Everyone's Agnostic Podcast
Cass Midgley interviews people you don't know about a subject no one wants to talk about: losing faith in the supernatural.

Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo interview Keith B. Keith is a software engineer, dancer, and ex-Creationist living in Augusta, GA. He came from a homeschooling Independent Fundamental Baptist family in southern California, got a degree in Biology at Pensacola Christian College, and moved to Georgia to start a secular PhD program in Biology.  While in grad school, he started dancing. His world expanded as he became close friends with people outside the fundamentalist world, and eventually religion could no longer withstand the strain of contradictions these new connections were revealing. He'd begun reading about the history of Christianity; and initially, the evidence he learned only made him question fundamentalism. As he attempted to find a faith he could hold in good conscience, he was surprised to discover that in this commitment to evidence he'd become atheist. He's now an atheist and secular humanist; and tries to follow the evidence and live a life of sight, not faith.

This talk went long because after an hour of taping, Bob had to leave and yet Keith had more points he wanted to cover, he and Cass keep talking for another 40 minutes. They talk about mitochondria, polyamory and Keith's deconversion process. Keith is a fascinating person and thinker. We think you're going to enjoy this conversation. We taped it on December 16th, 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 Cass Midgley

Thanks for listening, and be a Yes-sayer to what is! 

http://existentialcomics.com/

Kimchi Cuddles

Blues Dance World podcast w/ Tim O'Neil

 

Direct download: Ep_183_Keith_B.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:53am CDT
Comments[1]

Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo interview Valerie Torico. Dr. Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer with a passion for personal and social evolution. Today, we discuss Tarico’s book, Trusting Doubt:  A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light, offers personal insight into how we can apply “constructive curiosity” to our most closely guarded beliefs.  

As a social commentator, Tarico tackles issues ranging from religious fundamentalism to gender roles, to reproductive rights and technologies. A primary focus is on improving access to top tier contraceptive technologies. To that end, in 2015, she co-founded Resilient Generation, a family planning advocacy hub based in Seattle, Washington. She serves on the board of Advocates for Youth, a D.C. based nonprofit with wide-ranging programs related to reproductive health and justice, and is a Senior Writing Fellow at Sightline Institute, a think tank focused on sustainable prosperity. Her articles have appeared at sites including the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Salon, AlterNet, and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and they are available at ValerieTarico.com.

Bob and I (Cass) wish you a wonderful summer solstice, time with family and friends, the giving and receiving of gifts from loved ones, and however else you recognize these year end holidays. If you're going to be with family with whom there is religious tension, I encourage you to stick to humanist values when you're with them and be present as a healthy, mature version of yourself. To that end, I will now read excerpts from the third Humanist Manifesto and David Richo's declarations of healthy adulthood:

As humans, you and your family members are an integral part of nature, the result of evolutionary change, an unguided process. Our ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Our fulfillment in life emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals. Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships. Working to benefit society, even a micro-society like your family gatherings, maximizes your own individual happiness. We humanists have respect for differing views in an open social context, as long as they are humane.

And from Richo, in preparation for potentially incendiary encounters with family and friends, say these to yourself before you engage:

I accept full responsibility for the shape my life has taken.
I need never fear my own truth, thoughts, or sexuality.
I let people go away or stay and I am still okay.
I accept that I may never feel I am receiving – or have received – all the attention I seek.
I acknowledge that reality is not obligated to me; it remains unaffected by my wishes or rights.
One by one, I drop every expectation of people and things.
I reconcile myself to the limits on others’ giving to me and on my giving to them.
Until I see another’s behavior with compassion, I have not understood it.
I let go of blame, regret, vengeance, and the infantile desire to punish those who hurt or reject me.
I am still safe when I cease following the rules my parents (or others) set for me.
I cherish my own integrity and do not use it as a yardstick for anyone else’s behavior.
I am free to have and entertain any thought. I do not have the right to do whatever I want. I respect the limits of freedom and still act freely.
No one can or needs to bail me out. I am not entitled to be taken care of by anyone or anything.
I give without demanding appreciation though I may always ask for it.
I reject whining and complaining as useless distractions from direct action on or withdrawal from unacceptable situations.
I let go of control without losing control.
If people knew me as I really am, they would love me for being human like them.
I drop poses and let my every word and deed reveal what I am really like.
I live by personal standards and at the same time – in self-forgiveness – I make allowances for my occasional lapses.
I grant myself a margin of error in my relationships. I release myself from the pain of having to be right or competent all the time.
I accept that it is normal to feel that I do not always measure up.
I am ultimately adequate to any challenge that comes to me.
My self-acceptance is not complacency since in itself it represents an enormous change.
I am happy to do what I love and love what is.
Wholehearted engagement with my circumstances releases my irrepressible liveliness.
I love unconditionally and set sane conditions on my self-giving.

So get out there and be your self. Your "self" and presence are precious. Someday you and all your family members will be dead, never to be experienced ever again. You and they will not be sitting around the dinner table someday. But this Christmas,  you and they will be there, together, in the same rooms, and that is valuable beyond measure. Bring your body, mind and soul into those rooms. As much as you're able and comfortable, be the miracle that you are with those people, whether they understand that or not. Be gentle with yourself. Don't do anything you don't want to do. Be as honest as you can and look for the magic moments, as brief and rare as they may be. And remember Bob and I and the relationships you've made through this podcast and the larger atheist community and that you are LOVED just as you are, even if your family is unable to do that. Happy Holidays my agnostic friends!  

We taped the conversation with Valerie Tarico on November 19th, 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 Cass Midgley

Thanks for listening! And be a Yes-sayer to what is. 

https://valerietarico.com/

http://www.wisdomcommons.org/

Twitter: @valerietarico 

The movie, "The Mask You Live In." 

 

Direct download: Ep_182_Valerie_Tarico.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:25am CDT
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Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo interview Corinna Nicolaou, author of "A None's Story: Searching for Meaning Inside Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam" Corinna is a writer whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Texas Observer, Salon, and Narrative Magazine, among other publications. Her commentaries have aired on National Public Radio's All Things Considered, and her writing can be found on her blog, One None Gets Some: Looking at Life Through the Lens of Faith."A None's Story" has been reviewed in the New York Times, Shelf-Awareness and Publishers Weekly.  

We're going to flip the show upside down this week. We normally interview people who were raised deeply religious, usually Christian, and then deconstruct their childhood faith to various degrees of unbelief. Corinna is the opposite--she was raised completely secular and yet in her 40's she had something of an existential crisis and wondered if she wasn't missing out on something. The majority of the human population identify with some religion or another. She wondered why and set out to see what all the hubbub was about. Today she identifies as a None, but has gleaned a little bit, here and there, from the major world religions while discarding the bullshit. Her measuring stick is, "if it helps me love people, I'll take it; if it tells me certain people should be my enemies, I throw it out."

 

She joins us from Washington state via Skype. It's a decent conversation at first but really picks up in the end. Still it may not be for everyone; Corinna is very graceful towards the major world religions, in a kind of a naive way, to be honest. She was never burned by religion like many of you.  She has two masters degrees and teaches writing at Washington State. I think there's something here for us to learn if you're open minded. Though she remains a devout none, Nicolaou's experiences reveal points of contact between the religious and the unaffiliated, suggesting that nones may be radically revising the practice of faith in the near future.

We taped the conversation on November 18th, 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/

Corinna's Blog site

Amazon for her book

Publisher's site for the book

Direct download: Ep_181_Corinna_Nicolaou.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:29pm CDT
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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 CDT
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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 CDT
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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 CDT
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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 CDT
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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 CDT
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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 CDT
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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 CDT
Comments[0]

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 CDT
Comments[0]

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 CDT
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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 CDT
Comments[0]

Cass and Bob converse with Dustin Lawson. Dustin spent a year traveling all over North America, Europe, and the Middle East as the assistant to Christian apologist, Josh McDowell. Dustin took McDowell's advice and rigorously scrutinized all the arguments he was espousing, only to find holes that McDowell couldn't defend. After losing his faith and completing a bachelor's in religion and a masters in global politics, he tried to enter the military, but because he a brief bout with cancer at age 20 they turned him down 13 times over five years before letting him in. He is now a public affairs officer in the National Guard. During basic training Dustin won the Iron Man award for having the highest physical fitness score in his company of 200+ soldiers. He's an impressive dude, for sure.

We taped this conversation on August 27th, 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 is by Sam Maher

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

 

Direct download: Ep_170_Dustin_Lawson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:27pm CDT
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Cass and Bob converse with Tony Hupp. Tony is the father of Josh Hupp, our guest on episode 158. It might be good to listen to that episode first, if you haven't already. This talk gets very emotional. Tony was in the Air Force for 24 years. He has two sons whom he loves very much and Josh was brainwashed by a cult in Tulsa, Oklahoma for several years that eventually made him forsake his family, place a restraining order on his dad, Tony, and, and the cult leaders took over as parents and overseers of the financial, romantic, and all aspects of their parishioners' lives. Tony tells the story of his attempts to rescue his son and the eventually homecoming.

We taped this conversation on August 26th, 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.

if you are a listener of this podcast, and would like to be added to the Private Support Group on Facebook, friend me on FB, private message me that you'd like to be added, and give me a brief description of your relationship to the show. I do screen applicants briefly to protect the confidentiality of the group.   

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 is Paul Thorn's "You Might Be Wrong."

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

Tony Hupp's Podcast, Unfiltered and Unfettered

Paul Thorn "You Might Be Wrong"

Fred Armison's character, Nicholas Fehn, on SNL's Weekend Update

Direct download: Ep_169_Tony_Hupp.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:36pm CDT
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Cass Midgley converses with Martin Hughes, a pseudonym he blogs under to differentiate his blogging from his role as a college professor. Martin is the writer of the Barrierbreaker blog on the Patheos network. He holds a PhD in Modern American Literature and an MA (with distinction) in English. As someone who grew up in the Quiverfull movement, he was the oldest of seven children and never saw the inside of a classroom until his first year of college, when he decided to become an apologist in the mold of CS Lewis. In the middle of earning his PhD he was finally convinced to leave Christianity, and he has been an outspoken advocate for secular humanism ever since.

When we have in our minds and imaginations how things should go, we drain the life out of what could otherwise be a beautiful chaos. Saying yes to what is means denying that we have any control over our circumstances or other people and even ourselves really. It's only with the benefit of hindsight that we see our own mistakes, isn't it? In real time, we're all just doing what think is best at the time, right? or do we really have time in real time to think? are we just doing and being what comes up in that second? Isn't everybody just showing up? We don't have free will. We don't have choices. Not in real time. See, when we stop thinking life is good or fair or supposed to be a certain way and just let everyone succeed or fail in real time and not judge how they could've done that better...when we release the need and desire to control or shape how this real life shit plays out...this is not scripted...cameras aren't rolling...we don't get a second or third take to make it right...we're actually living. And living is both ugly and beautiful at any given second. When we say yes to what is, we cease judging. When see ourselves and our lives and others through the lens of honesty and reality--not wishful thinking or judgment--we can have compassion. And compassion breeds patience. It creates real space for others and ourselves to just show up and be. There is no extant meaning to life but there is TONS of meaning in the live, spontaneous, improvisational drama of different human beings showing up and interjecting themselves into the movie that is our lives...our reality...playing out in real time. So come on let it go. Just let it be
Why don't you be you. And I'll be me.

We taped this conversation with Martin Hughes on August 20th, 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 is on this episode is Let It Go by James Bay

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

Martin's Blog: Barrier Breaker

Martin's Twitter: @ernestlyseeking

 

Direct download: Ep_168_Martin_Hughes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:20am CDT
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Cass Midgley converses with Kamaria Powell. Kamaria G. Powell was one of those individuals who never felt like one religion was right for her, so she filled her shopping cart of faith with whatever she liked from variety of religions and cultures. She expanded her own definition of what it means to be spiritual. Kamaria was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology at UMass Dartmouth and went on to receive her master’s degree in education at UMass Boston.

In her new book, "What The F#@k Is Enlightenment?" Kamaria challenges readers to take their spiritual identity into their own hands. By candidly illustrating her own life experiences, flaws and all, she demonstrates how a chaotic, mundane life can be transformed into a more purposeful and dynamic one through the process of self-discovery and finding your own unique spirituality. Do you have to meditate? No. Do you have to pray? No. Rather than following a prescribed set of rules, she encourages individuals to find what works for them, no matter how unorthodox it may seem.  

Unfortunately, Bob had to leave town suddenly the day we recorded this due for family bereavement. However, he listened to the interview and he and I discuss it and other things at the end.

 

We as a species are pussies. We're cowards, we're scaredycats. That's not a bad thing. It's just how we are, and the things we are afraid are a big deal and worthy of fear, so no condemnation here. We find ourselves here on this planet, entrusted to these parents, surrounded by these friends, co-students, co-workers, etc. We didn't ask for any this. We had no control over any of it. We have little control over anything, including ourselves and our circumstances. We're powerful creatures with no where to exert our power--the world, the weather, and whatnot DOES NOT CARE about us, it is unmoved by our most severe protests or tantrums. Hell, our best friends can't or won't change to please us or suit our desires, why would Father Time? We're all going to die. We humans are unique because we’re the only creatures that know that we will someday die and that our death can occur at any time, in a way that we cannot control. We are animals — breathing pieces of defecating meat — no more significant than lizards or potatoes. Fuck! That's a horrible existence! Let's admit it--this life is a fucking disaster. And we're all in the same boat, no one got to choose their body, their life, their zip code. no one is better or more powerful than anyone else, except in ways that we've constructed to differentiate ourselves from others--competitions, castes systems, economies, identifiers like skin color, religion, gender, interests, hobbies, etc. We come right out of the womb with judgemental contact lenses on our eyes that teach us to say over and over again our entire lives, "This is not okay," "there has to be more than this," "I deserve better," "I matter, goddamnit!" and we do matter. But we would do well to figure out exactly how much we matter and align ourselves with that truth. And the truth is...not that much. We matter to the people we're sharing life with, but they're going to die around the same era we die, so we really don't matter that much in the big scheme of things. So how should we respond to the reality that life's a bitch and then you die? Can't we muster a little spite? a little orneryness? a little rebel that kicks life in the dick and says, "oh yeah, you want to ignore me? you want to make me miserable? well I have a different idea...how about I have fun anyway? How about I laugh at this whole circumstance and find something interesting within it and do that?

We have a giant imagination but we waste it fantasizing how the world should be, how our lover should be, how long this stop light should be, how smart the bank teller should be, how rare our steak should be, how fast the car in front of us should be going, how good this movie should be, how our children should behave, none of which we have any control over. Let's use our powerful imagination to figure out ways to say yes to what is

Yes-saying can be an arduous concept to ingest. I've said it virtually every week on this show for 3 years. That's over 150 times, and some of you have started to get it, hell, I'm still trying to get it. Some of you think it's nonsense, or it's only afforded to me because of all my privileges, being a white, straight, non-handicapped, handsome male in America. But please be slow to reject it based what you think you know of it. It mostly applies to the big picture perspective of life/reality. It acknowledges two things:
1) Life is hard
2) It only gets harder when you wish it were different, deny it, and/or say "no" to it.  No saying holds onto a belief that perfection exists. Or that flaws are bad. It places judgments of good or evil on that which is unresponsive to judgment.
Conversely, Yes-saying is wanting to operate from as many true assumptions as possible, and the least amount of untruths as possible. It is a difficult work--a life's work in fact--discovering how and when one’s life and values are shaped by lies and delusions. Yes-saying is the slow and steady removal of blind-spots (not knowing what you don’t know nor that you don’t know it). It is infused with the concept of art—which is above right or wrong proclamations. We don’t get to evaluate the Big Bang, or hold up an Olympic score card to the random absurdity of the life that is unfolding before us. It just is, and the only world I want to engage with is this one, the real one. I want to stop wishing it was something different than what it is. I want to join the human race and align with reality. I don't have to like it or agree with it, and in those cases I'll add a word to yes-saying. Yes AND.  For example, if I wake up with a headache or I have to go to a job that I don't like, or my friends aren't calling me as much as I want them to, or my car is a piece of shit...I don't give in to no-saying by stomping my feet, crossing my arms and crying like a two-year-old, "no" or "this is not okay." I start with Yes. I acknowledge that it is happening and that I'm powerless to wish it away. It's not budging. It cares nothing about how I feel about it. I'm powerless to change it, so I start with YES. And then I say "AND." Yes I have a headache AND I'm going to take a pain-killer. Yes, I hate my job, AND I'm going anyway AND I'll find ways to make it fun. Yes, I'm going to die someday, AND I'm not going to forfeit what little power I do have to make some needed changes to enhance my experience while I'm here. Yes-saying is pretty much the serenity prayer penned by Reinhold Niebuhr, just without God (and a little Nietzsche added in there) :

I'm going to exercise the serenity to say YES to the things I cannot change; I'm going to exercise courage to change the things I can;
and I'm going to have the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking this fucked up world as it is, not as I wish it was; trusting that that which doesn't kill me will make me stronger; that I may be reasonably happy in this life. Amen

Given the absolute unfairness of life and the fact that no God is looking out for any of us, a reasonably happy life is about the best anyone could hope for. So grow up, buckle up, life is hard and it only gets harder the more you deny it, reject it, or wish it was something other than what it is.

