Everyone's Agnostic Podcast
Cass & Bob interview people you don't know about a subject no one wants to talk about--losing faith in the supernatural.

Today, we bring you two guests: One is a follow-up interview with former guest of the show on episode 108, Marie. But before that Dave Warnock and Cass Midgley talk with Mark Russell about his book, "God is Disappointed in You."

Marie was a hard-core YWAMmer, an extremely devout Christian and her deconversion was long and difficult. It was around 10 years ago and she's still recovering. Her deconversion came about because she started asking why certain things were true. Well, if you keep asking why we do things, you're liable to unearth some social norms that are just not very grounded in logic, but rather tradition, or even fear, or just deeply ingrained social patterns. My talk with Marie is primarily about her and husband's exploration into what she calls Ethical Non-monogamy. also known as Polyamory. She is extremely honest and transparent and cusses like a sailor. This is good talk. But, before Marie, we're going to feature Mark Russell, author of the comedic slightly sardonic book about the Bible titled, God is Disappointed in You. He also writes the comic book series Prez and The Flintstones for DC Comics. I start with a presentation Mark gives at Comicon where he summarizes the entire Bible, alpha to omega, in 15 minutes. He's in front of a live audience and uses a Powerpoint presentation so some of the humor is lost on us, in this audio medium, but it's still a lot of fun. Then Dave Warnock and I interview Mark in Portland, OR via Skype for about 30 minutes. Then we get into Marie's open marriage. My beloved cohost Bob Pondillo was not involved in either of these interviews, but he's back for next week's episode in which we interview Corinna Nicolau, who's kind of the opposite of our typical guest. She was raised completely secular but wondered what she'd missed out on and set out to search for meaning the top 4 world religions. Her experience is expressed in her book,  "A None's Story: Searching for Meaning Inside Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam." That's next week's episode.

I want to talk about compartmentalization and love. Compartmentalization is a subconscious psychological defense mechanism used for the purpose of avoiding cognitive dissonance, or the mental discomfort and anxiety caused by a person having conflicting values, cognitions, emotions, beliefs, etc. I'm going to borrowing some of the thoughts I found in an article called, "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly of a Man’s Ability to Compartmentalize," on a blog called SGM for Single Black Male. But I'm also talking about how people raised in Christianity have some highly developed compartmentalization skills. One of the purposes that religions serve is to help people not think about scary things--to compartmentalize such thoughts. Death being the most daunting thought known to humankind, Christianity creates a narrative that literally enables a person to say, "death, where is your sting?" Everlasting life. Immortality. Done. Christians also have to compartmentalize eternal torture of their fellow humans. Those who concede that they believe in a literal hell have to compartmentalize that entire concept in order to not spend every minute of every day running around warning people. After that's what a good, moral person would do if they were conscious of its reality. This is why hell-fire preachers on the street are good people--they're deceived, but at least they're acting on those deceptions. They are loving you. As our the Westboro Baptist people. They just aren't as good as compartmentalizing as Christians who aren't warning you about Hell. I think it was Penn Jillette who said, "How much do you have to hate someone to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?” Eternal bliss and eternal torment hang in the balance. If compartmentalization requires some mental maneuvering, imagine how much mental contorting is going on in the brain of one of your loved ones who believe in eternal life, know you're going to the bad end of it, and have to sit through lunch with you? It's no wonder that relationships are broken when we deconvert. It's just too much for our believing friends and family to deal with. They may even take your photos down in their house, because just seeing you makes their hearts and minds wince in pain.

Okay, now some completely secular thoughts on compartmentalization. The good, the bad, and the ugly. It's a good thing to use for work environments. Say for example, your going through something difficult in your personal life. You would do well to compartmentalize that stuff as you walk into work. It's just not the place for it. If you're a car salesman, you need to be upbeat, positive, energetic in order to sell cars. If you're personal life sucks, you better figure out how to flip that switch. In fact, we all know that if you are unable to gather your composure, in other words, the thing you should be compartmentalizing is just too big for your mind to fit into that compartment, you should just stay at home. The inverse of this is true: if work is stressing you out, you should not take that out on your partner and/or your children or friends. Compartmentalize that shit. It stinks. It kinda comes down to knowing the appropriate time and place for things.

