In this episode of the RavenCast, Adam Ericksen sat down with Danielle Kingstrom and Matthew Distefano to discuss their upcoming book, “Naked and Known.” Watch the video below or listen to the MP3 above. Read Danielle and Matt’s bios below. The transcript will be made available soon. Never miss an episode by subscribing to the RavenCast on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, or Podbean!
Danielle Kingstrom is a writer, podcaster, and home-school teacher. She lives in rural Minnesota on a farm with her husband and five children. Together, they maintain a fourth generation legacy farm. Unafraid of sparking controversy, Danielle is a frequently published author, appearing regularly in her community’s local newspaper; writing about provocative issues and asking challenging questions. She is currently the co-host of Book-Ish: The Canon Continues and is working on her first book, Naked and Known. You can keep up with Danielle on her Facebook page.
Matthew Distefano is the author of All Set Free, From the Blood of Abel, A Journey with Two Mystics, and Heretic! He is one of the co-hosts on the Heretic Happy Hour podcast. You can keep up with him on his Facebook page or the website allsetfree.com.
RavenCast: “Naked and Known” Adam Ericksen interviews Danielle Kingstrom and Matthew Distefano
ADAM ERICKSEN: Hi, everyone, and welcome to the RavenCast where we talk about mimetic theory. What is Mimetic theory, Matt and Danielle? No, we are going to talk about that a little later you don’t have to do that right now.
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: I don’t know.
ADAM ERICKSEN: You don’t know?
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: I don’t think Matt knows.
ADAM ERICKSEN: What you doing on the show, Matt? We talk about mimetic theory and the violence, and conflict and rivalry, that’s it. Insights into those concepts that so often plague our world, our relationships, our marriages, our neighborhoods and our world. And today, I am so excited because we have two special guests on the show today, Danielle Kingstrom and Matt Distefano. Hi, friends, how are you?
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: Good, hello, hi.
ADAM ERICKSEN: Hi, Matt, how are you?
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: Good, Adam, how are you?
ADAM ERICKSEN: Matt is been on the show a couple of times. This is the first time that Matt is come on with such fantastic hair. I love what you doing with it.
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: I’m really doing nothing, I wake up and I show up.
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: What kind of shampoo do you use?
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: I don’t know, whatever it’s on sale at grocery outlet, Bargain Market.
ADAM ERICKSEN: Fantastic, I need to get some of that. It’s great stuff.
So, I am just going to introduce Matt and Danielle then we are going to get into a book that they are working on together, tentatively titled Naked and Known. I know, right, and when I heard this, Danielle told me this last two weeks ago when I was talking with Suzanne Ross, about her book on love and mimetic theory, and Danielle said, hey, am writing a book with Matt on Naked and Known; I was like let’s do that. Let’s talk about that. That’s awesome.
So Matt is the author of multiple books. First, All Set Free, I have got it here. From The Blood Of Abel:Humanity’s Root Causes Of ViolenceAnd The Bible’s Theological Anthropological Solution. That’s fun. And Matt your latest book is here called Heretic. I love that. It’s good; it’s a perfect cocktail of disgusting lies by anonymous.
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: It is indeed.
ADAM ERICKSEN: Anonymous that is that. And we are no match for this professor of words vomit you are, you got your Ph.D. in word vomit, nicely done.
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: I did, I got that a couple of years back, it was a tough process but am glad I went through with it.
ADAM ERICKSEN: Yeah, 4FOUR years for that one, right? Some kind of dissertation, one of the good stuff, word vomit, who in reality is getting 90% of his info from Wikipedia.
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: It’s like 85.
ADAM ERICKSEN: 85? Ok, or a bitter rabbi, there is a few of those around, I guess. I don’t know. Rabbis are really cool actually, I like rabbis.
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: I know, I didn’t like the anti-Semitism, behind that one.
ADAM ERICKSEN: No, that was not cool. So, anyway get the book, Heretic, because it’s fantastic and Matt is also, on the Heretic Happy Hour, a fantastic podcast. And Danielle is also very active on… Oh, there it is, you can buy a cup among, Heretic Happy Hour, or …
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: And we have shirts.
ADAM ERICKSEN: Yeah, you both have the new version of the Christian.. God Loves Gays, and I am wearing the older version which is Christian and Affirming. So Matt made both of these shirts, right Matt?
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: No, Rafael Polendo at Quoir did the ones, Danielle and myself are wearing, and I had a buddy who helped me with that one.
ADAM ERICKSEN: Ok, awesome, so, where can they get the shirts? Because this shirt is like, it’s important now?
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: Well, it’s always been important, but yeah, right now especially. If you go to Heretichappyhour.com/store, all those shirts around there.
ADAM ERICKSEN: Awesome. Cool.
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: And pillows.
