Bullying and manipulation is a widespread issue in the modern church, and this is what it looks like.

Photo by Josh Sorenson on Unsplash

I have not been able to sleep this week.

Recently a friend of mine made a long post on Instagram, detailing her experience of toxic culture within a church that we had both been part of, and naming specific leaders who had been responsible. The whole post was incredibly brave and raw and painful to read, and the comments have exploded with similar stories of horrific and traumatic experiences within church.

I have not been able to stop thinking about it, and it’s brought up a lot of old pain and bad memories and sleepless nights.

I experienced my own…

Shame is a lead weight tied around your neck.

Shame is a hook under your collar-bone.

Shame is a jail-keeper, disguised as a concerned friend; it pretends to keep you safe, while pressing a firm hand against your mouth.

Shame is a smothering blanket that keeps you in bed until three in the afternoon.

Shame is the enemy of creativity. It collapses the full spectrum of your personality into a small pile of acceptable colours. It kills self-expression and dismisses diversity.

Shame is the flip-side of guilt. Guilt tells us that we have done something wrong that needs amending. Shame…

Stories of religion, manipulation & freedom that shaped my new album ‘krakow, 29’

Photo by Mark Duffel on Unsplash

It was our first night together in a foreign city far from home.

I sat with my girlfriend on our newly-rented sofa, looking at the blank walls and high ceilings that surrounded us. We were alone here, with no expectations or responsibilities, away from everything familiar. In this moment, I’m struck with one feeling above all others: I’m almost 30, but for the first time in my life I feel like an adult.

We had gone through some big life changes in the past few years; most significantly leaving our long-held Christian faith, along with the church community that we…

(or, the time I went back to church & discovered a fresh expression of service.)

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

I never expected to write this sentence: last weekend, I invited a friend to church with me.

Yeah, I know, I feel a little weird about that too.

When I left church, and Christianity itself, I was tired and worn down and ready to stop. Although there are things I miss about my old faith, I could never go back to it.

These days I find spirituality through music, nature, art, reading, and conversations with friends. But after years of practise and indoctrination, there’s still something special for me about Sunday; and no matter how miraculous a Sunday morning lie-in…

My one-hour challenge, & why the album still matters

Photo by Adrian Korte on Unsplash

Two years ago, I began a simple habit that has added all kinds of value and enjoyment to my life, and takes less than an hour of my time each week.

I sit down in a quiet room and listen to a new album. No distractions, no simultaneous web-surfing or texting, no planning or thinking through my to-do list; just once-a-week quiet time to sit still and listen to music.

I’m a self-employed musician and songwriter, so music is already a big part of my life; but a couple of years ago I realised that I rarely took time to…

Dealing with the nostalgia of a faith left behind

Photo by Jeremiah Higgins on Unsplash

Sometimes it’s freaking hard to be an ex-Christian.

When I was still part of the church, we used to have a word for people who left: ‘backsliders’. It’s kind of a harsh label now that I see it from the other side: it gives the sense of a person who just stopped trying, who gave up and took the path of least resistance. It brings to my mind an image of a person trying to push a boulder up a steep hill, and then simply lying down and letting it roll to the bottom.

The truth, as any other backsliders…

How our drive to belong can shut down our ability to understand.

Source: NASA

It’s the middle of the night, and I’m wide awake again.

I’m lying on an elevated bed, with about six inches of space between my head and the ceiling, feeling frustrated and bored. I’m desperate for something to distract my muddled mind and offer some comfort.

This is the perfect moment to take a dive into my ‘3AM Youtube Den.

Everybody needs a ‘3AM Youtube Den: an emergency hole of online videos that helps turn off all those late-night anxious thoughts whizzing around your brain. For some people the den is a compilation of funny animal videos; for others it’s…

Learning to let go of creative projects without stress or pressure

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

In January of 2015, I was desperately ready for some creative space.

My mind was firing off new ideas all over the place, I had that familiar excited feeling brewing deep in my belly, and I was itching to get started. So, along with my girlfriend I moved from the UK to the beautiful city of Krakow in Poland, where I spent four months writing an album of new music.

It had been a few years since my last large music project, and it felt incredible to get back to work. The experience of developing a large creative project is…

How religion taught me to force happiness, and how I finally learned to embrace the negative.

Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash

A few years ago, I came across an article from GQ that instantly attracted my attention, and then brought up a feeling of sadness.

The piece was titled ‘What Would Cool Jesus Do?’ and was a behind-the-scenes look at Hillsong Church in New York. For those who’ve never heard the name, Hillsong is a global mega-church that started in Australia but now has branches all over the world. …

The myths, evidence and spirituality of Evolution via Natural Selection.

Photo by Umanoide on Unsplash

As a kid, I was obsessed with dinosaurs.

Perhaps my passion started when I visited the model-dinosaur park with my Nan; or maybe it grew through repeatedly watching animated movies like ‘The Land Before Time’ and ‘Fantasia’; but I suspect the biggest factor was the release of a little film known as ‘Jurassic Park’.

I was seven when that movie came out on top-of-the-range VHS cassette tape, and my brother and I were desperate to watch it. …

Jon Headley

I’m a musical artist/producer who also loves to write about science, religion, creativity and whatever sounds interesting. Instagram @jonheadley for my music!

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