About this project
The "long story-short" version
Hinge is a story-driven podcast about an atheist and a pastor and their quest to answer one of the most polarizing questions in history; "Who was Jesus Christ?"
The "I have a moment to read this" version
In one sense, Hinge is a story-driven podcast about this enigmatic and incomparable historical figure, Jesus of Nazareth. Who was he? Why do historians come to such opposite conclusions about what he said and did? Why has the story of his life had such an enormous impact on the world? Is it right to call him the hinge of Western Civilization itself? And what on earth do we do with the miracle claims?
But in another sense, Hinge is about so much more than that. Beyond historical inquiries, Hinge is about people and the human experience. As engrossing as the story of Jesus is, what's just as gripping are the experiences of people who wrestle with the claims about his life. We want to tell their stories--powerful stories of belief, doubt, and the manner in which they govern our lives, for better or worse. These stories, sometimes humorous and uplifting, other times heart-wrenching and hard to listen to, will be weaved into a captivating exploration of history, religion, and even scientific discovery about the most revered man in the history of our species.
The podcast will be released in December of 2017 and will consist of 10 chronological episodes, containing powerful storytelling and easy-to-understand analysis, as Cory and Drew journey through the most pressing questions surrounding Jesus Christ and his life. Though close friends, they'll inevitably collide on numerous issues and will have to face an uncomfortable reality: at least one of them is wrong.
*As you read our story, please note all donations are tax-deductible.*
Our story begins in L.A. with a pastor by the name of Drew Sokol. Drew had just gone through a period of profound, life-questioning doubt about his faith in Jesus Christ and, consequently, his role and career as a pastor. Although Drew ultimately emerged from this experience confident again in his faith and the trajectory of his life, some of the questions that he grappled with during this period nevertheless lingered in his mind.
In the aftermath of this season of soul-searching, an idea began to grow and flourish in Drew's imagination. Taking note of the explosion in popularity of narrative podcasts like Serial and This American Life in recent years, Drew asked himself the following question: what if there was a narrative podcast out there that not only spoke to the hearts of people who go through and have gone through experiences of doubt like the one he just had, but also a podcast that appealed to both Christian and non-Christian listeners? That is, one that spoke to both sides of the great theological divide? What's more, what if this podcast was made in such a way that it was both accessible and entertaining to those everyday people who don't necessarily have the time or inclination to look into historical, theological, or scientific issues of this nature?
Drew immediately recognized both the standard and unique difficulties that such an endeavor would entail. What would this look like? How would it work? What would be the bar of success for which to strive? And for that matter, was this even possible in the first place? Unsure how to best answer these questions, Drew pressed on anyway, convinced that he was on to something special, despite the considerable difficulties such a project would present, but wondering internally how on earth he would ever manage to find someone to go on this venture with him.
And then one day, through either fate or serendipity, while listening to a Christian radio program, "Unbelievable," Drew came across this atheist fellow by the name of Cory Markum. Cory was an atheist writer that regularly engaged with people of faith and who had himself gone through a period of doubt when he was younger, although in his case, ultimately coming out of it as an atheist.
To Drew, in the time of increasingly strident and no-nonsense atheists like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, Cory stood out to Drew. For one, Cory seemed keen on emphasizing the limitations of his own knowledge and views about the world in a refreshing way. Certainty, on either side, is rarely warranted, and Cory, though confident in his atheism, was not arrogantly so, acknowledging both the host of prickly questions that surround such a view and the fact that, as he would put it, "many people who are much smarter than him happen to disagree."
But perhaps more than this professed humility about the big questions in life, Drew saw in Cory precisely the thing he was looking for in his search: a desire to have meaningful, fruitful, and productive conversations with those of opposing viewpoints about the biggest questions in life. Cory wasn't just trying to attack religion. He wasn't saying that religious people were stupid or mentally ill. Rather, what he seemed to desire most of all was to better understand those that he disagreed with and for them to better understand him.
So Drew went out on a limb and messaged Cory on Facebook, which led to a phone conversation, which in turn led to more phone conversations, until eventually Drew asked Cory if he wanted to be the co-host of this new podcast. To which Cory happily said, "Hell yeah!"
Thus was born the podcast, Hinge.