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: We have these hilarious pillows, right,
ADAM ERICKSEN: All kinds of great heretics stuffs. Danielle is a writer, podcaster, and home school teacher. She lives in rural Minnesota on a farm with her husband and five children. I have three.
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: Yeah, five is no different than three, trust me.
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: I’ve got one.
ADAM ERICKSEN: You are always playing catch up. Together they maintain a 4th generation legacy farm. That’s a lot of generations, isn’t it?
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: Yes, it is, yes. His family came from Sweden straight here, set up shop,, stayed around and popped out more generations. So we’re taking that over.
ADAM ERICKSEN: Nicely down, awesome, Danielle is unafraid to spark controversy. She is a frequently published author, appearing regularly in her community’s local newspaper, writing about provocative issues and asking challenging questions. She is currently the co-host of Bookish with Michelle Collins and is working on her first book with Matt, Naked and Known. Danielle before we get to Naked and Known can you tell us a little bit about Bookish?
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: Bookish is Quoir‘s second podcast and I will be hosting it with Michelle Collins. We are both fans of the Heretic Happy Hour, and kind of socialize in the same circles in social media world. And so, we both have a love affair with books. We are constantly reading all the time, and challenging ourselves, looking into new concepts, and Rafael decided that it might make some kind of a unique podcast where we sit down and converse about the concepts we are reading within the books we are reading, and just share those discussions with listeners. And help provoke others to start thinking outside the box. So, that’s it… we drop next week. Our intro hits tomorrow and then next week we drop our first three episodes. And we are really excited. They will actually drop on Women’s Day, March 8th. We’ve done some really interesting books so far and it’s been actually kind of cool… how we both came up with our own master books list and the book that we be interested in discussing. And somehow, the synchronicity just lined up all our choices have just kind of piggybacked off one another or kind of directly butted heads with one another. So that made it really interesting for the last three recordings we have done.
ADAM ERICKSEN: What books are you starting off with?
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: The first book I started off with is Shameless by Nadia Bolz Weber, and then Twelve Rules For Life by Mister Jordan Peterson and then, the last book I just reviewed was Mating In Captivity by Esther Perel. And she is kind of like a source that I have been using for the book me and Matthew are working on. She’s got forty years in the business, you can call her sexpert. And just a lot of what she said I want to pump out there. Just to kind of tease a little bit of what me and Mtthew will be discussing in our book, Naked And Known.
ADAM ERICKSEN: Well, let’s get into Naked and Known. This is the tentative title for the book. Do you have a date or expected date for when the book will come out?
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: Well, okay, I think we have settled on that title, so, the subtitle is tentative. We haven’t got that part yet, but, we are pretty set on Naked and Known. And as far as like a tentative date, we’re just in the middle of writing the first draft of the manuscript and we are about, I don’t know, about 30,000 words in. We’ve got ways to go and am going to guess it’s going to be out in 2020, but, that’s just really tentative, shot in the dark guess.
ADAM ERICKSEN: Awesome. Naked and Known gives us some idea of what you might be talking about, how did you come up with the title?
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: The theme we are kind of bouncing off is this whole nakedness, this vulnerability, and kind of stripping our layers down, like the mask we wear and the roles we take on. Naked just kind of fit, especially since we knew we want to talk about sex, and we wanted to talk about intimacy. And it’s just been a penetrating theme throughout the book.
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: Well no, I think you summed up right. I like the sort of double entendre we are using because we are going to talk about literal nakedness and figurative, or maybe more psychological or spiritual nakedness. Yeah, like Danielle said, stripping the layers back and approaching our long term committed relationships a lot more vulnerably. I think vulnerability is something we lack, especially maybe in the social media world. We see it the most on social media, where we put up a front, and we have a social media persona and we have our day to day real life persona. And I don’t think that’s new. I just think it’s exacerbated with technology, maybe. But I think we also do with our relationships in real time as well. And so, one of life goals is to get people to be vulnerable in their relationships, which goes along, you can’t condemn each other, you can’t judge each other. There has to be this safe space to be vulnerable.
ADAM ERICKSEN: We have got some audience members. You can write comments or questions and I will bring those in. I guess my first question is why it is important to be vulnerable. I mean, I don’t want to be vulnerable, because when I’m vulnerable, it leaves me to being hurt. So why should I be vulnerable?
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: Danielle, I’m going to let you take this and then I’ll explain later what you trying to say.
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: Well, because, okay, so Brené Brown speaks to shame a lot. Matt and I are both fans of hers. She said the antidote to shame is vulnerability. Is that authenticity is being real, and vulnerability is what connected me with Matthew actually in writing piece. So we both saw that was very important. just because maybe as he is done and I have done, as you deconstruct even your religion or your belief, you start to realize that your marriage goes through metamorphoses and deconstruction as well. And it seems like the more we are willing to reveal to our partners, we can take that and kind of redirect it to show us how we can be more revealing to other people because it’s that ultimate intimacy and connection we have with our spouses that I think kind of teaches us how to shine that outwards towards other people. So we start there, I think, that’s like our main relationship that we start with. It teaches us how we can relate intimately to other people and say, you know, it’s okay if I show you my wounds and my scars, look at where am I right now, I am still standing. And if we can’t at least do that with our spouses, we are never going to be able to do it with other people and other friendship relationships or with family.
