GOD: An Autobiography, As Told to a Philosopher - The Podcast

54. The Voice Of Mary And The Female Voice Of God | Interviews: Scott Asks Sarah Lynn Dewey

December 23, 2021 Jerry L. Martin, Scott Langdon, Sarah Lynn Dewey
GOD: An Autobiography, As Told to a Philosopher - The Podcast
54. The Voice Of Mary And The Female Voice Of God | Interviews: Scott Asks Sarah Lynn Dewey
Show Notes Transcript

Join the meaningful discussion of the book God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin. Discover more about the book, history, humankind, spirituality, and God through the first of a continuous series of ambitious interviews with insightful guests. 

Join Scott Langdon as he interviews Sarah Lynn Dewey- the voice of Mary and the female voice of God. Sarah Lynn Dewey is a model and nationally recognized actress, performing in Right Before Your Eyes and the historical film The Siege of Yorktown. Sarah is also an extraordinary vocal talent and plays the voice of female God in God: An Autobiography, The Podcast.

Please, leave a review of the podcast today. We appreciate your support and enjoy reading comments and learning more about our listeners' and readers' experiences.

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Scott Langdon [00:00:17] This is God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. A dramatic adaptation and continuing discussion of the book God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin. He was a lifelong agnostic, but one day he had an occasion to pray. To his vast surprise, God answered- in words. Being a philosopher, he had a lot of questions, and God had a lot to tell him. Episode 54. 

Scott Langdon [00:01:07] Hello and welcome to Episode 54 of God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. I'm your host, Scott Langdon. For this week's episode of the podcast, I had the great pleasure of sitting down for a conversation with Sarah Lynn Dewey, the actor who lent her vocal talents to the podcast as both the female voice of God and the voice of Jesus as Mother Mary. She's a very talented and accomplished actor in several mediums, voiceover work being only one of them. She also happens to be my wife. We sat down in our living room at home and talked about Sarah's process as an actor and how she approached working on this project, as well as what life has been like for her and for the both of us as a couple working on this project during the pandemic. I hope you enjoy the episode. I'll see you next time. 

Scott Langdon [00:02:03] Welcome, Sarah Lynne Dewey, I'm so glad you're with us on the podcast today. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:02:08] Hello. 

Scott Langdon [00:02:09] Now the listeners know you from two different places. The first was the voice, the female voice of God. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:02:17] Mm hmm. 

Scott Langdon [00:02:18] And some episodes later, you came in for a more extended role as the voice of Mary. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:02:25] Right. 

Scott Langdon [00:02:26] Jesus's mother. And so you and I were married, we've been married since 2017. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:02:34] Ahuh. 

Scott Langdon [00:02:34] Living here in our house in Bristol, PA. But some years before that, in 2014, we met doing a play, The Diary of Anne Frank, which has a lot of religious themes in it. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:02:53] Mm hmm. 

Scott Langdon [00:02:54] Jews being hidden during the Holocaust. And I played Mr. Van Daan, who was one of the two families being hidden, and you played the character of Meep. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:03:08] Mm hmm. 

Scott Langdon [00:03:08] Who did the hiding. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:03:10] Yeah. 

Scott Langdon [00:03:13] What, if anything, did that experience performing that role in that religious context, did that have any effect on you in terms of about your perception of religion? 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:03:29] Honestly, I don't know that it really did. I was familiar with the play prior to getting casting, and it was something that we studied in high school. Maybe? At some point we kind of really dug into that play and the background and the history. And I'm a huge history dork anyway. But also for me, for my character, honestly, Meep was Catholic, which is how I was raised. So I don't know, it necessarily brought a lot of new perspective to my religious consciousness. I say if I was to pick a show that kind of broadened that more was both of the times I did Fiddler on the Roof because I wasn't playing the religion in which I was raised. 

Scott Langdon [00:04:24] Mm hmm. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:04:24] So, I took it very seriously. I really wanted to make sure that I was honoring somebody else's faith in a way that was honest and appropriate, I guess, and I was taking it seriously. Making sure that I was doing things like doing the Sabbath prayer correctly and kissing the mezuzah correctly, and I just took that very seriously because this is someone's life. These are people's lives. So I feel like playing Meep was a little more old hat because I know how to cross myself. I've been doing it for a long time. Yeah. I mean, I still took the Diary of Anne Frank incredibly seriously, but more from the historic perspective of these were real people who lived and most of whom died during World War Two, and now all of them have passed away. But, yeah, I took it very seriously from the fact that this was their real life stories, but I wouldn't say I thought about it in a religious context any differently. 

