Ask Me Anything Vol 2

I still have a few posts that are supposed to drop at the tail end of each volume and I got stuck on one of them for Volume 1 because it was a massive bastard that grew so large I still don’t know how to contain it.

And I had wanted to drop an AMA at the end of the last Volume, as well, and because I never finished Afterthought(s) 1.0 I never released the first AMA.

So, I’ll eventually go back and do that, but for now this will be the spot to drop any and all questions you may have in regards to what you’ve read, what you think and feel, questions about me or my process or philosophy, my thoughts on whatever.

I’m curious what you’re curious about.

And I do mean ask me anything. I may not have a legit answer but I’ll try my best.

Only thing I have no patience for is trolling. There’s a zillion other places where trolling is fair game. I’m not interested and won’t answer such questions. Or if you’re coming here to argue that I’m wrong about everything… no patience for that.

So, please add questions in the comments and then one by one I will address them here. I also have a list of questions that folk have been asking for awhile and I will be seeding those in when I can and I’ll start with a question I have been asked a lot:

Q: Why are you not mentioning the names of the crew/creative team of AIO in this project?

A: I have so many reasons for wanting to avoid this. The first of which is that I genuinely am fighting systems. The problem is bigger than any one person. And the moment that an individual is named, then they have a right to respond to the accusation. And then the conversation spins away from what I’d like to discuss– the corruption of White Evangelical Christianity becoming an Apocalyptic Political Cult– and that when it gets personal so do the feelings. And then there’s beef and squabbles and people taking shots at each other and “slamming” and “destroying” comments… oof.

I’m trying to end harm in the world not accelerate it.

And I’ve argued with some of these people over the years and a thing I learned is that some of them LIKE TO ARGUE. And they love to use an argument as a vehicle to be the center of attention. A thing to consider that we haven’t gotten into yet, is the psychology of those who are attracted to this kind of work/religion/culture.

Lotta narcissism posing as spiritual leadership. And that personality type loves attention, loves arguing, refuses to ever believe they could possibly Be Wrong, and they won’t stop ever.

As well, I really do think that the people I worked with… these aren’t monsters. They are people trapped in an ideology that literally rewards this kind of behavior. So, what good is it to say Person X did this and Person Y did that… then everybody runs to those folk and asks “did you do what Dave said” and I’m not here to sift through 30 years of bad memories. I have a narrative. I have a goal with this project and that goal is not to levy my rage against some singular person or group of people who shunned me decades ago.

I want to go after the system that gets those people to shun people like me.

The system convincing a bunch of White Evangelicals that it’s okay to suicide your country and environment and education in the name of The End Times.

The people that abused me… learned that behavior from the people that abused them. The 2,000 year old cycle must be broken by somebody. And when people who have been abused argue about which of them abused the other… well then you get endless arguments and everybody continuing to utilize tactics and behaviors of abuse instead of anything approaching healing.

A core struggle for those of us who deconstruct is that Christians are never wrong about anything in their own minds. So arguing with people who are convinced that God elevated them to the positions they had and the career success they achieved– you think God could be wrong? No. So then the people filled with the Holy Spirit can’t possibly Be Wrong either, can they?

The mentally ill guy living in poverty must be the wrong one. And I’m an easy target to attack that way. All they have to do is say, “He’s crazy… see?” That’s how these arguments went for 30 years.

My goal is to try to take down the system that locks everyone into these narcissistic positions.

Hence why I say in the Rules post that is is not an arguing forum. Naming individuals would result in me violating Rule #1: No Arguing. BTDT.

Unfortunately, there are certain people and positions where I literally can not avoid naming them: Religious Parent, Exec Prod Dad, there were literally only 2 writers and 2 engineers so it’s a small group of people and if folks want to they can easily figure out who so-and-so is. And I don’t know how to avoid that reality. I have no desire to shame my parents publicly… but I HAVE to talk about what it was like being raised in this environment under these conditions.

