Ep 88 - From Kuyper to Communism w Ember Kelly

I think is very very my practice there are antagonisms always being faithful to some aspects in betraying other aspects welcome to the magnificus the podcasts about christianity and leftist politics I'm Dean detlef I'm a PhD student at the Institute for Christian studies in Toronto I'm at Veronica I teach Media Studies at Greenville University in Greenville Illinois this week we're talking with amber Kelly or you might know her as at Comi theology on Twitter a lot of really good hot takes and also a lot of very good pictures of China and Vietnam lately so that's worth following for that alone I think really excited to talk to her about her experience in the weird world of evangelicalism and also her experience sort of working through communism and coming out on the other side I guess by moving to a communist country lots of really neat stuff ahead before we do that a couple of quick housekeeping notes one if you don't remember from last week or didn't listen that episode yet I'm gonna teach a class at the Institute for Christian Studies in January I can say more about it at the very very end but just flagging that because it's coming up real soon and you can read the store for it starting this week and it is super cheap I think it's like 90 bucks Canadian and it's all online so you can do it from wherever you want and make some good Christian communists friends reading some really cool stuff together great let's get into it hey so this week we're talking with ember kelly about her experience in china and vietnam and probably some other stuff too so amber for people who don't know who you are or what you're about you just like give us a brief intro and tell us what you're kind of about who you are what you're interested in etc yeah so my name is amber kelly some may know me from Twitter as commie Theology a screen name that I chose quite a while ago I am a recent graduate of Chicago Theological Seminary just graduated this last May and during my time there I got interested in communism that's the you know to second version but I began to research Marxism Leninism and research communism a bit more and during my time there started to do some work in terms of thinking about the intersections of theology and revolutionary socialism and I think that a lot of that was trying to push beyond just like a typical liberal sort of liberation theology I think some of the liberation theology in the u.s. gets stuck in very liberal politics but since then I've developed a major interest in like Asian socialism and particularly the works to Liu Shaoqi who wrote how to be a good communist and also juichi theology jutsu and theology thinking of Juche a out of the dprk so a pretty wide variety of interest and for now having graduated from seminary in May and that was actually my second time through seminary I have taken a little bit of a theology sabbatical and have been teaching abroad but also that's given me a chance to get first-hand experience living in communist countries nice thanks for that that's a really great summary of some cool stuff that you're about there is a ton that we want to ask you about so we thought maybe we would divide the episode into two parts and just sort of take it in chunks so we'll see I mean probably that will not be very clean division but we'll do our best so first we I mean we're gonna get to all the Communists and stuff in a minute here but also we were interested in hearing a little bit about your experience as a trans person both in Christian communities and in communist communities so people talk about some issues surrounding that first and the first half and then we'll talk about communism afters so yeah anything kind of really significant drop out to kind of listen to that conversation for you yeah well I mean you know half of half of my journey to communism and looking at communism and theology started as being like a trans person talking about theology on Twitter and then I you know I had all sorts of nice respectable followers on Twitter back then and I was always talking about like being a trans woman and trying to pursue a call towards ordination and then I started following more and more radical people on Twitter during different social movements especially like the Baltimore uprising and right around that time I started following a few communists on Twitter and then it just kind of went downhill from there but I think being a transwoman Christian circles as part of what a radicalized me that I realized that just fighting for a little bit of change was not quite enough and especially coming from also really evangelical background I you know still saw many of the same issues that I had with acceptance as a trans woman in evangelical background I saw many of the same issues still being there in many liberal circles but that they were just kind of covered over like oh you know we just gotta respect everybody's opinion that being trans has really radically affected my journey theological II and in terms of socialism yeah I'm really curious to maybe dig in a little bit further into the evangelical stuff in particular because I merely lived in Grand Rapids Michigan for a little bit and I lived there for a while as well and people might know Grand Rapids as Betsy DeVos country I guess that's kind of what it's known for these days but it's also something like an evangelical gravity well in the United States so there's a ton of like publishers their legs and urban turbans or Baker and there's like a mess of Dutch Reformed people that live there and you also have spent some time at Piper College you were telling me earlier which is pretty crazy because now I go to a Christian Reformed school as well so maybe you could just talk