Scott Langdon [00:05:39] Yeah, I think for me, playing Van Daan, being Jewish, being in the situation, I mean, there's something about the character in the story that, you know, an actor gets kind of locked into as you're preparing the work and you know, you're doing the research and all those things. And it's interesting for me to play somebody in a completely different religious context than my own worldview, having nothing to do at all with the context of their circumstance. Right. Nazi Germany. And in it, it's just the idea of, like you said, the Sabbath prayers and, you know, doing the ceremonial things correctly sort of just gave me a new perspective on how other folks have religious experience. It didn't mean that I now wanted to be Jewish. It didn't mean that I felt like I can now say I have been Jewish. I can't say that. But I can say that I have played a Jew a couple of different times, actually. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:06:47] Yeah, a lot. 

Scott Langdon [00:06:49] Yeah. But this particular play, Diary of Anne Frank, we had, you know, getting these ceremonial things correctly and stuff like that. So, you mentioned Fiddler on the Roof for you, which I have done as well. Talk about that for a second, how it didn't necessarily make you more religious, but perhaps it broadened your perspective on how other people outside of the context of time and space, just have their religious experience as a Jew as opposed to a Catholic or as opposed to somebody who's not religious. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:07:19] It's funny, I really don't know that I noticed any differences in how they practice as opposed to me being raised Christian. I mean, there's obviously there's certain things that are different. The prayers are different. The ceremonies and the rituals are different. But I never I didn't really see a big difference in how people practice being any different. Just even in life, I feel like I haven't noticed that. 

Scott Langdon [00:07:49] So the methods might be different, but it's just a question of method. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:07:54] Yeah. Maybe the words that you say are not the exact same words, but I feel like the intention all kind of comes from the same place. I mean, there's a reason it's called the Golden Rule, right? Every religion has its version of: don't be a jerk to your fellow man. 

Scott Langdon [00:08:09] Right? 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:08:10] Whatever, however that's worded. You know, I mean, that's really where most of the Ten Commandments come from is just don't kill people. It's not a good thing to do. Honoring people, being respectful to other people. I mean all religions are based on those core values, whether you're Jewish, Christian, Muslim, whatever. I mean, honestly, even atheists really kind of, I feel build a lot of their worldview on that concept of just don't be a jerk. 

Scott Langdon [00:08:45] Yeah, there seems to be a pull toward, I mean, consider like going to Wawa, right? And it's so strange to me sometimes, well not strange, but it's interesting to me how people will clamor to open the door for you. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:08:57] And then run you over in the parking lot. 

Scott Langdon [00:09:03] But this idea that, you know, that there seems to be this instinct almost to want to help someone else, to be, you know-- And there is no religious affiliation that brings that up in you. It just it's something I seem to feel and seem to observe in other people as something that is an instinct. We might tap it down with feelings of embarrassment or, you know, whatever, but we seem to be compelled to want to help somebody until they shut us down. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:09:31] Especially if someone looks to be at a disadvantage, whether it's someone who's older or someone who maybe is dealing with a stroller or someone who has a cane or whatever it is. The rush to help people who look like they may have more of a need, I think is even greater. 

Scott Langdon [00:09:53] I think that the pull leads us to a decision whether or not we want to make a compassionate act toward the other. So we feel maybe compelled to, you know, there they are, especially when they're at a disadvantage, and so we see the situation and we might want to do something. Then we have maybe this desire for a compassionate act, whether or not, you know, is this the right thing? Is that the right thing? We try to decide, but it seems like we have a pull for a compassionate act toward others. Do you think that's true? 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:10:30] Yeah. I mean, honestly, I don't even think I told you this. So I was working last night at the zoo. I have lots of random jobs as an actor. And this little girl kind of who's being tugged along by her mom, she must have been, I don't know, three or four. And she was pointing at this money on the ground, and her mom's kind of like rushing her along to go see whatever. And I picked it up and I had a brief moment of- do I pocket this? Don't be a jerk, because there's a lady standing right there who very well, this could be her money. And I just kind of tapped her on the shoulder. I said, "Excuse me, did you drop some money?" And she puts her hands in her pockets and goes, "Oh, my God, is it like $15?" About that, it looks like. "Yeah." "Thank you so much." And I could have pocketed that, and she never would have had any idea, and it would've been that whole theft by finding, but I would have known, and I would have felt like a jerk about it. Like, even if, like, if there's no one around, I have no problem putting that $20 bill in my pocket, but if clearly this is like a mom who's there with her kid who's in, you know, a wagon that she's been pushing around the zoo, it's like, don't do that. Like, you're going to hate yourself later. 

