Russ has been podcasting on the topic of addiction for 12 years.
Russ hated school but loves to learn. Through the hours of driving around Seattle (delivering pizza, and now driving Uber) Russ has devoured multiple college semesters of the lectures on iTunes U. While Russ doesn't consider himself an educated man, Russ is not an idiot either. His relationship with life choking addictions isn't one that comes from a book, class or lecture, but it is an education none the less.
Through realizing his own victories over the addictions the held him captive he realized his experiences follow the pattern of modern behavioral science. Russ is curious about exploring the connection between addictive behavior, anxiety, depression and our growing sense of isolation as a culture.
"If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find — the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. We should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding.’ A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because they couldn’t bond as fully with anything else.
So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection." ~ Peter Cohen (2009) The Naked Empress: Modern neuroscience and the concept of addictions "
Russ geeks out on social psychology and asks: What if we are blind to how emotions and intellect have a kind of spiritual energy that connects all?
Arthur was a "good little Christian" who grew up in a very conservative church in the Midwest until a whole string of tragedies hit is life a few years ago. Then he began to question why he did the things he did, when the "Christianity" he was promised was not delivering on what everyone said it would do. He decided the idea of God was holding him back, and tried life without God for a while. To his surprise, it wasn't the "hell" he was led to believe it was. In fact, life seemed much clearer after he gave up on that "God idea". Arthur is a loving husband, a good father and a genuinely kind and self sacrificing person. He doesn't need "Christianity" to be that either. Some people who knew him before his life went to shit, comment that Arthur became a much better "Christian" after he left Christianity.
Chuck has had a rough last couple of years. Life has not been very kind to him, and when he gets one thing figured out, something else seems to hit him. Chuck grew up a classic "Vangie" and while he still goes to an Evangelical Church and gets good things from it, he has also decided to try some other things to see if they also provide some healing. Chuck was pretty raw when he first joined our group, but has opened up quickly and bravely chose to engaged some really terrible trauma from his past (on the air by the way, see Episode 10) after joining our group. Chuck is a good father and a hard worker, and in many ways is the heart of the group.
Steve is an ex-pastor (also the chaplain for the Seattle SuperSonics!) who is currently challenging some of the rigid beliefs he held as a member of the clergy. He is dealing with the fact that he was a pretty angry and hurt individual when he was a pastor, and did not always do a good job of maintaining healthy relationships in his previous life. He has since made some great strides, gained some humility and significantly rehabilitated his relationships with the people most important to his life.
After two brutal bouts with "American Evangelicalism", John decided he was done. He has since started attending an Eastern Orthodox church and has found it is a much better place for him and his family. John is a rationalist, but is also very sensitive to the fact that he does not understand everything, and takes some comfort in that fact. John struggled with anxiety for many years, and has recently been engaging with more Eastern methods for dealing with that. He has found that things like meditation, breathing, and mindfulness are quit helpful, and is very excited about the progress he has been making in that realm.
Derek is a rational pragmatist. He is also an Engineer, which is pretty much the same thing. Derek grew up a Quaker but "converted" to the Mars Hill "ism" in his early 20's. He found the experience to be quite helpful in many aspects of life, but was never really all in on the KoolAid of the church. When Mars Hill was slaughtered and began decomposing, Derek was quite traumatized by its demise. He has stayed at the church that split off of Mars Hill during the rupture, but has been quietly questioning whether the beliefs match his own for some time. This group has been very helpful for Derek to reexamine some of his beliefs, redefine what "belief" actually means and question whether anyone other than Derek has the authority to tell him what to believe.