a little bit about that whole situation and maybe retrospectively you know how has all of your more recent experience sort of shed light on some of those experiences you've had in living in such a like weird Christian saturated kind of place yeah so actually even prior to ending up in the mecca of reformed Christianity of Grand Rapids the before that before reformed Christianity I had even more interesting background I my family jumped around from like a Nazarene Church to a Baptist Church and then to a non-denominational Church which was really just a Baptist Church and then but then at the same time I was also attending a Pentecostal elementary middle in high school it was with an Assemblies of God Assemblies of God related school they were the ones that funded it and so I had lots and lots of different Christianity exposure during my time Oh and so right around the end of high school I started dating someone who was Christian reformed and that's really the only way that reformed Christianity gains new converts um is marrying them in or giving birth but the so I started going to the Christian Reformed Church and it really appealed to me because it was kind of you know the opposite of this Pentecostal and Baptist II hyper-emotional miss that I had grown up with and you know I was very much having searched for like more logical answers and was not really ever finding those besides just like read your Bible and God will speak to you and I was like okay but I want some real answers to these tough questions that I'm asking but I mean at the same time you know it really influenced me I wrote like a I was in like eighth grade and wrote like a letter to the editor for our local newspaper about why evolution was evil uh-huh so I was you know really wholesale had bought into Christian theology but at the same time was having trouble finding some answers and some doubts and I think in the back of my mind struggling with being trans was a part of that and I thought you know maybe if I could just find like a Christianity that has all the answers I'm gonna feel better about this and Christian Reformed miss seemed to have a little bit more history you know they could at least point to like John Calvin and Agustin you know so Jesus Paul Agustin John Calvin apostolic succession is the Reformed faith and so I was excited I was also super obsessed with history as like a high school or so it just felt a little bit deeper and a little bit more like there might be the answers here and pretty much not too long after I started reading you know reformed theology and I joined the joining the Christian Reformed Church and then started reading Catholic books kind of on accident I picked one up at the library just because I thought it looked interesting and so while I headed off to go to a reformed reformed Bible College as it was called and then it became kuiper College in Grand Rapids Michigan and as I was headed there I'm reading these books about Catholic stuff and I got introduced to a local Catholic priest in Grand Rapids and I started going to a Catholic Church and by the end of my first year at reformed Bible school I was Catholic so then you know I knew that I had found the one real church and then it was gonna have all the answers but it turned out that wasn't really the case either so looking back I think it was perhaps a last-ditch attempt to stay in the closet to like I was sort of sort of coming to terms by then with with the fact that I was trans and being more open with myself about it but I I think I thought that you know with Hail Marys and our fathers and rosaries that I might be able to pray myself away from the temptation of being trans oh that maybe just maybe this would be the solution but it turned out not to really be the case and then by the end of my sophomore year of TriMet kuiper so that was about 2008 I was starting to actually come out of the closet I came out to a therapist and to my family and then I started dating someone who I'm not married to and I came out to her and you started really just coming out to all of my friends so by then it was you know kind of it cats out of the bag and I was still sticking with the Catholic thing we got married in a Catholic Church but you know it was as much as I loved so many things about the Catholic Church that I thought were really great and some nice cool theology like with the Eucharist and things like that I just I couldn't be you know tithing to an organization where the funds went to like explicitly political stuff to oppose LGBT rights so that kind of ended any sort of desire to remain Catholic and I jump to the Lutheran Church and spent a little time there before in the ELCA I and I met with someone to talk about oh hey what if I want to be a pastor you know it seems you're okay with trans pastors and they were like well is this gonna be something you talked with your congregants about and I was like yeah that's not really a good start to this whole conversation and so I took a little break and then I ended up joining the UCC which is where I've settled into now though not realistically living abroad I haven't really figured out the church situation yet but yeah settled into the UCC and that's how I ended up going to Chicago seminaries that's my very abbreviated life theological / coming-out journey you know just for perhaps maybe you got some questions from there so we can head into a specific area and so just a rabbit hole of keeping going about everything yeah sure first of all thanks for just kind of sharing all of that with us I think it's I really love hearing people's stories and about just like how they get to be the people they are and its really lovely Dean and I both have sort of like some evangelical stuff and our background