of, in his approximation, about 100 books. He joins us to speak about his latest book, “God Turned Toward Us: The ABCs of Christian Faith”. It’s a book that covers a wide spectrum of concepts, people and doctrines in Christian faith. Our conversation touches upon a variety of topics from the place of evil and sin in Christian understanding to the purpose of salvation.


We are so grateful for our connection to Will. We love his refreshing ability to speak the truth, regardless of what you may want to hear, and his uncanny ability to upset people both on the right and the left. If you’re bothered by some of what you hear that’s okay. Will doesn’t mind being a little bothersome.


Will's books talked about in today's episode:
"God Turned Toward Us: The ABCs of Christian Faith"
"Preacher's Dare: Speaking for God"


Our last conversation with Will Willimon.

The Beecher Lectures 2021


For more information on Will Willimon visit

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Mental Health: A Personal Story with Markku Kostamo

October 8th, 2021

Addressing matters of mental health and wellness often comes in the forms of ideas, tips, diagnosis and treatment plans. While these are all helpful, sometimes most helpful of all is to be reminded that you are not alone, that others have faced similar challenges.


In this episode of Rector’s Cupboard, Markku Kostamo shares his own story of misdiagnosis, struggle, diagnosis and treatment. His willingness to be open and honest demonstrates that many times the parts of our stories that we consider troubling or humiliating or chronic have been encountered by other people as well. We are in good company, with one another, and part of being well is recognizing our own limitations and our own woundedness.

Links referenced

Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries

Markku's video (available through Facebook)

Upstate Motels Make a Comeback With an Aim to Captivate - New York Times, September 3, 2021 

Gen Z is keeping the faith. Just don’t expect to see them at worship – Religion News Service, September 23, 2021 

Oh my days: linguists lament slang ban in London school – The Guardian, September 30, 2021 

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Mental Health and the Blessings of Uncertainty With Dr. Rami Nader and Dr. Michael Papsdorf

September 24th, 2021

We open up the Reflector Project Garage for a recording before a studio audience. Our guests are directors at the North Shore Stress and Anxiety Clinic.


We talk about the mental health of individuals and mental health in the larger community. What are the positives and negatives of diagnosis? What does it mean that we can be weighed down by a disproportionate response to a circumstance? Much of our mental health struggle can come from an intolerance of uncertainty. At this time in our lives and in the world, how can we become more aware of the blessings of uncertainty?


For some resources on mental health check out:
Dr. Nader's YouTube channel 
BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions 
Kelty Mental Health

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Hope At A Time Like This

September 10th, 2021

Welcome to Season 3 of Rector’s Cupboard. We’re grateful for those who are listening and we are working to put together some thoughtful and engaging material for the third season.

We’re opening this season with an episode looking to provide a place for you to feel some ground beneath your feet in what has been a year and a half of uncertainty and potential change.

What change will actually last after COVID?
Will the way we speak with one another be different?
Most importantly, what are some reasons for hope right now in a time when many are speaking of impending doom?

It is easy to be more aware of dark clouds on the horizon rather than to be aware of hopeful and positive change. The challenges that we face are real, but so is the possibility of actual progress.

Thanks again for listening.

Links Referenced

Axios Future : We’re in for a bumpy couple of decades” - April 10, 2021

The Rise of Therapy-speak, The New Yorker, March 26, 2021

Tasting Notes

This episode we enjoyed Railspur No. 2 Wildflower Honey from The Liberty Distillery on Granville Island.

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Vocation and the Future with Samuel Andri

June 18th, 2021

We speak with Samuel Andri (recent graduate, theological education) about life and work and faith. Samuel is engaging and thoughtful and funny. He is one of the people who remind us that one of the best reasons for hope in the world right now is how so many young people live and see the world. We talk about religion, South Park, theology and how to not take yourself seriously.


In this final episode of the second season of Rector’s Cupboard we also speak as hosts about the end (in parts of the world) of COVID 19 as the one consideration overall and about what it might mean to be hopeful in these days.

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“Won’t You Be My Neighbour?” with Yehuda Mansell

June 4th, 2021

Good conversations with interesting people. Yehuda Mansell was born in Israel. He teaches at Columbia Bible College and is currently living in community with people who are new to Canada at New Hope Community Services in Surrey, BC. We speak with Yehuda about Job and suffering (his PhD work), about language, about his work on the Downtown Eastside and about the blessing of being a neighbour with those new to Canada.


We also speak about Yehuda’s presentation at a recent inter-faith conference. He was co-author of a paper called, “The Theology of Fentanyl”.


For more information on New Hope Community Services take a look at their website.

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Purity Culture in Church Circles: A Conversation with Linda Kay Klein

May 21st, 2021

Linda Kay Klein has written one of the best books examining the phenomenon of purity culture in the 1990’s (and early 2000’s) within much of Christian religious culture. We are pleased to speak with Linda about her book, about what purity culture was and is, and about its impact. If your growing up included church in the 1990’s then you may well be familiar with purity culture. While Linda Kay Klein describes the American experience, Canadian evangelical culture was also largely impacted by the purity movement. The book “Pure” does not simply castigate the past. Rather, there is understanding of motivation and impact of the movement. Linda Kay Klein describes the negative impact of purity culture on self-worth, morality, and religion. She points to a positive and hopeful way forward.

