Sun, 23 September 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.
We taped this conversation on August 26th, 2018.
Arael Avinu is the founder of Fully DE/converted, a platform dedicated to disenfranchising dogma. Arael was involved in Christian ministry outreach for over 20 years as a "born-again" Evangelical. It was his exposure to academia and other cultures which caused him to begin critically analyzing what he believed and why.
Before we get into my talk with Arael...
“You’ll feel lost once you’ve lost your way”
The New Testament, in a book called Hebrews, there's a definition of faith. It's in chapter 11 verse 1. Which is interesting, isn't it? One one one. Three in one? I'm just kidding. It's random. It goes like this, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Honestly, I think this is a powerful concept--faith. Not in god, of course, but in things we know to be true, even when we can't see it at the moment. I say this because sometimes our brain plays tricks on us. Especially those of us who have episodes of depression or anxiety or panic or delusion. Imagine being overwhelmed with fears and/or a barrage of negative thoughts about one's self and/or one's circumstance. "You're a failure," says the voice in our head. "This mess is unsolvable." "You're really bad at staying on top of your game." "You kinda suck at figuring this out; here you are again in this funk. What about this do you not understand?" or "Everyone thinks you're annoying." "All your friends are starting to lose respect for you." "Or do you really have friends at all?" "Secretly, they think you're ______." When we're coming from a place of fear, self-pity, resentment, victimhood or insecurity, we're going to misconstrue our interactions with people. We're going to think they're saying _______ when, in fact, they're saying something very different, maybe even the opposite of what you think they're thinking. After a while, it's like they're speaking German and you're speaking Spanish and no amount of raising your voices or repeating yourselves is going to break through the communication barrier; in fact, it makes it worse, escalates everyone's emotions and someone invariably storms out of the room, when any calm, civilized, mature audience would've seen that you were both saying very similar things, maybe even in full agreement with each other but because defensiveness and fear closed you up, their lips are moving but you can't hear what they're saying.
This is where I think Faith comes in handy. "Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see." For whatever reason--either you're guarded and feeling inferior or they're scared and feeling small, or both at the same time--you don't see them as your loving friend, spouse, or child, and vice versa. You no longer believe in them--that they love you, that they only want good for you, that they would take a bullet for you. Right now, in this moment...of intensity, and high blood pressure, and strong words, and loud voices, NO...they are not to be trusted.
Part of saying yes to what is is saying no to what isn't. If it isn't true, don't believe it. If it is, believe it even if you can't see it right now. We're humans! We're complicated. We're NEVER our "best" selves--that mother fucker doesn't exist. The sooner you put him/her to rest, the sooner you get on with your life. So when we gather, shit happens, things are said, if not in words, its passive aggressive body language, smirks, facial expressions. IF WE HAVE AN IDEA IN OUR HEAD ABOUT WHAT ANOTHER PERSON IS THINKING, WE'RE GOING TO SEE EVERYTHING THEY DO AS A CONFIRMATION OF THAT PRE-EXISTING BIAS. But if it's not true, then there's nothing that they or you can do to get the truth to each other, and you run away mad, hurt, confused and embarrassed. Have faith in each other, goddammit! You know they're good people!?! Hell, 99% of the people on this planet are good and that's just because that bad 1% have something wrong with their brains. They'd be good too if something was rubbing up against that part of their brain that makes them want to fuck children or whatever. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Doubt? What doubt? THE DOUBT THAT THEY'RE A BAD PERSON! or that they're against you in this moment. Doubt it! and the and you will benefit from listening to that doubt. You're brain is fucking with you. Your fears are fucking with you. Doubt them and believe what you can't see right now because your enveloped in the fog of the destructive form of doubt--that they love you and area good person. Don't build a wall of protection between you. You're only building a prison for yourself and you'll find yourself alone. The very thing you feared most is now upon you and fear itself led you there. We truly have nothing to fear but fear itself.