and I know for me it has been home I think largely a negative influence on my life I don't know evangelicalism has a lot of really weird things going on with it especially with regards to gender and sexuality and the previous episode we talked about how bad kissing dating goodbye is yeah brings back high school yeah yeah lots of definitely gives me some shakes again anyways how do you think evangelicalism as someone who's kind of run the gambit of religious stuff how does evangelicalism shapeable sexuality and sexual identities or at least how do you think that it shaped yours yeah recently I had a conversation with Roland boor of Marxist theology Sam and we talked about you know shared sort of backgrounds and and theological circles and he talked a lot about you know trying to understand and also own a little bit of the influence that that it had on you which I've always thought was interesting because especially for me evangelicalism just has so much negative baggage like you know I look at these people they're like still you know they're trying to be like liberal evangelicals like I'm an open-minded evangelical like and that to me is just like I just don't understand like why even stick with that label like has just got so much baggage for me and I mean like the the school that the Pentecostal school that I went to like you know we prayed a for George W Bush in the Iraq war and we prayed you know against the gay agenda trying to take over in the world and the you know George Bush was gonna be a brave fighter against the gay agenda and you know definitely in terms of like gender and sexuality like oh wow did that give me some baggage um you know I think especially like you know even hearing that and so I was like what being gay is that evil like what how horrible must I be is like a trans person because like they don't even talk about that like you know that must be even worse and like I remember you know when I was asked Jeeves Inge or using other such pre Google search engines um looking up like transgender Christians and you know I found that there were like some others and I was like wow maybe this is like a thing but like then like my evangelical mind was like no they're not real Christians like they've given up on on the real gospel and they're heretics and you know I think that so much of that baggage has still stuck with me and like I think like looking at my desire to be like this very out trans Lemon Christian and like you know I was for a little bit actively really trying to become like a head pastor sort of person you know I think so much of it was trying to prove like yeah I can be trans in a Christian because I had all this baggage of like no you can't you know oh I mean and in terms of gender itself like weed a hell you know I had so many friends like and always talking to me about like I kissed Aidan goodbye and stuff and giving me grief when I actually did start dating like no you should be doing courtship I have all these crazy things and interest like I feel like there's just times where I just discover like an you know deep hidden things of like how evangelicalism is like still in the back of my mind or influencing the way I think about something like you know especially so much guilt and I think like even there's a sense that you know even like you know having my fancy new theological education that in the back of my mind there's part of me that's like well what if I'm going to hell like what if I'm actually all wrong about this and all of these evangelicals that you know brainwash me as a as a child what if they what if they're actually right and I really am just going to hell and then I'm like oh I guess it's worth it because I really don't want to be any of angelical circles anymore so I'm good at that I still you know as misguided as I think evangelicals are like I don't say they're not Christians like the Christians they're horribly misguided and I think they have some absolutely horrible theology that's damaging to people's lives but I wouldn't go so far as to be like they're not Christians whereas in the reverse an evangelical person for 99% of the time is not going to give me that same benefit they're gonna say I'm an apostate that I believe not real Christianity and that I've been lied to sort of thinking in the UCC the UCC probably could Devil's denomination or something but um you know that was basically what I told her I was like it's really hard to be nice to put evangelicals when they're not particularly nice to me so yeah I mean poof growing up as a trans woman any of the angelical background yeah it's uh I think luckily during my time at Chicago Theological Seminary I finally started unpacking that a little bit more and kind of moving past it and the influence that it had but yeah so that's uh that's my gut reactions about evangelicalism and sexuality and gender and gender identity is that it can be really really damaging yeah well like matt said before thanks for sharing that part of your story as well so it's kind of awkward to ask people like hey can you tell us about this really rough time that you had but I'm really thankful that you did I really appreciate that part of the story especially and I I guess as we pivot to talking a little bit more about communism maybe I want to talk a little bit more about that if that's fine with you specifically talking about how I mean Christianity has a weird history with LGBT folks but so just communism I was just think about here in Toronto I've a trans Christian friend who used to be a member of a communist group in the city decades ago but left because that group was really transphobic at the time but nowadays that same friend of mine is back hanging around with this that communist group today because at least