It’s the hardest creative needle I’ve ever had to thread. And I’m still uncertain whether I’ve revealed too much. Or whether I’ve exposed myself to reprisals… I dunno. Never written a memoir-that-was-a-weapon before. But my goal is Harm Reduction. I’m not trying to harm any of them.

And engaging in further gaslighting arguments would harm me.

Q: Will you ever release an audio version of this project?

A: Fuck. Yes.

I am however trapped in a difficult living/working scenario and economic scenario where my ability to actually make this stuff is being hampered by my lack of funding and access to resources.

Trying to find solutions to that, but as you can see with how long it’s taking to even get single posts out… I’ve hit a wall and am stuck.

I’m dying to finish this project. And I’m barely halfway into the narrative. There will be an audio version. A print version. The Prodigal Musical Documentary. The Prodigal FlameThrower “The kids love this one…” There are plans aplenty.

Now that I’ve finished birthing this volume, my sights are set on finding assistance to help bring the rest of the project to fruition. All help is appreciated!

Q: “Do you have to use so many cuss words?” -The Stranger

A: “The fuck you talking about?” -The Dude

Aside from my reasons for my potty mouth in Rules, Disclaimers, & Foul Print… a larger purpose in this work is to utilize propaganda tactics that are constantly being weaponized against white evangelical audiences to teach them what to look for in the media they consume.

And one of the classic ways that Fox News and Breitbart and all the rightwing channels– Focus on The Family too– get and hold your attention is by pissing you off. Making you angry at somebody. And you get mad when you feel attacked. And a core tactic in Christianity is to make their audiences always feel that The World is attacking them.

By leading with that concept, my goal is to instantly shock and gain the attention of my readers. JIMMY BARCLAY IS CALLING US FUCKERS?!?

You’re gonna want to stick around and find out wtf happened to our L’ilGuy.

So, it’s a very tactical purpose. I am doing to my readers what Fox News does to them. Whereas they say “Libruls think you’re fuckers!”… I’m saying “I THINK YOU’RE FUCKERS”. That’s gonna be a needle in the eye to the PG crowd that constantly censors themselves.

Another reason I swear so goddamn much, is because it’s more honest. Christians censor their realities and as result I think the emotional processing doesn’t really happen the way it needs to in many circumstances. Is genocide messed up? Or is genocide fucked up? One of those is more accurate and honest. And by eschewing some cultural politesse I can better drive points home without having to dance around them. Christian culture is an avoidant and indirect culture. They tend to talk around things or be toxically positive about heinous shit. Swearing is honest as fuck.

Lastly, I have found that when I talk in depth with people of faith… whenever I drop that first f bomb… they tense. Because their whole lives they’ve been told to NOT say that word. And here is somebody saying that word in front of them without screaming it into their faces like all their terrible movies (and books) have them believing nonbelievers behave. And something really, really interesting happens when somebody who has been conditioned to censor themselves their whole lives does when they are around someone like me…

About 10-15 minutes after I fuck/shit/hell/damn something… 90% of the time the person of faith starts relaxing. Their body language shifts and un-tenses. I saw this all the time in North Hollywood working with newbie christian actors who once they realized they could cuss in dramatic improv and nobody in their churches would ever know– HOLY SHIT THEY CAN FINALLY BREATHE and emote and feel things and call bullshit BULLSHIT. It’s fascinating to watch people who are wound tight suddenly be given the freedom to feel and to call things what they are. It leads to such greater communication. And then when the christian swears– because eventually they ALWAYS say “fuck” like they’re learning to ride a bicycle for the first time– it literally frees them in ways you can watch happen right in front of you. It’s one of my favorite tricks working with people of faith.

My goal isn’t to corrupt anyone with bad language. Rather, I feel that censoring ourselves corrupts our ability to communicate honestly. And it’s a form of lying. If the word goddammit bothers you more than hypocrisy… that’s the fucking problem.

Fuck it. I prefer to call this bullshit out.

And deep down… so do fucking evangelicals.

Q: Were you ever really a Christian? It’s hard to believe a person of genuine faith could write the things you are writing.

A: There is a reason I’m willing to write the whole story. Because it’s the only way I can think of to actually teach people how I got out of the cult. I have to take you step by step. I was in sooooooo deep there’s no way to explain it easily.