Conversely, we can have true conversations, REAL, where we actually listen and thus learn. I mean it. Learn. I'm not always good at what I'm about to prescribe, but don't come to the conversation to teach, come to learn. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt--the doubt that you've got this figured out. Doubt your certainty and actually listen. (I'm self-talking right now).
Who's more powerful? the person who is unafraid to be wrong and/or corrected? or the one knows they're right? on the other hand, who's more powerful? the person who is confident in their hard-earned knowledge on the subject and thus doesn't have to yell or get excited or interrupt, or that other guy who yells, gets excited and interrupts. (not to be confused with certainty, mind you) Hopefully you've seen the Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary. As one who debates and argues for a living, she learned early on to never raise her voice or belittle her opponents, because it only reveals the weakness of her argument. Contrast that with Trump. Can you see how scared he is? How insecure? How fragile? His narcissism is a defense mechanism for his small self-image. Now, let's acknowledge that his narcissism did what narcissism does--it elevated him to high places. The highest place on earth, in fact. That's how profound his narcissism is. But he lacks true power because his insecurities feed back into his narcissism and thus he learns nothing, knows nothing, hears nothing, acknowledges nothing. ZERO humility. ZERO ability to doubt himself. Which is what makes him so dangerous. The lights are on but no one's home.
Contrast that kind of narcissism with my guest today--Arael. This guy's belief in himself is very powerful. He deconverted a year ago and his internet presence through fullydeconverted.com has exploded and is already helping other deconverters. He's rubbing shoulders with some big names, he's building a community! Honestly, I was pretty sure he was going to be arrogant because of how alpha he is. BUT, I doubted that presumption enough to give him a chance, open myself up, be vulnerable, and you can hear both us kind of thaw out as the show progresses. once we get past walking around each other in a circle, smelling each other's asses. No, that didn't really happen, but you get the picture of two alpha males trying figure out who's cooler or smarter or whatever. Competition and comparison is the American way, you know. But fuck that. After we finished the taped portion, we talked for another 30 minutes about this type of work and by the tone set during the interview we were actually listening to each other and learning from each other. It was truly beautiful to me. And I get the impression that Arael had some pretty difficult circumstances to overcome growing up, so the fact that he's ascended to where he is today is even more testimony to his belief in himself that is counter-balanced with a genuine humility and teachability that is truly admirable. Just like all human attributes, there's a spectrum, and I think a healthy does of narcissism (which is really small) can be that thing that pushes you out onto stages your insecurity kept you off of. Have faith in what is true--even if you can't see it at that moment.
We obviously don't have faith in invisible friends anymore, but I think it's powerful thing to have faith in your fellow human beings and... your self. That is, of course, until the evidence says they're not really trustworthy after all. Bill Cosby was sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison this week as a serial rapist. Dr. Huckstable was hiding something to keep up the facade. Fake people can't be trusted and thus are not worthy of our faith. But I'm choosing to start and maintain my relationship with people through faith-- believing in their goodness, that they love me and themselves, that's its a safe-space to be with them even when they're being a dick; learning to know the difference in them having a bad day or when the pattern and consistency of their toxicity is truly something for which I have to throw up a boundary, and lose faith in them. Even then, they're not a bad person, they're just mentally ill and they need to own and get some help. I even feel that way about Trump. He's not a bad, even if he's the worst you've ever seen in your life--he's mentally ill and needs to own it, resign and get some help. But don't hold your breath. I want to be slow and reluctant to cast people as bad for me, especially if I'm coming from a place of inferiority, insecurity or resentment.
So that's my talk with Arael. Good guy. Doing good in the world. He's not idle or slothful, is he? He's up and adam and doing things. Powerful, actually. again his org can be found at fullydeconverted.com. My thanks to James Exline for introducing Arael to me. If you'd like to share your story on this podcast contact me at email@example.com or if you're a faithful listener of this podcast and its made a difference in your life and would like to come to our weekend retreat in the Smokies of east TN west NC, then contact me