The first time I heard of “Science” Mike McHargue was on the podcast You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes. It was episode 201, posted on April 2, 2014. I listened to it when I was in Germany that month. I listened to it a couple times and I’ve listened to it a couple times since. I then got hooked on The Liturgists Podcast, a podcast he co-hosts with a singer/songwriter named Mike Gungor and then his very own podcast Ask Science Mike.
What captivated me initially and keeps me listening is his story.
Mike grew up in the Southern Baptist evangelical church a staunch Christian and in his adult years, married and a father, served as a deacon in his church. When his parents’ marriage fell apart his faith wasn’t too far behind. He began studying the Bible furiously and found his faith crumbling faster and faster. It wasn’t too long before he was an out-and-out atheist, though he kept that a secret from his closest friends and family for as long as he could.
A few years later, the story goes, he had a miraculous encounter with God which ignited his faith in a new way. And now he’s a voice (among many of a growing crowd) for the spiritually frustrated and homeless. It says as much on the Liturgists website.
In April 2014 I was four months out from my divorce. I had been down this road of doubt before and always found myself back in the faith, but this time was different.
It’s funny, but I think all my major catalysts for times of doubt were failed significant relationships. The first time was when my first ever girlfriend dumped me, blaming (from my perspective) God for it. That was the summer of 1998, when I graduated from high school and was getting ready to go to East Carolina University. Three years earlier I had my first real experience with God, where eternity met the there and then, and had been on fire for Jesus ever since.
Well, it was starting to fade by end of senior year, and then going to a “secular” school – outside of home, family and my Christian bubble for the first time – I found myself questioning a great many things.
And so the cycle of doubt-faith-doubt-faith began for me. And again, each period of doubt followed the failed attempt at a significant romantic relationship.
That cycle more or less broke when I went into therapy nearly 10 years later. Well, I don’t know if it broke so much as it evolved. Instead of trying to control everything and be a good Christian boy I started just letting things happen.
Almost another 10 years later I finally got my first shot at marriage, that sacred, holy institution of the Western Church (WC); what the Catholic Church calls a sacrament (and the term Protestant churches appropriate in their search for deeper meaning and depth in their faith to fill the void left by condemning and abandoning all Catholic tradition).
So there was a lot riding on this.
I did everything to the best of my ability – being patient, loving, kind; doing things dictated by the Western Church such as asking my ex to not have any male Facebook friends I wasn’t friends with (that went over SUPER well) and other things along those lines. Being a long-distance marriage didn’t help (I was stationed in a place she wasn’t able to live), but following the prescriptive dictates of the WC didn’t help much either, except to quicken the inevitable, perhaps.
And so I entered another phase of doubt – this time not so much toward God, but toward my understanding of Him as propagated by the WC. However, without that institution I was so accustomed to since birth, I found myself with more and more questions.
Then in April 2014 I listened to the Science Mike episode of You Made It Weird and for the first time learned of the plight of so many other Christians similar to me in Science Mike’s testimony.
When I found out he was writing a book about his experience I was super excited and volunteered to be an advanced reader and reviewer. And so my review of the book will be up some time this week.
However, I strongly encourage you to check it out yourself – shucks, it comes out TOMORROW* (9/13). Check out the linked websites above, listen to his podcasts, listen to the oft-mentioned You Made It Weird episode! It’s great! It changed my life and I’m super duper excited to bring this review to you soon.
*depending on your time zone