Which brings us to some ways in which compartmentalization can be a bad thing. Think back to Shanna's episode, #174. She pointed out that humans have two needs that are often in conflict: the need to be genuine and the need to belong to the tribe. If forced to choose between the two, survivors will always choose the tribe, even if it means sacrificing their authenticity. They're forced to Compartmentalize their true self and put on whatever mask or persona they know will keep their fellow tribespeople accepting them into the tribe. This is where Compartmentalization is utilized to make you into a disingenuous person. If you do this long enough, you can forget who you are. Your true self is miles and years in your rear view mirror and if and when you ever decide to get real, it can feel like a long way back. However, it's really not. It's hard to believe, but you can begin being true, genuine, honest, and authentic at the drop of a hat. What makes it feel difficult or even impossible is when we try to know ourselves by going within--by introspection. I recommend last week's monologue on episode 179 to better understand this paradox. Anyway, the solution to not having to choose b/w authenticity and belonging is find a tribe that accepts you just as you are, so you can have both. In fact, true friends and lovers will know when you're using your car salesman skills on them rather than just letting your down and will likely be hurt by your distrust of their open acceptance. They've created a safe space for you to be true and you're still putting on airs. That's rough. That's painful...for everyone, and can ruin otherwise good, healthy relationships if your Compartmentalization habits are on auto-pilot and you are emotionally unavailable to those really need you, it's going to strain those relationships. Those grooves in your brain can grow deep. Good thing neuroplasticity can change those old habits.

Another example of bad compartmentalization is if you're watching TV knowing that you've got a paper due tomorrow (and you're able to enjoy yourself) then you're compartmentalizing. Procrastinating is easy when you can put what you’re supposed to be doing in a box that you don’t have to look at.

Without going into it, the ugliest manifestations of toxic compartmentalization are infidelity and sociopathy. You can probably imagine how that happens.

In summary, bad Compartmentalization is when it's coming from a place of fear. Good Compartmentalize is coming from love. Love for that couple buying a car, the family waiting for you at home, and the community of friends that love you enough to call you if you bring that car salesman posing into that intimate space. A healthy adult is in control of their life in ways that uses Compartmentalization appropriately when it is to their advantage while still operating in love for their fellow humans. As I've said for years, "be who you is, cause if you is who you ain't, you ain't who you is." because the world desperately needs all of us to be more honest with ourselves and each other.

I taped the conversation with Marie back on October 16th, 2017, and we taped the conversation with Mark Russell on November 5th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode is recorded by Sam Maher on a handpan in the NY City subway.  

The article on Compartmentalization I reference, "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly of a Man’s Ability to Compartmentalize."

The book: "The Ethical Slut

The book: "More Than Two"

Mark Russell's Twitter (it's great!) is @Manruss
The Book, "God is Disappointed in You"




Direct download: Ep_180_Marie_and_Mark.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:36am CST
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Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo interview "Elle." She's not out to many of her friends and family as having left the Christian faith in which she was raised: Plymouth Brethren and a part of the Quiverfull Movement. She has a lot to say about women's issues, adopting orphans with down syndrome, her son coming out as gay, and the abundance of sexual misconduct in the Independent Fundamental Baptist denomination.

Cass' opening monologue is a complication of his thoughts, Friedrich Nietzsche, and an essay titled, "Self-Knowledge as Self-Narration in Nietzsche" by Kaitlyn Creasy. 

As complex embodiments of drives and values, we act upon a world with its own drives and values--a world in which we are connected, embedded in fact. And this driven world acts also upon us. And both are changed.  I'll close with this aphorism, number 119, from Nietzsche's book, "Dawn of Day."

"Every moment of our lives sees some of the tentacles of our being grow and others of them wither, all according to the substance which the moment does or does not bear with it… Take some trifling experience. Suppose we were in the market place one day and we noticed someone laughing at us as we went by: this event will signify this or that to us according to whether this or that drive happens, at that moment, to be at its height in us and it will be a quite different event according to the kind of person we are. One person will absorb it like a drop of rain, another will shake it from him like an insect, another will try to pick a quarrel, another will examine his clothing to see if there is anything about it that might give rise to laughter, another will be led to reflect on the nature of laughter as such, another will be glad to have involuntarily augmented the amount of cheerfulness and sunshine in the world and in each case a drive has gratified itself, whether it be the drive to annoyance or to combativeness or to reflection or to benevolence. This drive seized the event as its prey: why precisely this one? Because, thirsty and hungry, it was lying in wait… What then are our experiences? Much more that which we put into them than that which they already contain."  