Yes. I was a passionate and devout evangelical. If anybody from my personal life ever finds this project it will blow their minds that I’m now a democrat and calling evangelicals fuckers.

I walked the walk until I couldn’t anymore.

Nobody raised in the church leaves it without reason. Every person I knew was in the church. This is why it’s so hard for people to leave when they deconstruct… their entire systems of family, friends, community… the church is designed to be your 3rd Space and dominate your entire life. And leaving that is. not. easy. to. do.

I will say that this entire project and everything I do in my life is inspired by the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount. That’s where it begins and ends for me. I still live according to the principles I was raised in.

I’m not the one that doesn’t follow Jesus teachings. And when you realize that’s what this is all about….

Q: What do you do for fun when you aren’t running political parties and writing epic propaganda?

A: I’m an avid walker. 3 miles a day every day without fail. It’s where I do my best creative work.

Chess. I’ve been a chess junkie for the last 7-8 years when I was trying to find new things to get addicted to to help substitute my smoking addiction. I needed a hobby that wouldn’t kill me, that wouldn’t bore me, and that there was no ceiling to learning to keep me mentally stimulated. Chess became that addiction.

I now smoke chess pieces rolled up in chess boards. Way healthier.

Watercolor painting is a hobby I am beginning to explore this year. Because I like to take on extraordinarily difficult hobbies that endlessly frustrate me.

Rubik’s cubes. Puzzles of all kinds. Would like to get back into guitar and recording– my guitars have sat in my closet for 20 years.

Video games. Doomscrolling.

Cooking. I am a fantastic home chef. At some point we’ll get to the Dave-is-actually-Job part of the story and when my spouse becomes allergic to the entire world like a plague… I have to learn how to cook from scratch and since my spouse could not go out to restaurants I had to bring the restaurant experience into the home. So, yes, I make my own stock. Regularly. Passionate home chef.

I love learning. Reading. Engaging in new things. I am never bored. And my interests are wide and varied.

Q: Can we get your name so we can play chess with you?? 
I’m still waiting to hear about the episodes “Living in the Gray I and II,” in which Jimmy works for a tabloid and is generally disappointing or lying to everyone in his life.

A: “javeness” is my chess handle. And Living in the Gray 1 & 2 heh heh heh… are you starting to see how the Jimmy narrative is being spun after that book? That will be covered in Volume 3! Living in the Gray is where they are being pretty blatant about their feels towards me. It’s a heckuva story.

Q: What is your favorite movie?

A: oh dear… this is a tough one because I was a cinema junkie for a long time there and then when everything that happens in Volume 3 happens… I give up on pop culture and never watch another film or tv show ever again. But before I gave up on it all… My favorite years in cinema were 1998-1999. If you ever read lists of the films that came out in that 2 year stretch it was WILD.

I was 22-23 during those years and film was everything to me. There were so many insanely great films that came out then. Every week there was a new release with top tier talent in stories that were mind bending and creatively peaking… I lived at the movie theaters. Took my spouse to see Saving Private Ryan on our first date– very romantic!

Lebowski is probably my all time favorite film and I’ve been saying that for 20 years. I think it’s flawless from beginning to end– actually one of the greatest films ever made from script, to art direction, to the cast, cinematography incredible film I have no idea how that ever got greenlit.

In 2000 I was involved in a car wreck that destroyed my back and one of the things I did when I went insane from being stuck in my house all day unable to move was I watched the Big Lebowski every day for 3 months straight. That film was my film school. The opening scene with Walter, Donny, and The Dude talking over each other is my favorite dialogue in the history of cinema or theater. It’s the most natural and realistic way that people actually talk and get sidetracked… the rhythms of that scene have inspired more of my dialogue than any other I can think of. And as an actor… holy shit The Dude and Walter are the most amazing characters in the history of cinema. To put those characters together… I would kill to dive into a script and a character like either of those.

Arguing over the toe. My gawd.