Scott Langdon [00:12:36] I don't know if we can pick this up or not, but it's starting to rain here now at our house and we're getting some raindrops on the windows. When we were adapting the script for the episode where God reveals God's self as also having a feminine side. Jerry and I, in fact, I think I did a couple of different versions of it where I was doing the voice as the narrator, and it just didn't seem to work. And I came up with the idea of having you do the female voice of God and Jerry and Abigail and Laura, the other members of the team, they all thought that was a great idea. And we did it, and it turned out to be just right. Can you tell me what you thought when I asked you to be the female voice of God in that place? What were the initial reactions to my offering that to you? 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:13:43] I don't know that I ever thought of it as being unusual. I mean, Dogma made God a woman way before. 

Scott Langdon [00:13:52] Oh the movie, Matt Damon. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:13:56] Alanis Morisette plays God for anyone who hasn't seen. 

Scott Langdon [00:13:58] Yeah, it's a Kevin Smith film.

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:14:00] So, it's been, the concept kind of been batted around a little bit in pop culture. But also, I kind of had this, you know, hypothetical argument with friends of mine, we'll talk about religion. Well, God's a man. Says who? Who says the Bible? Okay. Who wrote that, man? So, I've always kind of thought like, well, we don't know. I mean, isn't it rather egotistical for the men who wrote the Bible to think that He fashioned man in His own image? All right. You're writing that from your perspective. I would be really interested to know how the Bible would have been fashioned differently had women had more political sway 2000 years ago. I feel like it would have had a lot of different perspectives because women in the Bible have a lot of really important roles. They're the first ones to know that Jesus is coming, the first ones to know that Jesus has risen. The women are always the first ones to know what the heck is going on. It's just a question of how are the men going to listen to them? I just think it would have been a very interesting perspective for how all of that would have been handled differently had women had more equity 2000 years ago. 

Scott Langdon [00:15:37] In the storytelling or? 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:15:39] IYeah, in the storytelling. 

Scott Langdon [00:15:46] Before we continue with my interview with Sarah Lynn Dewey, the female voice of God and the voice of Mary, here's a clip from episode 35, where Jerry first encounters the presence of the mother of Jesus. Sarah enacts the voice of Mary, and I, as the voice of Jerry Martin, speak first. 

Dramatic Adaptation: Episode 35

Jerry Martin - voiced by Scott Langdon

The Voice of Mary- voiced by Sarah Lynn Dewey

Jerry Martin [00:16:05] Her presence was accompanied by a fragrance of perfume and flowers and the glow of soft lights in an array of pastels--and of joy. “What is that?”

Voice of Mary [00:16:19] That is the healing power of love. I am not pure love as Jesus is, but I am a simple, direct, uncomplicated source of love--and of divine light, which is refracted through me. 

Scott Langdon [00:16:48] That was a clip from episode 35 of our podcast where Sara Lynn Dewey and I enact the voices of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and Jerry Martin. Let's continue now with my conversation with Sara Lynn Dewey. In some later episodes of the podcast, Jerry has an encounter with Jesus' mother, Mary. And before we even got into adopting that section, we already knew that the voice of Mary was going to have to be a female voice. It just didn't make any sense to do it otherwise, and when you did such a wonderful job with the female Voice of God, it was just really easy to say, can you do this? Can you be the voice of Mary? A Little bit more conventional. A little bit more, you know, traditional in terms of a female actor playing the role of Mary kind of thing. This is a brand-new sort of type of dialogue. It's Mary having a dialogue with Jerry Martin. How did the script, how did that script, that treatment of Mary in such a sort of nontraditional way, sort of saying new things, what was your experience with that and your thoughts on it? 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:18:08] I don't know that it was super untraditional. Are you talking about untraditional in the sense of the words I actually was speaking? 

