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Green Light in the City

Nomad Podcast’s Tim Nash Talks Leaving the Institutional Church and Feeling Liberated in His Deconstruction Journey

24 November 21 interview: Lizzy O'Riordan
photos: Luke Sewell

Deconstruction has become a hot button topic within the Christian community, causing outrage for some, while creating a place of sanctity for others. We talk with Tim Nash of Nomad podcast about leaving the institutional church, forming an online space, and feeling liberated in his deconstruction journey...

“Around twelve years ago myself and some friends were feeling frustrated with the churches we were part of,” says Tim Nash, producer and co-founder of Nomad podcast. “While feeling a strong commitment to the Christian tradition, we were struggling to connect with the more institutionalised aspects of church.” One of the friends, Nick Thorley, suggested they turn their frustrations into a podcast. From here, Nomad was born, a podcast to document the group’s changing faith, and to interview Christian theologians, activists and contemplatives. Featuring four co-hosts - Tim Nash, David Blower, Jemimah Alpine and Nick Thorley - the podcast now releases twice monthly episodes.

Nomad podcast is part of a wider trend of deconstruction - a term that has grown in popularity over the past few years, largely popularised by Christian mystic Richard Rohr. The movement, which has gained a lot of traction online, centres around the process of re-evaluating and rethinking your long held faith beliefs, often resulting in a new set of worldviews that differ from your faith upbringing. Deconstruction has been particularly popular among American evangelicals online, including former megachurch pastor Joshua Harris, and Brenda Marie Davies from the podcast God is Grey. Yet, based out of Nottingham, Nomad is an example of deconstruction happening on our doorstep.

I ask Tim about his deconstruction journey. “I think by giving ourselves freedom to ask questions about church, we gradually started asking questions about the beliefs and practises we’d inherited,” he says. “It turns out we weren’t alone. Countless people worldwide are experiencing something similar, and Nomad has become an online space where people can process that journey.

“Deconstruction isn't a word everyone finds helpful. But however you describe it, an unprecedented number of people around the world are asking deep questions about the faith they inherited. For me, the word simply refers to the process of pulling apart the beliefs and practises you received, and reconstructing something more sustaining and life-giving, making better sense of the world. The faith I inherited was quite tribal, often characterised by judgement, fear and guilt. However, over the years it has evolved into something increasingly outward looking and inclusive, motivated more by love and, actually, more rooted in ancient Christian traditions.”

The process of deconstruction hasn’t been popular among all Christian communities, and many believers are sceptical or damning of a process that questions the validity of their faith. The name Nomad reflects this. “For many of us, our faith has significantly evolved. We can feel cut adrift from our previous communities, and less sure about our place in the world,” Tim says. “The image of a nomad can be comforting. A nomad is part of a community with no fixed habitation. And that’s how many of us feel. We may not have a fixed home in the way we used to, but we’re not homeless. As we continue our journey searching for spiritual nourishment, wherever we are is our home.”

Deconstruction isn't a word everyone finds helpful. But however you describe it, an unprecedented number of people around the world are asking deep questions about the faith they inherited

Tim stresses that Nomad podcast isn’t there to critique the Church, and in fact, “traditional churches can be a tremendous force for good in their local communities.” However, “I’ve reached the conclusion that institutional structures and spirituality rarely make good bedfellows. So, stepping outside of that world and those conversations has felt liberating. I didn’t realise just how much time and energy it was consuming.”

I ask Tim why he thinks deconstruction is growing so quickly in popularity. “We live in changing times, and faith deconstruction is one of many deconstructions taking place in society. Additionally, the Church hasn’t always offered a wise and loving voice in current debates around gender, sexuality, and other issues that many of us care about.”

The internet has also played a large part in the popularity of deconstruction. For lots of people, questions about faith aren’t encouraged within their own Church communities, and the online space has served as a place for open dialogue. “A large problem I have with my inherited faith is that I wasn’t told the whole story. The evangelical faith is just a tiny sliver of world Christianity, but I was told evangelicalism was Christianity,” Tim says. It was through the internet that he managed to connect with people of all different Christian denominations, and non-Christians too. “It’s very hard to have those kinds of conversations and not be significantly changed,” he tells me.

For this reason, it makes sense that Nomad is a podcast, open to anyone with an internet connection to access. “There are no gatekeepers. We can interview anyone we want about anything we want. For many of us coming out of quite dogmatic and controlling faith communities that is a wonderful gift.”

Having moved away from the traditional structures of the church, there is no set path for deconstructionists to follow. When I ask Tim what the future holds for the podcast he tells me, “There’s never been a plan. Nomad has grown and evolved organically as we’ve connected with new people who’ve brought their own interests and talents to the party. I really can’t say what the future holds, I’m just trying to stay awake to new opportunities and possibilities.”

nomadpodcast.co.uk

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