The conversation with Kamaria Powell on August 19th, 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.

if you are a listener of this podcast, and would like to be added to the Private Support Group on Facebook, friend me on FB, private message me that you'd like to be added, and give me a brief description of your relationship to the show. The group is confidential, so I do screen applicants briefly.  

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 is on this episode is a rendition of Stevie Wonder's Higher Ground by Dave Weckl and Jay Oliver

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

Kamaria's book, "What the F#@k is Enlightement," at Amazon.

Malcolm Gladwell's "Revisionist History" podcast episode on "moral licensing."

The PachaMama Experience

Kamaria's Facebook page

Twitter: @WTFIsEnlighten

Email: wtfenlightenment@gmail.com


Direct download: Ep_167_Kamaria_Powell.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am CDT
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Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo converse with Sean Ritter of Wichita, Kansas. He's kind of a good ole boy from a fly-over state but his wit and intellect took us by surprise.

Sean is a 40 something father of 3 from Kansas still married to his high school sweetheart. Sean works in middle management for a warehousing company and is a do-it yourselfer. His hobbies are auto mechanics, discussing ultimate concern issues, and enjoys watching independent and foreign movies. He grew up going to church in the conservative Evangelical Free denomination in the 80's and got his Awana Timothy Award along the way. By the time he made it through high school, he was done with church and never wanted to go back. After getting married and starting a family at 19, he returned to church attendance at several different evangelical churches. In 2010, about 10 years after returning to his childhood church things started to change. The long term pastor was fired, the sermons changed theologically and a more Calvinistic theology emerged. This prompted him to read a wide range of theological, historical, philosophical and political books. It was during this time a high level of doubt kicked in and he decided to leave the Evangelical world for a more traditional mainline church. After several years at the mainline church, more doubts came back and Sean is a Deist hovering on agnosticism most days. Sean feels that faith is just something he doesn't have and after years of trying to believe it was time to throw in the towel.

We taped the conversation on August 6th, 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.

if you are a former guest or a listener of this podcast, and would like to be added to the Private Support Group on Facebook, friend me on FB, message me as much, plus, if you will, give me a brief description of your relationship to the show. Please respect the confidentiality of the Group.

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 is on this episode is "Say It Isn't So," by Hall & Oates. 

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

Sean's email: 3crazydogs@cox.net 

Twitter: @3crazydogs24

 


Direct download: Ep_166_Sean_Ritter.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:40am CDT
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Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview an ex-Christian married couple in their mid-twenties who are using the names David & Arrianna. They grew up in very different christian homes. David was brought up in a deeply fundamental, Pentecostal christian household. A literal reading of the bible was adhered to - the bible was considered THE word of god, end of discussion. Arrianna had a much softer experience with parents that prioritized empathy, understanding and asking questions. It didn't take long for these healthy habits to rub off on David (early in their relationship) and eventually led to both of them de-converting (amazingly, at around the same time and only about a year ago, so this is really fresh). They are both now totally removed from religion and personally feel they are better for it.

We taped the conversation on August 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. 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.

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 is on this episode is a song called "High Life" by the Dave Weckl Band

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

https://scathingatheist.com/

https://evolutioncounseling.com/hero-worship/

https://evolutioncounseling.com/heroes-to-emulate-not-to-worship/

Some of us former Christians carry around antithetical sentiments toward are former faith. One day we're soft on Christianity and the next we're on a mission to destroy it. At least that's how it goes for me. I haven't done the math, but at least one out every 10 guests we've had on this podcast are progressive Christians. Often they're friends of mine, and I'm usually pretty soft on them when they're here, with a few exceptions. Many of us are doing our best to maintain decent relationships with our Christian friends and family who are dear to us (at least those who will still talk to us). We ex-Christians have noticed a pretty stark difference between atheists that never loved Jesus with their whole heart for decades and those that did. And I've been critical on this show of the branch of atheist activism that ridicules the most extreme versions of Christianity; the low hanging fruit. I've said it doesn't take a lot of courage. I've referenced Jim Henderson's core tenets from episode 33 many times, one of which is "stop comparing your best with others worst." But as you know, I also reference and have prescribed what is probably the most scathing atheist podcast on the air, appropriately titled, The Scathing Atheist, and especially the opening diatribe by the founder of the show, Noah Lugeons. I featured one them on an episode years ago. Well this last week, on their episode 235, Noah makes a point that I want to share with you. He gave me permission to play this 5 minute diatribe. I won't reiterate his point here because he does a fine job of it, but to preface it, they have made a living creating a podcast that ridicules the stupidity of all religions, especially Christianity, since for a long time they were immersed in it in Valdosta, GA. If you're not a regular listener of their show, you may not recognize all the nicknames they've given the many practitioners of Christian stupidity (like Pat Robertson is P-Robe, for example) but don't miss the point he makes. As Bob and I marvel virtually every week and the bizzarro world in which we find ourselves, I think it's important to make the connection between how we got here (and by here I mean a Trump presidency girded up by evangelicals for starters) and the pass we've given Christianity for the last 50 years. We've turned a blind eye to the ludicris and absurd thinking that it would always remain on the margin. In the meantime, it's encroaching hegemonic takeover has grown into a powerful juggernaut that may be the end of us, and that's no joke.

My thanks to Noah for letting me share his Diatribe here, for writing it, and a big tip of my hat for all the work he and his crew does to stem the tide of theocracy over America and religions around the world.

 

Who is on your mind? I recently became interested in this topic because I've noticed that some people seem to look outside themselves for how to think. Back on episode 126 we interviewed Jen Senko, who wrote and directed a documentary titled “The Brainwashing of My Dad,” how Fox News turned her father from a sound-thinking liberal to a paranoid alt-right conservative. Many people tune into particular pundits to know how to think. Sometimes we do it to each other. Have you ever had people in your life that were "big" in your mind while you were small and everything you did together you were constantly thinking, "what are they thinking?," so that you could know how to think about too? Perhaps to avoid conflict, perhaps align yourself with them because your own ability to think yourself was atrophied by non-use and it was just easier to adopt their point of view?

As Christians, we used to ask ourselves "What would Jesus do?" And because we were taught to not trust our own heart and mind, we deferred our own agency to this imaginary, projected symbol of perfection. And how'd that work out for us?

No matter the source, if there are influences in your life that cause you to cast doubts on your own thoughts or ability to think for yourself, get curious as to how that's impacting your personal development.

That said, let's explore the opposite, if it's possible to have a few people that you admire that you consider when faced with tough decisions. Surely this is less toxic if it's not a forfeiture of one's agency. In my case, I sometimes wonder "what would Bill Murray do?" or Christopher Hitchens or some local personal friends in my life of whom I think highly. Sometimes we have the benefit of letting people--often authors of books we've read--shape our ways of thinking or seeing the world, and I think that can be very healthy. That's one way that being a life-long learner, or in community and relationships make us better people. Hell, our parents were models in both good and bad ways as to how to think or behave. With just about everyone we encounter we can see both how it's done right and model that and/or learn how NOT to do it.  

As those of recovering from religion, we are learning to ask "what would I do?" What do I want? What do I want to experience? And how can I take responsibility for bringing about the changes in my life that I desire? This is basically the difference in hero worship and having heroes that we emulate. It comes up in our talk today with our guests--this notion of charismatic leaders and the way in which we put them on pedestals. Allow me to read an excerpt from two articles by Psychologist, Michael Schreiner about hero worship in which he addresses the issues of being a hero worshiper, being the worshipped hero, and how to have heroes in a healthy way.  (links to the articles are in the show notes).

"Some feel the relentless drive to elevate a person to godlike status. They search and search until finding a suitable target, then bow down before this supposedly stronger presence. If one is on the receiving end of this, it can feel really good to be the object of hero worship, but understanding the psychology behind the phenomenon makes it much less appealing.

Hero worship is not really about the hero. The same people who worship you one day will discard you the next, moving on to a new entity that does a better job filling the role. If you had not been the chosen one, someone else would have been. This idea applies whether we are thinking in the metaphysical context of deities, the social context of fame, or the intimate context of personal relationships. For example, if you have ever had a romantic partner who began treating you as all-knowing, powerful, and more talented than everybody else, he or she likely followed this same pattern in previous relationships too before they inevitably soured, just like yours did. Or think about the religionist who loves and worships his god until tragedy strikes, at which point adoration is replaced by cursing this god’s name.

The reason to resist the temptation to accept the godlike role (and this may resonate with us ex-pastors)  is that your freedom of thought and behavior will become extremely limited. It stops being okay to make any mistakes or to admit your ignorance. If you buy into what is said and thought about you, then conflict will arise between who you really are as a human being and the unrealistic image you are trying to fulfill. You will attempt to cover up or minimize all your shortcomings and foibles until finally being exposed for the fraud you are (or human you are), at which point the person or people who have put you up on the pedestal can toss you aside with a clean conscience, feeling defrauded, even though they were the ones who unfairly put you up there in the first place for their own psychological needs.

The people placing heroes on a pedestal are parasites (and this may resonate with lay people). For whatever reason they feel incapable of doing the hard work of self-actualization themselves, so they take the shortcut of basking in the glow of the hero's presence instead. They latch onto the hero, and unconsciously believe that this is enough, that they will be able to find fulfillment by being a small part of what is going on. They worship the hero, and all they ask in return is that the hero remain perfect at all times, living up to the impossible standard they have set for the hero without fail.

But there’s nothing wrong in principle with having heroes, specifically when your relationship to them is one of emulation rather than worship. In this case you’re harnessing the power of anchoring, setting the bar high instead of settling for mediocrity. The goal is to join them up in that rarefied air, a much different orientation than perpetually praising them.

Whether heroes are used for the purposes of worship or emulation, the psychology is the human need for transcendence, for escaping the ordinary in favor of the extraordinary. What it comes down to is cultivating the belief that if you discover and cultivate your unique seeds of potential, you can be extraordinary too. You don’t need heroes to take over the job for you, only to show you the way."

 



Direct download: Ep_165_David__Arrianna.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:09pm CDT
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Before we get into this week’s episode, a brief word about this week’s events around white-supremacy and the President’s remarks. His insistence on imputing violence on “both sides,” completely misses the point, of course, in that one side’s resistance, however imperfect, has been justified since at least the 1940’s by the historically proven abuse of power and ethnic cleansing agenda of racial supremacy. To no one’s surprise by now, Trump’s insanity at pronouncing both sides equally guilty is, in fact, ludicrous because it equates evil with good—a determination he obviously has no compass, no core, and no soul by which to measure. I do hope that my fellow Americans do not share his oblivion and stupidity. Stand strong resisters; even though they know not what they do, they do not deserve forgiveness, patience, or passivity. That said, we must do more than just punch individuals on the street, we must enlighten whatever hearts and minds are left of those who elected him. Speak out, write blogs, songs, and poetry, vote, talk to friends and family, coerce, convince, and persuade, but please do not think this will go away without some serious social chemotherapy.

Welcome everyone to episode 164 of the Everyone’s Agnostic podcast. I’m Cass Midgley. Today, Dr. Bob Pondillo and I interview Molly UnMormon. Obviously, this is a pseudonym; she's not entirely out to her friends and family. Molly is a blogger, writer, and poet at Doubting Dogma; that's doubtingdogmablog.wordpress.com. She lives in south-central Pennsylvania with her husband and two dogs. She served in the Army and continues her career in the civilian sector of the federal service. (yeah, she's kinda bad-ass) She grew up in Colorado, where she was born and raised in a conservative and devout Mormon home. After several phases of not attending Church and some revealed family secrets, she doubted the truthfulness of the Church. It was another two years before she began doubting the core of her faith and finally wrote her letter of resignation to the Church. In order to deal with the frustrations of lost faith, she began blogging, and later podcasting, about her journey.

Before we get into our talk with Molly, this conversation brought up something for me that I want to emphasize: relationships. Yeah, I'm frustrated at how many relationships are complicated by if not ended by the fact that we no longer adhere to the master narrative of Christianity and how that somehow equates to no longer having enough in common, as humans, to remain in contact or congenial.  But the human condition is unavoidably universal and we ALL have the shared experience of trying to find our way in this world, we all get stuck in traffic (as Marlene pointed out last week), we all get sick now and then, we all form opinions about movies, sports, politics, home decor, ice cream flavors, etc. And this brings up for me our ability to compartmentalize. Compartmentalization is a tool that can benefit our lives and diminish it depending how we use it. Compartmentalization is an unconscious psychological defense mechanism used to avoid cognitive dissonance, or the mental discomfort and anxiety caused by a person having conflicting values, cognitions, emotions, beliefs, even personas. For example, Walter White on Breaking Bad was a high school Chemistry teacher and family man while living a double life as meth cook.  We all do it. We're different people around say our grandparents as we are around our intimate friends. We may also know in one part of our brains that Horoscopes are bullshit and yet read them anyway because it rings true and feels good to think the universe really knows me and perhaps has plans laid out for me. compartmentalization can be a tool that makes you a better person in that you're more engaged with the present moment because you've set aside distracting things that are on your mind in order to fully focus on the task at hand. For example, it can be helpful to leave one's thoughts around one's job at the office in order to be more present for one's loved ones at home. This is healthy compartmentalization because you're not in denial about those other things, you're just controlling which thoughts you're going to focus on now, knowing that you will attend to the others later.

On the flip side, we can knowingly or unknowingly use compartmentalization to partition off thoughts that make us uncomfortable. As a Christian, I had to tell myself things like "God knows what he's doing" to stave off my fear of say my daughter rejecting Jesus and being cast into outer darkness forever while I feasted at the banquet table in Jesus' throne room. We delay our own maturity when we bury our heads in the sand instead of get honest with ourselves. This too is compartmentalization. A Christian who is a good person at heart, has to compartmentalize a God who commits genocide, eternal torture, and doesn't intervene in tragic and/or unjust circumstances so that they can sing a worship song to that monster. Or in the context of my concern today for broken relationships due to religion, compartmentalization allows people to choose loyalty to their God--who is both imaginary and evil--over their loyalty to their own family member or friend, who is real and good.

Compartmentalization is how the majority of Evangelicals believe Trump is a good thing for the country...or Pro-Life people are simultaneously pro-Capital Punishment or hawkish when it comes to bombing foreign nations.  But when it comes to Christians allowing themselves to come in contact with people who they know hold a contrary belief to their belief--their precious belief that ensures their acceptance into heaven and was purchased by a tortuous beating of their beloved savior god-man and left to die a slow painful death nailed to a cross, they not only want to mentally compartmentalize conflicting thoughts and evidence that casts doubt on their beliefs, they want to compartmentalize us--the people that represent such evidence--out of their lives. Our very presence reminds them of their own doubts. I don't over flatter ourselves, but I imagine that, in some ways, they envy us. They envy our courage, and those who are more on the margins of their own faith, are probably watching us to see how that works out, taking the path of outright unbelief.

One last note on this subject of compartmentalization: in my personal therapy, I have done some work with dissociative issues. Where parts of me--be they the Cass that experienced something traumatic at a certain age, or the Cass that didn't get enough affirmation from his father, or the 17 year old Cass who didn't properly grieve his father's death and ran into the arms of a beautiful affirming woman to prop up his ego and establish validation and identity vicariously through her, or whatever. The goal of integrating these compartmentalized versions of one's self is healthy, I think. I've benefitted greatly from comforting my fearful, insecure 17 year old self and my 51 year old self welcoming him into the 21st century, to forgiving the Cass that made horrendous public mistakes, to affirming the sexually confused Cass and reversing the damage done by shame and self-hatred. I can attest to the benefits of integrating one's fractured self, conflicted and divided, actually fighting within one's self and manifesting in self-sabotage, paranoia, and being a walking contradiction. As an ex-Christian, I welcome my former Christian self into my core rather than deny that I ever believed it, as embarrassing as that may be. And by saying yes to my journey in all it's hills and valleys, I accept my reality and restore my dignity.

Ironically, when a person remains a compartmentalized person, I think they find comfort in what I'll call counterfeit integration by, instead of integrating internally, they join a group of people just as compartmentalized as they are. All the members of the group have forfeited their personal agency and so they can feel good about themselves even though they've sold their soul up the river. Their doubts can be squelched because all of these people can't be wrong. Such a group is good at putting on airs and masks and posing as good people, nice and thoughtful, but it's only because of their deep need for acceptance. You know the difference between someone being kind because they need something and someone being kind because they're kind, right?

Conversely, when a person integrates within themselves, accepts their self, they don't have the unhealthy need for safety in numbers and groupthink. They do, however, being human still desire friendships, except now, that they are whole and integrated, they look for relationships with other whole and integrated people--other yes-sayers. A community made up of people who love themselves, who are comfortable in their humanity and unashamed of their flawed, imperfect selves, is FAR more capable and empowered to be honest and real and genuine in their community than a group of compartmentalized, reality-denying, scaredy-cats who are embattled within themselves with self-loathing and disgust of their own humanity.  