the way that they describe it is that the younger communists seem to sort of understand the trans people should be welcomed that struggle but the same friend as really like hanging out with some of the older communists who still hang around there so I guess I'm curious to hear you know how you navigated some of the senses or have you even you know encountered them and also bonus question wire trips so bad okay we can get to that one in a second the first place got plenty enough to go off you know kind of related to what I was already just talking about with evangelicalism there is I think part of my journey to communism was kind of a spurred on by the same feelings is like moving towards like a more open Christianity because like you know I spent my entire young life being told like these aren't real Christians like they've given up on the real gospel and like once I actually encountered LGBTQ affirming Christians and LGBT Christians I was like wait what like the this would I would you know I was clearly lied to uh-huh so I think much of that same sort of feeling was like you know once I started interacting with with communist theory that I was like well maybe I was lied to a home because like so I I first dabbled in any communist theory I don't even know how it happened but I like interlibrary loan a book of written by Trotsky in my time at kuiper and I will forever be thankful to the librarian for not being like what and I read that and I was like okay well this isn't quite what I was told about it like communism I was like but you know this is Trotsky and he must have been the real communist unlike all these people who betrayed communism but we'll get to that later uh-huh and then I you know briefly dabbled in like the whole Occupy thing like I went down to like the first night of Occupy Grand Rapids which unfortunately was you know as white as Grand Rapids is and they occupied an area that's kind of known for being a little bit like sacred to Native culture and it was on the weekend of like Columbus Day so you know really tasteful you know let's occupy the native space on Columbus Day that's just a really a winning combination but at the same time I wanted to get involved cuz I was like okay there needs to be real change because I had like loved Obama in 2008 and by 2011 I'm like what the heck this is you know not what I was told about politics changing and the world becoming better and so I wanted to I was intrigued by the whole more radical things at the same time I was also like really truly coming out of the closet by then and like they had like an event related with occupy that was called like Tran Archy I think was the name it was about like trans people in radical thought and it was you know really interesting stuff but like occupy Grand Rapids fizzled out obviously Occupy fizzle out then you know I still just like interested in all this but like I didn't really know where it I had with it how it really was until Twitter of it luckily gave me a little push towards like here's some things to read but like for me diving into like you know left book Twitter coming to communist Twitter left Twitter you know I I thought it was a pretty open space in terms of LGBT issues and like obviously you know there's baggage regarding you know the history and stuff but like I definitely when I was first diving in and everything I really felt no issue diving into communist organizing as a trans woman I can see I'm pretty open and I knew lots of other trans women that were communist and whereas like I felt like being in the church like even like being at affirming churches just sometimes feels like such a battle I know there was a article like a humorous a tire article going around talks about the trans woman who goes to the other side of the street because she doesn't want like the group of self affirming liberals to all spend forever telling her how beautiful she is and how great it is that she's challenging gender and stuff and it's like you know I even in like the most affirming churches it still felt like it like me being trans was still just like the prime focus of everything and like I always had to be explaining it and be like this poster icon for transness and i had to be the perfect example and like even in so I got a job as like a as a youth pastor at a church that I had helped in the process of them becoming open and affirming like I came and spoke about trans issues and they voted to become open and affirming and I got a job there is a youth pastor for the high schoolers and as soon as like I started actually transitioning on the job suddenly all these people that were like well I can be sort of okay with it like they were once it was actually like a real thing they didn't they they weren't okay with it and they lost members and then like they kept me on but in the end I got let go because of budget issues which I am making lots of Erica quotes on my own here but so basically because of the funding they lost because people left because of me they cut my position which was like three whole percent of the total budget and not like the newer person who had been hired it was like ten percent of the budget um lots of feelings there that you know I felt like that was such a moment that I was like you know even in these churches that say they're affirming like is it really going to be affirming am I still gonna have to just fight to exist you know like sure there's been some learning moments and communist organizing but I as far as being a trans woman but like I've never I don't feel like I've ever had to quite like fight for my right to exist perhaps because other communist trans people have already made that fight in the past but like you know still a lot of negative feelings for me thinking