Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo interview Josh Hupp. Josh has spent the last ten years trying to rebuild his life and identity after escaping the grip of a Christian Cult he was in for 10 years. As per the cult leader's demands, he broke off ties with his family, physically abused fellow cult members, and was himself beat up by other cult members, while his wife at the time watched--a wife that the cult leaders picked for him to marry.
Before we get into our talk with Josh, I want to plug the book "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life" by Mark Manson. I got it on audiobook and the first chapter is the best summary of what it means to be a yes-sayer that I've ever heard. Just like all self-help material, I don't agree with all of it, but overall, this book posits my philosophy of life as close as anything I've ever heard. I truly believe it will change your life for the better by leaps and bounds.
Also, I received an email from a listener and supporter of this podcast, John Rexrode from Akron, Ohio, that is really well written and rich in thought. He writes,
Hi Cass, I do want to thank you and Bob for the podcast. I have just recently started listening and find myself enjoying it very much.
One of the things I like most about your podcast is how willing you are to share the stories of everyone, including those with whom you don't entirely agree. I just finished listening to the conversation with Cheri Jamison. She seems like a good person and what a shame it would have been to have excluded her ideas and thoughts for a broader perspective. You should be commended for being willingly inclusive.
It would not be inaccurate to call me an atheist, but I dislike the term specifically because too many atheists are as dogmatic in their unbelief as christians are in their belief. I understand well the anger, hurt, intellectual distrust, and historical perspective for this dogmatic response. I have had the same reactionary responses myself for many years, and I continue to do so under certain conditions. However, now that I am older, retired, and hopefully a little more insightful about life and myself, (or is it actually early dementia?) I find I am no longer as sure or as smart as I once thought myself. Or maybe I am just worn out and tired of all the bickering. I want to find a way to care, accept, and mutually tolerate others.
My life and work is based in science. Science and math are great constructs as constructs go, but they still only expose the very tip of what may actually exist. The quantum enigma exposes this vulnerability quite well despite the protestations or denial of scientists saying otherwise.
Can any of us really be so convinced that our own opinions are representative of “objective reality”? Can any of us even know what “objective reality” is, being the primitive little primates that we are? I am not talking about our collective objective reality as humans. I think we can speculate on that just fine and my opinions are as good as anyone's. I am talking about actual “objective reality” which I believe will always be beyond our reach.
I am as intolerant of intolerance as one can be, but should it matter to me if people believe things I find ludicrous or silly if it makes life easier or happier for them and they are good people. Many of the things I think and believe are actually emotionally based and not actually true. There are some fairly recent neurological studies that actually support the idea that all our opinions and conscious thoughts originate as emotions. Our thoughts may all be rationalizations for our emotions.
I enjoyed Frank Schaeffer (that's way back on episode 21) on your program and read his book. You tuned me into Mike McHargue (aka Science Mike) and I read his book. I found his “wave” experience too much for me, but since his wife threatened to leave him and his mother was pressuring him, to speak nothing of his life being turned upside down, is it really any wonder that his mind gave him something to bridge the gap? At least his religion is now apparently loving and less toxic.
I am going to write something that will sound arrogant but I don't mean for it to be. I just think that while some people like us, may be perfectly capable of devising our own moral system and fiber, many people are not. They are not as intense or intuitive because they have no interest in being so. They need some sort of moral structure and religions offer that in prepackaged form. Unfortunately, these religions are often toxic, hateful and hurtful.
So I am drawn in my later years to try and make peace with people and my past. I am attempting to find some kind of connection beyond, or in spite of, our disparate dogmas. It is a real struggle for me since like you, I have many emotions and past conflicts to deal with. I find your program very timely and helpful with that.
Take care and may you be at ease,
My thanks to John for articulating his desire to "care, accept, and mutually tolerate others." You can hear the humility that comes with age and the self-confidence it takes to admit that we don't know everything. He also understands that some people aren't as interested in the truth as others, or spelunking the caves of philosophy and critical thinking or need a pre-fab moral framework to guide their lives. They're comfortable in their beliefs and really don't want to be bothered with disrupting those comforts. And as long as they're not assholes about it or are making the world a worse place, leave 'em be. Of course, some could argue that they are passively extending the life of toxic religions on a macro level, but I think we all have friends and family that we have to keep the peace with on a micro level and John's wisdom here is giving us permission to pick our battles wisely.
And can I just say that I have really impressive listeners. Every week I get emails and messages from listeners that without exception are well thought out, well articulated, and full of integrity, compassion, and virtue-seeking people. The communities that have been built around this podcast--some online and some in person--are full of the most impressive people I've ever seen assembled. And I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I take great encouragement from the quality of people this show attracts. And John's email reminds me that while we atheists are truly taking the moral high road, we would do well to not do so while looking down on religionists from our high horse.
We taped this conversation on June 24th, 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 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.
"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 is on this episode was created by our guest today, Josh Hupp, and we feature an original number by Josh at the end.
Thanks for listening and be a yes-sayer to what is.