At this point Cory flew out to L.A., where Drew lived at the time, and they recorded a "living room" demo (meaning they literally recorded it in Drew's living room). They then shared this demo with their friends and family; and, though they overall ended up getting a pretty enthusiastic response to it, neither of them at that moment could afford to dedicate the kind of time that is required for doing such a project full-time. So, for the time being, they shelved the project and continued to dialogue when they could about the direction and nature of the growing idea.
Fast-forward to about 5 or 6 months ago; Drew and his wife moved out to Philadelphia (for her college program) and then Cory soon followed suit, moving from Illinois to Philadelphia in order to work full-time on Hinge with Drew. This initial work that was put into the project was itself made possible by some early fundraising efforts of Drew and the Hinge team, enabling him and Cory to begin working officially on Hinge, aggressively seeking stories from all over the world and researching every facet of the Jesus mystery. While in the thick of planning for Hinge, they also began releasing a runner-up podcast called "Hinge: The Making Of". Thanks to the help and support of people from all across the religious spectrum, this prelude podcast quickly reached the iTunes Top 20 in Religion & Spirituality!
Despite the initial momentum, Hinge's team has come to an important crossroads. The early funding was of course finite. In fact, as of the end of April, they are officially depleted. Which that means quite literally is that unless and until additional funds are raised, Hinge will have to be shelved until further funds are acquired.
And this, my friends, is where you come in. We desperately need your help in order to finish what we've started and make the Hinge dream a living, breathing, downloadable reality! You guys are our life-boat, and the future of this project depends on your willingness to help our cause.
How much money does one need to do a podcast? Aren't podcasts simply a matter of recording yourself and others talking and then uploading that talk online? Short answer: Yes, the vast majority are. But thankfully there are already plenty of those types of podcasts available. Hinge is a much different endeavor. Think of the difference between a simple Youtube video and a carefully-constructed film. You see, Hinge isn't going to be another discussion-based podcast that focuses primarily on conversation between two opposing parties on a given topic. Not only do we find that that kind of podcast is already being done quite well by numerous parties, but we want to go beyond that to tell a compelling, concise story and find a way to connect with people who otherwise wouldn't find their selves listening to those kind of programs.
The way that we're going to do this is by weaving powerful stories and testimony--stories that connect with the listeners in a personal way--with Drew and Cory's in-person (when possible) interviews with experts of all stripes and shades. We're gathering hundreds of stories and interviews and selectively using portions of them to craft the most engaging story we can.
Featuring the Stories and Expertise Of:
Philip Yancey / Michael Shermer / Tanya Luhrmann / "Science Mike" McHargue / Andy Mineo / Matt Dillahunty / Mike Licona / Robert Price / Craig Blomberg / Drew Marshall / Jamie Winship / Michael Bird / Stephen Law / Larry Hurtado
But let's get specific, shall we? If we reach our Kickstarter goal of $20,000, we'll be able to...
- Pay for basic operating and production expenses
- Hire a freelance audio engineer to ensure the podcast episodes are of the highest quality possible
- Travel around the country to interview the leading experts and scholars in history, archaeology, New Testament criticism, theology/philosophy, science, and other such relevant fields of inquiry
- Offer honorariums to the biggest and most influential experts for their direct consultation and involvement with Hinge
- Write, produce, and release the first 10 episodes of Hinge at the highest quality possible
Risks and challenges
Crafting a 10-episode narrative podcast that is both enlightening and entertaining is no easy task. The development process is much more like creating a documentary than a typical discussion-based podcast. Actively seeking provocative and personal stories, investigating every facet of the mystery, constructing compelling scripts, and interviewing experts on a wide gamut of issues from history to philosophy to science, is all part of the process necessary for us to attract and engage people from all over the religious spectrum.
Our team is 100% committed to making and releasing Hinge in its entirety to the public. Whatever it takes, we're going to tell this story! We've already begun building an extensive database of stories and interviews and crafting the general outline of the show, as well as building a community a community of invested listeners and contributors. But, if Hinge is going to make a meaningful impact in bringing people together across our country, we want to take the time necessary to offer the most captivating series we can.
The question therefore is not will Hinge be released, but *when* will it be released? And the more help we receive, the sooner you'll be listening to our story unfold. So please, PLEASE help us make it happen!
*ALL DONATIONS ARE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE.*
*Video music: "Wings" by Eden Fox
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