Allison Maus and Ben Wideman "Wrapping Up"

“Wrapping Up” with Allison Maus and Ben Wideman

~ing podcast Season 3, Episode 25
Full Episode Transcript

Season 3, Episode 25: “Wrapping Up” with Allison Maus and Ben Wideman was released on June 20, 2023. The audio recording is available on all major podcasting platforms. More information is available here.

Episode Description:

In today’s episode, producer Ben Wideman sits down ~ing host Allison Maus, to reflect back on our most recent season of the podcast. We’ll talk about some of our favorite moments, what we’ve appreciated about this journey, and how being a part of ~ing Podcast has provided us with hope for the future.

Tommy Airey, Jenn Hook, Allison Maus, Mark Adams, Melanie Springer Mock, Ben Wideman, Josh Hook

Ben Wideman  00:00
It’s season three of ~ing Podcast, a production of MennoMedia’s Leader Magazine. What does it mean to authentically follow Jesus? Join us as we talk with people of faith who are creatively thinking, growing, and being… people who are reimagining and exploring what it means to enrich faith in a complex world. Our conversation begins now, join us as we journey together.

Allison Maus  00:29
Hello, everyone, welcome to the final episode of season three of ~ing Podcast. I am here with a very familiar voice, Ben Wideman, our producer. And now we’re glad that you’re here to join us for this final episode is, we reflect a little.

Ben Wideman  00:47
Yeah, it’s been a pleasure, Allison to once again work together, not just with this season, but over the last three years, I know the pandemic upset a lot of things for a lot of different people, I found myself in the new vocation space and stepping away from campus ministry meant stepping away from colleagues like you. And so having the podcast as a way to reconnect has been a real wonderful gift. And to continue this journey. Now, for the last three years, it’s been great, we thought we’d take a little bit of time just to look back on some of our favorite things over the last season plus, and also to spend a bit of time talking about hope, which is something we do with all of our guests thinking about what what is what is this podcast series provided us with, and we hope you enjoy this reflective conversation as we continue. So maybe that’s the place to start. Allison, what, what stands out to you as you think about some of your favorite conversations?

Allison Maus  01:45
It always feels weird to bring up the pandemic, but it’s good to bring up the pandemic, knowing that that was kind of when this podcast was born. And empathize. Yeah, right. Yeah. And I think that that, especially that first season was really like, so important for me as a person, as a pastor, as someone who was trying to find meaning in the midst of everything being turned upside down. And it really was this lovely point that I felt like I got to enter in and not necessarily have to bring my own hope, but got to be inspired by others. And I think getting to know new people in a time where I was locked in my apartment, and really kind of needing to hunker down and write, invest in the depth of just fewer relationships, because that’s what I have the mental space for having this podcast to be able to hear from people who are still thinking about big picture, hope. And we all had to shift that right. And I think that conversations, especially that first season, showed that, but that’s something that’s continued into this season, I think is that feeling connected to the church, capital C, at large, through those conversations has been really, really lovely for me. I think that a couple of conversations that that stick out are one is with Mark Adams, just because it’s always so great to hear from him. And all the work he has with Frontera de Cristo and Cafe Justo. I’m constantly inspired by the work that they do. I don’t know, who knows, maybe someday I’ll move to a border community. Because I think about them often.

Mark Adams  03:32
One of the first things one of my colleagues said when I got to the border was, “Mark living on the border is not about being flexible, but a bit about being fluid.” And so this notion of having to realize that life, there’s there are lots of curves in life. And if you think there’s gonna be a direct route, you’re wrong. And that that’s anywhere and then on the border is even more so. And so one of the things that I think Frontera has done over the years is just is kind of root ourselves in this kind of a hermeneutical welcome, rooted in God’s love.

Allison Maus  04:13
I think the other one was, with Melanie Springer Mock, talking about, you know, parenting. Especially for that, like college transition into adulthood age group, I just felt a real vulnerability with her in that conversation. And I think it is inspiring to see the way some of these authors or activists bring like this true passion that’s a deep inside of them into this way that they get to connect with people share what they’re learning and share some expertise and offer that piece of hope that that we always focus on

Melanie Springer Mock  04:55
When my kids first transition to adulthood and I held on to that fear Are and I parented them, through my fear for them and for what they were experiencing in the world. And then there I had something happened to me. And it was an epiphany of a kind where I, I recognized that I had to let go of my fears, and and just love them and let go of my control over them because I was so afraid. And in that moment of making that shift of choosing love, instead of fear, both my kids left the state to pursue different callings. And that’s a huge loss for me, because they’re not my they’re not here for me to see. But I did let go of that fear for what they were doing, and let them live into that. And both of them are thriving. And I think our relationship is thriving as well. Because I’m trying to just open my hands in my heart and release the fear that I have for them.