When ideologies and tenants are canonized as sacred, unquestionable, and static, and then education, research, and science reveal the fallacy of those beliefs, or at least a need to amend, adapt and rethink what we formerly thought, we are either going to discard those former beliefs for the newfound facts we've been exposed to, or we're going to set those beliefs aside in their own compartment of our brains and tote them along as we aspire to be honest people with integrity. We have no other choice. But consider the emotional and mental toll that living with such inner tension might have on your life. No one has perfected this, least of all myself, but I think it's obvious that they healthiest route and the most moral choice is to try to be an honest person with eyes wide open who holds on very loosely to ideologies and beliefs, who is willing to release them when they prove false and/or no longer serves your higher values. Our hearts and minds cannot help but be freer and happier when we lighten the load by throwing old sentimentalized things away, when we stop being mental hoarders of things we're afraid to cast aside, when we subject all our compartmentalized beliefs to scrutiny, and retain only that which is true and aligns with our new values that we've allowed to evolve by critical thinking, snapping out of denial, and saying yes to what is.

We taped the conversation on July 30th, 2017, and my talk with Peter on August 7th. 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.

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 is on this episode are segments from music by Nightwish, a favorite of our guest today.

 

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

Molly's Blog: Doubting Dogma


Direct download: Ep_164_Molly_UnMormon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:53am CDT
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Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Dr. Marlene Winell. This is our second interview with Marlene, back in March of 2015 on Episode 35. She is the founder and director of JourneyFree.org. Journey Free is dedicated to helping people transition out of harmful religions, recover from trauma, and rebuild their lives.  They develop programs for both individuals and groups. From their website, "If you are recovering from religious harm, we have great respect for your strength and courage. Please know that you are not alone and things can get better." We're honored to have her back on the show; she's been helping people recover from religion for 23 years.

Born and raised overseas by missionary parents, Marlene was immersed in fundamentalist Christianity from childhood. She moved away from that religion during college and found the transition process so difficult and intriguing that she began to research it professionally. In 1994 she published Leaving the Fold: a Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving their Religion which has become a leading self-help book in the field of religious recovery. In 2011, she coined the term for the condition she calls Religious Trauma Syndrome.

She holds a bachelor and a masters in Social Ecology from the University of California, Irvine, with an emphasis on marriage and family relations. She earned her doctorate from Penn State in Human Development and Family Studies. Her area of special study was programs to enhance human development in adulthood.

Dr. Winell has taught courses in adult development at Penn State, Colorado State University, and  Boulder Graduate School and University of California, Santa Cruz. She was licensed as a psychologist in Colorado where she had a private therapy practice. She also worked as a psychologist in Australia for seven years before relocating to California. Her primary focus is on developing services for recovering from religious harm. She believes this is important for individuals and for society to move forward.

In this talk, we tackle issue of post-religious sexuality, sexism, and some really helpful tips on how to communicate and relate to religious family members around this issue.

Before we get into our talk with Marlene, I had a short 15 minute talk with Peter Montoya. We had Peter on back at the end of 2016 on episode 130. Peter is a true go-getter. He has an appetite for life and emotional health that sets him apart. If he wasn't such a genuine soul and a true friend, I'd pigeonhole him as one of the motivational speakers types, like a Tony Robbins or something. But the thing about these types of people, is if they don't fall into their own ego and greed and become cheap posers and charlatans, they have a lot to offer and their energy and passion is contagious. And Peter is one of those who has all the assets of motivated person without the masks and lies and deceit. He was there for me when I was drowning several months back and was a real life-line for me. He's got a project going that is not only relevant for Californians, where he lives, but the principles for building community that come through in this conversation will be helpful to all of us that hungry for intimate friendships post-Christianity. I know you're gonna like him. But more importantly, you may be quickened to do something in your town that fosters essential relationships. Seriously, as humans, we are not going to be our best selves or truly develop character or live up to our potential if we're not engaged with honest, intimate friendships on a regular basis. This is science. This is evolution. And I mean that in the meaningful sense too. Like more laughter, more looking forward to the coming week because of the events we have on our calendar. If you're feeling like your calendar is stale, you're starting to get bored with or even hopeless about the future, the ideas we discuss here may energize you to make some calls, host some get-togethers, and initiate ways to elevate your lifestyle by meeting and involving cool people in your lives.

So I'm happy to bring these two outstanding guests on and I'm confident that your life will be enriched is some way. First my one-on-one with Peter Montoya, then Bob and I talk with Dr. Marlene Winell.

We taped the conversation with Marlene on July 29th, 2017, and my talk with Peter on August 7th. 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.

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 is on this episode is me goofing off on various percussion instruments from my collection.

 

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

http://journeyfree.org/

Dr. Marlene Winell's previous appearance on Everyone's Agnostic Ep 35

Peter Montoya's EA episode 130



Direct download: Ep_163_Marlene_Winell.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am CDT
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Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Bonnie & Clyde. They wish to remain incognito. They are a middle-aged married couple in a southern state in the US. And their story is almost as amazing as their personalities.  

 

Bonnie was a normal college kid who participated in normal college kid stuff.  But her southern Baptist upbringing tainted normal exploration and caused her to sink into a deep well of shame, fear and dread.  She thought she was too far gone for Jesus. Until she participated in a Walk to Emmaus when she was 23 and the prodigal daughter came out a complete radical christian.  She was ultra involved and ultra committed to Jesus.  She even created a purity retreat for high school girls which espoused the whole purity ring/marry jesus/ save your virginity thing.   

Bonnie and Clyde met in their late 20's when Clyde was fresh out of bible school, a worship leader and a virgin who could slice and dice scripture/concordances/John Piper/and all the dead guys.  He was a calvinist, raised "King James only" Church of Christ in a house of toxic masculinity.  He went to ACU in Abilene Texas where he became part of the 2nd wave Jesus movement of the 1990's and ended up in Kansas City and the House of Prayer with Mike Bickle.

They married a year after meeting following the prescribed orders to marry a spouse who loved Jesus more than each other. Fast forward to hell: Clyde became abusive, domineering, controlling, and mean.   Yet, they plastered on masks and continued to be in leadership in churches...pretending. When they moved back to Bonnie's small home town, things got worse and it was harder to hide. Finally Bonnie sought outside help; the intimate terrorism was unbearable. But that backfired. The reaction of the church, their Christian friends and my family was completely unhelpful and disheartening.  She was afraid for her life, separated from Clyde, and filed for protective orders against him. .

On her own, Bonnie began deconstructing her faith, listening to podcasts and reading books. She gained personal agency for the first time in her life. She moved back in with Clyde because she didn't trust him to be alone with their two sons and felt strong enough to weather the storms of Clyde's temperament and abusive behavior.  Bonnie educated herself on Clyde's mental illness and learned how to manage someone with borderline personality disorder.  She could see a good person underneath the symptoms. She knew a good guy was in there somewhere and wasn't quite ready to give up. Eventually Clyde stopped going to church too. Bonnie kept her new humanism to herself and practiced asking Clyde questions and listening. Ironically, she applied 1 Peter chapter 3, normally a despised verse for oppressed women. It says, "Wives submit yourselves to your husbands, so that even if they refuse to believe the word, they will be won over without words by the behavior of their wives." But she spun it to win Clyde over to the truth. Over time, Clyde warmed to Bonnie's strong love and Clyde started deconverting on his own. The anger, the combative behavior, and the judgmentalism faded out. Today, he is an agnostic/atheist and his BPD symptoms are gone.

It's hard to believe, but today they are mutually respectful best friends and deeply in love. I welcome your skepticism as you listen to their story; Bob and I were skeptical but of course we'll let you decide if they persuade you or not. Because they are the only two ex-Christians they know, it has bonded them together and they actually enjoy the covert nature of their Bonnie and Clyde personas in their small southern town surrounded by a Christian brainwashed community.

Before we get into our talk with Bonnie and Clyde, let me read an email I received this week from Mary in California. She writes,

I just listened to your most recent podcast, the one explaining the prayer in the Oval Office, and wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your commentary. Your unique contribution is helping us distinguish the worldviews with which, as children, some of us were programmed.  What I’m seeing more and more is that although I have broadened my horizons, I don’t realize the “factory-installed” [early childhood indoctrination] default settings that undergird everything.  You are, week by week, helping me distinguish that, and I’m deeply grateful.

Some of your commentary that gets through to me best is when you rattle off those Bible verses that flow so easily and do a “compare and contrast” with your current understanding and then show how the worldview influences attitudes.  Even as in your own life you minimize what I call the “emotional meat hooks” reaction to some of those verses, keep those compare/contrast comments coming.  Please.  Especially in this political era.

I’m trying to figure out what secular word to use that goes beyond “contribution” to describe your work, and all I can come up with is still “ministry” – and I hope it’s not a trigger word for you.  “Minister,” as I now use it, encompasses the whole person, psychological, intellectual, social, and spiritual (in a broad sense).  I see you as putting your pastoral instincts to work in bringing sanity to so many.  And, yes, complexity is the right way to describe how you bring in so many threads to weave a new cloth.

It may be that the more you associate with people who are farther away from toxic Christianity, the less you see (or value) your own unique ability to bridge the gap in understanding.  I think the worldview/default setting arena is the only way to get effective conversations going.

All my best to you and Bob.  Pass my thanks on to him, too. You’re making a huge difference for so many people.  Your caring heart comes through. Looking forward to your next podcast.

We taped this conversation on July 29th, 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.

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 is 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.


Direct download: Ep_162_Bonnie__Clyde.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:07pm CDT
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Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo discuss the recent prayer in the oval office, the problem with praising god for intervening in your life, and how atheism remains the best practice of theism.  If you're listening for the first time, we normally have a guest who unpacks their life journey, especially as it pertains to them deconstructing their childhood faith or their religion and how they've learned to navigate their now godless life. How now shall I live? The bottom falls out when you realize there's no Santa. That much of the meaning and purpose by which you've girded your happiness, even your identity was a lie...that's deeply troubling. And then, tack onto that the fact that some of your best friends and even family look at you differently and maybe don't want to spend time with you. You're very existence poses a threat to their life meaning or their immortality beliefs. The stakes are high when you get honest, when you grow up, when you face reality with integrity and maturity. Marriages are broken. Relationships with children and thus grandchildren are sometimes cut off. Dear, dear friends won't speak to you. And if they do, it's to call you back to the oblivion, the high, the acid trip of their fantasy.

We started this podcast to let people know that they're not alone in this nightmare in which they find themselves. You are not alone. You may need the strength of community to get through this with any sanity or gentleness.  Cut yourself some slack. Give yourself a hug. Feel the hug of Bob and I and all the thousands of listeners that are encouraged and even personally developed by these conversations.

But today there is no formal guest. Instead, I've taped 3 short conversations with 3 former guests, Amber Cantorna, episode 131, Bill Finley, episode 138, and Charlie and Henry Smith, episode 148. These were three great episodes. You may remember Amber is the daughter of a Focus on the Family executive who was disowned by her family when she came out as lesbian. She's got a book coming out in October about that ordeal titled "Refocusing My Family: Coming Out, Being Cast Out, and Discovering the True Love of God." Amber remains a Christian and remains a wonderful human being. Bill Finley devoted his life to the Salvation Army before losing his faith. And Henry Smith is an ex-pastor, now in his 70s, whose wife Charlie remains a believer and their episode is about how they make that work.  

Mindi and I made a trip out to Colorado last weekend where we stayed with the Smiths and had a Sunday brunch where Amber and her wife, Clara, joined us, as well as Bill and his wife, Tolani, and their daughter and niece. It was hosted by Henry's daughter Liz and it was a delightful gathering. That room full of strangers was not awkward for long. The depth of connection and love for each other evaporated any awkwardness within minutes of meeting each other. It was truly a magical experience.  I'm so grateful for Liz and Henry and Charlie who made it happen and to Bill and Amber for attending and being so present.  

 

We taped this conversation on July 16th, 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.

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 is 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.


Direct download: ep_161_Amber_Bill_and_Henry_revisit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:24pm CDT
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Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Rebecca Fox. Rebecca is the artist and author of a new graphic novel titled "Murmurs of Doubt: Twelve Skeptical Graphic Novellas." She's British and was raised by apatheist parents but got caught up in the Wiccan religion in her teens. Rebecca is an impressive, sharp communicator with an interesting personal journey that we're delighted to bring you.

On her website about the book Rebecca writes, "I’m not the same person I was ten years ago. And neither are you. I wanted to write stories about those moments of epiphany when we begin to change, to see through superstition and dogma and get a glimpse of the really real world. But that’s impossible. The closer I looked for those moments the more slippery they became and as I wrote and drew I realised I was telling stories about doubt… bubbling under the surface in everyone's lives, ready to transform us. Murmurs of Doubt is a collection of twelve comics about people from diverse backgrounds and cultures experiencing doubt and becoming someone new.

At around the one hour mark of this conversation, Rebecca references Leo Igwe's Skeptical Manifesto for Africa, from which I'm about to read. I found this to be a very practical application for atheist activism in the world that pushes back against the toxic effects of non-critical thinking and superstition. It occurred to me as an opportunity for us to apply our heartfelt concerns for how religious thinking is literally arresting social development around the world. You can Google a Skeptic's Manifesto for Africa, which I've linked in the shownotes, and donate to this cause. The following excerpt from Igwe's post demonstrates a religious hegemonic stronghold even greater than that of the American South.

I found this interesting because, as much as we here in America have felt the negative repercussions of religion, it's destructive swath reaches well past our Western borders, with far worse ramifications. I hope you caught the phrase, "skeptical spring." This notion inspired me to keep putting out episodes of this podcast. To keep speaking out about the integrity of critical thinking. Christians have a scripture that propels them out of complacency in Romans 1:16, "I am not ashamed of the gospel." Well, they should be ashamed, and we, with the truth and morality and human progress on our side should not be ashamed. Obviously I'm not endorsing that we become assholes like them, but that we not shrink back from opportunities to inform the curious, educate the confused, and embolden the cowardly.  

We taped this conversation on July 15th, 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.

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 is 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.

http://doubtcomic.com/

"Murmurs of Doubt" on Amazon

How to contact Rebecca Fox

Rebecca's website

Leo Igwe's Skeptical Manifesto for Africa

So that’s our talk with Rebecca Fox calling from England. I love her. Her personality, her way of communicating…it doesn’t hurt that she’s got a lovely British accent. We learned a little about the Wiccan belief system and its geographical variations. You know, we all love Bob. We love his naïve perspective. And we can see, in a very innocent way, how a lack of understanding can be the source of judgment. Bob was not at all judgmental of Rebecca, but you can see his impatience or intolerance, if you will, of woo-woo beliefs. One of David Richo’s declarations of healthy adulthood is “Until I see another’s behavior with compassion, I have not understood it.” All fear and judgment of another human being are only afforded to those who have not experienced that person’s life, they’ve not walked a mile in their shoes, if they had—and I mean this of Charles Manson or Jeffrey Dahmer,etc.—they would have a much better understanding of why they did what they did. We might even be able to say we would’ve done the same thing under the same circumstances. And by circumstances I mean their mental health, their brain, their childhood, their history, their entire context. So I just want to keep erecting this beautiful standard of connectedness and seeing yourself in everyone else. This is will naturally and with little effort make you a better person—wiser and smarter and kinder.

Our friend and former guest of this podcast, Chris Nelson (Ep 101) posted on FB this week, “Every encounter with another human being is like being able to read a half a page from the middle of a novel and then someone grabs the book away.” This both tags onto the connectedness we’re talking about and describes how I feel about every guest we have on. Getting this little glimpse of Rebecca Fox, for example, let’s us peer into someone else’s novel that’s been written and is still being written every day that we’re alive.

This human experience is rather amazing, wouldn’t you say? Just consciousness itself. Before we were born we couldn’t engage with each other, we couldn’t see, smell, feel, orgasm, eat, create some kind of art, listen to music, dance, or play with friends. Someday all this will end for each of us. And while some us like Rebeccca and myself (not Bob) tried to find extra meaning and magic and supernatural imaginations, we’re finding that even as those things prove to be false, the truth of our existence, our reality, our relationships are more than enough awe-striking and magic and wonderful without needing to delude ourselves or lie to ourselves. In fact, we’re learning to jump in rather than escape. We’re learning to say yes to what is. 

Direct download: Ep_160_Rebecca_Fox.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:10pm CDT
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Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Dr. Karen Garst. She blogs at faithlessfeminist.com, she is the author of "Women Beyond Belief: Discovering Life without Religion." In 2014, the U. S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. She was incensed and thought, “Since when did a ‘corporation’ get to use its religious beliefs to dictate what health care a woman could receive?" She decided to write a book on atheism and the harm religion has done to women. It is an anthology of personal essays from women of all ages who have left religion. It's published by Pitchstone Publishing. Richard Dawkins, Peter Boghossian, and others wrote blurbs for the book. Karen invites you to find her blog, her Facebook page, her YouTube Channel, and follow her on Twitter @karen_garst. If you need help finding her, there's links to all her stuff in the show notes. So connect with her, she's really cool, as you soon shall see.  

We taped this conversation on June 25th, 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.

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 is 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.

