Fri, 9 March 2018
Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo interview Rosie in Great Britain. Rosie's dad was a pastor and in the late 70s co-founded the apostolic, pentecostal church called Newfrontiers International. Today it has hundreds of churches worldwide. At age 12 Rosie was subjected to a traumatizing exorcism for an eating disorder, which of course didn't work but the pastors and congregation claimed it did which only intensified Rosie's need to keep it a secret. She was taught that it was the end times, Jesus was coming back at any moment. They emphasized spiritual warfare against Satan and his demons. The World is a scary place, but the church is safe. Today she has a private counselling practice and works with teenagers in school. She has emerged from the horrors of her childhood and feels she's got her happy ending, but prefers to think of it as her happy beginning.
Last week I talked my histrionic tendencies. That I have a profound felt need for attention and affection that turned out to be something of a black hole of needs. My parents loved me but I discounted it because they were prejudiced and parents are hard-wired to love their children. My friends loved me but I thought they hated me, and actually my distrust of their friendship made more all the harder to earn what they'd already given me and did in fact become a self-fulfilling because my antics to gain their attention and adoration only drove them to dislike me, which only confirmed my suspicions. When the Gospel was presented to, the unconditional love of a God from whom I could not hide or fool into thinking I was cool by being funny or cute or smart or handsome. At last a love I could believe in and trust. After all the Bible said so.
But after the initial high of getting saved wore off, which was about 3 months I suppose, my black hole opened up again and sought the limelight. Becoming a worship leader, youth pastor, and eventual founding pastor of a non-denominational church put me on the stage where I could wow people with my wisdom, charisma, and powerful homiletics. Standing in front of a hundred teenagers and eventually adults with all their eyes on me, hanging on my every word, and afterword a line forming of those wanting to talk to me. The esteem, the exaltation made my black feel good. But much like an opiate, when the drugs wore off, I was lonely and depressed, needed back in the limelight. I suspect that histrionic personality disorder could also be called with Pastor's Syndrome.
This cycle, much like the experience with my youthful friends, over time, drove people away from me, confirming all my fears that I was unlovable, enticing me to try harder to make them love, driving them further away, including those nearest and dearest to me.
Leaving faith was the beginning of me joining the human race, learning to relax and be at home in my own body, to actually like myself apart from outside accolades, say yes to what is, and begin to establish myself and and my view of the world in which I find myself with the meaning I give it. Now, this is a life's work and as most of you know who listen to this show, I've got a long way to go, be even that I'm okay with. I also acknowledge that my black hole, while much smaller and less insatiable, derives some pleasure from being the honcho of this podcast and having thousands of listeners. And I'm hoping that being aware of that will assist me in resisting the temptation to get my validation from it. To illustrate this line of thinking in another way, here's a clip from someone I've learned a great deal from, Dr. Sheldon Solomon, a scholar on Ernest Becker's book, "The Denial of Death."
In a text conversation I had this week with a dear friend of mine that I met through this podcast, Kyle Buckles. I wrote: I want to love myself (say YES) such that I don't need anyone's affection or affirmation to feel good about myself AND enough to desire to develop myself into a better and better version of myself, not for anyone but myself and not because I'm inadequate right now. It's saying YES AND. I know it sounds like common sense, but I need to keep it in mind.
To which Kyle replied: ""That is excellent advice. And hard to accomplish but recognizing is a huge step. The one thing I will say is be compassionate with yourself on this journey of awareness. As you intuit how you feel and respond more and more, you may get frustrated. Allow yourself the space to fuck up. It's just like meditating, when you recognize your thoughts have wandered you note it and come back to the breath...not bashing yourself for fucking up. Keep in mind, as humans, we evolved to crave and need attention from others because it contributed to our survival, so until we fully ditch that as a species I don't think anyone can ever reach 100% non-dependency on others for affirmation and affection but it is good to attenuate it. Maybe keep that in perspective."
Our guest today, Rosie, models this endeavor with considerable success. As ex-Christians, stunted by the Christian debasement of what it means to be human and the relinquishing our wills and agency in submissive serfdom to a sovereign dictator, we find ourselves re-entering the world that's been going on without us, and the instinctive, natural intent to develop ourselves in a beautiful and often confusing maturation, natural to our species ensues. We are shedding the co-dependence to which our fears and insecurities enslaved us, and learning to be our authentic selves, in public, needing less and less from those around us, growing independent and eventually interdependent in a community of people also learning to stand on their own two feet.
We taped this conversation on February 11th, 2018. 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, we offer these podcasts freely. And your support truly makes a difference. You can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge a monthly donation through Patreon. that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com.
Thanks for listening! And be a yes-sayer to what is.