When a Southern Baptist & an Atheist-Turned-Traditional-Catholic are in a Room...


It all began in May of 2014. I'd recently endured a whirlwind of controversies stemming from my being the bogeyman in a local nativity scene controversy, and I was reveling in the tail-end of 18-months spent neck-deep in editorial oversight of highly-publicized investigations into the Battle Creek Police Department, so life was almost back to normal (whatever normal even means for someone like me), or at least normal enough, that I was able to get back to what I love most: reading books, playing guitar, and spending nights around the campfire with my wife & kids! It felt good, like a Navy recruit's first night's sleep after Battlestations, and for a brief second, I hoped it would last forever...

... and it probably would have, were it not for a meddling YouTuber named Matt Singleton

Matt was a thick-drawled Baptist minister from Kentucky, and he hosted a small independent program called Bible Smack, on Blog Talk Radio. I'd never heard of Matt, much less his show, but he'd heard of me, and I'd apparently made quite an impression, since he decided to make a video, entitled, "Was Jeremiah Bannister (aka Paleocrat) ever a TRUE Christian?" And with that, I cranked up my video camera and kissed my brief respite goodbye.

A lot has happened since that day. Response videos turned into phone calls, phone calls turned into interviews, and interviews turned into conversations lasting late into the night. But then something unexpected happened: Matt & I became friends. Sure, he was a KJV enthusiast. And okay, so maybe he was a dispensationalist. But I didn't mind. These were fodder for fun (and at times even challenging) conversation. Heck, I didn't even mind that he was a geocentric Young Earth Creationist.... well, I didn't consider it a dealbreaker, anyway. For beyond any & all of our deep-rooted disagreements, Matt was bona fide Southern gentleman: cordial in dialogue, bursting with manners & charm, and an all-around good-hearted guy. We were strange-bedfellows to be sure, but Matt put it best when he said, "We're kinda like Jacob & Esau." And though we've never officially settled which of us is Jacob (it's obviously me--Matt has way more body hair), we've both agreed that it totally sucks that our homes are so far apart, making it really difficult (and expensive) to ever hang out...


... that was until this week, when Matt hopped in his car and drove seven hours from Louiseville, Kentucky, to #TeamTinyDancer HQ in Grand Rapids, Michigan!


I cannot tell you how happy I was, finally meeting him face-to-face. Sure, I'd given up atheism years ago, but Matt has the blood of anabaptists running through his veins, so my being Roman Catholic worked out nice & dandy. We talked about the papacy, church government, sola scriptura, and more--we even had time for discussions about Darwin & the Waldensians. And of course, we discussed politics, which is the one area where we mostly agree. And by the time all was said & done, he'd taught my son some Tae Kwon Do, taken a walk with us at the park, and hung out with my kids as they watched "Home Alone" for the very first time. Then, after breakfast at our favorite local diner, he bid us farewell and made his way home.

Thinking back on all of this makes me laugh. Existence is funny like that, filled with all sorts of life-changing encounters--and often when (and where) you'd least expect it! To be lost in the ways of the world, caught in a thicket of apostasy, and yet God, in His great mercy, sent a mesomorphic bible-thumper from Derby City to help me along the way... the way from whence I wandered... the road that led me home. What an amazing God, and what an awesome friend. P.S. On Matt's first night here, we exchanged gifts. He gave me a copy of "A Harmony of the Gospels," by A.T. Robertson, and I gave him my copy of "Inerrancy," edited by Norman Geisler. Afterward, he asked me about my apostasy: what led to it, what laid at its root? I was honest with him--more honest than I was in my initial response video!--but I'll reserve the details of that conversation for another day...

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