We taped this conversation on November 4th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits: 
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU 
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode is recorded by Sam Maher on a handpan in the NY City subway.  

Thanks for listening and be a yes-sayer to what is. 

Self-Knowledge as Self-Narration in Nietzsche - Kaitlyn Creasy

Direct download: Ep_179_Elle.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:49pm CST
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Cass Midgley talks with 3 former guests of this podcast on the subjects of Death, Depression and Suicide. 

My first guest is Zoe from episode 120 going by the same pseudonym she used back then. Today's episode came out of a desire to conduct follow up shows with former guests to see how their journey is going. Zoe's husband of 12 years committed suicide this summer and she wanted to come on and talk about it. I believe talking about it (and everything for that matter) is how we heal as a species. Zoe has not been shy about sharing her pain with friends. Unfortunately, her husband was shy about it and he's no longer with us. As a side note, I would like to say that the community of people connected through this podcast has really turned out to be one of the most amazing and surprising outgrowths of doing this. I got to meet Zoe and her now deceased husband, Phillip and their two children in December of last year. Unfortunately I didn't get to spend as much time as I would've liked to with them, especially now, knowing that it would be the last time I'd ever engage with Phillip. Ernest Becker, author of The Denial of Death, writes that “to live fully is to live with an awareness of the rumble of terror that underlies everything.” We can't help but be more present, love more assertively, be less selfish and have a better attitude of gratitude if we walk around aware of our own impending death and that of everyone around us.  We also might get more comfortable talking about it. Hell, getting honest about what it means to be human would help us talk about every elephant in the room--sex, mental health, suicide, insecurities. Phillip, Zoe's husband, never spoke a word to anyone about his depression or suicidal thoughts. No one knew he was in his own personal hell. And this is common in suicides. So let's talk about it. Here's a clip from Sarah Silverman on expanding the talkaboutable.

My second interview is with Mark Stephens from episode 121, and Stephen Barry from episode 139 who happens to be the guy behind the Barry Orchestra, whose music I've used for a lot of the segues on the podcast in the last year. Bob Pondillo was not a part of these interviews. Mark Stephens is a police officer who deals with suicide frequently in his work, and Stephen is a black, gay, atheist man living in the south who has battled with depression and suicidal thoughts since was a boy.

I'll end these opening comments with a quote pulled from Jennifer Michael Hecht's book, "Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It."

“None of us can truly know what we mean to other people, and none of us can know what our future self will experience. History and philosophy ask us to remember these mysteries, to look around at friends, family, humanity, at the surprises life brings — the endless possibilities that living offers — and to persevere. There is love and insight to live for, bright moments to cherish, and even the possibility of happiness, and the chance of helping someone else through his or her own troubles. Know that people, through history and today, understand how much courage it takes to stay. Bear witness to the night side of being human and the bravery it entails, and wait for the sun. If we meditate on the record of human wisdom we may find there reason enough to persist and find our way back to happiness. The first step is to consider the arguments and evidence and choose to stay. After that, anything may happen. First, choose to stay.”
― Jennifer Michael Hecht,

I taped these conversations in November 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode is 1-800 by Logic

Thanks for listening and be a yes-sayer to what is.

If you'd like to reach out to Zoe, her email is letterstoasilentgod@gmail.com

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
American Assoc of Suicidology

Zoe's Blog

 

Direct download: Ep_178_Zoe_Mark_Stephen.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:36pm CST
Comments[1]

Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo talk with Jeff Haley and Dale McGowan, authors of "SHARING REALITY: How to Bring Secularism and Science to an Evolving Religious World."

Jeff T. Haley is a scientist, lawyer, and inventor. He has argued before the U.S Supreme Court, and founded and directed the nonprofit that led Washington state's successful medical marijuana
initiative. He is currently the founder and CEO of OraHealth, which sells his patented healthcare products through 30,000 pharmacies worldwide. Dale McGowan is the author and editor of numerous books, including Parenting Beyond Belief, In Faith and In Doubt, and Atheism for Dummies. In 2008 he was named Harvard Humanist of the Year for his work in nonreligious parent education.