about like the fact that in most churches I still felt like I had to fight for my right to exist and that I was – I always had to be hyper visible to be though it is like a trans woman Christian like I had to be the example for everybody and show them that trans people are normal – sort of thing so you know I think I've I felt very welcomed and radical organizing and I have had so many struggles in Christian churches and organizations that it just it makes it hard to even like have trust anymore uh-hum I think because it just it's you know so many times of the church screwing you over that you just kind of give up at some point like maybe other you know other people have kept pushing on and didn't give up but I just like you know what I'm tired of having to do this again I think sorta like I just get just giving us all this it's so cool to hear um but now we're gonna make a really sort of on brand patented bag the forecast transition into talking about something else it different you know the transition because I'm saying it very explicitly there's no no you can't you're not wondering it's just that's what we're doing we're transitioning to this other sort of thing so transition is my expertise geez I didn't even realize that was yeah man it's it's the trans episode so it's just really natural you have a huge transition whoa I'm so oblivious to the things I'm saying walking up these things okay well anyways speaking of Twitter I suppose no it's even it's even worse now Dean save me from this hell that I'd put myself in okay yeah here we go this is the the divine judgement coming to rescue everyone and and release us from this terrible fate alright so speaking of Twitter as I was saying here your brand is being like very into communism which is very good and I know you like even moving away from certain Christian expressions and earlier you said you know you're in kind of a theology hiatus right now but nevertheless I'd be really interested to hear you know how do you square that communism with your Christian faith how do you own that Christianity like you were talking about earlier and also kind of own that political heritage that you're you know still exploring and really pursuing actively how do those things go together yeah um I mean there's all sorts of insights but you know so you know my Twitter brand I don't I don't I'd call it a brand but I suppose being really really into communism would be an accurate representation I've tried to make a communist LinkedIn happen but uh everybody has failed to follow me there too the beauty of organizing on LinkedIn because I know there's a left book which like I kind of sometimes dabble in but mostly just avoid and there's obviously left Twitter and communist Twitter and tanki Twitter and all these you know million different aspects of Twitter but you know that we're really missing this this undervalued potential of communist organizing on LinkedIn at the very least you know it provides us a really easy list of like managers CEOs uh-huh you know gets them all in one place but anyways yeah so you know once upon a time I was just like an innocent little like amber Kelly thirty-nine on on Twitter um and just talked about like trans issues and trying to be a trans woman pursuing and call to ministry as I said eventually turned into just communism non-stop you know it's been quite the journey I think there's a lot of amazing insights to be offered about like organizing and looking at history and looking at there's so many things that we can dive into that will kind of leave first specific questions but you know I think for me it was yeah it was a natural flow um I recently spent some time hanging out with with Roland Bohr and we both share that reformed background and I said so you know reformed people they either like become Universalists they become like the hyper conservative reform people who you know think about like whether God dammed everyone to hell before or after the fall home and then the other option is that reformed people become communists um because it seems like those are the main three options that I ever see happening and so you know I think for for a lot of it it felt like a really natural flow but then obviously like there was so much baggage between the two because like religion has been such a tool for reaction an especially reaction like against Communist Party's communist government comest organizing and communism has for good reason and often just been quite suspicious about Christianity so you know I think it's see logically thinking like analyzing the world that seemed like a really natural place to go but then I had to really work through what exactly does that mean you know how do you deal with these sorts of things and I think that yeah you know for at this point I'm not quite sure sometimes uh-huh but you know I think for the longest time I was at the beginning it was just like oh well I'm a religious person who just happens to be slightly interested in communism and like the insights it could offer in the theology I think that was a few years of just like kind of looking at it but then like how did they to try and more fully integrate it and did a lot of like writing during my time at cts the good cts not common seminary but my time at Chicago seminary home but so I think that you know it was a really there was lots to be looked at I mean vation theology already provides like a really solid background to me in terms of thinking about like Marxism and religion but you know I think that due to like the reactionary forces that the many of those people were often up against they often like hesitated to fully call themselves communists or to like fully make the jump to like training a party but they were it was just not