For more information on Linda, her work, and her organization check out her website

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Hope in the Midst of Crisis and Mental Health Challenges with Dr. John Swinton

May 7th, 2021

We speak with John Swinton, Professor in Practical Theology and Pastoral Care, Chair in Divinity and Religious Studies at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

John Swinton has worked in mental health care for many years and is now a professor of theology. He brings together a compassionate understanding of mental health and illness with a hopeful understanding of faith and what it means to live well. What could it look like to know “abundant life” while living with a diagnosis of mental illness? What might it look like to know life to the full amidst ongoing, but undiagnosed struggles around mental health?

Swinton offers a humanizing and hopeful way of seeing the “other”, a way that is non-polarizing and shows how we are in solidarity with others, those of different race, politics, ability and understanding.

The pressure to keep up and to be “compulsively cheerful” in our lives can be debilitating. Swinton shows us the value and beauty of “slowness, gentleness, dependence, vulnerability, un-competitiveness, trustfulness and restfulness.”

Warning: This episode mentions schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and suicide.


John’s books:

Finding Jesus in the Storm: The Spiritual Lives of Christians with Mental Health Challenges

Becoming Friends of Time: Disability, Timefullness, and Gentle Discipleship


Materials and links referenced in this episode:

Regent College course, “Dementia: Living in the Memories of God”, May 10-14

VST course, “Living Faithfully With Mental Health Challenges: Why Theology Matters”, July 12-16

VST Public Lecture, “The “Hidden” Side Effects of COVID 19”, July 13

When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God, T.M. Luhrmann

The Bible and Mental Health: Towards a Biblical Theology of Mental Health, a collection of essays from authors including Walter Brueggemann and John Swinton.

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“Christian Music” with Jeff Johnson and Roy Salmond

April 23rd, 2021

We speak with music producer, podcaster, and writer Roy Salmond along with musician and artist Jeff Johnson.


Roy and Jeff have earned their living in the realm of “Christian Music” for decades. They tell us about changes in the industry, about challenges faced in the past and today. We also hear about the importance of friendship in vocational and spiritual endeavour.


To find Jeff's work check out his website and YouTube channel.
To find Roy's work check out his website

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Special Episode; Towards Justice

April 20th, 2021

Today, April 20, 2021, Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges against him in causing the death of George Floyd. We have some brief considerations before the verdict after it had been announced that the verdict was about to be read. This recording includes the judge in the case reading the verdict and some brief prayers by Cole Arthur Riley on her “Black Liturgies” account.


God with us, 
We thank you for being a God of true empathy, leaving status and security to come near to those you love - a nearness marked by healing, solidarity, and sacrifice. We have traded the fierceness of your empathy that might begin with tears but is also enmeshed with proximity to the hurting and the resolute doing of justice and mercy, even if that justice means loss of comfort and status for us. But keep us from being swallowed by the pain of those we love, that we would learn a compassion that has boundaries - a nearness that is not bondage. Let Empathy lay her head down each night on hope itself, rising with the deep knowledge that restoration is coming. We are the hands and feet of a promise. 

Originally published March 26, 2021 @blackliturgies



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Nothing Wasted with David Hayward (NakedPastor)

April 9th, 2021

We welcome David Hayward, known online as the NakedPastor.

David is an artist who formerly was a Pastor of Presbyterian and Vineyard Churches. Over the last 12 years David has been producing art – sketches, watercolours and paintings that have resonated deeply with people questioning their beliefs, deconstructing systems of religion, and looking for hopeful ways of seeing the world.


We speak about how deconstruction can be hopeful. David tells us that while he appreciated his time as a leader in the institutional church, he is able now to be more pastoral, not less.

After speaking with David we felt a sense of gratitude and joy, the blessing of accepting that we don’t have to be anxious about making sure to believe the right things. It is even okay if we don’t believe properly. Our call is always to love one another.


You can find out more about David and buy some of his wonderful art on his website or check him out on any social media platform.

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Inter-Religious Conversations with Rabbi Dr. Laura Duhan-Kaplan

March 26th, 2021

We speak with Rabbi Dr. Laura Duhan-Kaplan about how religions can grant blessing to one another. In many religious traditions there is a suspicion around engaging with people of other faiths. Rabbi Laura oversees an inter-religious conference each year. We speak also about philosophy and atheism and how we can have a two-dimensional and unhelpful view of not only other faiths, but of non-faith. How can we honour people who believe differently than we do?


