Who Are You With?

Originally posted March 31, 2014

In this episode Jonathan is joined by guest host Father Jakob Thibault, rector and pastor of The Church of the Holy Paraclete – a Christian Catholic Church.

In many ways we are defined by the people we hang out with and those with whom we decide to associate. That is why your mother never liked it when you hung out with Johnny Badseed even though he was soooo dreamy, and smooth, and never had a problem with the law that merited a federal case. You wanted to hang out with Johnny Badseed because he was so cool and just by being with him elevated your coolness factor. But then you find out that J.B. (that is what he close friends call him) likes to listen to Lawrence Welk when he is working on cars. And the more you get to know him the more he insists that you listen to Lawrence Welk and is going to open a garage where everyone has to listen to Lawrence Welk. You love working on cars. You love being cool. You love being around Johnny Badseed. Lawrence Welk, on the other hand, makes you want peel off your own face. Yet because you are hanging out with Mr. Johnny Badseed (which is what his teachers call him) people are giving you recordings of Lawrence Welk because they assume that you must like him if you are friends with Badseed. Now you are defined as a Lawrence Welk devotee all because you hang out with Johnny Badseed.

Do you see how your identity is shaped by those you are connected with? This is what Jakob Thibault and Jonathan talk about, without the Lawrence Welk bashing in this most recent episode. Jakob shares his story of how he wrestled with his identity as a Catholic, primarily through the presence of and participation with the sacraments, and at the same time as an openly gay man. The Roman Catholic Church has drawn the strict line excluding homosexuality leaving Jakob to have to decide to stay and be silent about who he is or to leave what has been his spiritual home all of his life. In finding and connecting with the Christian Catholic Church (Old Catholic Church), Jakob has found a place where he can connect with his Catholic identity and be honest about who he is as a gay man.

With every group, gathering, and people that we associate boundaries and lines are drawn that shape our identity and we constantly negotiate and navigate those boundaries. In Jakob’s case we see someone who deliberately decided to go outside of the lines drawn by the Roman Catholic Church because he was not willing to let go of a key identifying part of who he is. In the religious context (as well as others) this is something that we should ask ourselves again and again. There is no such thing as a perfect church or a perfect group of people. We will always have to compromise to some degree in acts of conformity, but we must always be weary as to the degree. There may be a point in all of our lives when we have to decide to step outside the boundaries, to say “no” to the demands of identity if it goes against who we truly are.

The book that Jonathan referenced at the beginning of this segment is Catholic Identity: Balancing Reason, Faith, and Power by Michele Dillon. It is another good look at the ways different groups of people navigate their identity with an institution that does not fully accept them.


Jonathan gets a flat tire and gets upset at the fact that he is getting upset and wishes he could be a little calmer. Jakob agrees since he is only on his third contractor for their church building and who knows how many plumbers. Really, they both need to relax and stop sweating the small stuff.

Opening the Word

Matthew 6:24-34 – remember the lilies and then sell them for profit. Not really, but remember that God is with you and will not leave you. This is a challenge calling us to trust God with the little and big things in our lives. Not an easy thing to do.

Watcha’ Into –

Jonathan LOVES the Lego Movie – sorry, you are going to have to wait for it to come out on video to see it (or find a pirated copy)

Jakob is reading Ayn Rand’s work The Virtue ofSelfishness – don’t knock it until you try it.