possible for them sort of thing or they were afraid to perhaps so for me it was like okay well I really want to dive in and actually think like what would a truly communist theology look like and I did my whole thesis about that and like I looked at like post-colonial theory and I looked at queer theory and theology and I looked at rollin borås books and I wrote what I thought was like this most beautiful under page thesis to which I unfortunately only received passing and not passing with distinction and I'm still very bitter about that one um but so I wrote this whole big thesis and now like already I'm like it's actually any good uh uh you know but I suppose that's the life of being somewhat academic is automatically thinking their work as absolute after you already finished it um and so I know more of the direction that I've been headed recently is thinking about like like you know moving not just like mixing the theology and the communism together into life a little you know Harry Potter potion or something but trying to think I ballistically think materialistically about like what does what christianity specifically look like when it is you know under the dick sure with the proletariat when it is people centered when it is people focused you know what what would that difference be because like even even in so many of the really radical christian churches that I've been in they still rely unlike a couple really really rich donors to keep that church going home who still have some fairly conservative views like so how do you how do you truly move to like people like religion like what what does that look like what will that look like how do just people get involved in radical organizing because I think you know it's it's really easy for Christians to take over everything it's kind of what we do like you know I see radical movements and then like Christians I'd be like oh I gotta go be there I gotta go be present with the people still really want to lead everything like how do we how do Christians how to specific ministers how do religious people not just like come in and take over and try and run things their own way but instead you know how do we listen to the people how do we how do we change our theology to be more people centered and to be more focused on like the material struggles in the people's lives well on that point of sort of like interacting with the world and how that's been a pretty important piece to kind of take a step back from your work which I totally get in light of all of that following you on social media I've just kind of seen some viewer more interesting travels even Vietnam and in China and doing some cool stuff kinda struck me as something that is a little bit funny I mean it's like a really interesting thing to do go live somewhere else I think that's awesome but like reactionaries are like always tongue leftist that you know if you don't like capitalism you should just move to China or something and seems like you're someone who took that advice a little bit more seriously than the rest of us so what have you learned what kind of like judgments would you make about living in communist countries or could you name a few hours that you were like impressed by and maybe some things that you might have been put off by or whatever what are the ups and downs of it oh yeah so many today so this could be the entire podcast in itself um but yeah so I after I've finished seminary I so to back it up a little bit during my final year I started talking about doing a PhD about Marxism and theology in China like the specific topic was that was gonna look at the works of Liu Shaoqi especially like how to be a good communist and think about self-cultivation and like how that's present in like Asian thought and general occasion religions of its present in Christianity and kind of bring all those together to think about like ethics and think about how we act and how we need to cultivate ourselves it's a very very theological and but so we we put in the whole application and got everything going and like they considered it but they decided that I needed to be fluent in Mandarin too to be able to do the PhD and so I was like in the meanwhile while I have been applying I had started researching getting like a TESOL certificate because I figured if I was gonna be studying abroad for a PhD that I could at least get the certificate and maybe make a little money on the side while doing the program like teaching English doing lessons for people so I was like well it seems a worthwhile investment and I found the program that operates out of Ho Chi Minh City and out of Hanoi in Vietnam and I was like oh cool even better cuz like Ho Chi Minh is up there in terms of like my favorite thinkers and so I wanted I was like okay oh this is great like I get my opportunity to go study in Vietnam and get to be there for a little while and then go off and do my PhD in China but then I got the rejection for the PhD and I was like okay well we're gonna we're gonna just go enjoy Vietnam then and start with teach English and then see where it goes and so we sold our house which was pretty great because we had bought it when the market was a little bit lower and we made enough money to pay off some of our student loans unfortunately still have a giant ton of them home but we so we came over in July to Hanoi and then literally while I was on the flight to Hanoi I had done an interview for a job in China and I got the offer for this international kindergarten I got the offer while we were flying in the air to Hanoi and so I was like okay well we'll just head to China once my course is done sort of thing bureaucracy is a bit of a mess because it ended up taking a little bit longer we ended up in Hanoi for three