Scott Langdon [00:18:20] Well, anything that Mary says in traditional sort of Christmas pageants or around Easter time where we hear Mary, see Mary. It's an adaptation from something that has gone on in the Bible, in the gospel accounts. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. This is, you know, a brand-new conversation between Mary and a man named Jerry Martin. I mean, this conversation where Jerry is looking to sort of understand the feminine side of God a little bit more deeply and after some time talking with Jesus, Jesus basically says to Jerry, you know, take some time to visit with Mary. She is the one with whom you can get in touch with this feminine side, which we all have, and it's very important to nurture and to, you know, become intimate with when we can. And Mary makes this case for taking the time to do that, and she's very gentle and she's very, you know, motherly, but in the sense of, you know, in a tenderness that I thought your voice just really was perfect for this tenderness, this gentleness. It always feels like, you know, you're just you're just very comforting. So it's nontraditional in the sense that we don't really, you don't see this story anywhere else, and yet, in this conversation, you have to bring what you might know about Mary or feel like you know about Mary to a new present day sort of experience. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:20:03] I mean, I don't know that I really thought of it as being nontraditional. I mean, I understand that the script doesn't exist in, you know, the typical works we're used to reading, but I felt like the tone was the same. Like we know who she is even though we don't necessarily know every word that ever came out of her mouth. I mean, it's kind of like watching. I mean, any historical drama, right? So go to watch, you know, Lincoln or, you know, watch the miniseries of John Adams. We don't know what the heck they said to each other, but we kind of from what writings we have of that, we can kind of get a sense of who they were as people and how they might have talked to each other. So I think it's kind of the same idea where based on all these different accounts of her, both from the birth and then later on, like a couple of stories at the temple and then everything that happened during Holy Week, we kind of give a sense of kind of who she was and how she may have talked in a conversation that isn't recorded word for word the way some of those conversations were. So I think a lot of it turns into capturing the right tone and the right quality to go along with what we know of her in our hearts. So that it comes across when I'm saying words that maybe aren't familiar. So the tone is familiar, even if the dialogue isn't. And I think I've always, not always, but for a long time, I thought of Mary as not necessarily just these wrote things that I learned as a Catholic. I was really lucky in that I was raised Catholic, but very not traditionally. The Cotton Patch Gospel or Jesus Christ Superstar. These other interpretations of Jesus as a normal person in a more accessible way. And Mary is a pretty big character. If you haven't seen Cotton Patch Gospel, I love it. Mary is a very normal mom in a cotton patch gospel where she goes on to have other kids. Like, Jesus was not her only kid and she's a working mom and she's dealing with a lot, but she's still managing to handle it with grace and kindness and love. And which is, I'm sure was it's hard now in the modern world. I'm sure it was even harder back then when you didn't have as much agency. 

Scott Langdon [00:22:49] We started this project God: An Autobiography, The Podcast, almost two years ago now, just after the New Year in 2020. We've talked about this before on other podcast episodes, but four days before I was supposed to go down to Florida for a job, everything got canceled because of the pandemic. But we still had this project- the podcast. That I was working on. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:23:19] And I was simultaneously terrified and thrilled because I didn't want you to end up in Florida and then have you not be able to get home. 

Scott Langdon [00:23:30] Right. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:23:31] Like, that idea was terrifying to me. But then also, oh, we're going to cancel three contracts for your husband in the next year. And that was also terrifying. 

Scott Langdon [00:23:42] Yeah. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:23:43] Yeah. You can't file for unemployment, for jobs you haven't worked. 

Scott Langdon [00:23:48] Right, right, and then, you know, because of the way New Jersey does their unemployment, or the way Pennsylvania does it, and we had to reach out to New Jersey for one job that I had done the year before, it turned out I wasn't going to qualify for the unemployment. And so having this project turned out to be, you know, a huge blessing financially and in some other ways. So aside from just the financial sustaining that this project has been able to be for us, it's such a blessing. Have you noticed anything else that shifted or changed or is different or remains the same? Here we are almost two years later after starting this project. I mean, what's different being in our house now, if anything? 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:24:39] Well, I think Watson's very happy that we're home all the time. 

Scott Langdon [00:24:43] Yeah. Watson, our best dog. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:24:50] I feel like I have been able to, this is just for me, I feel like I have been able to cultivate the ability to be in charge of my health and my scheduling better. When everything is a no because the world is shut down, it makes you take time for yourself and kind of prioritize like what's important and what's keeping you sane and what you like, what you need to have in your life to give yourself ease. I'm getting better about showing myself a little grace, which is very hard for me. 