Religions are a natural outgrowth of the intuitive ways of knowing that evolved with human culture. Though many people continue to find value in religious identity and community, intuitive knowledge has been eclipsed by a more effective way of knowing-the scientific way. A better way of relating religion to politics called secularism is gradually replacing theocracy. Once you understand and accept the scientific way of knowing and this preferred relationship of church and state, you become agnostic and secular-even if you continue to identify with and participate in religion.As Jeff T. Haley and Dale McGowan argue in this volume, this isn't some abstract dream-it's happening right now. Religions are in a continuous state of evolution, changing beliefs, values, and practices over time. All religions, including
Christianity and Islam, can evolve to accept the scientific way of knowing and secularism, becoming agnostic and even atheistic without losing their essential value. Haley and McGowan explain how you can help this natural process, sharing reality with your friends and family in a way that encourages religions to embrace the best of humanity'S knowledge and values.

The only reason I celebrate ANYONE'S faith is if it is "light" and "loose" and full of doubt and uncertainty and love and connectedness and empathy. And I only do that because in this chapter of human history it's the best thing I can do to further the demise of all nonsense forged out of fear, childishness, death-anxiety, and the need for extant meaning, aka religions. See, even if there is a "god" or something of the sort, no human should ever bow the knee to it, nor would a good god want that. The best practice of ethics, morals, virtue, etc. is to ignore god and attend to reality--your neighbors, problem solving, conflict resolution--all the stuff that plagues us and makes life difficult. The day that we stop looking to the heavens to fix us or to save us or to create a new place for us to exit this mess, is the day that we put on our big-person pants, roll up our sleeves, and get busy living and loving the facts, what it means to be human, and the honest resolution of real problems. All notions that take our eyes off reality and onto untruths contribute to our problems, not solve them. And for those too imprinted with religion to embrace that, consider this: after we forsake god and actually love one another and fix things, any god worth her salt will still say, "well done good and faithful servant," because if his ego is too fragile to share the "glory" then fuck him!

Now I also want to say something about pedagogy. Pedagogy simply means the function or work of a teacher. Now, nobody likes a smarty pants. But lets ask ourselves why? It could be argued that often the reason people don't like people who know something they don't and want to pass it on is insecurity or jealousy, which are not virtues I feel it must be said. On the other hand, when the student is ready the teacher arrives. Which implies that, like what Jesus said, that trying to teach someone unsolicited advice can backfire. It also has the potential of cutting into their freedom to figure it out for themselves, which knowledge that's hard earned and self-determined always has a more indelible and lasting effect on the learner. It's odd isn't it? My therapist is a wise, old sage who is extremely skilled and self-disciplined in NOT giving me the answers to my problems. Because he knows the value of me figuring it out for myself. He's told me that client after client beg him to "TELL ME WHAT TO DO!" And in his wisdom, he won't. And yet our schools are filled with teachers telling kids what they don't want to hear. What's the balance? You know the phrase, "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink?" Often, we focus on the "can't make them drink" part; but think about the first part: we CAN lead people to water and sometimes we should. It goes back to what Jesus said, doesn't it? We should assess the person we're engaged with whether they seem to be a candidate for the truth we could endow in that moment. Otherwise, we're being presumptuous, are we not? For those of us who love to set people free with truth, for those of us whose lives have benefitted SO greatly from truths we've discovered and we want to do is share this or that truth with them, for those of us who see our loved ones sabotaging their own lives by believing lies, we owe to ourselves and everyone in our lives to exercise some age-old wisdom and self-control and truly discern the moment whether it's pregnant with pedagogical possibility, or that person will only resent the impartation and experience it as condescending. It will be lost on them and it will backfire. Often they will double down on their self-deception just to spite you.

Similarly, our guests today, Jeff and Dale have taken a similar high road when it comes to the religious hegemonic stronghold Christianity has over America. Instead of the firebrand atheism, which has its place, they've chosen to play nice with their fellow Americans who identify as Christian. They, like the mission of the podcast, seek to oil the wheels of the natural evolution of religious culture and slow, gentle deconstruction that truth will inevitably have on untruths.

We taped this conversation on October 21st, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode is recorded by Sam Maher on a handpan in the NY City subway.  

Thanks for listening and be a yes-sayer to what is.