months my course was like the first month and we thought we were gonna be headed there and like earlier to trying to in early September but paperwork got held up in the US and then visa process took forever in any way for China and it was just a a little bit of a pain so we didn't make it to China now until just about exactly one month ago it was October 17 that we got here and so it's been really great um yeah like you said I decided to take everyone's advice and come to a communist country you know I probably could have done Cuba because it was closer to Michigan but I wasn't quite sure I was ready for tropical Caribbean weather I'd been to the Dominican Republic once in that weather did not really agree with me so it's like a cube is probably not my cup of tea but yeah Vietnam was really great it was a bit easier to adjust to than China has been so far I think that there's a lot more expats that live in Hanoi so there's a little bit more like Western ish kind of stuff so it made it a little bit easier of an adjustment whereas China has definitely been an adjustment getting used to new things new ways of doing things but yeah I mean it's been really amazing like the development the seeing it so it's you know it's hard to put into words like but just like seeing that the people I maybe I guess it would be in comparison to like thinking about the United States or I think you know that so many people in the u.s. in terms of like just engaging the world around them is like really negative than really like like there's no hope or no I'm one in like the immigrants are stealing our jobs and on the other end like let's just burn down the whole country sort of radicalism and like you know there's not it's not much hope but like you know I like immediately got the feeling in Vietnam and in China that like people are excited like they're excited about what the future holds they're excited for the developments they're excited for it just seemed much more people people focus people powered that people felt empowered to kind of make their own way whereas in the US that just I just didn't recently ever have that feeling and you know I think you know I'm not gonna live it seeing all the hammers and sickles everywhere isn't wonderful but you know I don't want anybody accusing me of being like the the red flag flying is all it takes to be a communist um but like I think it's you know it's been really exciting to see it up close like you know as much as yes it's a market economy like it's still like if you've studied about it like you cut and it feels different in person like you could definitely just come and be like oh yeah this is exactly the same as the US but it's not and I mean that's hard to explain I've tried to think through it of how to explain it exactly but it hasn't really happened um and but it just that it feels different and especially like looking at like the cost of things looking at the focus on providing lots of affordable housing like it's just such different development focuses such different where money is going focuses that it's about making life easier for people it's about making sure that people can afford things making sure that healthcare is easy and good and affordable to everybody and making sure that everybody can eat you know affordable and not like be starving making sure the education is good like the funding is is going towards good stuff like I found out in China that they actually have like a rule that that a community if a school is like charging to expenses like a private school is charging too expensive fees like the community can actually vote to take away their certificate like it's you know pretty that's pretty badass oh yeah like there's just these everyday little things I noticed in like you know they the I'd actually spend money on like providing good public transit they you know there every the development everything just actually seems focused on like actually getting down to everybody in society like even and so like in Vietnam like you know like we live near like a little tiny market it wasn't like some big huge market it wasn't like a huge tourist hotspot but like you know there was a lady that just like carried the food around like on the typical camera or what it's called but like it just carried around food to sell it it sort of thing and I see her just like pull out a smartphone and I'm just like what I think everybody has smartphones uh-huh and you know just like it seems like like yeah it's definitely got its contradictions of being a socialist oriented market economy but that it just seems very much like the development is focused on helping everybody as a whole helping the people helping the the least in society to you know poverty alleviation things like that it's just a much bigger real concern for like economics over here so it's it's really it's been cool to just see in person and like I'm not gonna lie that it wasn't also really cool to you know go see ho chi minh's mausoleum so i got to be you know up close and personal with Ho Chi Minh's body um it was only like five feet away with guards and stuff in front of it but it's still really cool and like you know it was a just like a random Thursday in the middle of September I mean or a day it was but it was like a day that had no consequence to it and there was probably still like a thousand people there to come see his body that morning like it was just you know it was cool to see that he still means so much to so many people and like in the city that we're in Changsha is it's in the same vicinity as like as Chairman Mao's birthplace and so like there's a big like mountain that they built actually out of concrete that's like God his face on it and like they got like a poem that he wrote about