Photo Credit: Grace Busser
With so much information in so many subjects being pushed my way in school, it is rare that I am curious about something. However, over this spring break, I felt the curiosity to learn more about something on my own for the first time in many years. Still, I didn’t just wake up one morning and shout, “I shall research philosophy,” and immediately get to work. For me it happened through watching silly videos of some of my old favorite YouTubers, Rhett and Link.
Part of the original generation of YouTubers, Rhett and Link first gained fame for goofy parody songs and then for a morning show called Good Mythical Morning (GMM). In GMM they perform a variety of ridiculous stuff, from trying international foods to getting their chests waxed together. With 16.4 million subscribers and a YouTube career of more than 10 years, Rhett and Link have been best friends since childhood to grade school, college, their engineering jobs, and now their YouTube careers.
In the middle of my spring break, I thought I’d watched almost every video on GMM. I knew them well, from their recurring bits to every type of food challenge they’d ever made. That was when I discovered a podcast episode called Our Lost Years. They reveal in it that for almost all of their lives they were Evangelical Christians and spent many years as practicing Christian Missionaries. Currently, however, they do not hold this same faith.
Evangelical Christianity is defined as a person, church, or organization that is committed to the Christian Gospel message that Jesus Christ is the savior of humanity. People of this faith generally feel that they have a moral obligation to convince others to believe in order to “save” as many people as possible from their eternal destiny.
When Rhett and Link introduced this, I was shocked; with almost no knowledge whatsoever about Evangelical Christianity (or any type of Christianity for that matter), the YouTube stars that I had felt so akin to suddenly felt super foreign. Growing up in a secular Jewish household and never really talking with my friends about religion, I had no basis with which to compare their beliefs to mine. It seemed that they weren’t just part of a different religion, but a completely different lifestyle.
I was uncomfortable with not understanding another person because of my ignorance of religion. It would have been easy to put them in a box, to disregard them as foreign and move on with my life. But something about my love for these guys and a need for understanding made me want more information.
It seems that the first step to acceptance is educating yourself on the topics at hand. After hours of scouring the internet for information, a long conversation with my dad, and listening to many other podcasts that Rhett and Link made concerning the topic, I felt I had reached some conclusion about what Evangelical Christians believe and how they exist in our world today. Their beliefs, while still different from my own, were no longer obscure ideas which I knew nothing about; in fact, Evangelicalism seemed to grapple with the question which humankind has faced since the dawn of time: “Why are we here?”
Discovering Rhett and Link’s story led me to learn about Christianity, but also got me interested in researching other religions, biological evolution, and the history of the world. It led me to understand that I may never realize how much of the world I don’t know anything about. I was able to push past the fear of the unfamiliar and widen my point of view because I already knew I loved Rhett and Link. I hope in the future to have an open mind no matter who it involves.
I share this not to brag about my natural intellectual curiosity and non-stop productivity (I’m writing this in pajamas after watching TikToks for 3 hours straight.) I’m not somebody who typically likes to read Wikipedia articles on my days off, and these days I have almost no tolerance for anything other than pillow cushions and chocolate covered pretzels. However, I do want to share my discovery of the never-ending curiosities of the world. At a time when there is so much sadness and our worlds are constrained to our houses, it’s nice to know that we can make them a little bigger through learning new things.