If you would like to contact our guests directly, you can reach jeff@haley.net and dale@dalemcgowan.com

parentingbeyondbelief.com/blog

 

 

 

Direct download: Ep177_Jeff_Haley__Dale_McGowan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:54pm CST
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Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo talk with Joshua Lennon. Joshua is a quality control manager for a metal Factory in Pennsylvania. It's there that he discovered podcasts and listened his entire shift during his deconversion. He and his atheist and veterinarian wife of 6 years have a 3 year old son. Joshua has been obsessed with all things science fiction since he was very young, and this shaped his fascination with science and developed critical thinking skills. Little did his parents know that letting him watch Stargate and read the Myst novels would lead to him departing from their faith in which they raised him. His more recently focus has shifted back to the intricacies of religion and what it has meant for world history and our development as a species. He is currently re-reading the Bible, reading the Quran for the first time alongside it, while also diving into Hitchens' God Is Not Great.

To those on the journey of deconstructing their faith and are perhaps feeling alone in that difficult endeavor, that you'll find in these episodes people who were and are on a similar pilgrimage parallel to yours, unbeknownst to you, and yet you'll find great comfort and companionship in hearing their stories. I'm grateful for the bravery of those who have come on the podcast and shared their story and for those listeners who took the initiative to search the web for a community of people who understand what you're going through. Somehow there is comfort in knowing you are not alone.

We taped this conversation on October 7th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson

The segue music on this episode is "Closure" by Maroon 5

Thanks for listening and be a yes-sayer to what is.

 

Direct download: Ep176JoshuaL.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:51pm CST
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Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo talk with Lisa Hope. She Skyped in from the Netherlands. She and her husband are US Diplomats. Lisa was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist Christian in rural Pennsylvania. She became a SDA Pastor and was a Chaplain on the University of Tennessee campus in Knoxville, and it’s just in the past year that Lisa has begun identifying as “solidly agnostic.” Lisa has lived outside of the US since 2012, she lost her first husband to brain cancer, and been struck by lightning.  She's an adventurer, she rock climbs, hikes, rides horses, sails, scuba dives, and and paraglide. She is currently building her leadership and life coaching practice online www.lisa-hope.com. She enjoys helping people connect with themselves, with the people they love, and with their purpose, which sound like great tools for post-faith people.  We lost our Skype connection with Lisa near the very end and couldn't get her back so the interview cuts off cold with no goodbyes. There's a link to her go-pro videos of her adventures and her website lisa-hope.com.  

We taped this conversation on September 30th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode was created by the Barry Orchestra found at https://barryorchestra.bandcamp.com/

Thanks for listening and be a yes-sayer to what is.

Lisa's website: lisa-hope.com

https://youtu.be/d6dVXabGsyk (Lightning strike at 7:30).

 

Direct download: Ep_175_Lisa_Hope.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:55pm CST
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Cass Midgley and guest co-host and fellow ex-pastor Dave Warnock interview Shanna in Canada. After a portent encounter with "god" that left her searching for answers and doubting god's goodness, Shanna set out on a three year search to discover how the God she loved and devoted her life to could hunger for his own glory in the face of her suffering. In the process, she dismantled the scaffolding her Christian faith and dogma had built around life and love, deforming what it means to be human. She discovered that "God" is really the god of our imagination. It is in faith that we craft the god we need to meet the unmet needs of our lives. Shanna is a contemplative atheist on the journey of coming back to her self and the world - body and mind--after years of disembodied living perpetuated by belief and faith. In letting go of faith, she began discovering the gifts of being human by finding new life-giving rhythms to center her life inside the body and in trusting the lived experience. Shanna holds an M.A. in Counselling and a certification in play therapy. She is a licensed clinical counselor and has been working in the field of trauma and child development for 11 years.

The underlying theme of Shanna's story is disembodiment. She probably uses that word 20 times before I figure out what she's talking about. There are a few epiphanies in this talk, had by all, but Shanna, like many ex-Christians, found herself in a natural world, not a supernatural world, the real world. And she found it beautiful in its raw form. Religion tries to put clothes on reality to hide its ugly, shameful parts. But many of us peaked behind the covering and saw that it wasn't scary. The process of peaking was scary, but underneath was a beautiful body. Yeah, there's blemishes and irregularities and even loneliness. But those of us that left faith embrace life's blemishes including our own. Everything just is what it is and the clothing is a way of saying "no" to it.

