Everyone's Agnostic Podcast
Cass & Bob interview people you don't know about a subject no one wants to talk about--God. What's not to like?

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
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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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