Ben Wideman  06:00
Yeah, I think mine are both kind of related to that. It was really lovely to connect with Mark. But that theme that he had of like kind of carrying stories for people who can’t necessarily move geographic boundaries. Sort of, oddly enough, transitioned into an episode A few weeks later with Tommy airy, who has intentionally lived in urban and suburban settings where gentrification is happening. And he has been fortunate enough, I guess, to hear from displaced black communities who have told him carry our stories with you, because we can’t necessarily move in the privileged white spaces that you occupy. And to have those parallels between Mark and Tommy I think was was really, really powerful to sort of connect the dots again, about how important storytelling is, was really powerful.

Tommy Airey  06:59
After the conference, one of the black elders and Detroit, as we were just kind of gathered around, her name is Gloria House, she’s a professor and a poet… she just had this call to the white people in the room. And she said, she said, “You know, ever since the civil rights movement in the 1960s, we’ve been asking white people to go back to the suburbs, because we can’t.” And that hit me really hard. The this call to build a bridge, to white to white people to, to where I come from, has continued to just kind of call out to us.

Ben Wideman  07:40
As we were listening to Melanie, what was so powerful about it was how honest and authentic she was in that space to say like, I’ve arrived at this new reality. And sometimes I don’t know what to do. That that was really powerful. And that authenticity, I think, carried through to a number of our guests, a lot of our guests really from from this year. I think about Jen and Josh Hook, when I think about that authenticity, who were people who’ve done a lot of work about what it’s like to foster and adopt children who are carrying trauma, and especially in a context where, you know, the the church, the faith spaces that we occupy, lift those people up as like doing a really valuable thing, and then don’t always know how to offer support or care for them. But, but being honest in that space, and claiming just how hard it is and how real it is. Just seems like such an important, valuable thing.

Jenn Hook  08:46
It just became very apparent to me that churches were really good at acknowledging like it’s clearly in the Bible to care for the cause of the orphan and the fatherless. And Christians really took that to heart and churches encouraged families to foster or to adopt, but rarely to churches show up after family said yes to that journey.

Josh Hook  09:06
churches attract people who kind of fit within where the church is going. Versus the church kind of really sitting down and thinking like, what are the needs of each of the individuals and families in our congregation? And how can we go best go about meeting those needs?

Allison Maus  09:22
Yeah, that’s also drawing to mind like, I think so many of these interviews. I go in being like, “Great, I get to talk to an expert.” And these people are so wise and they are experts for sure. But I think all of them in their expertise, highlight that we’re all figuring it out. And there’s we need to make space for one another to do so. And all of them have been so gracious as maybe I asked questions about you know, what has made this difficult and right that could be an invitation to be like, well, everyone does it wrong and does how we should do it. it. But no, they always respond with this, like, yeah, it’s messy, but we’ve got to keep moving forward and share their own personal, authentic stories in in how they’ve either failed or been challenged or hope to move forward but find that difficult, and it just feels very human. And that’s very relatable and comforting.

Ben Wideman  10:28
Yeah, Shari Zook way back, I think it was in season two, we talked with her about her book, Peanut Butter and Dragon Wings. And I was struck to, you know, she sort of assumed as a younger person, “I’m going to write a book someday about all my accomplishments.” And what ended up pouring out of her words was all the ways that she struggled as a mom. And and in some ways, she said, that’s been more powerful because it’s allowed people to connect around that struggle, rather than the accomplishments or the highlights. And that definitely will stick with me. And I think that theme is something just so powerful to be real in that way.

Allison Maus  11:10
Yeah. Ben, you’ve taken over more hosting, like season one, you were very much behind the scenes more like we’d hear your voice once in a while. And now

Ben Wideman  11:21
You and Dennis really took the lead.

Allison Maus  11:23
Now you are much more like involved in chatting with the interviews and producing? Do you want to say anything about how that evolution has felt for you?

Ben Wideman  11:38
Yeah, well, I really feel a lot of gratitude. For the grace that our guests have offered me I’m often thinking with two tracks like, one – what is the next question I personally want to ask this individual? Because I’m so in engaged in their story. But the second part is like, how will this all edit together into a cohesive episode? And sometimes I’m sure my questions come out, sort of mixed or convoluted ways because I’m feeling that tension of the the two different things happening in my mind. Fortunately, those two things often line up. And, and it’s actually not been as challenging or difficult as I, as I once thought it would. It’s been, it’s been a gift, I guess, in the spaces where you and Dennis haven’t had the time that you once thought you would to be able, to be the one asking the questions. I know that I carry some privilege as a cisgender, straight, white, Christian, middle-class male. And I hope that I’ve done a good enough job of, you know, not abusing that power, but But trying to use the voice that I have to lift up voices and things like that. So yeah, I think it’s been, it’s been enjoyable for me to take on more of that role. But it would be lovely to if Dennis would be able to come back or if you had more capacity as well. I wouldn’t have minded being the fly on the wall. That’s also fun to just clicking record and listening to these powerful conversations as they unfold.