Sarah Silverman is visited by Jesus Christ

www.faithlessfeminist.com

https://www.facebook.com/faithlessfeminist/?ref=bookmarks

Karen Garst's YouTube Channel

Wendy Marsman's Podcast: Women Beyond Belief http://womenbeyondbelief.com/

 


Direct download: Ep_159_Karen_Garst.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:09pm CDT
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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,
John Rexrode

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.

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 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.


Direct download: ep_158_Josh_Hupp.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:33pm CDT
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Cass Midgley interviews Cheri Jamison. Cheri grew up in Self-Realization Fellowship (founded by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1920), a sort of blend of Christianity and Hinduism, and went through a very painful transition out of it around 2007. She faced a rude awakening regarding her naive ambitions about SRF while taking a religious studies class in college. She went on to earn a Masters in Spiritual Psychology in 2014. She was able to let go of feeling "stuck in limbo" between her loyalty issues with SRF and fully embracing what was true for her today as an adult. Today, she is an ordained minister MSIA-- which  is "The Church of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness," founded by John-Roger.

Inspired by my own deep healing work, Cheri created a 5-week group program called "Religion of Origin Healing," which helps others make peace with their own spiritual journey and honestly examine any tenets they may have inherited that no longer serve them.

Now, as a warning, this episode is 1) without Bob; he was still on vacation when I taped it, and 2) Cheri is what some would call woo-woo. She meditates, in fact, her mother taught her how to meditate at age 2, and she's active in Unity Church in Kansas City. You may remember Unity was a church that was part of my journey, where the Bible is their main text, but an extremely open and liberal approach to spirituality. I'm just saying that it may not be anti-theist enough for you, if that's what floats your boat, however, Cheri is a smart, honest, mature, emotionally intelligent person who has, like most of us, picked her beliefs wisely and with personal agency in tact. She earned my respect during this conversation, even though my inner-skeptic was a bit irritated at first, as you'll see. We're very honest with each other and she stays in the ring strong and confident. I think you're gonna like this talk, I wouldn't have published it if I didn't think it had value.  

We taped this conversation on June 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 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 is on this episode was created by Top Shelf Sounds on YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NItAIPJuk4I

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

http://www.cherijamison.com/

You can continue this conversation with her about your own "religion of origin healing" by writing  cheri@cherijamison.com

Direct download: Ep_157_Cheri_Jamison.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:02pm CDT
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Cass Midgley interviews Brian Peck. Brian is a licensed clinical social worker in Boise, Idaho, who specializes in faith transitions and religious-based trauma. His practice, Room to Thrive PLLC grew out of a desire to reduce the suffering unique to faith transitions and to trauma experienced within a religious context.

We taped this conversation on June 6th, 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.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82Tux
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode was performed on a handpan by Sam Maher in the NY City Subway

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

https://www.roomtothrive.com/welcome/

 

 

 

 

Direct download: Ep_156_Brian_Peck.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:37am CDT
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Cass Midgley features two guests: a return visit with author Jeff Bates on his new book, "Zombies R A Problem." And our second guest is the sister of our guest from episode 147, Josey, the eldest of 12 home-schooled kids, well this is Hannah, the next born who preceded Josey in leaving the house and leaving Christianity and she's quite a strong personality and gets very vulnerable in this talk. We don't use their last name but it almost could be the Duggers, except these two broke out. These are two 45 minute interviews and unfortunately both are without my co-host Dr. Bob because he was out town on summer vacation for both.  

We taped the conversation with Jeff on May 7th, 2017 and the talk with Hannah on June 3rd. 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.

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 is on this episode was performed by the Barry Orchestra 

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

Jeffery Bates' Amazon page

Video mentioned about of the Universe inside

 

Direct download: Ep_155_Jeff_Bates__Hannah.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:38pm CDT
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Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Ginna. Ginna is a 32 year old software engineer living and working in New York City.  She graduated from St. Olaf College with degrees in history and English, but transitioned into software development after the recession hit. Ginna grew up in a non-denominational / charismatic Christian household.  From an early age, she was fully immersed in the world of Christian school and Christian culture. She describes herself as having spent every moment trying to be a better follower of Jesus -- asking Jesus into her heart at age 3, reading the whole Bible as a young teen, memorizing scripture, praying, being active in youth group.  But as she came into adulthood, Ginna went through an experience with clinical depression that led her to question everything.

We taped these conversations on May 6th, 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.

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 is on this episode was performed on a handpan by Sam Maher in the NY City Subway

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

Direct download: Ep_154_Ginna.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:21am CDT
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Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob interview Casper Rigsby.  Casper is a prolific blogger with Atheist Republic, and the Chief Publishing Officer of the organization. In 2015 he personally published 7 books, including the best-selling title, "The Bible in a Nutshell." His work ranges from comedic blasphemy to philosophical inquiry and discourse. He was also nominated in 2015 for the Hitchens Prize which recognizes “an author or journalist whose work reflects a commitment to free expression and inquiry, ‭ ‬a range and depth of intellect, ‭ ‬and a willingness to pursue the truth without regard to personal or professional consequence.”

 

We taped these conversations on April 18th, 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.

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

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

Casper's blog on Atheist Republic

Casper's books

Casper's FB profile

 

 

Direct download: Ep_153_Casper_Rigsby.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:55am CDT
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Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo interview Gleb Tsipursky. He's an Assistant Professor in the History Department at Ohio State. He earned a bachelors from NYU, a masters from Harvard, and a PhD from UNC Chapel Hill. He specializes in behavioral science and is keen on how authoritarian regimes take over countries. He was raised in a Jewish household in Russia til he was 10 , but never personally adopted Judaism and is today non-religious.  As a part of the Rational Politics project, Gleb co-founded Intentional Insights (dot org) and the Pro-Truth Pledge (dot org).  

A current tragedy of the commons we're all experiencing today is our eroding confidence in differentiating truth from lies. Gleb is inviting everyone to take the Pro-Truth Pledge. It provides a tool that motivates all who take it to share accurate information and avoid sharing misinformation.

As you've probably figured out, this episode is highly political and if you're a Trump supporter, this is not gonna be a fun ride for you. Gleb paints a much scarier picture of things than I previously assessed. Up until this conversation, I had deemed Trump an idiot. And appealing to idiots. Gleb says otherwise. Gleb even says that Trump is emotionally intelligent, that he knows exactly what he's doing, and knows what to say and what persona to present in order to get elected and to influence people. This is a game-changer. Now keep in mind, Gleb is a Russian immigrant, he has a PhD in History with an emphasis on behavioral science. This is not a conspiracy theorist. This isn't a talking head punding shit out of his ass. This is research based observations, first hand accounts, and historical patterns and examples from  other countries and eras.

I know this is a bit doomsdayish, but Chris Hedges concurs with Gleb's perspective as voiced in a recent article titled, "The End of the Republic." The following is an excerpt from that piece:

"Trump and our decaying empire have ominous historical precedents. If the deep state replaces Trump, whose ineptitude and imbecility are embarrassing to the empire, that action will not restore our democracy any more than replacing Commodus restored democracy in Rome. Our republic is dead.

Societies that once were open and had democratic traditions are easy prey for the enemies of democracy. These demagogues pay deference to the patriotic ideals, rituals, practices and forms of the old democratic political system while dismantling it. When the Roman Emperor Augustus—he referred to himself as the “first citizen”—neutered the republic, he was careful to maintain the form of the old republic. Lenin and the Bolsheviks did the same when they seized and crushed the autonomous soviets. Even the Nazis and the Stalinists insisted they ruled democratic states. Thomas Paine wrote that despotic government is a fungus that grows out of a corrupt civil society. This is what happened to these older democracies. It is what happened to us."

After this conversation, Bob and I both took the Pro-Truth Pledge. I hope you benefit from our talk with Gleb Tsipursky.

We taped these conversations on April 18th, 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.

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 is on this episode was created by the Barry Orchestra, found at barryorchestra.bandcamp.com

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

https://www.protruthpledge.org/

http://intentionalinsights.org/

http://intentionalinsights.org/heel-in-chief-donald-trump-and-the-psychology-of-pro-wrestling

Chris Hedges' article

 

Direct download: Ep_152_Gleb_Tsipursky.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:55am CDT
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Cass Midgley and Mark Stephens interview 2 students from Vanderbilt University, Stephen Lee and John Roso. They met through the Secular Student Alliance. Bob was out of town for this one so Mark Stephens is filling in. 

Also, we open with a 20 minute talk with Gayle Jordan, the executive director of Recovering From Religion, an online resource for people wrestling with their faith and wanting someone to talk to. They have a helpline and chat opportunities and a wealth of resources to point callers to. They help from a neutral position, not trying to influence callers toward any particular belief or unbelief, just be active listeners.

Followed by our talk with two Vanderbilt seniors who just graduated this last weekend and who I met through the Secular Student Alliance there on campus. John is a Philosophy major going on to a Masters in it. Stephen is a BioMed Engineering Major. They are roommates and we get to peer into the life of two millennials, both age 21, and their personal histories with Christianity and their journey out of it. And we discuss the collective consciousness of ants.

We taped these conversations on April 15th, 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.

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 is on this episode was created by the Barry Orchestra, found at barryorchestra.bandcamp.com

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

Let's Paint, Exercise and Blend Drinks Video

C Span prank caller compilation

https://www.recoveringfromreligion.org/

 

Direct download: Ep_151_Stephen_Lee__John_Rosso.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:23pm CDT
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Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Amy Monsky. She's the executive director for Camp Quest Southeast, bringing a week of fun, friends, and freethought to kids (and adults!) in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama.  Amy first became involved in Camp Quest in 2010 after learning about it the previous year while searching for a secular alternative to Boy Scouts.  After that first transformative week, Amy went on to found Camp Quest South Carolina which now serves over 110 kids, and is now expanding Camp Quest locations throughout the southeast, including Camp Quest Natchez Trace in Mississippi, operating for the first time this June, and Camp Quest Florida, which is tentatively set to open in 2018.  Amy lives and breathes camp, and any of her free time is spent developing camp activities with her children as guinea pigs or reading about positive youth development and the latest articles from the American Camp Association.  Amy lives with her family in Charleston, South Carolina.

 

We taped this conversation on April 9th, 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.

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 is on this episode was created by the Barry Orchestra, found at barryorchestra.bandcamp.com

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

amy.monsky@campquest.org

www.campquestsc.org

http://womenbeyondbelief.com/

http://www.hingepodcast.org/


Direct download: Ep_150_Amy_Monsky_-_Camp_Quest.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:22pm CDT
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Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Japh Thomson of Tasmania, Australia. Japh is 35, married with one child and one on the way, a computer programmer, raised in the Assembly of God denomination, became a master puppeteer in children’s ministry, served in missions in Belarus, and taught college courses in Bible College on techniques for teaching children in church. Today, he’s an atheist and his Christian mother asks him, upon his coming out, one of the most poignant questions I’ve heard a believing parent ask a non-believing child. Also, we learn a little about the Tasmanian Devil.  At least these devils are real.

We taped this conversations on April 6th, 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.

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 is on this episode was created by the Barry Orchestra, found at barryorchestra.bandcamp.com

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

Japh's book reference:
https://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Did-Not-Exist-Atheists/dp/1514814420

Direct download: Ep_149_Japh_Thompson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00pm CDT
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Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Henry & Charlie Smith from Colorado. They’re in their 70s, married 47 years. Henry is a former minister, now atheist, Charlie has retained some of her faith, and we witness how they remain respectful and loving in spite of their religious differences.

What comes up for me this week, and in light of this interview, is how each of us, as stewards of our own happiness, choose the paths that we see fit for us. Some might look at the relationship of our guests today and say, “no thank you.” Others might envy it and say, “I wish I could have that.”  And of course, there is no right or wrong answer to this. You do you.

A question was posed this week on the secret Life After God Facebook site by Brian Peck, he wrote: “What does your heart long for?” I just immediately started writing my answer with no forethought. I was a bit surprised by what rose up out of my own heart in response. I wrote, “It seems in all this talk of agency of individuation and differentiation that the most mature version of my "heart" would "long for" nothing, ideally. That I would be self-sufficient, self-soothing, etc. That I would marry myself because anything less would be expecting too much of others or being needy would apply too much pressure on another. That no one could or should be trusted with my "heart." That love is too risky and may, in fact, be a myth. After all, we're just animals and only here for a brief time and relatively meaningless. But if I'm honest, my heart longs for love and if that's a weakness then color me weak. Somewhat hopelessly weak. FML.” Which is short for fuck my life.

What I mean by that is that, as ex-Christians, we’re having to rediscover what it means to be human, but more specifically, what it means to be us. Ourselves. We were taught to not trust our heart. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” So we were led to distrust the core of our beings. That it lies to us. That there’s good in it, no redemptive value, it is sick and it cannot be cured. And besides, no one can understand or decipher it’s message. It’s the source of confusion. It’s led around by emotions. Don’t listen to it. And so some of us stopped listening to it. But as we know now, it went on talking, and we struggled to differentiate, as Josey said on last week’s episode, between what is God’s voice, what is Satan’s and what is ours—only one of which was to be trusted—God’s. In our work to dig our souls out from under the rubble of our demolitioned Christianity and reconnect with our truest selves, we’ve borrowed some techniques from science, namely differentiation which has to do with identifying ourselves apart from that which we have unhealthily relied on as an authority over us—our parents, our domineering friends, our lovers, and most of all, God. But the thing about LOVE, is that neither religion nor science has the first clue how to understand love. We see little signs of it in a few animal species, but it is a big, fucking deal to us home sapiens sapiens. It makes us do crazy things, experience surreal elation and gut-wrenching pain. The sense I got from all my exposure to the psychology of agency and differentiation was that in order to be mature, evolved, healthy, I had to not need anyone. And perhaps semantics cannot capture the nuance of this elusive thing called love, but I began to say, “I don’t need this person or these friends, but I want them. I choose them from a place of strength with more to give and receive in the relationship because I’m strong, independent, and detached. But it’s a fine line b/w need and want. Perhaps Jeremiah was onto something when he said, who can really understand the heart? But when the question was posed, “what does your heart want?” it didn’t say power, independence, detachment, it said to love and be loved, it said intimacy, it said other people, who I can be myself around, with whom I can share my secrets and my sunsets, someone with whom I am struck and with whom I can fuck, where trust and respect are mutual and love is reciprocated, where laughter is shared over comedy few others could appreciate, to know and be known, to share our common interests and be stretched by our differences.  A friend, a lover, and I’m taking back this word—soulmate. Because for me, at the end of the day, this life is so fucking hard, and so fucking meaningless, that the last bastion for sustainable joy, the safe space from stupidity and absurdity is a small, select community of friends—and everyone would profile what that looks like—but most importantly, and dare I say desperately, without sounding too weak, ONE person with whom which I am the most intimate I can possibly be and not be alone, by myself. When I was a Christian, this was summed up best by Rich Mullins, a lonely, single, soul-searching man, RIP, “when you find someone who’s tender, when you find someone who’s true, then thank the Lord, He’s been doubly good to you.” Even a Christian, and a very honest one at that, had to admit, that you’re damn lucky, I mean you’ve won the lottery, when you find someone who’s tender and true and will put up with your shit. Henry and Charlie personify this today. And as a cynical, melancholy, global-perspective thinker who has no hope for the future of humanity, I personally regard this love, this companionship, this partnership, as the pinnacle of existence, the chief redeeming value of being alive, and as complex and painful as it’s maintenance is, and as the inevitable loss of our that loved one is, as the famous quote from Alfred Lord Tennyson goes, “tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

We taped these conversations on March 19th, 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.

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 is on this episode was created by the Barry Orchestra, found at barryorchestra.bandcamp.com

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

Smitty’s business: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MountainViewWood?ref=shop_sugg

 

Direct download: Ep_148_Henry__Charlie_Smith.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:25pm CDT
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Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Josey Woltersdorf. Josey is 24 years old, the eldest of 12 children, homeschooled and raised on a farm til he was 18.  I think you’re gonna love his genuineness, and his simple yet intuitive engagement with the reality in which he now finds himself.  

Josey's insular Christian upbringing did not prepare him for the real world and as he entered it, his enthusiastic devotion to the love of his young life—Jesus—diminished under the scrutiny of his inquiring mind and it's access to the internet. Imagine the confusion when his internal compass for identifying love, integrity, and truth steered him away from the corruption and dishonesty he saw within his own dearest world-view: Christianity. The Christian obsession with sexual purity and shaming locked Josey in a gerbil wheel of guilt and self-hatred with no hope of victory. The taboo forbidding that religions place on sex produces the opposite result through psychological reactance and it can backfire on those wearing a self-imposed spiritual chastity belt. The epidemic sexual pathology within the Catholic priesthood is a perfect example of this. Human sexuality is a river that cannot be stopped and only overflows in improper ways when dammed.  

During our talk, Josey refers to a court case involving charges against him that could have landed him in prison but didn’t; the details of which he was not at liberty to discuss publicly for legal reasons. But the significant impact it had on his personal formation he does talk about.

I received an email this week from former guest of the show on episode 110 named Aaron. Like our guest today, Josey, Aaron is a young man at 21 years of age, but unlike any of our guests he is blind and dependent on his Christian parents, who don’t know he’s an atheist nor that he’s gay. He’s working towards a college degree while earning income as a computer programmer. He sent me a song he’d written and produced which I’ll play at the end and a link to the YouTube is in the show notes. It’s also available on iTunes and Spotify. In his words, “Its a punk-rock type song about a Christian who's desperately trying to hold on to their beliefs, but ultimately doesn't and is happier without Christianity.”