So for me that was really important. And my husband and I specifically kind of shut everybody out so we can come back and focus on us and all of us like our emotional baggage and everything from the past we just kind of kept shoving under the rug. As we did that we kind of realized we aren’t fully, revealing ourselves to each other and that’s why we had so much dysfunction going on with like family relations. So as we started doing that it kind of taught us how to respond better to other people, to relate better to other people, and, ultimately, I think, just teaching other people how to do that can help with our disconnection problems in society. That’s it for me.
ADAM ERICKSEN: I like it. Matt any thoughts?
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: Yeah, I just add that I think we go tremendous growth when we are vulnerable. And yes, it does open us up to being hurt, but that’s why I think… we also talk about this concept – it’s called differentiation and clinical psychologist David Schnarch does a great job fleshing this out what this means. And I think we when we can learn about our true self, and know our true self, and stand on our own two feet, then we when are able to be vulnerable, we are able to empty ourself for the benefit of someone else, to show this agape style love, we are not attaching our self-worth to the reactions that we get from others. So yes, we can get hurt, but as long as we don’t attach our self-worth to our ego, to make it plain, I think then we can experience a level of growth, and a level of maturity and marriage will make you grow or it will fail, typically. And so, …that doesn’t mean necessarily divorce, I think there is lot of failing marriages that can continue and they go on throughout the years. So but I think when we are able to balance that, standing on two feet and being vulnerable and giving our selves that’s when I think we can experience a level of growth that’s beyond what we imagined when we first said “I do.”
ADAM ERICKSEN: Yeah, beautiful stuff. Joel says, I love what you Matt said about the necessity of safety and space between people. Have you heard of Imago relationship therapy? If so, will, you be incorporating some of the truism in your book, if not, definitely check it out. Have either of you heard of Imago relationship therapy, I have not?
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: I have not. Have you, Matt?
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: No, I haven’t but the minute we get off this, I will try to look it up.
ADAM ERICKSEN: I will Google it right now. Thank you for that, we look into it. So awesome.
The title Naked and Known and as you are talking about it, brings me back to the story of Adam and Eve when they are naked in the garden together and neither one are ashamed. So this like right here, at the beginning of the Bible, and one of the things, mimetic theory, Rene Girard, helps me understand is the anthropological truth the Bible is trying to get at, first and foremost. And so this story, I guess, maybe, I haven’t read your book yet, you haven’t finished writing it yet, but, has something to do with where you are going in the book, I would imagine?
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: Yes, yes. Matt doesn’t know I rewrote that. I actually… so we had come to thinking we were set on our sex chapter and then I was working through some other things, and I am like no, we’re not set. So I started rewriting that. He hasn’t even seen it yet, but I told him I was. And I wanted to go back to the garden of Eden. I wanted to pinpoint that moment where humanity was okay and comfortable with being naked and feeling no shame and point out that somewhere along the way, we integrated shame into our society and then we bring that into our marriage, and when we have, even if it doesn’t come from a result of anything that happens, in our marriage, we bring some emotional baggage in. And I think if we go back to remembering where we started with naked and ashamed, then we go back and think about how we are as children and babies. You know there is no shame in two year olds who want to expose themselves to the world because that’s what they feel comfortable in. And so, yeah, ultimately is going back to that original concept, how do we bring back that original concept of being naked, physically, as well. I mean, I am not saying we should start nudist colonies right now, but, physically being naked in front of your spouse is a huge problem for a lot of people. I mean, I can relate the first few years in my relationship, I had a poor self-image and I didn’t not have a healthy body concept of myself. And I mean it’s just little things like that, that can hold us back from truly being Naked and Known to our spouses. So what I would like to do is try and take off that whole Eden perspective and see if we can’t figure out if we can settle on finding a comfort zone and truly being naked and known what that can do for our sex lives. And in that beneficial way would be superior for many people. Because of you ask me, if we were all having more sex, we would all be happier.
ADAM ERICKSEN: Ok, let’s get to that soon. But before we get to that, one of the things I was so fascinated about that, is when it says Adam knew his wife, and when I was in high school, you start knowing that, to know someone in Hebrew, in biblical sense. So, but, it’s much more, you guys are talking about much knowing on an intimacy level is much more than just about, knowing on a sex level. It’s a deeper kind of intimacy, where there is no shame, there is no accusation, and maybe this is where mimetic theory comes in a little bit more. Where there is no like, you can look at someone, and not shame them, not accuse them, of saying, oh, this is not quite big enough or this is too big, or, like you can look and you can accept the person for who they are and where they are at this moment in their lives.