Scott Langdon [00:25:43] When Jerry interviewed me a few episodes ago, we talked a lot about my process as an actor. In doing this, God: An Autobiography, The Podcast playing the role of Jerry, also being the role of the narrator and so forth, and some other, you know, small characters here and there, voices and such. You do a lot of voiceover work. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:26:08] Mm hmm. 

Scott Langdon [00:26:11] How different or how the same is creating a character for the stage, film, or voice over? Are they similar or are they different? How is your approach to each one of those genres? 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:26:33] Well, first thing I'm going to say is in voiceover, a lot of the voiceover that I do is much more technical, boring voiceover. It's not me getting to play characters. It's not me doing the latest Disney animated feature. It's a lot of step one open the package using your left hand and blah blah blah. And a lot more of the focus for things like that ends up being- say all the words as it is written on the page and pronounce everything correctly. Especially when you're doing medical or insurance voiceover which I do a fair amount of. On the occasion that I do get to do a voiceover character like this, you have to be really mindful of the fact that it is just an oral medium. People can't see you. 

Scott Langdon [00:27:36] Right. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:27:37] So. It's good and bad. Meaning you can make all the dumb faces you want to to achieve what you feel like you need to achieve coming through to the listener. At the same time, they also they can't see you, so you can't rely on what is showing in your eyes or on your face, or if I'm crying, you can't see any of that. So you really have to rely on your instrument, meaning your vocal chords as an actor to portray all of that. So in that way, it's very different from stage, and very different from film. I would say it's more different from film because film you can really get into the nuance of how someone looks and you can really close up on their eyes. But in theater, especially if it's a big house, you might not be able to see a person's face really clearly unless you have binoculars with you at the theater. I mean, the closest actor to you could potentially be, I mean, yards and yards and yards away if you're in the back of a thousand seat house. So I think it's probably more similar to creating a character in theater than it would be in film, because film is such a visual medium. 

Scott Langdon [00:29:07] Radio podcast audio it seems to be I don't know how we would talk about it, maybe I would say it was a more of an imagination medium in the sense that the listener, you know, is going to visualize things with their imagination. So, there's a--

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:29:25] It's the writer's medium, really.

Scott Langdon [00:29:27] Yeah, I guess that's really true. Yeah. It's really the words.

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:29:28] Because you see what the writer gives you. 

Scott Langdon [00:29:32] Yeah. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:29:32] I mean even in podcasts that, whether they're murder mysteries or sci fi or history or whatever they are, you are only going to visualize in your brain what the author, I was going to say playwright, but that's not the right word, what the author has given you to think about. 

Scott Langdon [00:30:01] Yeah, we did that. You and I did a couple of episodes of a really fun sci fi podcast called Void. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:30:09] Yeah. 

Scott Langdon [00:30:09] I hadn't thought about that, you know, for this conversation until just now. But we, you know, had to play a couple of different characters that, you know, we embodied as we were doing them in front of the microphones. If you were taking a video of us doing that, you know, you'd see, it'd be weird. I know I contort my body in different ways, but, you know, to make things-- But it is a different thing, you know, it's right there on the page or it's not on the page, you know? 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:30:36] Even the action. 

Scott Langdon [00:30:37] Even the actions. Yeah. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:30:39] If you're saying, "Oh, look at that dog over there." Well, then that's how you know what I-- 

Scott Langdon [00:30:49] Is over there. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:30:50] As a character I am looking at it because you can't see it. 

Scott Langdon [00:30:53] Right. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:30:53] We have to kind of telegraph it in a different way. 

Scott Langdon [00:30:56] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, having you on board as initially the voice of God and then later on really hearing you lend your special talents to us for the voice of Mary, really, you know, took those episodes to a different kind of level. And so even if I weren't married to you and if you weren't my wife, and if I didn't love you, I would still think it's wonderful work. And we're really so glad that you came on board with us for these things. And thank you for spending some time with me today to talk. 

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:31:34] Thank you for having me. 

Scott Langdon [00:31:35] It's been great.

Sarah Lynn Dewey [00:31:35] I love you. 

Scott Langdon [00:31:38] I love you too. 

Scott Langdon [00:31:51] Thank you for listening. To God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. Subscribe for free today wherever you listen to your podcasts and hear a new episode every week. You can hear the complete dramatic adaptation of God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin, by beginning with episode one of our podcast and listening through its conclusion with Episode 44. You can read the original true story in the book from which this podcast is adapted. God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher, available now at Amazon.com, and always at godanautobiography.com. Pick up your own copy today.