I asked Aaron for an update on his circumstances and he wrote back, “Unfortunately little has changed in my life, so the situation is pretty much exactly the same as when we last spoke. I'm very good at playing it safe so there usually aren't any holy shit moments where I've slipped up big time. I've got a part time job working with a company overseas in addition to my own development work and part time college so that could, in the long term, further my independence.  The problem is, and this is why I wanted to go on your show back in August, and its also why I published this song, is that I want to be out there in circles of atheism.  I can't help my current situation, but I want to be able to get my voice out in the sense that, maybe I can't be open to the people around me about the damage that Christianity has dealt me, but I can hopefully enlighten other people who aren't as sure about their religion or maybe encourage atheists to be more passionate, because its the lack of passion that causes bad things like the Trump election. It can equally be said that passion's what got us into this mess, both presidentially and religiously, but passion is essential to get someone out to vote and to encourage other people to vote, as well as encourage people to speak up about atheism in their communities. If it were about logic, Clinton would have won the presidential race by a landslide. Its hard to look into the future and live for 2 or 3 years from now when I could be more free, if it indeed could be that soon. So I've often said that its what little activism I can do from my corner that keeps me going when I inevitably ask the question, "Why the hell do I even bother?" I'm sure you can understand that.

If you’d like to correspond with Aaron, his email is aaron@atheist.com

One last thing, I’m trying out a little experiment where I commit to do nothing I don’t want to do. Because when I do something I don’t want to do, I become susceptible to resentment. In the spirit of “honesty is the best policy” and establishing boundaries, I want to be honest with people when I don’t want to do something, whether it's hang out, or if I don't want to continue this conversation. I think we avoid this level of honesty in order to avoid hurting people. But in so doing, we miss the opportunity to teach them what agency looks like. How much personal maturation and evolution could take place if we all practiced this? People might stop taking it personal when you say, “I don’t want to do this or that” if they themselves practiced that same level of honesty and self-determination with you? And what intimacy is to be fostered here? Could we not say that all level of complaining is rooted in doing things we don’t want to do?  So perhaps to cease complaining, criticizing, and condemning starts here. To purge one’s life of bitterness and resentment, should we not stop looking for others to change and instead, change ourselves? Does this not empower us to navigate our world as one who knows what they want.

One of the chores we have to do as ex-Christians is get our identity back from Jesus. This starts by getting to know one’s self, liking one’s self, and showing up as one’s self. In so doing, we would be introducing ourselves to the communities we orbit. People would know us, and trust us, and gain clarity of our strengths and weaknesses, that we've spent most our lives trying to hide from people.

In order to stop doing what you don’t want to do, it may be helpful to get answers to the following questions when facing choices:
Is this something I care about?Does this conflict with my values, personality, or style? Is this how I want to spend my time? Will this light me up? Is this something I need in my life right now?

Gaining personal agency and identity can seem selfish...in an ugly way. And even though selfishness is not at all what we’re going for here, there’s no way around focusing on yourself while you’re establishing your place in the world. In setting such a goal--to not do anything you don’t want to do--we have to acknowledge that it’s complicated and you will have to compromise, or should I say, get to compromise. For example, you probably don’t want to go to work, but you also don’t want to be without income, so you compromise. You may not have the time or energy to sit by your loved one's bedside in the hospital, but if you do it, and you've become of powerful volitional person, you and everyone else who knows you will understand just by the mere fact that you're there, it's because you want to, in spite of the toll its taking. People will start to learn that wherever you are, you're 100% there.  That's a desirable reputation. Hell, that's a desirable life. To be known? To be seen? Isn't that one of the greatest human desires?

I have to add here some pitfalls to avoid in this exercise: Entitlement and Disconnection. 

By entitlement, I mean overdoing the sense that the world owes you anything, or that you deserve certain things just because you want them, which is the mistake of placing conditions or expectations on your own happiness. As a good friend posted on FB this week, “Happiness is an outlook not an outcome.” If you haven’t discovered contentment with your life as it is, no amount of circumstantial change is going to appease the human appetite for hedonism. My admonition today is don’t do anything you don’t want to. That is not to be confused with do everything you want to.  

The second pitfall is disconnection, and by that I mean from others. In your pursuit of self, don’t forget that no man is an island. You don’t exist in a vacuum, and you won’t develop maturity in a vacuum. Real emotional health is fostered best within a community. Don’t close yourself off from the feedback of trusted, loving friends, or better yet, professional therapists.  

To guard your heart from resenting circumstances and people, especially the people nearest and dearest to you, you owe it to them to not do anything you don't want to do.  

 

We taped these conversations on March 25th, 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.

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 is on this episode was created by Aaron, former guest of the show on episode 110

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

Aaron’s song on YouTube

Direct download: Ep_147_Josey.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:59am CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Colleen Jousma. She was raised 7th Day Adventist and attended their flagship university to be a minister or missionary. She had (and still has) a big heart and wanted to help people. She didn't care much for trying to convert people. She taught English as a second language for a summer in Ukraine and over a year in South Korea. Her deconstruction was slow and in gentle stages, with stops at Unity Church and John Shelby Spong. Today she lives in Southern California with her partner, volunteers at animal non-profits, and Recovering From Religion. She's a blogger and has written specifically about her deconversion and the personal development she has pursued post-Christianity. And she educates Bob and I on exactly what the mark of the Beast is.   

We taped this conversation on March 25th, 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.

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 is on this episode was created by the Barry Orchestra found at barryorchestra.bandcamp.com
www.reasonnc.com

Colleen's blogs:
https://myjourneythrlife.wordpress.com/2017/02/23/deconversion-stories/

https://myjourneythrlife.wordpress.com/2016/04/18/i-was-a-seventh-day-adventist-christian/

https://myjourneythrlife.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/sunny-day/ brief post about how I was seeing myself after I got some clarity on how I was perceived by others (I feel this really relates to my anxiety even though at the time I didn’t realize it)

https://myjourneythrlife.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/discussing-things-that-people-often-dont-discuss/ post about my depression

https://myjourneythrlife.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/why-they-think-i-left/

https://myjourneythrlife.wordpress.com/2012/11/17/9/ my journey out of christianity

http://www.recoveringfromreligion.org/

To volunteer at Recovering From Religion

Their podcast: http://www.recoveringfromreligion.org/podcast/

Tracy McMillan's TED Talk

Key Words: Bart Campolo HumanizeMe podcast Michael Dowd EA podcast episode 25 Climate Change prophets, seers inconvenient truth   post-truth out of integrity with myself Karl Marx “Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness.” doomsday YOLO Ernest Becker Denial of Death Worm at the Core “The real world is simply too terrible to admit. it tells man that he is a small trembling animal who will someday decay and die. Culture changes all of this, makes man seem important, vital to the universe, immortal in some ways” Tracy McMillan "I feel that as long as you're honest, you have the opportunity to grow. It's when you shut down, go into denial, and try to start hiding things from yourself and others, that's when you lock in certain behaviors and attitudes that keep you stuck."  

Direct download: Ep_146_Colleen_Jousma.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:09pm CDT
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Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview a couple by the names of Silvia and Ken Hays in California. This is an ex-pastor and his wife being very real and honest about the dysfunction of the Christian patriarchal culture and in their individual upbringings.

Ken is 60 years old and served as a pastor for 25 years after finding Jesus in the military as a 19 years of age. Silvia is 58 and is fresh out of her Shawshank Redemption from Christian patriarchy, out from under the microscope of being a pastor’s wife, and discovering her personal agency for the first time in her life. They met in a cult-like missionary training group, where their courtship was forbidden by the leadership. They snuck away in the night to be together in 1979. They’ve been married 37 years but recently had to redefine their post-Christian partnership and their marriage almost didn’t survive the transition. But today their happily moving through these metamorphic changes, however retarded by Christianity and their damaging childhoods. Like all our guest, they are overcomers, but it’s hard work to get through it, as you’ll hear in this conversation.

We talk a lot about agency on this podcast. An agent is defined as a person or thing that acts or has the power to act. Personal agency refers to one's capability to originate and direct actions for given purposes. It is influenced by how much a person believes in their self, in two ways: 1) their effectiveness in performing specific tasks, which is also known as self-efficacy, and 2) by their actual skills. In other words, can you do it? and when you do it, is it effective? does it produce the desired results?

In the context of this podcast, specifically conversations around the various hardships of leaving one's faith, when we're talking about agency we're talking about undoing the damage caused by religious doctrines that are designed to neutralize the will of it's practitioners. Scriptures like, "you are not your own, you were bought with a price," and Jesus said, "If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me." Jesus said, "Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." . In Phillipians 2, Paul admonishes the people to emulate Jesus who "emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave...He humbled himself, by becoming obedient...how obedient?...to the point of death – even death on a cross!" So at what point will you wise up and say no to the bossy people in your life? Til they tell you to die? is that when you say enough's enough? NOPE. You do even that. That's the level or your emptiness, the level of your devotion to what other people want you to do. They want you to die? then you die. This is Paul's advice...and it's regarded as a good thing. A strength. Did you get that? in this world, this subculture, they think this is good, that you're a "STRONG" Christians if you have so little agency that if the person you're dependent on for everything--purpose, direction, ideas, where we're going to dinner tonight? how many times you should give your body sexually to them? the person that basically dictates your life and does ALL your thinking for you. If you're that much of a push-over, spineless, you have no original thoughts, you have no skills that could get you out of bind, you can't solve a riddle, you don't ever know what your next move is, and if they asked you to kill yourself you would do it. THIS. IS. STRENGTH in that world?

This is the breaking of the will. This is castrating the gelding. This is Stockholm syndrome. It doesn't matter whether or not Paul or Jesus intended to create such evil psychological tools to control people, it doesn't matter because many, thousands of people who've come after them have co-opted their words and empowered their words simply by calling them God's words to use them to control people, for over 2,000 years and even as I speak.

The movie, "Birth of a Nation" tells the true story of a literate Christian slave named Nat Turner, who, in 1831, was toted around from plantation to plantation so he could preach Christianity to as many of his fellow slaves as possible because the slave owners had noticed that Christian slaves were the best kind--more submissive, subservient and obedient.

So...some of us who have escaped the bondage of Christianity have found ourselves at a loss when we wake up to a godless world and we have to think for ourselves. We realize there's no god watching over us, protecting us, guiding us, faithfully providing money for us (and he never was), advising us. It's as if the natural agency that is supposed to hit young adults when they move out of their parent's house is hijacked, and suspended, and handed like a baton to God. Maturity, responsibility, independence, freedom are stunted by Christianity (and all authoritarian regimes for that matter). Ex-Christians, especially the more submissive devout types, have to figure who they are, what they like and dislike, learn the ability to take action, to be effective, to influence their own lives, and assume responsibility for their behavior.

These same ex-Christians can also unknowingly try to continue the process of transferring their dependence to an outside source, from their parents, to their God, and what's next after both your parents and god are gone? their lovers. The parents are out of their life, oh there's God, I'll get under his leadership. Ohh, safe and warm. Oh wait, there's no God? Where do I turn for guidance? What do I do? Someone tell me what to do? I must find a help-mate. that's what we call them. Help-mates. But the pitfalls of dependency and co-dendency are coming. It's not fair to put that much pressure and responsibility on another and the chickens are gonna come home to roust, mother fuckers. With a vengeance. These are nice cute fuzzy soft chicks. These are Tasmanian devil chickens. These siber-tooth tiger chickens. And you're gonna wish that you knew how take care of yourself real bad. You're gonna wish that you knew how to reign in your own anxiety and stress and fear. You're gonna wish you knew how to self comfort. But you don't know how, so now at age 30 or 40 or 50 or in the case of our guests today 60, you're gonna have to learn. And it's some serious hard work to teach on old dog these new tricks that you should’ve been learned decades ago before your agency, given to you by evolution, was trained and educated to do it for yourself.    

One of our guests today, Ken  Hays, wrote this to me in a recent email. "Facing the reality of life, post mythical safety net Jesus, has been the most difficult thing I have ever done.  Telling fear to remain in it's place in the corner of my mind has been a daily exercise that I think I am getting stronger at.  I love the freedom of (at least the concept of) agency but it is no easy custom fit garment that slips right on.   I have to fight for every piece of the pattern, taking if off and putting it back on a million times a day, or so it seems.  Still, regardless of how it all ends up, at least I am choosing to try...to try freedom from fear and victimization."

Ironically, the path to obtaining bravery requires bravery. We make the path by walking it. There is no refuge from the harshness of reality to hide except death. So if you're choosing to stay alive, and you’re choosing not to look outside yourself for strength--to mommy and daddy, or god, or your lover, these are the reactions of no-sayers. you're going to have to learn to be a yes-sayer to what is. 

We taped these conversations on March 11th, 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.

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 is on this episode was created by the Barry Orchestra found at barryorchestra.bandcamp.com

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

 

Direct download: Ep_145_Ken__Silvia.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:27am CDT
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Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview an anonymous guest that we’ll call Joan. Joan was physically and psychologically abused by her Christian missionary father. She survived a gunshot wound to abdomen. She’s a marathon runner and a professional therapist. 

This talk with Joan was a good one and there’s a few interjections here that I want to explain. At one point Joan describes a close friendship with a Christian and how that’s possible because they both appeal to higher love, which I couldn’t resist throwing in some Steve Winwood and a little nod to Hitchens who had expressed his love for that song. Then, Joan references something I said in a prior podcast, episode 131 w/ Amber Cantorna, the rejected lesbian Focus on the Family daughter, so I insert a bit of it in there. And lastly, Joan recommends a song at the end with which we close out her interview; but I was so confused by the song that I called Joan back up to have her unpack it and we talked another 40 minutes at the end. So this is a long one, but as usual you can turn it off anytime you want; we’re free-thinking agents and stewards of our own happiness, after all. Or as we like to say, you do you.

I’ve pointed out many times how Christianity flips morality on its head—calling good evil, and evil good. I was chatting with a former guest this week who’s atheism has caused a painful rift in his marriage and family, especially the inlaws. I thought about how they wish he was still a “man of god” leading his family in the ways of the Lord. And I saw yet another example of how they esteem something destructive and resent something healthy and honest. How is it that we live in a society that esteems people who claim to talk to and hear from their invisible friend? How is that rape, incest, murder, hatred, fear, debasing of what it means to be human, denying of facts, distrust of science, discrimination of out-groups, and an overall judgment and disdain for this world is virtuous? These are the ways of the Lord, after all. This week a conservative, Christian congressman in the Oklahoma state house was forced to admit that God must support rape because it happens and he could not relinquish God’s sovereign control over all the events on earth.  Why can’t we celebrate a person’s conclusion that there is no interventionary God watching over our lives? Why can’t we celebrate a person getting honest with the facts and embracing reality? Why can’t we celebrate the elevation of morals and ethics apart from religious texts? Because to these people, the fear of God is the source of wisdom. That serfdom is the highest form of living. And foolishness and ignorance is preferable to education and knowledge. This is another way that Christianity has turned morality upside down.

We taped these conversations on March 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. 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.

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 is on this episode was created by the Barry Orchestra found at barryorchestra.bandcamp.com

The song at the end is by the band “Brand New” a song called “The Archers Bows have Broken.”

 

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

 

Direct download: Ep_144_Joan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:12pm CDT
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Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob interview Raul Cardona, after Cass' talk with Carlton Larsen—our two "nobodies" on this week’s episode. We interview people you don’t know about a subject no one wants to talk about.  

Carlton got his M.Div and became a Lutheran Minister in Canada during the Christian Coffeehouse boom. He now identifies as a Woo-Woo pseudo-Buddhist/Christian Agnostic, still writes music, and is a truck-driver for a living. He talks very candidly about his sexual healing within a 12-step support group and the beautiful frontier of his life after dogma. Bob was out sick for this interview.

After that, Bob and Cass converse with Raul Cardona. Raul wasn’t raised religious but began looking for meaning and purpose in life while deployed in Iraq. To this end, he started reading the Bible, and the Christian story appealed to him, drawn to the idea of a God who loved him unconditionally, in spite of all the wrong he had done. He had gotten in trouble with the law as a juvenile on the streets of Boston. As his faith grew, he determined to become an expert at defending Christianity through apologetics. He studied books on defending Christianity and watched YouTubes of Christians debating Atheists. This backfired beautifully (as Matt Dillahunty says) and eventually led to the loss of his faith.

No big monologue this week, just some thoughts on honesty provoked by the honesty of both of our guests today. I'll start with a quote from Sam Harris. I highly recommend his little book called "Lying." It's a short read and yet is liberating in its call to be honest. This quote may or may not be in that book, but Sam is quoted as saying, "One of the greatest challenges facing civilization in the twenty-first century is for human beings to learn to speak about their deepest personal concerns-about ethics, spiritual experience, and the inevitability of human suffering-in ways that are not flagrantly irrational. We desperately need a public discourse that encourages critical thinking and intellectual honesty. Nothing stands in the way of this project more that the respect we accord religious faith. All I'm arguing for really is that we should have a conversation where the best ideas really thrive, where there's no taboo against criticizing bad ideas, and where everyone who shows up, in order to get their ideas entertained, has to meet some obvious burdens of intellectual rigor and self-criticism and honesty-and when people fail to do that, we are free to stop listening to them. What religion has had up until this moment is a different set of rules that apply only to it, which is you have to respect my religious certainty even though I'm telling you I arrived at it irrationally."