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: Yeah, I think we need to accept that to be perfect is to accept our imperfections. None of us are perfect and I think that’s where we get into this whole like what is good what is bad thing. Going onto the themes in Genesis, I think a lot of our problems is labeling good and bad and that gives us justification to stand with the good side instead of the bad side. But then different groups have different definitions of what is good and what is bad and then they run into each other, and we get into this finger pointing and accusations, the satanic mechanism. And I think we do it with ourselves and we do it with our spouses, and we do it obviously throughout the world. But I think we do it more subtly than we realize. We are always judging ourselves; we are always looking, I mean am looking at my hair right now, it’s not… I have been accused of…
ADAM ERICKSEN: I already judged you on your hair.
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: I know you have.
ADAM ERICKSEN: It’s already been done.
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: I have been doing it all week, so.
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: Yeah, I am starting to get used to it and I just want to accept myself for who I am.
ADAM ERICKSEN: Then I have to accept you too, accept your hair. It is a very handsome wave going on. Awesome.
Mimetic theory hasn’t talked a lot about sex. And, Danielle, I knew I will love this podcast because I knew Danielle would say something like if we are just having more sex, we be happier, and Matt already brought up Satan, which is fantastic. So how these two fit together is going to be wonderful to talk about. But, let’s talk about sex and happiness. Let’s go there.
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: Okay, well, so, first of all, I want to put a disclaimer. As much as I don’t want to be over-anal about the need for monogamy, I will say that from our perspective and what we are writing, this is about a committed relationship. So, when I talk about sex, I am talking about sex that is going on between committed people, regardless of how long you been together. I just want to put that out there because sometimes I just kind of pop off. And like, we should not judge people we are all, experimenting and exploring, because they are searching for something, they are searching for God. Just so we know for my context.
So, as you start to develop a closeness and you start to know someone, I don’t think knowing someone just comes in the physical sense. My husband and I knew each other when we were having sex in the beginning, but we didn’t know each other in that we were willing to empty ourselves for one another. That we were willing to not have a democracy within our erotic life and that it wasn’t about what’s being equal and what’s being perfectly timed and shared, and reciprocated evenly. There is a flow that you pick up from one another. I think me and my husband has an essence flow, where all throughout the day there is push and pull between us. And that kind of helps keep everything in a flirtatious mode. So, when we are connected by that all throughout the day, we are sexually aware of one another, but no so much like I am saying like, I am just ready at any moment. When we are keeping that sexuality a part, of us, it’s creating this flow, and this dynamic, where we are erotically connected, and it’s not just about being selfless and some…what’s the word am looking for.. Matt, you can step in at any time, because I feel like am…
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: Well, no, I think what I am hearing you saying we are going to integrate our sexuality with our spouses or long term partners throughout the day. And I have gotten to the place where I think of sex as more than intercourse. And, like you said, we are not walking around always being like I need to have sex right now, but it’s being conscious and intentional about being seductive and pursuing the other sexually and not for a selfish way, but just to keep those airwaves going. Because I think, a lot of times we compartmentalize our lives, you know, we are doing the children thing here, we are doing the recreational stuff here, we doing the professional stuff here, and then maybe at the end of the day, after we watch some TV, we got like 30 minutes or 45 minutes to focus on sex. And it’s like I think good sex is going to require a lot more intentionality and we have to integrate it into our lives. Like we are not a father and then a husband and a writer or a mechanic, or whatever we are, we are those things, maybe at once.
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: Yes, there you go, thank you for doing that brought me back to I wanted to go with that. Yes, we have to kind of maintain that, what Esther Perel talks about is her erotic intelligence. You need to be aware of your sexuality. You need to keep that fully integrated into who you are. Yes, I am a mother, but I am also a sexual being while I am a mother. Yes, I have to go milk the cow, but am, also a sexual being while am milking that cow. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that it a sexual experience in what I am doing. It’s just being fully aware of who you are. You are your sexuality, it’s not separate from your identity, it is your identity. And so I think just being more aware of that helps significantly with overall body image. I mean I know it did for me. Sometimes especially us women, our husbands will tell us we are sexy, we are beautiful you look great. I wake up in the morning, you are so beautify. Okay. You know, we are like, what is wrong with you. But, our husbands are seeing past; or our spouses are kind of seeing past the flaws that we are see in ourselves.
So I kind of get to a point where I was like he was right, he seeing what he is seeing and why am I not seeing that. And I wasn’t seeing that because I was segregating my sexuality. I can’t be sexy while making eggs. I can’t be sexy while am doing math homework with the kids. But then I was like, why can’t I, because then am only ready to feel sexy, when we are hopping into the bed and then you are like, I haven’t felt sexy all day, and not just going to turn it on like a switch, like that. If you turn it off like a switch like that, sure but, you have to be ready to be turned on all day. And so that includes seeing yourself as a sexual being in everything you are doing and then not being seen as that’s the sexual act of you’re horny all the time or something. it just means I recognize who I am, I am fully embodied in my sexuality.
