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 Rogier Bos, Skyped in from the Netherlands. Raised by YWAM parents (and he himself YWAMer). He eventually got an M.A. in World-evangelization and worked in church planting for over 20 years. A Behavioral Science class in college started a slow-motion earthquake underneath his evangelical worldview. It all came crashing down in the summer of 2014 when he decided to do a three month experiment of not praying. He thought to himself, "If what I believe is true, than my life should take a serious turn for the worse". Only, it didn't. He realized he was doing better. He resigned his position as Europe Director of the church planting agency he was with, and is now in the process of trying to rebuild his life.

Those close to Rogier call him Ro, so that's what Bob and I call him. He's definitely one of the most devout Christians we've ever interviewed on this podcast. I totally related to his journey.  It didn't bring me to tears in the live interview but as I listened back to it during the edit, it hit me pretty hard in some moments and aroused some very tender... bittersweet memories about those years that Jesus and I were deeply intimate. For some of us...Everything, and I mean everything...every moment of everyday was in communion with Father God through the Holy Spirit and my master-teacher, Jesus. Even as recent as this week I was taking a late night walk in my neighborhood and I kid you not, I reflexively began praying in tongues. And I'm almost 10 years out from believing. Ro's memory of those years is so fresh and his retelling of his story, his bearing of his heart, that he still wishes that God was real is extremely moving. So much so that it could be triggering OR it could be healing to hear another dear, dear soul like Ro's share his heart-breaking story of deconstruction and reconstruction after the dark, confusing backpedaling of one's faith. One of the best quotes from Ro is, he said, "In the end, we are best served by believing in what is true and real, and not holding on to a myth or a fantasy — however nice they are." Today he's professional photographer, he's 48, he and his wife have both left ministry and left their faith, they have three young adult children and we talked to him there in Holland on February 10th, 2018.

We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts.

Also, we offer these podcasts freely. And your support truly makes a difference. You can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge a monthly donation through Patreon. that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast,  or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com.

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 Clair de Lune performed the Philadelphia Orchestra. 

Thanks for listening, and be Yes-Sayer to what is. 

Rogier's photography website

Karen Garst's new book: Women vs Religion 

 


Direct download: Ep_191_Rogier_Bos.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:05pm CDT
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Cass Midgley and Dave Warnock interview Del and Jess from Australia. Del is a lifelong atheist raised by atheist parents. Jess is her daughter in law who was raised Mormon, trained in the track of female subservient wifehood , and forced to marry in the church at age 18 or be excommunicated out of the only community she'd known, including her immediate family. She got out of Mormonism, out of the marriage and is rebuilding her life and identity with the support of Del's son and her newfound community.

This is a story that involves the suppression of women in religion that intentionally and systemically keeps them dependent on men via religious doctrine and threats of dis-belonging.  They're prevented from learning life-skills that don't involve serving their man. And here's a hard fact: there have been countless couples over the years who went to their graves having lived these roles, and I reckon many of them died happy. Now their bliss was due to ignorance, but I'm just saying. My own mother turns 90 next month. She lost her husband, my father, 35 years ago and never dated once because of her love and devotion to my dad. They played their roles willingly, and to best knowledge and my father's credit he never lorded over her. My observation was that he would've celebrated her liberation and power and independence, had she ever wanted it, but she'd grown up dirt poor during the depression. She discovered her dead father's body when she was 17. She and her 5 siblings worked hard to make ends meet for their widowed mother. Sewed their own clothes, stretched every dollar for groceries and bills. She raised us kids and never worked a day the rest of her life because of my father's hard work and smart planning. And the sad part is that she never really knew what to do with herself when he died. She lacked confidence and drive and imagination and grit and even presence of mind, or what we call "agency" to reinvent herself.

I guess my point is that life happened. And by "life" I don't mean anything grandiose or fun or sad or any adjective or modifier. Just life. Human life. Out of a million sperm, the only one with your characteristics made it to ovum. Compound those odd with those by which your parents even met and ended up together. Compound that with the odds that your grandparents on both sides ever met and ended up in bed. And the millions of  sperm out of those three men that became that one that hit paydirt. What are the odds that you exist at all? And I've just gone back two generations. How the fuck do we get off judging our lives at all? Where did we lose the awe and wonder of just fucking existing? And once we exist we find ourselves in these bodies, with these personalities, traits, dispositions and flaws. We find these parents, possibly siblings, eventual friends, houses, towns, circumstances, etc. And we do the fucking best we can every fucking moment of every day just to find life, laughter, meaning, love.

Doesn't the god stuff come and steal our curiosity? our wonder? our awe? Doesn't it cheapen the miracle of life and our very existence? in it's feeble, cowardly attempt to give meaning and comfort? in this way is it not the worst opiate on the planet? we get high, stoned out, lost. Our up becomes down. Good becomes bad. Bad becomes good. Or we could good and bad get introduced to us at all.  In light of the massive odds that we exist at all, isn't judgment evil? Isn't the knowledge of good and evil, evil? I mean that. Our evolutionary survival and adaptation equips us to make wise decisions just fine without the piling on of god-pleasing nonsense.