Allison Maus  13:17
Yeah, I think that it’s I first season, I do feel like I was much more worried about. Okay, I have to ask the perfect question. I mean, if listeners want to go back and listen to that first episode, I don’t know if you can hear it in my voice, but I was so nervous.  Was that with Jes Kast? Was, was that with her?  No, it was with Jared Bias. I was so nervous. Partially, it was a name I knew a little bit, and I I tell people I have a lot of insecurity in theology spaces just because I’ve always kind of done this because I see my call is been along the journey with college students and now even you know more with congregations but seminary was an extremely intimidating for me and so I I struggle with entering in and being smart enough good enough like ask you.

Ben Wideman  14:27

Allison Maus  14:28
And so I think that those first few interviews it maybe it was our interview with Jes Kast that helped me break out of that a little because she was a friend first. Right and also a wonderful pastor who I love and respect, but I was able to meet her as myself instead of this like, propped up version of Allison that is like the smartest theologian or like competitively smart theologian or whatever it is because it’s not I see myself. But I think that what was helpful along this whole journey is knowing, okay, I do have the freedom to kind of just settle into these conversations and have a meaningful moment with mostly strangers. Knowing that I could also then I would often toward the end of episodes, which listeners, you don’t get to hear this, because then and edit it out, is I would be like, “Alright, I’m breaking the fourth wall. Ben, did I miss anything?” And there were some times that you would, you know, add wonderful pieces to the conversation. And I was so grateful for that. But it was also lovely to know that you were listening into those episodes, because I was like, Okay, I’m just here. And if I get way off track that is going to step in. But I get to like, ride my bike, knowing those training wheels are gonna keep me so grateful. I didn’t have to wear both hats, because I do I see that that could be difficult at times.

Ben Wideman  16:00
Absolutely. Yeah, I think I hope listeners appreciate it. That vulnerability, that authenticity. Sometimes I wonder, we had a few episodes where it was both of us talking. And I really liked that balance. But it certainly made it a little bit more tricky sometimes to know like, Okay, are you asking the next question? Am I whose train of thought? Are we following things like that? So, but But yeah, I enjoyed that. That element too. A difficult question that often makes our guests pause for a while is where you find in hope. And so it’s probably fair for us to ask that question of each other. What does hope look like for you, in the midst of all these wonderful conversations we’ve had?

Allison Maus  16:54
The biggest picture of hope that I get from these conversations is that there are all of these people in their own spheres, doing the work. I think sometimes I get too caught up in like, the bigness of the problems in the world, right, like, and the smallness of me as a person living in the middle of rural Pennsylvania. And so, I think knowing that, like I get, having these reminders that I get to stay in my lane or focus on my little bubble here. It feels like it feels like a gift of freedom, it feels like hope. Because that’s just easier, right? It’s not like I have to tackle the whole big picture. And so I guess, I guess to, you know, simplify that answer is that find hope that the church exists, right? Yeah. It’s not about me as a person. It is about us together and knowing that my little piece of the story gets to weave in with the people who are doing things around immigration around finding joy in the midst of grief work, who are doing these beautiful things all around the world. is hopeful because even on the days where I feel like oh, my gosh, I don’t have it all together. I know, okay, well, it’s not just on me, right? It’s on all of us. And that knowing that there are so many people who are, are passionate about highlighting that hope and driving us, just one step forward into the future of the unknown of what the Church will look like, has been really reassuring and comforting and motivating.

Ben Wideman  18:48
I love that. I think mine similar but but slightly different in that has to do with a choice that our guests have made to stay with this pathway. You know, in working with college students, we come across a lot of the students who are sort of done with religion, they might say they’re spiritual, but not religious, or trying to figure out what they still believe. And I think most of our guests have been faced with that choice at some point in their lives, reaching a crossroads as they’re deconstructing their faith where they think like, but is this worth holding on to or do I just give it all up? And there are so many wonderful a smart thinkers saying yes to continuing on that tradition. Reimagining it, certainly. But continuing in that path. I think it’s been helpful for me that the times where I feel frustrated or like there’s not much solvable, salvageable stuff left here in faith spaces, that there are these people saying, “no, there’s value here. Let me show you a pathway that is more life giving. Let me show you a perspective you may not thought of before.” That gives me a lot of hope. And if this podcast ever comes to an end, something that I will really miss is that that space for continuing on, even in this these somewhat difficult times or spaces. But it’s been wonderful to have this work continue with you, Allison. And it’s been great to hear that so many of you have been enjoying this podcast as well. We really hope that it’s been meaningful and we are glad that so many of these wonderful people have offered their voice to in podcast. Thanks for continuing with us and we will hope we will talk to you soon.

Allison Maus  20:50
Bye friends.

Ben Wideman  21:02
As always, we’d like to thank our guests and all who support ~ing Podcast. Thank you for joining us on the journey. If you enjoyed the show, please leave us a review on your favorite podcasting app. If you have something to share, send us a message at [email protected] or by leaving us a voicemail. ~ing Podcast is hosted by Reverend Allison Maus and produced by me, Ben Wideman. Views and opinions expressed on ~ing Podcast are those of our hosts and guests and may not represent that of Leader Magazine or MennoMedia. ~ing Podcast is a production of MennoMedia, a nonprofit publisher that creates thoughtful Anabaptist resources to enrich faith in a complex world. To find out more, visit us online at