ADAM ERICKSEN: I am glad you said that last sentence because I imagine a lot of people watching this, are thinking, man, that sounds like a lot of work because I just have to be like horny all the time. That’s not what you are saying.
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: No
ADAM ERICKSEN: What is the difference between being sexy or feeling sexy and being horny all the time?
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: Well, I would say that, it’s not like you’re, I feel like am going to take this too far if I get a little vivid with my articulation here. I am not saying you should be consciously ready to be erect at any given moment. I am saying that you can see yourself as a sexual being, you can see yourself as a sexy person and you can even revere your spouse and noticing how sexy they look driving the tractor or coming home after a long shift at the hospital. You can notice it without it being an impulsive, aggressive need to hurry up and satiate because I think if we just notice and then continue on about what we are doing, we are kind of creating a little flicker of desire in the back. So that when you are ready to come to the point where you want to have intercourse or you want to be more intimate with your spouse, you have already been connected all day, because you already been thinking about it.
We get to a point where, what Matthew said earlier, we just hop into bed and think oh here we go, but we haven’t connected at all throughout the day, even something as subtle as just a touch, or a simple kiss, can kind of keep that flicker and that spark going a little bit. So it’s not all of a sudden flip on that switch; hurry up, why aren’t you in the mood, what’s the matter? And I know a lot of women are like yeah, I haven’t been thinking about it all day, now you just want me to turn it on. It’s up to all of us individually to kind of keep that flicker going in the back of our minds and knowing that we don’t have to turn it on but it’s ready for us to turn on and it’s not going to be as much work. So it’s not like you are thinking about images all day and what’s going to make me hot, you are just being aware of whom you are and what your spouse is doing, you notice what they are doing, and you notice that in a different way, and you are more attentive to that. Oh, I never noticed that that makes me think about her or how much I appreciate that about her. I mean, it’s not even a sexy act, that can turn you on. I mean, my husband like, am going to just do some laundry, and I am like okay, thank you. I love that. And then, maybe am like, am going to remember that, you know.
ADAM ERICKSEN: I sometimes do the dishes, and that’s pretty hot.
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: You don’t need to get all creative with foreplay. I mean, honestly my husband is like I am going to do couple loads laundry and do you want me to make dinner, and like, … I do.
ADAM ERICKSEN: Yes, I think, what am appreciating so much about this is is that so often you can get caught up in the routine of life, the routine of keeping up the household and you lose that sense of intimacy, that sense of connection. And I think that’s what the sexiness thing, that’s how I am seeing the importance of the sexiness that you are talking about. It’s so easy over time to lose the intimacy that you have in a marriage, seven years in, I guess they say this is the one of the time, you just in the routine of marriage. How do you keep that intimacy, that sexiness alive is something that I think it’s really important to talk about.
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: Yeah, and it could be as simple as just like a wink, a little text. I mean just little things we forget to do in that routine. And like we all spend so much time balancing checkbooks, if we still do that, if we are old school, like me. You know planning the grocery list and doing all those things. And we are like oh, that’s hard work and life is hard work and is it hard work to just send a sexy text or just a brush across the cheek, you know, a wink, just a little compliment here and there. That’s easy stuff. I mean, if we are not doing those things, I think we are like saying that’s so difficult, but we do much more so difficult things than those little things we can do. And all of us can do that. We can be more intentional about just little things throughout the day.
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: Yeah, we are intentional about checking our notifications on our social media and our phones, but, I mean, I notice I get caught up in that, sometimes, where I am like, ah, I have all these messages and I got to respond, then I’ll go and just tell my husband I miss him and I shoot him a text. And so it’s little things like that, but it’s the habit that kills it; the habit kills everything because you get to this point where you are like, I don’t have to work that hard. I already got you, I don’t have to say this, I can just say, yea, you want to tonight and you are just supposed to be happy and take it because we are busy day anyway. And let’s just get this done and we look like as just another thing we have to just to check off our list. And it’s not that and we have to kind of break off our habits a little bit.
But Esther Perels again says about desire is routine kills it. We get too caught up just going through the motions that we forget that we need exploration and adventure and discovery and doses of something new, to kind of make us think differently. I mean any new thing we implement into our day is going to change the trajectory of the way we think about everything. We don’t realize it but we know it, because when something doesn’t go right, we’re freaking out, it’s chaos, it’s panic. What are am I going to do? But, that same emotion that builds up from that kind of anxious reaction is the same emotion that fuels desire. So it’s just how do you want to redirect it, do you want make it overwhelm you, or do you want it to do something else for you later. And so I think that’s kind of what we have to do with our routines, we have to break it up every day. You have to just try something. I mean, routine is obviously important too, I am not going to say, just say go be sporadic, spontaneous people. Some routine is good, too much routine is going to kill you.