Q: One thing I’ve found perplexing in reading through your accounts is that AIO staff seemed to have one set of standards for you and a different set of standards for the adult voice actors. They wanted you to be a good model Christian child, but they didn’t care if the adults were even Christians?

Did you ever get a sense if any of the adult actors–Christian or not–picked up on any of those double standards or instances of hypocrisy?

A: Such a good and interesting question. I certainly feel as if that’s the case. I feel I have been treated in a way that the other child actors never were. Even the other kids of that era… none of them had a family built around them where the Exec Prod played their father. So, my journey with the show is different. Donna would be the only other kid actor who had a similar experience. Interesting that she has nothing to do with the show now, as well.

I wonder if she may have been suffering some of the same things I may have been? Did she get StillFace™ treatment or whispers or little snide comments about what a disappointment she was as a teenager?

For me, I definitely felt it. And more so in the years after I was written out. They would include me in some things– I was invited to the 10th anniversary and 20th anniversary dinners that were held in Burbank and the Magic Castle. But I was excluded from anything to do with the fans. And the way they started treating the character– I felt like they were trying to turn the fans against Jimmy especially in the Living in the Gray episodes as a way to turn the fans against me. I’ll write about that later.

Here’s the thing. I was 10 years old when these folks entered my life. I think they felt a certain protectiveness of me? Possessiveness of me? I think they probably felt that I was a kid they were ministering to as much as they were to the audience. Keep in mind, the writers will sometimes slip in their real feelings about you in the material as a way to take subtle digs or shots. Mostly I think it’s benign, but it is buried in there.

And I’m a 10, 11, 12, year old kid these guys have known– by the time I’m 17 like, they’ve watched me grow up and start becoming an adult. And something happens to church kids who grow up and suddenly start having problems the church can’t help any more. The church turns its back on you. And so the same thing was happening at the same time for me in AIO.

I was the poster child for White Evangelicals raising their kids. Right?

What happens when your poster child for how to raise L’ilChristianKids™ suddenly becomes a mental health train wreck?

You want to believe that the kid has made a BAD LIFE CHOICE. See, the kid clearly failed at christianity, because if you’re a real christian you can’t possibly be depressed all the time. So if you’re depressed all the time… what does that mean by default?

They never expected the adults to be moral. All the Whits were atheists. Most of the adult cast are just professional actors wanting to jam on some live cast recordings. We’ve had LGBT cast members! Because those folk are needed to create the product.

Us kids were the precious L’ilSweeties that is the reason all our families need focusing on. And so what does it say when one of your main stars as a kid– and I was literally the golden child– smart, well-behaved, talented, no ego (because it had been crushed out of me), disciplined (because I was disciplined constantly)… when THAT kid goes rogue, it must be because he’s dancing with the devil now. Bye kid. We tried to raise you right but you caved to The World. <insert Still Face>.

I feel like what I experienced with them is the same thing most 17 year olds who don’t want to go to church anymore experience when everybody is constantly disappointed in you.

As to the adult actors picking up on things… I had conversations with Will Ryan when we reconnected during the 20th anniversary shows (that I invited myself to), he expressed some of those concerns– but he wasn’t a christian and viewed the creative team/parent company with more suspicion than others did. This is why he believed the unions were necessary. I would have to suspect that the christian members of the cast have zero problems with any of the things I experienced and in some ways they can be just as cold at times. I actually feel that the adult christian actors are also somewhat abused and their faith is manipulated/leveraged to work for substandard wages and to recruit other actors into the show.

And the biggest reason why none of this ever gets called out or dealt with is everyone is there for a paycheck. And for the fans AIO is a feel-good, fun show to listen to– and those vibes DO extend into the studio– but this is a job for most of the cast and they’re not gonna bite the hand that has fed them checks for 35 years.