Someone asked me this week how I lost my faith and after thinking a few seconds the best I answer I came up with was "I got honest." Honesty takes courage. It's looking at reality and owning up to where one's life doesn't align with it. And making the changes required to do so, which is often really hard work and can take years. In fact, let's just call it what it is--a life's work.

Speaking of life’s work, my friend and former guest on this podcast (episode 100) David Dark recently said in an interview with Jon Foreman, lead singer of Switchfoot, "I DON’T THINK REAL LOVE BEGINS TILL WE HOLD OUT THE MESSY FACT OF WHAT WE’RE REALLY UP TO AND INTO WITH OPEN HANDS" There's a link to that interview in the show notes.

Don’t forget: ReasonCon in Hickory NC, is coming up the weekend of April 21st.  more info is available at reasonnc.com. I’ll be there with lots of listeners and former guests of this podcast. If you’re planning on going, I’d love to meet you so let’s meet up at ReasonCon.  

We taped these conversations on February 18th and 19th, 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.

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 is on this episode was created by the Barry Orchestra found at barryorchestra.bandcamp.com

The song at the end is written and performed by our guest, Carlton Larsen.  

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

Carlton's music site: https://www.reverbnation.com/carltonlarsen

Direct download: Ep_143_Raul_Cardona__Carlton_Larsen.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:18pm CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and Bob Pondilloo interview Matthew O’Neil. Matthew is an activist, theologian, and teacher. He has an MA in Theology from Saint Michael's College and is a certified Humanist chaplain and celebrant. He is the author of What the Bible Really Does (and Doesn't) Say About Sex and writes for the Danthropology blog through the Patheos network. He lives in Saint Albans, Vermont. Today, we talk about O’Neil’s catholic upbringing and his latest book, “After Life: Solving Science and Religion’s Greatest Disagreement,” which he wrote after having a near-death experience.

This is a good talk with Matthew O’Neil. Of his latest book, “After Life,” Dr. Michael Shermer, author and editor of Skeptic magazine, wrote this: “What happens after life? Matthew O'Neil answers this question with learning, elegance, and grace. He reveals the surprisingly rich history of heaven and hell and many other religious ideas that believers assume have always existed in their present form but in fact evolved along with society and culture. There may be no scientific evidence for an afterlife but O'Neil demonstrates how this fact leads to a most uplifting conclusion. To discover it, and how to live a fulfilling life without an afterlife, read this beautiful book.”

Before we get into our conversation with Matthew, as you know, this podcast chronicles the stories of people recovering from Christianity and getting healthy, myself included. Something that comes up a lot is the notion of agency and discovering one’s self and acting from that authentic self. There are lots of factors that contribute to arrested development in people, and Christianity is one of them. Christianity not only tries to minimize one’s self to be eclipsed by Jesus or the Holy Spirit, but it can bring out the worst in people.  One way it does that is it removes responsibility from its followers. Our mistakes are cast into the sea of forgetfulness, or cast onto the sacrificial scape-goat of Jesus and are now covered in the blood. Sometimes Christianity demotivates personal development because it is worthless to be good (filthy rags, Isaiah 64:6) or even impossible to be good and thus a futile effort, as Paul taught in Romans 7: “I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. If I do what I don’t want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh; for I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do. Instead, I keep on doing the evil I do not want to do.” Contrast these lines of thinking from the Bible with the wisdom that is coming out of science and the study of what it means to be human. The following declarations of healthy adulthood, by Dr. David Richo, my reveal some unhealthy mindsets leftover from Christianity. I recommend his book, “How to Be an Adult: A Handbook on Psychological and Spiritual Integration.” A link is in the show notes. These are rich statements, loaded with meaning, so for the sake of time I’m just going to read them without comment. However, you may want to be prepared to stop the tape and contemplate some of them.   

  1. I accept full responsibility for the shape my life has taken.
  2. I need never fear my own truth, powers, fantasies, wishes, thoughts, sexuality, dreams, or ghosts.
  3. I trust that “darkness and upheaval always precede an expansion of consciousness.”
  4. I let people go away or stay and I am still okay.
  5. I accept that I may never feel I am receiving – or have received – all the attention I seek.
  6. I acknowledge that reality is not obligated to me; it remains unaffected by my wishes or rights.
  7. One by one, I drop every expectation of people and things.
  8. I reconcile myself to the limits on others’ giving to me and on my giving to them.
  9. Until I see another’s behavior with compassion, I have not understood it.
  10. I let go of blame, regret, vengeance, and the infantile desire to punish those who hurt or reject me.
  11. When change and growth scare me, I still choose them. I may act with fear, but never because of it.
  12. I am still safe when I cease following the rules my parents (or others) set for me.
  13. I cherish my own integrity and do not use it as a yardstick for anyone else’s behavior.
  14. I am free to have and entertain any thought. I do not have the right to do whatever I want. I respect the limits of freedom and still act freely.
  15. I overcome the urge to retreat on the brink of discovery.
  16. No one can or needs to bail me out. I am not entitled to be taken care of by anyone or anything.
  17. I give without demanding appreciation though I may always ask for it.
  18. I reject whining and complaining as useless distractions from direct action on or withdrawal from unacceptable situations.
  19. I let go of control without losing control.
  20. Choices and perceptions in my life are flexible, not rigid or absolute.
  21. If people knew me as I really am, they would love me for being human like them.
  22. I drop poses and let my every word and deed reveal what I am really like.
  23. Changes and transitions are more graceful as I cooperate with them.
  24. Every human power is accessible to me.
  25. I live by personal standards and at the same time – in self-forgiveness – I make allowances for my occasional lapses.
  26. I grant myself a margin of error in my work and relationships. I release myself from the pain of having to be right or competent all the time.
  27. I accept that it is normal to feel that I do not always measure up.
  28. I am ultimately adequate to any challenge that comes to me.
  29. My self-acceptance is not complacency since in itself it represents an enormous change.
  30. I am happy to do what I love and love what is.
  31. Wholehearted engagement with my circumstances releases my irrepressible liveliness.
  32. I love unconditionally and set sane conditions on my self-giving.

Source: Richo, D. (1991), How to be an adult: A handbook on psychological and spiritual integration. New York: Paulist Press.

I love this picture of adulthood, aspire to it, and commit myself to do the work needed to attain this level of health and maturity.  It’s never too late to grow.

Don’t forget: ReasonCon in Hickory NC, is coming up the weekend of April 21st.  more info is available at reasonnc.com. I’ll be there with lots of listeners and former guests of this podcast. If you’re planning on going, I’d love to meet you so let’s meet up at ReasonCon. 

We taped the conversation on February 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. 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.

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 is on this episode was created by our guest today, Matthew O’Neil. His music can found at soundcloud.com/immattoneil

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

Dr. Ricoh’s book: How To Be an Adult

Matthew’s books on Amazon

Matthew’s Twitter: @mwoneiI

Matthew’s articles on Danthropology: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/danthropology/author/moneil/

Matthew’s music: https://soundcloud.com/immattoneil

Matthew’s Facebook

 

Direct download: Ep_142_Matthew_ONeil.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:04pm CDT
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Cass and Bob interview Rebecca Murphy. Rebecca is a 46 year old white cisgender heterosexual female, married for 28 years and childfree by choice. She was raised in an off-shoot of Mormonism called Temple Lot. In college she left that faith but was swept up into the International Church of Christ, which under the surface of their inspirational Sunday services was a domineering pyramid scheme with all the mind controlling influences of a cult. Before our talk with Rebecca, Cass has a brief conversation with Harry Flook, a 21 year old British photographer and documentarian visiting the states through former guest Gayle Jordan and the Recovering From Religion organization to chronicle how people find a sense of community after losing their faith and leaving the church.

If you’ve been following the last several episodes, you will have noticed that I am on a journey that associate with the stage of life in which I find myself, which I’ll describe as mid-life, post-religious, and post-parent. There seems to be a natural rite of passage happening that is not unlike puberty, where it is going to happen whether you like it or not. In the absence of meaning, formerly found in the role of being a parent and/or seeing one’s self within a religious narrative or simply the realization that one has fewer years left to live than one has lived thus far, some realizations begin to enter one’s mind that can serve as a mirror that exposes immaturity in one’s character (at best) or seem pathological at worst. It turns out (at least for me) that a strong sense of self has been kept at bay by the busying narratives in which my life has been immersed, and as the curtain closes on them (my role as a parent, for example, or my role as child of god destined to live eternally in heaven), and that suppressed identity is coming unchained and emerging from the dungeon with a vengeance. But, it doesn’t know how to behave or even walk and is blinded by the sun and atrophied by immobility so nothing about this is homecoming is going to be pretty. In fact, it can arouse deep anxieties, even panic, and hopelessness that can lead to suicidal thoughts. You will hurt and be hurt by those nearest to you. Especially if they’re going through the same thing at the same time. Many marriages are ended by this transition. But I found my hope in a psychological concept founded by Carl Jung and Murray Bowen called “differentiation.”

Differentiation of self is one's ability to separate one's own intellectual and emotional functioning from that of one’s family and/or lover. Individuals with "low differentiation" are more likely to become emotionally fused with others—particularly family or lovers. They’re like Siamese twins attached at the hip. And this attachment, that is largely dependent and codendent, can last for years until this awakening happens and you want to go your own way. Any attempt to do so will be taken personally by the person you are fused with. You want to differentiate yourself from them and they say, “why are you doing this to me?” When in fact, you are doing nothing TO them, they are just leaning on you so hard that they hit the floor when you move. People with "low differentiation" depend on others' approval and acceptance. They either conform themselves to others in order to please them, or they attempt to force others to conform to themselves. They are thus more vulnerable to stress and less adaptive to life changes. You may have heard of a healthy H-shaped relationship, where two stand-alone, vertical lines are in relationship, contrasted with an unhealthy A-shape relationship where those lines are leaning on each other.

Those with generally higher levels of "self differentiation" recognize that they need others, but they depend less on others' acceptance and approval. They do not merely adopt the attitude of those around them but acquire and maintain their principles thoughtfully. These principles, morals, and ethics help them resist lapsing into emotional reactivity and impulsive thoughts and actions. Thus, despite conflict, criticism, and even rejection, those with greater capacity to "self differentiate" can stay calm and rationally "clear-headed" enough to carefully assess facts, less clouded by emotion. What they decide and say matches what they do. Even when they act in the best interests of a group, they choose thoughtfully, not because they are caving in to group-think. They're more objective observers, more capable of calmness under relationship and task pressures. Confident in their own thinking, they can either support another's viewpoints without becoming wishy-washy; or, they can reject another's opinions without becoming hostile with them, or passively disconnected from them.

The ideal outcome here is when two people (beit father and son, or siblings, or husband and wife) both move from an A shape to an H shape, no one falls to the ground. However, if one person is unwilling or unable to do the work—the introspection, the therapy, the communication, the research—all of which are helpful in understanding what the fuck is happening, then they are most certainly going to crash when the other person differentiates. At that point, they have the option to stay on the floor crying, blaming and demonizing the other person…for the rest of their lives, but in so doing, they miss out on this wonderful evolutionary opportunity to grow up and personally develop, and secondly, they destroy a valuable relationship to their own heart.

I see this as a key development for those of us who have graduated from religious faith. When we discover that self-debasing doctrines have left us a depleted shell or ghost-like version of our true selves, we have to find them and meet them, maybe for the first time. We have to get to know them, we have to ask them questions, we have to discover what they like and dislike because they’ve been asked. This is the first step of differentiation. The second is learning how to self-soothe and control our own anxieties. Before, we looked to God or others to comfort us. The third is learning to manage our reactivity, or what Dr. David Schnarch calls, “grounded responding.” Religions remove responsibility from people and when they get our from under that tyranny, they find that they’re ability to respond to circumstances and people is undeveloped. They either over-respond in aggression and thoughtless comments, or under-respond in passive aggression, apathy and dis-attachment.  

The fourth and last element of differentiation is endurance. Stay in the room with difference. Tolerate some discomfort for the sake of personal growth and the healing of relationships. Toughen up. Grow a pair. Start giving yourself and your loved ones the benefit of the doubt. Don’t be so quick to assume the worst in them. Bounce back after defeat or failure.

Ultimately, you know what this is: this is saying yes to what is. This rite of passage is a gift and will reap tremendous benefits in your life and relationships. Like giving birth, if you can survive the pain of transition and the stretching, you will reap a new life. No-sayers want to pretend it’s not happening or that there’s no work to be done here. They may be quick to thrown in the towel or say “there was no hope for that relationship anyway,” which actually may be true, but please, only make that call after exhaustive effort on your part.

Know this: there’s nothing wrong with you if you’re going through this. Don’t blame or shame yourself or anyone else. Tenderly welcome your formerly enslaved self into the 21st century, into freedom, and start looking for ways for that beautiful human being to express their self. Teach them they can self-comfort, they can act from their core and not react from fear, and that they have what it takes to finish strong. 

Don’t forget: Coming up: Saturday, March 18th the Nashville Nones Convention. it’s an all day event to be held at Unity Church in Nashville tickets are $20 at the door. More info at nashvillenones.com and there’s a link in the show notes.  5 weeks later is ReasonCon in Hickory NC, the weekend of April 21st.  more info is available at reasonnc.com.

We taped the conversation with Rebecca Murphy on February 5th, 2017, and the interview with Harry Flook on March 5th. 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.

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 is on this episode was created by “The Barry Orchestra” found at barryorchestra.bandcamp.com

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

Differentiation 

https://nashvillenones.com/

http://reasonnc.com/

harryflook.com

Direct download: Ep_141_Rebecca_Murphy__Harry_Flook.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:56pm CDT
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Today, Cass has a short conversation with Neil Carter on the struggle for ex-Christians to establish personal agency, or what he calls self-possession. After that, Cass and a clinical therapist named Jeanine interview Trav Mamone. Trav is a Bisexual genderqueer atheist blogger and podcaster, who has two podcasts: Bi Any Means and the Bi Skeptical podcast. He blogs on freethoughtblogs.com and has had articles published in many medias including Humanist.org, Splice Today, and has been featured on numerous podcasts. 

The word for today’s episode is tension. And by that I mean a strained relationship between. Between gender identifications, between sexual orientations, between being selfish and selfless, between getting what you want and wanting what you got, between love and hate, between the pursuit of self and the denial of self.

This episode goes out to those trying to discover what or whom they like and are giving themselves permission to like those things or people. To those who eventually, through intensive labor and self-examination, find themselves in the body and mind of what appears to be their own singular unique person and identity, mixed with weakness and strength, joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, and they say yes to it. Welcome to the community of self-lovers who, by simply being honest, make the world a better place. In so doing, we project our waning self-dislike on others less and less and own up to what it means to not only be human but to be ourselves. As a warning, you will overdo it at first and it may get ugly and even painful for those around you. You may hurt others but don’t let that stop your progress because the ones that truly lovely will take it on the chin to see you emerge and will be by your side when the smoke clears. And the others…they just may see you and your imperfectly perfect self and find the permission they need to do their own work toward self-acceptance. But if they do, they just might hurt you in the process, but you’ll recognize what’s happening and take it on the chin for their maturation.  This is part of the tension. The most honest relationship is a love/hate relationship and yes-sayers know how to abide in it and let love win. 

We taped the conversation with Trav Mamone on January 28th, 2017, and February 26th with Neil Carter. 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.

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 is on this episode was created our guest today, “The Barry Orchestra” found at barryorchestra.bandcamp.com

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

http://freethoughtblogs.com/bianymeans/

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/trav-mamone/bi-any-means-podcast

https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-biskeptical-podcast

Neil Carter’s blog

Direct download: Ep_140_Trav_Mamone.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:52am CDT
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Episode 139 Stephen B & Solan McClean

Cass Midgley interviews author Solan McClean about his new book “Learning to Drive Into the Now,” followed by Bob and Cass interviewing Stephen B about his minority trifecta: black, gay atheist.

Many ex-Christians and atheists have discovered the benefits of living a contemplative life, being self-aware, practicing mindfulness or meditating regularly. Sam Harris has written extensively on this. These terms can make us think of self-help gurus or woo-woo but my first guest today posits that people of faith or no faith can benefit from these practices. In particular today, he’s talking about his new book, “Learning to Drive Into the Now: PRND.” You may recognize that acronym as the gears of your car—Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive. But Solan uses them to remember his method of meditational driving: Practice, Relax, Now, Drive. Solan’s a brilliant guy…literally; he’s a member of Mensa. I think you’ll find him interesting.

Stephen B is a young African American man who is atheist and gay. He is a former 7th Day Adventist and was devout in his faith and his pursuit of God. He lives in Chattanooga, TN. 

We taped these conversations on January 22nd, 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.