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: I think it’s shedding our dualism is that comfort, we have to think of routine as good, and the opposite side of that is chaos or comfort is good, and un-comfortability is bad. But I think a healthy dose of both is actually beneficial. I think in some instances is good to be uncomfortable. Like when I first started doing the podcast, it was uncomfortable. Like the first time, I was, much more nervous, to be on the RavenCast the first time, I came because those kind of things were uncomfortable, but without going through that un-comfortability, you don’t get to a place where you are growing. And I think we have to go through un-comfortability. Writing is uncomfortable. My first book is really uncomfortable to write and this one is not so much, just because it’s… but you want to still be uncomfortable in certain ways. This is a new topic, I have never written a book like this, so it’s uncomfortable.
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: I have never written a book!
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: It is uncomfortable in certain ways, but, you know, I think it forces us to grow when we can balance.
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: I like your statement. There is a building underneath where it’s scary, but it’s really exciting and you want to keep going and it’s kind of tantalizing. And I mean, yeah, inject that into your day and see where it gets you.
ADAM ERICKSEN: Absolutely, I love it, I love it. And also, this subject for Christians, it’s been taboo, throughout much of our history. And we are seeing, like the Catholic Church just had this kind of honesty moment about priests and sexuality. And I think one of the things I appreciate… I guess what am trying to get at is your bringing this out of the closet in Christian cycles. And inviting us to have a longer bigger conversation about our sexuality. And Danielle, how does this fit with Christian theology, how does this fit? When I was talking with Suzanne, the other week, you mentioned the self-emptying of Christ.
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: Kenosis
ADAM ERICKSEN: Kenosis, and what like often times, the Bible is full of sexuality that we have also repressed. So, talk about that a little bit, not just Danielle, but Matt, too.
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: Yeah, right, Matt’s the theologian over here.
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: I think, yeah, I love the idea of kenosis not only as a Christian theological understanding of who Jesus was, who Christ was in relation to the father and his emptying of his own will to do the will of the father. I think good theology should be able to practiced out in real time. And it’s not good enough to have all these like sorts of ontological, metaphysical, theological claims and then not having anything to do with them. So it’s like, how can we have maybe, how we imbue kenosis into our sexual relationships. I mean will that benefit our sexuality or sexual expression with our partners? I think it would. And it’s almost like a two-way street when you empty yourself for the benefit of someone else you actually have gained more pleasure and without going to the details, but if your focus is on feeling and being felt and delivering the most pleasure to your partner, my experience is that it makes for the best sex. So we can have this. And I know this, it’s not like a one to one correspondence, this is what kenosis means for sexual expression, it’s just exploring the themes in the Bible and how they play, how they could play out in real time.
It’s like, you know, you have a great day when you are serving others, and it’s like we almost get this. It’s a cliché but it’s better to give than to receive. And I think when we do give, when we are like ultimate givers, we actually receive more pleasure for ourselves because the act of sex is not just about your pleasure and my pleasure, it’s about the experience itself. And that’s why I just found out when you are more of a how can I please you and how can I empty myself for you , how can I not be selfish at all in the bedroom, sex is much more, better, it feels better, it much more connective, it’s much more intimate. So, I am always of the belief that our theology, if it’s good, should be able to give that real time and it will bear good fruit. And if it doesn’t bear good fruit, it’s quite crap theology.
ADAM ERICKSEN: Yeah right. Even good fruit in the bedroom. Yes, absolutely.
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: You know what, I think that, you know what’s funny is… this isn’t my own discovery, of course, there is an author by the name of Caryll Houselander and who pointed out on something called eucharistic sex. And what she relates sexuality to is we can consider that we have this spiritual relationship with God and we are to have this spiritual connection with God. But Jesus was very specific about offering his body to us. Take this, this is my body, you know, take it and eat it, this is my body, I am giving it to you. Why do we always take that and push it aside and not consider that within the sacrament of our marriage. That is something we should be doing. I am giving you my body. We tell everybody, you don’t give your body until you pick the right person, but then we hold back our bodies. If we are to give all our heart, if we give all our souls and our minds, we also to give all your body to one another. And I think it’s that act alone where we are creating that third entity between us, that connection that we experience together that’s divine.
That way, in that we are giving our body kind of helps us mash all of the components together and that we can, again, give that outward. It’s through kenosis working with eros that teaches us how to share that agape love with everybody. If agape is God’s love, this is how we are learning how to do it between people and not necessarily I am going to give my body to everybody. I mean if that’s your thing, do it but, that’s the one part that we take out. And we can’t give our bodies to other people in a non-sexual manner. And that we are always so hesitant to even dare to caress or hug or to be close in physicality with people. But if Christ gave us his body, then, I think, in turn, we should take that as a symbolic gesture to repeat, to imitate, and to offer our body to others and starting with the person we are in relationship with.