Books and references in this episode:

Mouth of the Donkey, Rabbi Dr. Laura Duhan-Kaplan, 2021

Gaslit Nation Podcast

VST Religion & Thoughtful Activism Conference 


Books on philosophy recommended by Rabbi Laura:

Plato’s Symposium

The Spell of the Sensuous - David Abram

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Consider the Lilies with Leah Kostamo

March 12th, 2021

On this episode of Rector’s Cupboard we spoke with Leah Kostamo about astonishment, conservation, environmentalism, all things outdoors, and how that connects with people and faith. Jesus often used metaphors from creation in his teachings. He used tangible things like dirt and spit to bring healing. Our awareness of the transcendent is often evoked by engagement with the natural world and planting a garden can be prayer.


References in this episode:

Planted, Leah Kostamo

A Rocha Canada 

Ecological Footprint Calculator


This episode we enjoyed Evolve Gin from Okanagan Spirits.


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Poetry, Loss, and Hope with Susan Alexander

February 26th, 2021

The Cupboard welcomes Poet Susan Alexander. Susan has won a number of awards for her writing and sat down with us to talk about the blessings of reading and writing and the power of language. Susan’s poetry invites us to consider what has been lost and what future hope entails.


Books and poets referenced in this episode:

Susan Alexander - Nothing You Can Carry, 2020

Susan Alexander - The Dance Floor Tilts, 2017

Lorna Crozier, God of Shadows, 2018

James Wright, Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota, 1990

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Spirituality and Mental Health Dr. Sharon Smith

February 12th, 2021

Sharon Smith has done a PhD looking at spirituality and schizophrenia. She founded an organization called Sanctuary that works with religious communities around matters of mental health, education about mental health, and the removing of stigmas about mental illness and struggle. Sharon is now a Vicar at St. Catherine's Church and a part-time instructor at the University of British Columbia.

We talk about mental wellness, about flourishing and languishing and about how to best care for one another.


Episode Terminology:

Spiritual Bypassing –Shifting done in conversations when topics become uncomfortable. There is a struggle to be with others in their pain so often spiritual platitudes are offered instead. In the context of mental health this can be seen in how things are framed. This has been done in labelling mental health struggles as evil or demonic so as to offer a spiritual solution.


This episode we enjoyed the Salted Lime Lager and Horchata Porter from La Cerveceria Astilleros in the brewery district of North Vancouver.

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“Probably Not a Real Christian” with Curt Allison

January 29th, 2021

Our guest Curt Allison has faced this accusation repeatedly in his life of faith. Curt is Minister of Outreach at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church in Vancouver. He directs the Gospel Choir and leads an LGBTQ spirituality discussion group called, The Word is OUT.

We loved speaking with Curt and continue to be compelled by his appreciation of a faith background that often told him he was unacceptable. In our current culture that can be so polarized, Curt demonstrates a love for all people. Curt tells us about his journey from Oklahoma to Vancouver, from “the fundamental fundamentalist” to a much more welcoming faith and a journey through the dark night of the soul to acceptance and hope.


Episode Terminology: 

Dark Night of the Soul - 16th Century Spanish Christian mystic John of the Cross used this term to describe the feeling of being cut off from God, from a sense of being alive, from prayers being heard. Dark Night of the Soul has come to refer to a part of the spiritual life that is experienced as barrenness. In more recent times it has been discussed alongside concepts such as depression. In theological terms, the Dark Night of the Soul spoke to the idea that God is unknowable and sovereign and may remove from us the sense of divine presence resulting in a feeling of lifelessness. Similar concepts can be found in the 14th Century work called “The Cloud of Unknowing”.


Exodus Ministry - Exodus ministry (using the metaphor of freedom from slavery in Egypt from the Biblical Book of Exodus) was one manifestation of “ministry” to people who did not fit the culturally and religiously accepted norms in regards to sexuality. These ministries often included a kind of conversion therapy that cast healing as either not being gay anymore or as being able to control and deny such an identity in terms of behaviour. In this episode Curt speaks of his experience in Exodus as actually contributing to his self-acceptance and even as contributing to the awareness that he was not alone in his experience. Many of the leaders of Exodus disavowed the programme including the president of the organization in 2012. The ministry closed in 2013.

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Words Without Spin with Pádraig Ó Tuama

January 15th, 2021

This episode was recorded in December 2020, before the events of early 2021 in the United States. Those events offer a clear example of the problem of spin and how words can be used to heal or to harm. All insurrections begin with words. All reconciliations start with the hopeful language of healing.


It was a tremendous privilege to speak with Pádraig Ó Tuama. We spoke about words and language and religion. Padraig read a couple of his poems for us and reminded us of the redemptive and reconciling possibility in words. Religious language can be edifying or destructive. Too often words within religious circles have divided people from one another rather than bringing them together. Hope can come in a poem. A small, but powerful refrain can change your day or your life.


Pádraig Ó Tuama is a poet and theologian. He is the host of Poetry Unbound, part of the On Being Project, author of Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community.


If you're interested in starting to read poetry but don't know where to start Pádraig suggests beginning with the following anthologies from Bloodaxe Books: Being Alive, Staying Alive, and Staying Human. 


Episode Terminology:

Pedagogy – referring to method or means of teaching, communicating knowledge.

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