Often the reason that the grand narrative of "God is in control" and is "working all things together for your good," is so appealing is that life apart from that comforting narrative life bangs with chaos and injustice; it rattles and throbs with unease and lack of settled significance or even hope sometimes, but it's the world in which we find ourselves. And saying "no" to it doesn't make it go away, it just hides it from our immature eyes. The real world is sometimes unnerving or banal; it is tactile and unpredictable like the wind. The physical world, which includes our bodies, is foreign, at first, to the human who's been steeped in the metaphysical world.  But our lives become art, not dogma. Dynamic, not static. Wild, not controllable. Physical , not metaphysical. Samuel Beckett, the 20th century Irish poet contrasted poetry and metaphysics like this: "Poetry is essentially the antithesis of Metaphysics: Metaphysics purge the mind of the senses and cultivate the disembodiment of the spiritual; Poetry is all passionate and feeling and animates the inanimate; Metaphysics are most perfect when concerned with universals; Poetry, when most concerned with particulars." For me, Art is my religion. The only world I want to live in is one seen through the lens of Art and the freedom of Art. The freedom to make mistakes and they become part of the creation and are in fact absorbed and welcomed as that which gives the piece character and honestly.  

Also, on this subject of embodiment, when I read Ta-Nehisi Coates' book, Between the World and Me, which is framed as a letter to his teenage son on how to live in a black body in America, I was immediately struck with ample his use of the word "body" throughout and how often he identified himself as his body. He calls disembodiment of form of terrorism. Perhaps you can see where a black person shunned and shamed for his skin color his whole life could be tempted to resent his own body and want to detach from it. But Coates defies the devaluation of his body and the mistake of disembodiment.

Adolescent teenagers or even adults can look in the mirror, maybe naked in front of a full body mirror and dislike with they see and engage in a form of disembodiment. Christianity seems to only convey that the human body is only good when God dwells there. In fact, that's it's main purpose--to be a temple, a vessel for the seemingly greedy dictator that wants to own all the bodies all and control them all. "You are not your own, you've been bought with a price." They do know that's the definition of slavery, right? They'll say, "it's because he knows best." Well, it's a good thing God doesn't exist because this is my body and although I may not always know or practice what's best for it, it is a precious thing and the only thing I truly own on the earth. So politically speaking, I'm a body anarchist, and I insist on my freedom. All the amazing functions of the body--eating, digestion, looking at things, feeling things, sex--are not ugly or sinful; they're amazing machines that took billions of years to evolve into what they are today.

We taped this conversation on September 23rd, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode is by Oh Hello, "Dear Wormwood"

Thanks for listening and be a yes-sayer to what is.

Shanna's Blogsite

Krista Tippet's interview with Joanna Macy

Sex Therapist Esther Perel's Podcast

Krista Tippet's interview with Bessel van der Kolk about how trauma lodges in the body

Carrie Newcomer's "May We Be Released"

 

Direct download: Ep_174_Shanna.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:46am CST
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Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo converse with Elliot, an expert in sexual misconduct in the workplace, and a second guest, Lauren Martin Day, a woman who has experienced unethical sexual and relational misconduct.  Oscar Wilde once wrote, “Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.” This episode is about sex. It is a detour from our regular format of interviewing people who have deconverted from Christianity. Both guests did deconvert from their childhood faiths, but we don't discuss that today. Instead, we're discussing what I think is a pivotal time in American culture when we, as a society and especially women are drawing a line in the sand and saying enough is enough with this patriarchal, misogynistic treatment of women and sexuality.

Our hope in putting out this particular episode is to increase awareness, understanding and empathy for the mistreatment of women that is so entrenched in our culture. Female objectivity and inferiority is a norm we have to change and one way we can do that is educate ourselves. For men, we would do well to be understand what it's like to be a woman in this male-dominant world. Like a fish doesn't know what water is, men don't know what patriarchy is. Like whites don't understand what the big deal is with racism. These are blind-spots afforded to those who, often by no doing on their part, are members of the empowered, hegemonic demography. I think I was in my 20's when someone pointed out the absurdity that every president of the United States were men. Ani Defranco wrote, "Patriarchy is like the elephant in the room that we don't talk about, but how could it not affect the planet radically when it's the superstructure of human society."