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: I like that eucharistic understanding because it reminds me that the eucharist is not embedded in economy of exchange. It’s not you do this, so I can get this. It’s not I ‘ll do this, so you do this. That’s the sacrificial mindset. And I do Adam contrary what I said earlier, I know a little bit about mimetic theory, but, we are always, I mean, throughout history, we been in sacrificial mindset and exchange economy. We do this, so that the gods will bless us. We make this sacrifice so, our crops get some rain, but not too much rain, the right amount of rain and sun and all that. And I think it’s Bob Hamerton-Kelly who points out that the Eucharistic meal is like the complete subversion of that mindset. Instead of a broken body and a bloody corpse, we have wine and we have bread. Gluten-free bread, and if you have celiac like me, but bread none the less.
I think we can take that non-economy of exchange into our marriage bed. If we are saying, I’ll have sex with you if you get the dishes done. That’s BS. That’s not healthy, that’s back in the sacrificial mindset.
ADAM ERICKSEN: Yeah. Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount said give expecting nothing in return. And then he says and then you will become children of the most high God. This is like kenosis. This is all of it, like what is God doing in the world is God is giving God self to what is other. And one of the other theological terms that might be worth exploring in this is the Trinity, because trinity seems… The very first people talked about trinity, talked about it with the stupid theological Greek word, perichoresis, right. And they ended up talking about it as this inner penetration within the three. So the God, the father and son and Holy Spirit, are like inner penetrating one another giving everything to the other and expecting nothing in return and yet, receiving everything back in return from the other in this mutual giving and receiving. That’s the eros of God.
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: I think we can be very Trinitarian in that way in our daily lives. If we have a good Trinitarian theology, unlike some of the BS in evangelicalism. But, ever giving flow of love that’s always ever flowing. And yeah that seems to be most healthy.
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: More so as a grace exchange and not so much, an economical exchange. I think that should kind of be a focus. I notice that, in my own marriage, sometimes I think, he just keep giving in he is been working all day, we been dumped on with snow, and it’s so between tractors gelling up and moving bobcats around and moving snow, he is so busy. And then he comes in and I am like I have to write. I am going to do laundry, I’ll get dinner done, and I think while are you still giving, you are still giving all the time and it’s just becoming aware of that. If you notice the things your spouse does for you every day in your life and you are like, how do you even have the energy to do this, when I am having days I am going I am not adulting. I am done. Nope, just do it all. Okay, honey, I will do it all, I just think wow, it just keeps going. And what that does for me, of course, is I kind of think, okay, I think I need to step up on my game plan, because he is kind of really loving me right now and I feel like am not. That’s the imitation we do with one another, where I am saying, you are showing me how to be a better person because you are being a really good person right now and I want to step up to that and I want to match that. And that’s the grace exchange, you are kind of transformed by it. You are in awe of how much your spouse does for you. Now I need to reciprocate it, not because you feel guilty, but because they are showing you what that love looks like, its endless, it’s ongoing, it’s self-emptying. And you just imitate each other in that, if you are paying attention. Don’t you think that, Matt?
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: Yeah, of course. That’s why when people when ask me if mimesis is a bad thing, I say no, it’s a human thing. When it’s non-conscious, it leads to problems. Obviously so. But if we are creative, creative mimesis or positive mimesis or imitation and we are conscious about it, I think it can really be a powerful tool to inspire us, to give us some model, that’s why I think the life of Jesus is still so important. As far removed as the religion of Christianity is, I sometimes I think I am, I still see Jesus as this model of positive imitation. And we can be that model for one another. We have to be really conscious about it and really intentional and really understand grace and not being non-sacrificial in our thinking.
ADAM ERICKSEN: Absolutely, absolutely. We’ve got a comment here, I think it’s from Lindsey or maybe from Maura at the Raven Foundation, she says Lewis Hyde’s book The Gift: Imagination And The Erotic Life Of Property offers an interesting dissection of societies based on giving or commerce while he focuses on arts and artists, it seems to fit into this conversations. Yeah, this goes back to the economy of exchange and giving, stuff, thank for that. Go ahead.
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: You might have to cover that on your podcast, Danielle.
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: Going out to Amazon and putting that in my cart.
ADAM ERICKSEN: Good, awesome. Thank you so much for being on the show. I am excited by this topic. I am glad you are both writing about it and bringing sexuality and Christianity and faith all of these to light and to life. And you know the comment that Danielle made, go have more sex and you be happier, it’s sticking with me.