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 is on this episode was created our guest today, “The Barry Orchestra” found at barryorchestra.bandcamp.com

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

https://www.solanmcclean.com/

http://barryorchestra.tumblr.com/

https://barryorchestra.bandcamp.com

Direct download: Ep_139_Stephen_Barry__Solan_McClean.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:43pm CDT
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Episode 138 Bill Finley

Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Bill Finley. Bill was a latch-key kid that took matters into his own hands as a senior in high school to map his path through Bible college and 13 years of service in the Salvation Army. But his mind and heart were too broad for the narrow path of Christianity, or as he puts it as an arm-chair linguist: "I needed another language."

Here in Nashville on Saturday, March 18th, we're hosting a one day convention called the Nashville Nones Convention, or NaNoCon. This is our second annual gathering. You can find more information at nashvillenones.com. Tickets are just $15 if you register before March 12th and only $20 at the door. Matt Dillahunty is our key note speaker and they'll be breakout workshops.

The second event is ReasonCon 3, being held the weekend of April 21st and 22nd in Hickory NC. This conference puts an emphasis on atheist podcasts and the communities that build around them. Tickets range from $45 to $180. For more information go to reasonnc.com.

In addition, I want to plug two medias that truly illustrate what it means to be a yes-sayer. The novel by Alain de Botton, "The Course of Love," and the movie, "Arrival," starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner.

Alain de Botton's "The Course of Love" follows a young couple, Rabih and Kirsten, for around 30 years from courtship to mid-life. Francine Prose, of the Guardian calls the novel "a sympathetic account of the relationship that begins only after the besotted courtship has ended. Having fallen deeply in love, the couple “will marry, they will suffer, they will frequently worry about money, they will have a girl first, then a boy, one of them will have an affair, there will be passages of boredom, they’ll sometimes want to murder one another and on a few occasions to kill themselves. This will be the real love story.” Journalist Michelle Newton writes, "De Botton argues we are all crazy and broken; that is the human condition. I would argue that the culture we live in is also in need of major repair as it is riddled with anxiety. No wonder the promise of escape via the wings of love is appealing. A strong dose of reality is needed to ensure the long-lasting survival of love. De Botton argues it is a skill to be learnt over time. I am no expert on love, but that is just the point. No one is."

De Botton invites us to put away our fairy tale expectations of what romance should look like and do the hard work of cohabitating with another person just as crazy as us, with just a different brand of crazy. The lie that the grass is greener continues to pull us out of our present reality into a delusional dream-state that says no to what is. I'm convinced that most couples in the world bear some measure of resentment when their partner is praised by others, thinking to themselves, "if you only knew him/her like I do, you wouldn't think so highly of them."  Obviously, this advice only applies to couples who are not in a perilous relationship where they're safety and well-being are threatened. But barring that, being a yes-sayer means deciding if you want your pursuit of companionship to divest itself over and over again with new partners, looking for mr or mrs right? Or if the person laying next to you snoring or drooling or farting suffice for the task?

And lastly, the movie, "Arrival."  “Arrival” is not your typical alien movie. This film has tremendous depth and a message that blew my mind. Amy Adam’s character, Louise, is a Professor of Linguistics and is called on to help communicate with aliens from outer space who have arrived on earth. As she grows more intimate with the aliens, they bestow on her, through dream-like visions, an ability to transcend time by seeing the future. What she does with this information and how she reacts to it emerges as the ultimate message of this movie cloaked in an alien invasion context. What I’m about to say could be considered a spoiler, but I think your experience with this movie will be enhanced by understanding the twist at the end as you watch it from the beginning. Louise is able to see her future self marry the scientist she’s working next to at ground zero, see the daughter that they bear, and see her die as a pre-teen with some kind of cancer. AND SHE CHOOSES TO FOLLOW THAT PATH ANYWAY. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Life’s a journey, not a destination.” To quote movie critic, Jarrod Canfield: “Arrival is a thoughtful adaptation of that adage. Arrival introduces us to a new prism by which we can better view our own lives. There is no salvation in this vantage point, nor protection from death. Instead, Arrival asks a simple question: if you could view your life as an image, a story told in one nonlinear and infinite symbol, would you change it? Would you live it anyway? Louise embraces life for all of its myriad victories and losses, knowing that the journey is worth far more than the final destination.” This is yes-saying. Looking the cruelty and absurdity of life in the face and walking into it anyway. Nietzsche’s formula for human greatness is Amor Fati, latin for love of fate—not wanting anything to be different. No-sayers look at their lives and they say NO, they want things to be different, they puff and pout over things for which they have no control.

We taped this conversation on January 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. 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.

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 is on this episode was created by friend of the show “The Barry Orchestra” found at barryorchestra.bandcamp.com

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

 

Direct download: Ep_138_Bill_Finley.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:16pm CDT
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Episode 137 Steve Dicus

Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Steve Dicus. This is our Redneck Comedy Tour episode because Steve is born and bred in backwoods Tennessee, because he’s funny and witty and truly an amazing thinker. He’s live in the studio and I do mean LIVE! At age 10 he deconstructed the Noah’s Ark story. This was the first of many cracks in the dam that led to his loss of faith. And to add to interesting facts about Steve, this big burly redneck’s vocation is a pediatric nurse.

Visiting with our guest, Steve, I was reminded of my little home town in Newkirk, OK, and all the insecurities that come to mind when I think of my childhood and teen years. In contrast to our guest, who seems extremely comfortable in his own skin, my teen years were racked with insecurities. I felt deeply that I was a disappointment to my father, who died of cancer when I was 17. I’ve spent the rest of my life trying to get more and more comfortable with what it means to be me. To say yes to what is.

Regarding human insecurity, Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne wrote in an article for Psychology Today titled “Why We Feel Insecure, and How We Can Stop:

"Everyone feels insecure from time to time, perhaps particularly in certain situations. You may feel that you’re not as attractive, intelligent, or well-situated in life as you could be. Comparing yourself to the people around you can make you feel even worse. Some people compensate for in securities by trying to elevate themselves at other’s expense. They might see people who seem to have the confidence they crave and envy them. They can even resent them and look for ways to bring them down. The psychologist Alfred Adler, who coined the term “inferiority complex,” referred to this tendency as “striving for superiority.” In the worst case scenario, striving for superiority means that you’re stepping on the feelings of those around you. The only way you can make yourself feel bigger is by making them feel smaller. There are times when insecurities are well-justified, however, and admitting those feelings is psychologically healthy. If you’ve been belittled by a person striving for superiority, it’s normal to question your self-worth. However, recognizing that you’ve been manipulated into feeling this way can help you shake aside that negative self-assessment. You can also be made to feel insecure by actual events in your life: Your romantic partner threatens to leave you or expresses concern about the future of your relationship. Your teenaged daughter shouts in your face that you’re a terrible parent. Or, your parents can make you feel inadequate by pointing out all your failings and missed opportunities. In all of these cases, you wonder what you’ve done wrong. Feeling better in those situations involves separating your contribution to the problem from the other person’s [contribution]. If you’re feeling insecure…this will negatively affect you the most when you believe you won’t be fairly treated, that the weakness your feeling will cause people to dismiss you or ignore, further amplifying your negative self-image. People can handle insecurity as long as they believe someone is watching out for their well-being. Having faith in the friends around you or your partner can help you get through those waves of insecurity that may overcome you from time to time.”

I was with Dr. Whitbourne throughout this article until that last paragraph. I understand that when you are drowning in self-shame or regret, that friends are a great source of comfort and reinforcement of positive image. But I wish she had gone on to say that once you get on your feet, you will need to find your power within yourself, so that you won’t be toppled every time someone with an inferiority complex insults. By ending the article this way, she seems to be saying, “you can handle your insecurity as long as you know someone who believes in you.” But what if that person dies? Or they  turn against you or stop believing in you? If you’re ex-Christian, God may have been that person who knew you best and yet loved you. Where do you find the strength to love yourself now? Where now will you source your confidence?

While I can attest that Dr. Whitbourne’s prescription works—that knowing your mother believes in you is a good start for children, but you will need to grow up someday and believe in yourself. The same is true with the support you feel from friends, or your partner, or your God. Looking to others to prop you up can create a sense of false confidence and power, but it’s not the most authentic, powerful source. It is borrowed from another. It’s still looking outward for identity and validation.  For those of us who adopted the Christian perspective on the human condition being one of total depravity, we have additional work to do to restore a healthy self-image. Even seeing ourselves as good can take some time. But over time we discover that we’re larger, stronger, and better than we thought; we can even be surprised to discover that we held so much goodness. And staying umbilicly connected to surrogate sources of self-acceptance creates blind-spots in one’s psyche where self-hatred can hide and abide.

Since leaving Christianity entirely around 2008, I have spent countless hours in therapy, read a lot of books, listened to tons of podcasts and youtubes, and journaled regularly. I reached a plateau of self-acceptance and personal happiness that was unprecedented in my entire life.  Only to discover a pocket of my psyche where I was still looking outward for validation. I still had work to do. 

I’m learning to find my power within myself entirely, not in the affirmation of others. Now before you think I’m the guy in Paul Simon’s “I Am a Rock,” I think this work is best done in the context of an intimate, hand-picked community. Consider the power of being with honest, mature friends (who are also on their path to greater self-love and respect) walking out life along side you. And imagine you’ve created a safe atmosphere for honest feedback and praise. This is the best of both worlds—namely, your inner self, where you pursue an understanding of one’s self, extend compassion toward one’s self, and access the courage to be one’s self out and proud, and secondly, you are simultaneously surrounded by an intimate community that can keep you honest about your self-image and the experience your presence creates in others. One without the other creates a lopsided development and can be unhealthy. A self-empowered person can can strong and super-confident, while being obvlious to the experience they’re creating (Trump). A weak, insecure person can be surrounded by friends who seem to love them and yet remain self-loathing.

Amy  Cuddy, author of “Presence,” writes: “Presence emerges when we feel personally powerful, which allows us to be acutely attuned to our most sincere selves.” “Power… transforms individual psychology such that the powerful think and act in ways that lead to the retention and acquisition of power. True confidence stems from real love and leads to long-term commitment to growth. False confidence comes from desperate passion and leads to dysfunctional relationships, disappointment, and frustration.”

I also think it is worth noting that insecurity will also be with us. Erich From wrote, “The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.”

John Lennon was so resigned to his insecurity that he prescribed staying busy to subdue it. “Work is life, you know, and without it, there's nothing but fear and insecurity.”

Insecurity is universal. And religion actually augments it. Take the Garden of Eden story; before the Fall, they were naked and unashamed. Feeling watched and judged by an all-seeing, judgmental God is extremely damaging to us being able to say yes to ourselves. I’ve found that the naturalist and scientific view of life gives me a lot of “grace” to borrow a Christian word, for being human. Atheism acknowledges that there is no shame in being alive and conscious. On the contrary, it is a beautiful thing. Albert Einstein agreed, saying, “It stands to the everlasting credit of science that by acting on the human mind it has overcome man's insecurity before himself and before nature.” The facts show that we just are what we are, with no judgment. 

A monologue would not be complete without a reference to Nietzsche. He zeroed in on a phenomena that happens to insecure people. He called Ressentiment, or as we know it, resentment. He said,  “resentment is a reassignment of the pain that accompanies a sense of one's own inferiority/failure onto an external scapegoat. The ego creates the illusion of an enemy, a cause that can be "blamed" for one's own inferiority/failure. Thus, one was thwarted not by a failure in oneself, but rather by an external "evil."

According to Nietzsche, the more a person is active, strong-willed, and dynamic, the less place and time is left for self-pity and resentment of others one envies. In summary, shut up and get busy being you. The world awaits your beautiful, powerful self. 

Listen for this level of confidence in our guest, Steve Dicus. You’ll hear how, at a young age, he learned to trust his own intellect, listen to his own heart, and thus be present as his true self. You won’t hear arrogance, in fact, you’ll hear humility, but you simultaneously experience a person very comfortable in his skin. Not that he’s void of insecurities, but has seemingly learned well how to manage them and say to what is. 

We taped this conversation on January 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 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 is on this episode is called “Reasons” and was created by friend of the show “The Barry Orchestra” found at barryorchestra.bandcamp.com

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

 

Direct download: Ep_137_Steve_Dicus.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:04pm CDT
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Episode 136 Wendy Marsman

Cass and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Wendy Marsman. Wendy was raised as a Fundamental-Evangelical in a Missionary Church who served in cross-cultural missions for 15 years with Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Wendy left organized Religion in 2008, became Agnostic and separated from her missionary husband in 2009 ending a 20-year marriage. She reconnected with high-school sweetheart​ and started a new blended family. Today, at age 47, she, her husband and children are all atheists and figuring out how to live honest lives within reality. Wendy credits hundreds of hours of atheist podcasts like this one for giving her the courage to step out of the Christian institutions where she felt brainwashed. We talk about Christian patriarchy and the suppression of women and how the trauma of finding agency as a woman after leaving one’s faith is often an additional trauma to overcoming the loss of God.  

If you’re a woman and after listening to Wendy’s story would like contact her at marsman.wendy@gmail.com.

Wendy’s story brings up an issue that many ex-Christians run into and that’s navigating the philosophical changes brought on by a deconversion and how we, as married couples, handle this metamorphosis.  This is a big deal and often ends up being the final straw in many marriages that may have already been weakening. I was fortunate that my wife worked through my changes with her own honesty and personal reflection and found that she could find a path for herself that was compatible with mine and, in our case, even better than when we were both Christians. She did, however, discover that her resentment of how she was treated under the Christian patriarchal system grew more intense the further away from it she got. This is always going to be unique to each marriage and the pre-existing dynamics at play there. No two humans are alike and we all bring our own personal histories and pathologies to our relationships. It’s like a chef experimenting with different herbs, spices, vegetables, and meats and discovering that some recipes produce a delicious entrée and others become a disaster he/she would never serve to their patrons. When we try to blend ourselves in intimacy with another, especially in that we are ever evolving creatures, we can see that, in many ways, the odds are against us becoming something beautiful and pleasant and compatible, and we’re truly lucky if it ends up working out, but even then, you both are ever evolving and thus are moving targets. This can be exciting as in ever renewing itself, or it can destroy the relationship because the personal paths grow ever further apart. I point this out to remove some of the guilt that comes with thinking we are a failure when our marriages collapse. Often it is not an indictment on either party, but simply a matter of incompatible spices. We should recognize that it requires a lot of maturity and flexibility on everyone’s part to create a relationship that is mutually beneficial, and that every degree of rigidity and fragility that presents itself lowers the chances of the marriage surviving the metamorphosis that deconversion can introduce into the mix. 

 We taped this conversation on January 8th, 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.

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 is on this episode is by our guest's 17 year old daughter. Here's the YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSZjKwV-kTs

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

 

Direct download: Ep_136_Wendy_Marsman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:41pm CDT
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Episode 135 Homo Sapien (Anon)

Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview an anonymous guest who chose to go by the name Homo Sapien. He’s 52 years old, pretty much a life long atheist, he’s Canadian, and yet he still isn’t out of the closet as non-religious.

This conversation is not about our usual subject—the trauma of leaving one’s faith. But it is about the toxic effects that religion has on society as it suppresses curiosity, creativity, and personal accountability. Mr. Sapien is a brilliant thinker and a great conversationalist, so Bob and I have a great time. This type of episode is as close as we’re ever going to get to a Sam Harris type podcast.

Before we get into our talk with Homo, I want to read a couple of emails that came in this week. I get a lot of emails each week like these and I apologize that some get read on the air and some don’t. It’s not because you’re email wasn’t great; it really is just that these came in a time when I didn’t like any of the monologues I’d written and I these were great so I’m gonna read them. 

The first one is from Matt Schmidt. He writes,

Cass-

I am just wanting to write a quick email to you about your podcast.  I have only been listening for about 6-8 months now, but I have found myself connecting to so many of your guest’s experiences.  I’m currently in the process of deconstructing myself and have been traveling through this new world for just over a year.  Started my church experience in the belly of my mother and been part of the Church for over 40 years. 

As I listen to the many life stories told on your show, there have been many occasions that someone expressed a feeling of confusion followed an anger of betrayal by the narrative of Christianity, which we have taken to accept as reality or even a new-found freedom from the release all the human designed rules and constraints Christianity has taught our wholes lives.  I cannot thank you enough for creating this vehicle to provide reassurance that we are not alone in this process and the feeling and experiences we are going through are not unique.

Everyone has a story…. Keep up the good work.

Matt Schmidt

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

― Albert Einstein

This next one wanted to remain anonymous:

Dear Cass and Bob,

I just wanted to send you guys an email and thank you for the wonderful work that you guys are doing just by sharing the podcast with people. I can't tell you how much it has helped me come to terms with my own godlessness amongst the deeply Christian community in which I live.

See, I grew up Catholic and it wasn't until about six months ago that I finally acknowledged the fact that I was agnostic and likely had been all my life. Now, I'm nineteen and living with my parents who are going through diaconate training and becoming increasingly more theological by the day. They don't know that I no longer subscribe to the belief that there is any god, let alone the Christian God that is just waiting to send me to hell for being queer, so I listen to your podcast to and from church every Sunday to distract from the situation. Please know that it genuinely helps with the feeling of loneliness that comes with being the only atheist in a church, and I don't know if I would still be sane without it.

So thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Kind regards, Anonymous

P.S., if you guys ever want an interview with a queer ex-Catholic college student who is still going to a very southern Texas church with a future deacon father, let me know. I would be happy to throw my two cents into the immeasurable amount of advice and experience your podcast has put into the world.

So, without further ado, this is our talk with Homo Sapien, a mutual friend of a dear friend of the show who has promoted our podcast everywhere he goes, Bob Barnes up in Canada. He’s taken Bob and I to dinner, he passed EA Podcast business cards at the Reason Rally. He’s a great guy, and he introduced us to our guest today. So here’s our talk with Dr. Homo Sapien. 

We taped this conversation on December 4th, 2016. 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.

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 is on this episode is called “Reasons” and was created by friend of the show “The Barry Orchestra” found at barryorchestra.bandcamp.com

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

 

Direct download: Ep_135_Homo_Sapien.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:43pm CDT
Comments[0]

Episode 134 John Loux

Hosts Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview John Loux. His story is one of many tragedies. Today he calls himself an agnostic Christian. He has a huge heart and has given his life to helping less fortunate people. He attends the Unity Church in Kansas City.

Unity Church was a plateau on my journey. I joined one here in Murfreesboro around 2010 or so. I was the music leader there for 3 years before my studies at Vanderbilt Divinity prohibited me from continuing. Their primary text is the Bible, but they are universalists when it comes embracing the path of other religions and the afterlife. They believe Jesus was the son of god but no more than your or I. Their core principles are: God is absolute good and everywhere present. People are good. Thoughts create experiences (kind of “what you think about you bring about” from the Secret). Prayer is connection, and Action is needed. Heaven is not a place, but a state of consciousness; we create our own heaven and hell here and now. We all have an innate capacity to know God through direct experience. The “Christ” is that part of God that is in every person. There is a spark of divinity within all people, just as there was in Jesus. In God we live, move, and have our being.  

These aren’t toxic principles. I know some want to hurry humanity along in their recovery from the concept of God, myself included, but we also need to let ourselves and each other trust our own journey. You do you. Say yes to you and your current needs, feelings and desires. And if that includes some remnant of your old faith, trust your instincts. You’ll know when and if that narrative no longer serves you. No one is better or superior for moving faster or slower or even hanging onto Jesus til you die, because there is no judgment when it comes to people pursuing their own happiness (unless it harms others, of course).

John Loux models a way of making the world a better place one adopted child at a time. It’s his way of being a part of something bigger than himself, and by golly if it feels good and doesn’t hurt anyone—do it!  It is an important human need to say something with your life. To leave your mark. To find a way to express to the world (or whatever part of the world you can touch) with what’s bubbling up within you. We each have something to offer; something to bring to the table and enhance the life and experience of others.  Find your outlet and bring yourself to the world. It’s your world. The world belongs to you and you to the world. Don’t let anyone or anything stifle you or mute you. Many of our guests and listeners are bloggers, poets, songwriters, nurses, authors, teachers, or as in John’s case—parents. Sowing into children that need loving parents. 

The problem of evil has and will always trouble those unsatisfied with the old cliché’ “God works in mysterious ways.” That explanation can feel like a twisting of the knife for those who have known the pain and agony of losing a child or a sibling prematurely. Lately we’ve heard that there’s really no such thing as closure, and that’s okay. What’s not okay, at least for me, is continuing to hold onto to some narrative that overstates our value and simultaneously reveals some expectations and projections of what we think life is supposed to be. Even the word “supposed” implies that we’re assuming or presuming something to be true that may not be. So when a loved one dies, it’s not just their absence we’re mourning, but maybe the deterioration or even death of an old belief as well.

I think that life gets easier and maybe even more fun the more we align our beliefs with reality. Just this week I heard a man who was rendered completely dysfunctional by the untimely death of his wife and daughter in a car accident nearly 3 years later. He said, “my faith is 100% of my survival.” You’ll be glad to know I resisted the urge to ask him that most condescending of questions, “How’s that working for ya?” I’ve said it many times before, and it sounds paradoxical, but getting more honest with reality and letting go of false narratives that formerly comforted us can actually lead to a more satisfied, settled, and sustainable happiness. That the more we stop expecting things from life, the more beautiful and magical life becomes.

I was talking with a friend last week and together we decided that we were just natural stoics. Stoicism comes from a philosophy introduced by a thinker named Zeno around 300 BC. Stoicism laid great emphasis on goodness and peace of mind gained from living a life of Virtue in accordance with Nature. That people should be free from passion, unmoved by joy or grief, and submit without complaint to unavoidable necessity. It doesn’t mean that we won’t feel joy or grief or passion, but that we will not be knocked off kilter by them. Stoics believe that just living is an act of courage.  Seneca the Younger, another Stoic philosopher wrote, “True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so…wants nothing.” This has always come natural for me.  This can be frustrating for people around me who are Carpe Diem types, who want to jump out of bed and suck the marrow out of life, always wanting more, that next thing. As usual, somewhere in the middle is the sweet spot. If a stoic and a sieze-the-dayer could hook up and enjoy the other’s influence on them, that would be powerful combination.

Our guest today, John Loux,  is a singer/songwriter/musician who led worship at the 24 hour house of prayer in Kansas City and other churches. He was raised in a traveling family band through his teens. He’s written a song about the dissonance he feels with the God of his youth in the face of so much tragic loss. We feature this song during the interview. The lyrics read:

How could you do this to me
I'm at the end of sanity
I was just rising from the dead
You seemed it right to push me down instead

Now I'm tearing at your skin
To see what's underneath
A bastard or a friend
Or something in between

Say something, anything
Give me one more hallelujah
Give me one more hallelujah
Say something, cause you're fading
Give me one more hallelujah
Give me one more hallelujah

Are you even real
Or just something we think we feel
I thought I had been loved by you
Now I feel taken for a fool

We taped this conversation on December 3rd, 2016. 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.

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 is on this episode performed by Sam Maher on a handpan in the NYC subway.  

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

John Loux’s website with music

 

Direct download: Ep_134_John_Loux.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:55pm CDT
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Episode 133 Kate

Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Kate. She came out as an ex-Christian less than a year ago to a select few family and friends.  Kate is a 21 year old nursing student. Her husband is still a believer, and his devout Christian parents still don’t know about her deconversion so we hide her identity on this episode. 

Life is the great teacher. It is teaching us things about itself, the natural world and ourselves. I know it’s debatable whether there actually is something called the self. But somebody is listening to the teacher (in this case, Life) and deciding what to believe and keep, or not believe and reject. For example, you’re a high school student and you graduate. One lesson you could hear is, “Hey, I accomplished something. I finished something I started. I hated most of it, but I got through it. That says something about me. It means I’ve got what it takes. That I showed perseverance, tenacity, and discipline.” All our lives we’re doing things that were successes or failures, we overcame it or it kicked our ass, they loved me or they hated me, etc. All the while we’re building a self-image. We’re tweaking our self-esteem and self-respect. We discovering that we’re not umbilically connected to Mommy anymore, that we don’t need her teat, and that I’m equipped, capable, and free to take on the real world. This is a part of becoming an adult. But do you know who misses out on this type of learning?  this wonderful rite of passage? whose maturation is impaired they walk around handicapped until they can do some hard, painful repair work on their psyche? Christians who were sheltered and married young.  Any one of those three things will handicap your personal maturation: Christianity, being spoiled or over sheltered, and marrying young. And you are FUCKED. You hear all your life that you are inherently sinful, your heart is deceitful and wicked and beyond cure, that without God you can do nothing, that without Jesus in your heart you deserve eternal torture. So you’re brainwashed into having no self-respect or identity. Christianity is even harder on women. You are to submit to your husbands, you’re a second-class citizen because Eve is blamed for the Fall, you are to be silent in church, you’re to cover your head in shame and hide your glory.  Secondly, your parents may buy you everything, or rescue you from every peril, or hide sexuality or science from you so that you when finally learn the truth you are cold-cocked by it. And lastly, if you went straight from your parent’s arms to your lover’s and never got a chance to try your wings, get your own apartment, move to a strange city, or bear responsibilities like a job or car payment or doing your own taxes, this is another way in which you haven’t had the opportunity to build your own confidence and self-esteem.

These are ways that the ex-Christian’s life are complicated. There’s a fourth thing I want to highlight that is not associated with Christianity directly, although I think it could be argued that western civilization is so shaped by Christianity that it’s culpable even in this: and that’s the codependency in pop music. Let me play a medley of codependent songs. I must warn you, though, if you were ever a pastor’s wife this is definitely going to trigger your PTSD. I kid you not. Listen how these “lovers” put too much responsibility and cede too much power to another human being.

The sooner one learns one’s competence, the sooner one gets out from under untrue narratives that stunt one’s growth and arrest one’s development, the sooner one believes in one’s self—that you’re brave, powerful, independent or interdependent, you’ve shored up your self-respect with true beliefs about yourself, you feel that you have a voice, that your thoughts and feelings matter, the less pain and suffering you’re going to incur when life’s harshness comes at you. You have to have agency to say to what is. 

We taped this conversation on December 11th, 2016. 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.

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 is on this episode performed by Sam Maher on a handpan in the NYC subway.  

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

http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/

 

Direct download: Ep_133_Kate.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:21pm CDT
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Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Blake Coleman. Blake is a local friend who works in a restaurant with my children. This is a bit of a detour from our regular format. We normally focus on our guest’s deconversion from Christianity and the pains and difficulties of that journey. Today, because Blake decided all man-made religions (which is all there is) were false at age 12, we end up talking about culture, religion and politics in broad, general terms and the three of us really enjoyed ourselves. I hope you do too.

As one who has adopted what I consider to be healthy dose of nihilism, and by that I mean an embracing of the meaninglessness of life, I’m often confronted with just how harsh life is and how difficult it is to be a yes-sayer.  This motto has a boldness to it that musters the courage to look absurdity in the face and refuse to look away…or bury one’s head in the sand. However, life is so hard that I have chosen to use opiates as a means of taking the edge off, not unlike people use religion. I am one who thinks a little depression now and then is apropos given the harshness of life. Hell I’m a white straight male with a beautiful wife and kids living in a 3 bedroom house in suburbia; what do I know about the hardness of life? What about Syrian refugees trying to find food, shelter, and warmth for their crying babies? What about people right up the street from me who live in the projects and try to keep the lights on with a McDonald’s salary. I complain about my shitty cars but at least I have one.  Obviously suffering is relative but make no mistake, everyone suffers. Even the guy with the mansion, private jet, and the 200 ft yacht. Life is hard. Relationships are hard. I often say how miraculous it that we’re even conscious. It’s amazing that we’re here and sensing these emotions at all. But that doesn’t always cut it. Often unconsciousness sounds better than consciousness. This is why we like to sleep a lot when we’re depressed, or worse yet, consider suicide. Sometimes we just have to ride out the dark night of the soul hoping that elusive euphoria that comes around now and then is just around the corner.  Saying yes to this existence and whatever form it’s showing up as at any given moment is challenged by fatigue and cowardice and apathy.  And yet we stay. As Jennifer Michael Hecht wrote, “We are humanity, Kant says. Humanity needs us because we are it. Kant believes in duty and considers remaining alive a primary human duty. For him one is not permitted to “renounce his personality,” and while he states living as a duty, it also conveys a kind of freedom: we are not burdened with the obligation of judging whether our personality is worth maintaining, whether our life is worth living. Because living it is a duty, we are performing a good moral act just by persevering.”

But being a yes-sayer is most applicable to the uber-mensch. To a powerful person who knows who they are and carries a power that affords them the luxury of being a yes-sayer to the real circumstances in which they find themselves. This is not to be confused with the positive effects of also knowing when to say no. If you ever read the Boundaries book, you know that saying “no” to people making demands on your life that you did not sanction is also a bold and brave thing to do.

For someone who has lived a servile life, always thinking of others, protecting and serving all those near and dear in their life, it may be time to say no. As John C. Maxwell wrote, “Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the best.” Listen to this testimony by Paige Burks, on her blog “Simple Mindfulness.”

“I’ve been a people pleaser most of my life.  I’ve done what I think I’m supposed to do to make the people around me happy. Needless to say, my own happiness was pretty low on my list of priorities.  My thinking was that I would be happy when everyone around me was happy.  Funny thing is that this time never comes.  Making everyone around me happy is completely impossible.  For decades I didn’t understand the core tenant of happiness: no one and nothing outside of you can make you happy.  Happiness comes from within.  It’s a choice.

We’re programmed to believe that pursuing our own happiness is selfish.  Like we’re not supposed to be happy until we make everyone else around us happy first.  This comes from the same warped thinking that keeps us from doing things we enjoy because we have to finish all the un-fun work that never ends first.  I’m here to tell you that those rules are total BS.  They’ve created nothing but misery for millions of people.  It’s time to wake up to your new, happier way of being.  It all starts by putting yourself first.  Go ahead.  Be selfish.  You’ll also be happy.

For years I said yes to everything, thinking that I was invincible and could take on more than anyone else.  Even being very organized and efficient, it’s crazy for me to think I could handle this level of stuff – especially other people’s stuff.  When I started saying no to requests (in a diplomatic way) or not volunteering by assistance, I felt bad.  I thought I was letting people down. The more I said no, the more clearly I could see my healthy boundaries – that imaginary line between helping because it makes me feel good and helping because others expect it of me.  The more I worked my ‘no’ muscle, the more people started to respect my decisions. I say no to things that don’t support my values so I can focus my time on things that do.

If we’re a doormat and say yes to everything, people will continue to expect us to say yes to everything.  When we make our boundaries clear by saying no because that’s the healthy choice for us, we teach others to respect our choices.  Saying no to something that doesn’t serve you opens the space to allow you to say yes to something that makes your heart sing.”

So in summary, the Nietzschean yes-saying motto is talking about life and the brut harshness of it. And even then, life can be so relentless, merciless, and extreme that sometimes saying yes allowing yourself to be depressed, take more naps, maybe even cope with some moderate opiate use, so that you can ride that storm out and survive to see better days. 

On the other hand, the healthy no-saying that is prescribed by those wanting to achieve a more-Nietzschesk power status, is about saying no to external demands being placed on you by others. Both practices—yes-saying and no-saying--are working toward the same goal: the empowerment of yourself that comes from knowing, loving and caring for one’s self. 

My admonition is to 1) believe in yourself and 2) put yourself in a community of others who also believe in themselves and where you each can believe in each other. Another great quote from Jennifer Michael Hecht is “We believe each other into being.”

Say yes to life and your ability to stay in it despite its brutality, and say no to people trying keep in you enslaved in powerless servitude so that you can grow the strength to say yes to what is.

We taped this conversation with Blake on November 20th, 2016. 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.

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 is on this episode performed by Sam Maher on a handpan in the NYC subway.  

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

“When It’s Time to Say No” Blog

http://www.jennifermichaelhecht.com/stay/

So that’s our talk w/ Blake Coleman from here in Murfreesboro TN. Great guy. Feels like he’s navigating his life and picking his battles well. 

In closing I want to read an email from a listener who has an interesting twist on her faith journey.  Her name is Jennifer Casey.

Hi Mr. Midgley,

I have been listening to your podcast for about seven or eight months now and have become a huge fan. While I'm not like many of your guests who've de-converted, I struggled for many years trying to "become" a christian, and suffered a lot of anger and confusion about why it just wouldn't "click" for me and make sense like it does for so many others.

I wasn't raised particularly religious, but we did attend church pretty regularly until I was a teenager. When I was a young adult I went back to church trying to become "Christian". I didn't throw myself into it, honestly believing I would naturally have some kind of epiphany and suddenly feel all the certainty that many of my Christian friends felt about the bible.

My best friend is a Christian who's heavily involved in her church. She had always been the image of what I expected I would be like once my "epiphany" came. I envied her complete trust in god - despite the discordance I felt about the bible and god's influence in the world.

Well, it all started unraveling when trying to start a family revealed that I had some medical issues that would prevent conception. So we prayed... a lot. In the end, god didn't answer our prayer, science did. We had a successful IVF cycle and achieved pregnancy. And although we stood up in church and thanked god for our miracle, I became bitter, angry, and confused afterward. I carried around this bitterness toward god for not giving me a pregnancy naturally. I paid thousands of dollars and underwent uncomfortable medical procedures in order to have my babies. I felt like god had cheated me.

Finally though, I had my epiphany. I let go of trying to make sense of a senseless god. The transformation has been revitalizing! Finding your show has added to the peace I feel with my newfound non-belief. One of my biggest conflicts about giving up the search for god was, "What am I if I'm not a believer?" The word atheist sounded scary and like something I didn't want to be labeled as. This is something that your show has really helped me with. Hearing the stories of your guests has shown me that atheist is not a dirty word, goodness and kindness are not dependent on belief in god, and I'm not alone in my non-belief.

Thank you so much for the work you do. Your podcast is bringing some good to the world.

Sincerely, Jennifer Casey

 

Direct download: Ep_132_Blake_Coleman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:01pm CDT
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