I’ve written about several, specific episodes of the Bible Bash podcast. I think it’s marvelous and am honored to have had the chance to talk with Peterson and Liam about OtherWise Christian: A Guidebook for Transgender Liberation (on a forthcoming episode).
The best way to get the hang of what they are doing is to listen to an episode or two. However, I asked our esteemed hosts to explain it to me.
Why focus on the Bible?
Liam: The Bible has been an appropriated, misused and abused tool of oppression throughout time and history… and certainly so in the ongoing oppression of trans and queer folks. So, as a means of working toward a more just and person-affirming world, it is important to stir all that up, name the misreadings, claim fresh anti-oppressive readings, and mine the text for possible keys to our liberation.
The rabbinical sages say: the whole universe is in the Torah, one must keep turning it see what is revealed.
How did the two of you, as you call yourselves “a Northern Belle and a Southern gentleman,” first connect?
Peterson: After over a decade of exploring and sharing queer perspectives to the Bible, especially looking at gender non-conforming Bible characters–I felt it was time to move on and embrace my role as a climate change action figure. Not only was the need growing, there were also so many more LGBTQ folks out there doing good Bible work. I understood it was time for me to step back and make space.
But then Liam Hooper came along. Well, he was always there, but after a visit to Winston-Salem, I felt the synergy between us. We held a public conversation about two Bible stories, and I felt the joy of having a colleague and comrade.
Liam: When I first met Peterson at a trans conference, I was so relieved to find a person with so much intelligence, wit, and spirit reading these scriptures in much the same way that I was reading them — and even finding stunning little treasures I had not yet found. I just really connected with Peterson and felt I had found some kinship. And, well, Peterson is brilliant.
How did the Bible Bash podcast come about?
Peterson: Through the years I developed skills as a podcaster, first as guest host of Queer & Queerer with Zack Ford, then producing my own shows: Climate Stew and Citizens Climate Radio. I realized I can offer these skills to our community, not so much as an avenue to share my own scholarship, but more to help create a platform so that we can all deepen the conversation. I see myself as a helper in the process, a connecter, and a participant who gets to learn and grow with each episode.
Liam: When [Peterson] raised the idea of podcasting in the course of some other collaborations, I was thrilled. It is a lot of fun and challenges me to grow in my work. And any opportunity to work with Peterson and dip into his wisdom, humor, and insights is a good thing to do! It makes me seem smarter. (laughing as I say this)
You both, each in your own way, seem to be storytellers at heart. Can you say more about that?
Liam: I am keenly interested in the searching, as process and as a way to deeper more humane life-ways; because I love a good story; because God just may appear in the searching, the dialogue, and the wrestling and the humor. When properly read, Biblical stories are the words of human beings in their search for God and desire to discern something of God’s hopes for humanity, writ large. These stories teach us about the human search for God and offer us insights about our nature as human beings.
I tend to think the way to liberation will come through our willingness to learn more and more about ourselves, about how we manipulate God to manipulate and control people; and about how the seeds of human flourishing, justice and liberation are bound up in that messy ground.
Peterson: The wonderful thing about storytelling is that we hear stories with a part of our brain that is much more open and receptive than when we hear a lecture or someone sharing opinions. We hear a story, and we very often relax into it and let our walls comes down. As an activist who wants to promote empathy and understanding, I find storytelling serves an essential role in helping people hear, see, and feel things they typically filter out.
Review the Bible Bash episodes:
Here are the episodes that I have blogged about, so far:
I’ll try to keep adding them here, as I write about them, but the whole collection can be found on their PodBean site.
Compiled by Mx. Chris Paige on September 9, 2019 based on interview with Peterson Toscano and Liam Hooper. Published with their permission.
Note: This blog is intended to be an on-going work in progress. Please contact us if you have corrections or are able to contribute further context or reflections.