 

This touches on a subject that is a big deal to me--conflict resolution.In the world we find ourselves, often the primary task of every aspect of human relations is conflict resolution. It's parenting, it's managerial in the workplace, it's marital, it's global politics, it's in friendships. Connectivity is what every human longs for whether they know it or not. Even peace, it's what we all want. Not that peace is the absence of conflict, but if disagreement takes place in a context where mutual love and respect are in place, then that's fun and a part of learning and growing up. Conflict or competition that takes place in the context of hatred, disrespect, or resentment is not fun and in the end will be the demise of our species. The phrase "It takes to tango" is an idiom that insinuates blame on both sides--the offended and the offender. In the context of sex and gender, we blame the victim FAR too often. Even when reporting statistics of sex offenses, as Jackson Katz points out in a Tweet that went viral this week, “We talk about how many women were raped last year, not about how many men raped women. So you can see how the use of the passive voice has a political effect. It shifts the focus off men and onto women.” When it comes to human beings being the sovereign steward of their own space, safety, and comfort, we do not get to place judgement on their boundaries. I repeat, neither men nor women, get to judge another human being's boundaries as good or bad, too sensitive, snowflake, thin-skinned or fragile. That's just basic human rights and human dignity. That said, when we're outside the realm of abuse or inflicting harm, there are circumstances when a person can be hyper-sensitivity to the degree in which it is unhealthy for them, and is the primary contributor to the destruction of the healthy relationship. This might happen when one's sense of entitlement, or one's fears are completely unwarranted and their thin-skin is the primary cause of the conflict. Either way, both parties should always be free to exercise their right to remove themselves from any relationship they deem unhealthy, which can be created by aggression or passive aggression. Obviously the battle of the sexes has been with us a long time and will take a long time to align with reality and truth. And this episode is our little attempt to help out such progress. Ani DiMarco said, "Patriarchy is a fundamental imbalance underlying society And it's one we rarely address because it's so universal. But as I get older, I see that peace is a product of balance." The power struggle is always a dead end. True power is that which comes from love and self-confidence. Healthy power is available to all without having to diminish someone else's. It is not a zero-sum environment. If one feels they must take away someone else's power in order to feel powerful, that is counterfeit power and actually cowardice.


We taped these conversations on October 14th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode is by Explosions in the Sky, "Your Hand in Mine" 

Thanks for listening and be a yes-sayer to what is.

Samantha B's Full Frontal "Listen Up, Creeps"

Rebecca Watson Elevatorgate Video

Jackson Katz's TED Talk

 

Direct download: Ep_173_Sexual_Misconduct.mp3
Category:sex -- posted at: 9:27pm CST
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Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo converse with Thomas Amun. Thomas grew up in the heart of Memphis until he was 18 years of age. A young Christian boy who was on his way to Nashville to attend a Private Christian College and play his favorite sport, basketball. While things were working on the court, Thomas found himself having moments in the classrooms, where he started questioning the Christian belief. During his sophomore year, at the time just 20 years old, Thomas was kicked out of school for violating a school rule. Already questioning his Christian beliefs, Thomas saw the perfect opportunity to join the journey of a free thinker. He's continuing his higher education, now a junior at Belmont University in Nashville studying journalism, Thomas finds himself struggling with the outside world and how the figment of God probably doesn't exist in this chaos. Thomas is a poet and he recites one during the interview and we feature a spoken word song that he wrote at the end.

 

We taped this conversation on September 17th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode is by Ludwig Goransson from the movie soundtrack for Fruitville station.

Thanks for listening and try to cooperate with reality while making effective changes to improve it. In other words, be a yes-sayer to what is.





Direct download: Ep_172_Thomas_Amun.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:56pm CST
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Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo converse with Rusty Shackleford. That's not his real name. Like many of our guests, they're not completely out as non-religious to everyone and for their own personal reasons wish to keep it that way.

Rusty is a 31 year old mental health counselor. He holds two Master’s Degrees in Early Childhood Development/Education and Counseling. He's lived in TN his entire life, and church was always a part of his upbringing.  He grew up in the Church of Christ (with music) and Freewill Baptist. He played drums on the worship team and was involved in the children’s ministry and driving the church vans to pick up the children in the housing developments for the Wednesday night program. Rusty began chipping away at parts of his belief in his 20s, first dropping the literal interpretation, then realizing that the story of the Christ was a repackaged story from folklore of many other religions and belief systems that pre-dated Christianity. He tried attending a church that was a “Progressive" Christian Community, and found a lot of peace within this congregation, but also found that I simply could not align himself with even the most liberal of Christian beliefs.  