It wasn’t just the AIO team that didn’t give a shit about me when I was written out. The cast never cared either. One of the reasons my career kind of dies is the adults were not interested in having any kind of relationship outside the studio until years after when Facebook hit and we all started interacting with the fans after the 20th. Which makes sense, adults aren’t interested in palling around with kid/teen actors. This is where a lot of the ideas of family/coworkers got blurred for me. I thought of these people as family. They think of me as some kid they used to use just like hundreds of others– although deep down I know they loved me in way that was unique which is why when I get sick the abandonment hurts so damn much. I don’t think this happened to the other kids because they didn’t go off the rails like I did. Which just adds to the narrative that there must be something wrong with me if all the other kid actors turned out fine and still go to church.

What I experienced is directly related to my health issues which they interpret as sinful lifestyle choices. They don’t really care about the sinful lifestyle choices of any of the adults… because they knew what they were getting. Our generation of kids was literally plucked from churches and christian theaters. The kids that came later were professionals with actual teams. Those kids had more help around them but also more insulation from the crew. They have tutoring and school during recording– I never did. And I stayed way longer than most of the modern kids do. Now when they record the kids are swapped out regularly when voices change and pimples appear. I think what I experienced was unique to me.

I really believe if I hadn’t gotten sick and stayed in the faith I’d probably still be on the show in some capacity. I was that good and that popular. And it’s BECAUSE of that that I get this subtle backlash and blacklisting. That’s my tinfoil hat conspiracy.

Q: <— Your question goes here.

A: <— My answer will go here.


6 responses to “Ask Me Anything Vol 2”

  1. Can we get your name so we can play chess with you?? 👀

    Joking. Mostly. Unless you want a chess partner.

    I’m still waiting to hear about the episodes “Living in the Gray I and II,” in which Jimmy works for a tabloid and is generally disappointing or lying to everyone in his life. But you told me you would get to those, so I will be patient. For what it’s worth, your Jimmy in those performances is VERY authentic, and I still think he asks better questions and is more honest there than anyone else in the story.
    Thank you, as always, for the work you do here.

  2. I don’t have a question (I mean, I have many questions, but mostly they are of the what-happens-next variety, and for those I am prepared to be patient). I wanted to share a quote I have found grounding and reassuring as I have begun processing my own trauma courtesy of the Evangelical Industrial Complex (term coined by Skye Jethani in 2012).

    “It can be overwhelming to witness/experience/take in all the injustices of the moment; the good news is that *they’re all connected.* So if your little corner of work involves pulling at one of the threads, you’re helping to unravel the whole damn cloth.”

    Ursula Wolfe-Rocca

    As someone who definitely doesn’t believe in the hateful “loving God” of my childhood and isn’t very clear how there could be any gods at all, I am still looking for a phrase that has the sense of sincerely wishing divine blessings upon you. Maybe something like “Peace and strength be with you, fellow traveler on this arduous expedition. May you have all you need for your journey and reach your destination in good company.”

    • Also, as someone who has dealt with my own physical intolerances to various foods over the decades, WAY TO GO in learning to cook foods your partner can safely enjoy! That is such an awesome way to care for someone you love. ❤️

  3. For what it’s worth, I never thought the writers or production team intended to turn listeners off from Jimmy’s character.
    If that was their goal, they SUCKED at it. Jimmy in “Living in the Gray” is fabulous. He is so damn honest and I always loved him in those, even as a child less critical of the whole evangelical project.

    It also doesn’t seem like it can be true that all the other kids grew up “nicely” and still go to church. I’m sure plenty do. But evangelicals kinda suck at raising kids just like them— I have to think there are others that have ditched the whole thing, or at least distanced themselves from Focus’s version of faith.

    Keep up the good fight! ❤️

  4. I THINK I’ve read all your blog posts which has taken MONTHS (and good thing I was on maternity leave for 3 of those months bc there’s a LOT to read!)…I really appreciate all your hard work both politically and getting this blog out!!! This really is an intense labor of love/activism.

    I grew up listening to AIO and am a current fan with my kids (I had to go through a deconstruction/detangling process and am pretty much on the same page as you regarding “problematic” episodes so I just discuss with my kids that I don’t agree with EVERYTHING AIO puts out – especially the older episodes).

    As I raise my own kids my question is what’s your relationship with your parents now? And how are you raising your kids differently? Do you let your kids listen to AIO?

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