So one more question. I don’t know if this is worth asking here at the end, but I am always like the vulnerability aspect is really important, how to be honest with one another but there is also like how do you protect yourself, like should we be worried about? That’s always like my question when we, I love Brené Brown, and I think she also speaks to this too, like there are times when you get burned so much that you protect yourself. There are times when it’s important to put up walls.
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: I think there are times to have seasons of putting up walls. It depends on our lives circumstances, I don’t mean that with our spouses but we do make a caveat in our first chapter that this vulnerability, it could be kind of destructive if you are with a toxic person or, if your spouse is not in the same mindset. I am a firm believer that people do not have to believe the same things, to have the same interests, to like the same music, all that stuff, but I think when it comes to this sort of relationship and where vulnerability is put… such importance is placed on vulnerability, kenosis, or where ever we are opening ourselves up for the other person, it only works with a two-way street. Because if the other person is embedded in the economy of exchange, they’re always going to be in that mindset. Well, you are doing so you get that. And it’s always going to be sort of cynical. Well he is just doing the dishes, so he will get a blow job, later or something.
(Can I say that here). But, if one person is stuck in that mindset, we are all live in that mindset sometimes, it’s part of our, almost like, we are drawn to it as human beings. But as long as we are moving away from that, I think we have to move away from that together and because there is risk when you are vulnerable and someone is abusive. I would never say, yeah, continue to be vulnerable and continue to pour out yourself to an abusive spouse. Or not even abusive spouse, you don’t have to go so far, but someone who is taking and taking and taking, and never giving. It seems like it only works if both people try or attempt to shed that economic model.
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: Yeah, I would add even in taking the first steps to become more vulnerable, it’s such a long drawn out process. It’s not something that you should expect to see immediate results. And it is scary, it’s a big risk, you’re telling somebody stuff that you thought you never would be able to share with them. And so, just like marriage itself, its a process of evolving and in shifting into the different season and cycles. Becoming more vulnerable is going to also be more of a process. Sure, you can just say ,here is all the emotional baggage and dump it on the table, let’s sort through it. It’s easier to kind of start with little pieces at a time and that will help you gauge each other to see how much each of you are willing to handle and how each of you are able to process it. Because we all process things differently and you have to reflect upon everything we share. We shouldn’t come to immediate decisions but the number one rule, even in this is you can’t shame each other. You love each other, so, if you want it to work and if you want it to see grow and breakthrough, you have to take shame out of the equation altogether. You have to even if that means you have to learn how to control your facial expressions so that you are not going to harm your partner in taking this courageous leap and revealing something that deep. Shame is off the table, nothing but non- judgment. And if we are following the teachings of Christ, we don’t judge our spouse, anyway, hopefully not.
ADAM ERICKSEN: Beautiful, awesome. Thank you so much for this conversation and when the book comes out, I would love to bring you back on and talk more about what’s in the book. So that will be fantastic. Danielle, if people want to keep up with you, how can they do that?
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: Well, we you can find me on Facebook, Danielle Kingstrom. We will.. Bookish drops next week so you can catch that on pod bean and iTunes it’s Bookish: The Canon Continues, so as soon as we launch that intro, you can hurry up and subscribe. Or you can check out bookish.cc for more information on that as well.
ADAM ERICKSEN: Fantastic, thank you. Matt, how do can people keep up with you?
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: Like Danielle on Facebook as well. I have twitter and Instagram stuff, but, mainly I am on Facebook. You can follow me on there send me a friend request. Theheretichappyhour.com, that’s the podcast website, and I have a Patheos blog, although I haven’t been writing on there. Yeah it’s patheos.com/blog/allsetfree. That’s the name of my blog or you can just Google that.
ADAM ERICKSEN: Awesome. Thank you both for being here and having this important and provocative and fun conversation about sex and faith and intimacy. I am looking forward to the book. And thank you, everybody, for joining us and for your comments and questions. I missed Kevin Miller’s, I should add that Kevin Miller says he was looking at my tattoo, which is awfully sexy.
DANIELLE KINGSTROM: Did you show a close up of that?
ADAM ERICKSEN: Just Like this, with my arms and stuff, like, looking at Adam’s tattoo, here it is. It’s there you go. So thank you for the shout out, Kevin, it’s Jesus bringing people out of hell. So it’s like sometimes, Jesus has to come and drag us out of hell, and there is this 11th-century icon, where Jesus is dragging Adam, me, I guess, out of hell, and sometimes I need that. And so, that’s what that’s about. So anyway, I loved it so much I got it tattooed on my arm.
MATTHEW DISTEFANO: It’s sexy, it’s sexy.
ADAM ERICKSEN: Yeah, it’s sexy. Yes. Thank you very much. You can keep up with all things Raven Foundation at the Raven Foundation Facebook page, and you can check out the Raven ReView at RavenFoundation.org. Thank you again for being here. Until next time, grace and peace be with you. Bye-bye.