After interviewing people every week for over three years, most of the guests have told me that it proved to be a catalystic event in their lives. Something shifts. It can have a rattling effect or it wakes them up in a way or emboldens them to do something significant. People have gone on to start their own podcasts or write that book or come out to their parents, etc. Bob and I forget how nervous guests can be when they come on and almost everyone is at first. And I think that's perfectly normal and even right, since their story is now available to the world for the rest of time, or at least as long the electrical grid stays intact. Either way, people will be able to access it long after we're all dead. I just think its cool how many ways the show is changing lives. Who knew? that Bob and I started this thing that it would create such a beautiful community of people. I've never been a part of something so beautiful. If you'd like to be more involved, add me on FB, private message me that you'd like to be in the private support community of this podcast. If you're middle TN, there's a group, and there's also an international group, and the conversations that take place there (completely private) are so beautiful. I'm grateful for the courage of all the guests who have come on here and shared their story so that thousands of others could be encouraged and feel less alone, less crazy, less afraid.

One more thing I'd like to share. Back in January, I was diagnosed at Vanderbilt Psychiatric with clinical depression. I ended up in the hospital because I was suicidal. I was suicidal because I was thinking crazy thoughts, believed crazy thoughts, and as a result my anxiety and depression came unhinged from reality. I was prescribed medication and things started to get better. So much better that I thought I was fine, that my anxiety was sparked by circumstances and when the behavioral medicine doctor I was seeing was charging me $60 co-pay every two weeks to see him, I took the liberty to stop going and eventually ran out of meds. Well they didn't tell me that this kind of medicine has to be taken for a year or it'll drop you back down like a rock to the state that got me there. And this last month, it did just that. The way it manifests is that if I'm alone in my thoughts for more than 30 minutes, I start to get anxious. I get a tension in my abdomen area, my thoughts race into a vortex of panic and fear and rage and resentment and I start hating. Myself and people in my life. I start distrusting everyone and I marvel at their ignorance. Why can't they see what's happening. Well I'll tell you why. Because it's not happening. It's in my imagination. And if you don't think mental illness is real, then it's only because you haven't experienced that particular disfunction personally. I remember counseling a young man, as his pastor, about his fear of dying in his sleep. It was really debilitating. He fought sleep, he had anxiety attacks, he drank heavilly to cope. I didn't relate. I wanted to tell him, "Dude, you're not going to die in your sleep. You're 30. You're healthy. The odds are astronomical." Essentially I was saying, "stop thinking that way." And that was naive. He needed real help. He eventually got it and he's fine today. But no thanks to me.  

I was sharing with someone this week that I was excited to get back on my meds. I don't want to put too much hope in things but it may be why I drink as much as I do. It may be why I smoke. I may be why I'm unmotivated in life. Why I can't write the books I know I have inside me. Basically, I've been just trying to stay alive AND slowly killing myself at the same time. I told her, "help is on the way." Now I used to be a big Bryan Duncan fan and we were reminded of an old song of his called Help is on the Way.  So just for kicks we found it online and played it. But notice that he blames Lucifer--the author of confusion--for the suicidal thoughts.

The way my brain plays tricks on me can feel like a separate entity. We've talked a few times on this podcast about Sam Harris' question, what is the self? So the fact that our brain is firing constantly, feeding us thoughts with or without our permission can feel like we're possessed by another thinker. Secular people reference this metaphorically as "he's fighting his own demons" which is apt metaphor but within most forms of Christianity, Satan is real. Is it so that we can blame something outside of ourselves? So we're not responsible? so God's not responsible for giving us such fucked up brains? who knows why people throughout history have ascribed mental illness to demons, but I no longer have that luxury. I have to get help--real, scientific help. And I'm glad to so and certainly unashamed to do so. I go back to my prescription this week and I'm sure it takes weeks for the effects to start remapping my neural pathways, but it'll be interesting to see how it changes how I show up as an interviewer, but more importantly as a human being, a husband, father, co-worker and friend. I'm excited to find out.  

We taped this conversation on September 10th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode is a song that was influential in Rusty's deconversion: The Pig by Showbread.

Thanks for listening and try to cooperate with reality.

Direct download: Ep_171_Rusty_Shackleford.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:44pm CST
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