chunk cha like actually like inscribed unlike this big stone and it was really cool to go see and it turns out it's actually really close to Liu Xiao Jie's birthplace and I'm hoping to make it there since he's my tag favorite that's really amazing I mean you spent all this time in communist countries now and not just thinking about communism but actually living in it so I guess our army our good sign-off question for you would be why should Christians be communists oh yeah it definitely could be a long-winded question okay why should Christians be communist why shouldn't they um there was my heartache Oh Christians should be a communist because they should give a about the actual world um you know we're already seeing huge effects of climate change or already seeing the rise of fascism and most of these neoliberal Western democracies like is hitting the fan why shouldn't Christians be communist it's time to stop and step it up but you know I think that in short that Christians need to understand materialism like they need to interact with the world they need to interact with concrete things and they need to understand that like people are suffering through very real issues and and in their lives like and that we need to address that as Christians you know that we need to thinking of the Magnificat I almost just call it the Magnificat you know thinking of casting down the mighty lifting up the lowly you know like Christianity can be such a tool for reaction but we shouldn't let it be we there there's you know centuries of radical Christians trying to push back against it just being used and you know I worry that if we don't fight back for the soul of Christianity of something radical or if we don't show that Christianity can truly mean something to the world that they were losing something and then I think that Christians are really missing out if they don't take a look at you know revolutionary socialism at maximum Leninism as a way of beginning to think about like what it actually means to put the people into power what it actually means to move from being something that's just like a social club to moving to be something that's truly changing the world so I think that's my try attempt at a convince to take on that one it's a good take it's good yeah you did it okay I tried well thanks a lot for coming on the show amber it was really hard for us to work out our three different time zones but I'm really happy that it all panned out thanks for listening to the Magnificat if you like what you heard you can support us on patreon patreon comm slash the Magnificat files on Twitter likes on Facebook join our Facebook group the Magnificat basement that's important hey take Dean's class sign up it's not very expensive even it's really I mean you don't want to advertise you're sort of like educational program as being of good value but it is because it's it's like nine dollars in Canada and that's pretty good for a grad seminar so I don't know do it take take it yeah you know watch the exchange rates for the next few days this is how I live my life watch the exchange rate so the next few days decide when the optimal time is to spend your American dollars on a Canadian thing and then jump on it if you're in Canada then just spend your regular old money and don't watch the exchange rate because you might feel a little bit bad how far your dollar stretches it's a pretty cool class I think I'm really excited to teach is 13 weeks and here's a couple of highlights you're gonna learn about a wild catholic poet who joined the Communist Party of Canada and he became the most famous poet in China and the USSR you get to learn about a priest who was there at the founding of the IWW and you get to learn about what Huey P Newton said about how black panthers should join the church lots and lots of good good Christians all your faves are here and it's gonna be really exciting kind of broad class looking specifically at like the history of movements more so than the kind of theoretical exchanges between theologians or philosophers as important as they are so if you're interested in seeing some kind of on-the-ground stuff get into it you know most podcasts when they get kind of popular they just make a book but look you made a class you made a whole educational situation I'm like that people can engage in so there you go taking that sort of different approach to this whole podcast business yeah this is a new revolutionary approach move over trap oh we're teaching a class you can also download our ebook 33 ways to make your dumb podcast appeal to people on the internet started about it 33 one for each year if Jesus is life before he entered adult minister all may not even think about that I'm full of that's the product I am I'm full of bad weird jokes I'm backing my way into your tonight Matt okay let me take one just one quick but yeah that resists you did you you were doing a great job yeah thank you you know yeah you're you're a sweet boy and you were just trying your Swiss job to be a sweet boy and I hope that everybody sees that just yep okay cool thanks for awesome the magnet cast again intro music is by Amari Armstrong and I love it it's so good and I love them them them beats and the outro music his biological spewed and I also love that song never get tired of listen to either of them honestly so cool thank you for all this good music people that have contributed it alright see you next time I don't wanna get off the judge in the moment and touch in the moaning soles laughs even come – there won't be no Church from me down by the riverside they will swim with all creation never get tired never bought don't worry someday they'll be no dam between us and you

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