As our guest today, Jess, sets out to discover, like many of us post-religious people, who the fuck we are and what do want or need from this miraculous, random existence. And at the risk of totally over-simplifying it, could it be that who we are is right under our nose? Not something we have to discover, but rather just be? Yeah, we'll "discover" who we are as we're BEING in real time, but I suspect that it's not something out there we have to discover. It's acknowledging that we're a great big fucking accident, random as fuck, and rare as fuck, and it's perfectly okay to just show up in real time, act on our values, which hopefully include that innate love and connection we all have. Listening to Brene Brown on Krista Tippet's On Being this week she said, and I paraphrase, "it is undeniably true that we're all connected in that we're all these human accidents who find ourselves here without any consent or permission on our part, and the divisions we feel and create are the lies." She said, "we forget that we're connected. And only when Re-Member that are we getting to the truth that has always been there."

Religion, fear, insecurity--all make us try to "fit in," when in fact we already belong. Brown said that when we "fit in" as opposed to "belong," we acclimate to the situation instead of standing for our authentic self." We discover ourselves by being ourselves. We find the path by walking it. Hopefully we have the good sense to surround ourselves with people who get this, who get "me," who have no time for judgment or misgivings of superiority or sense of entitlement or privilege to want more than the already magnanimous fucking miracle that is our very existence. We are what is. This is us. Be. Be. Be. Be. Pease be. Be you with me. Let me be me with you. Stop complicating it with shit that only robs us of the natural awe and wonder we would live with if acknowledge the random chaotic absurdity of this thing we call life. And said yes to what is.

We taped the following conversation on January 28th, 2018. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, we offer these podcasts freely. And your support truly makes a difference. You can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge a monthly donation through Patreon. that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, If you've pledged a dollar per episode in the past because it was within your budget to pledge 4 or 5 dollars per month, please go on patreon and change your pledge from one dollar to to 4 or 5 because Patreon forced us to changed to a monthly pledge and you're now pledging a dollar per month, which might be why our monthly check was half of what it's been for over a year, which is around $400. Thank you for your support. it helps my family resent the amount of time I spend on the show less. or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com.

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


Direct download: Ep_190_Del_and_Jess.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:38pm CDT
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Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo interview Matt Vollmer, a former Vineyard church worship leader, and a gay man. I've never included a straight guest's sexual orientation during the introduction, but I highlight Matt's because it's a big part of his deconversion story. He didn't allow himself to be himself til he was 44. His departure from faith followed his coming out gay by 6 months. Matt grew up in the church, devoted to his faith and active in music ministry from an early age. But all along, he harbored a devastating secret about his sexual orientation. He did his best live a good, normal Christian life while looking for ways to overcome his constant desire for male intimacy. Finally, after going through two failed marriages and fathering six children, he came to a point of acceptance of this part of himself he could never change, and started dating men. Shortly thereafter, he also walked away from religion entirely, embarking on a grand adventure of life like he never before knew was possible.

Joy Hopper's book, "Unspeakable Joy" from episode 186. 

About an hour into the interview, our guest today, Matt Vollmer, references episode 177 with Jeff Haley and Dale McGowan as one that helped him take a less hostile position towards religions and those that still adhere to some form. Talking with a friend this week about some friends who have stuck with their faith, surprisingly, and he said, "some people just need it." He even had a friend tell him,"I can't bear the thought of not seeing my grandma again." Implied in that perspective is, "I don't care if it's true or not, I need to believe it's true in order hold myself together. I would collapse if I didn't have that hope. Now, are we to feel sorry for them? Are we to pity them? I say, NO. Of all people, we ex-believers should have compassion on that guy. As post-faith people, we should know the good, the beauty that that faith did for us (until the negative outweighed the positive), and 2) as atheists we should know that this life is hard leave people alone to equip themselves with whatever they need to be happy or even stay sane. We can have compassion because we didn't stick with it for decades because it was fruitless or meaningless. I felt extremely powerful moments in my 20+ years in the faith. Deep feelings, lot of tears, lots of magical moments. AND we know how hard it was to scrape out of our bones with chisels and knives. So we can have com passion. Com is a prefix meaning “with,” “together,” or “in association.” Passion comes from the Latin word passio, meaning suffering. So it means "suffering with." So when you're family member hang on to their faith, we can say--"I get that. I understand the suffering that makes belief in God a salve to the horror of a godless universe. I understand how seeing life through that lens can suspend disbelief and doubt and provide comfort--I used it for a long time before it stopped working for me." Perhaps some of us have even been tempted to go back...only to realize that's not really possible, without an enormous effort keeping certain knowledge chained up in the basement.

I'm reading Robert Bly's book, "Iron John." It speaks to tapping into the wild man or woman within each of us. He's critical of anything that tries to suppress our wildness or tries to tame us, including religion.  Thoreau wrote, “We need the tonic of wildness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us.” I had a version of this mindset even when I was Christian because I believe it's in my DNA, and thankfully Christianity was unsuccessful at snuffing it out, despite rigorous effort, and that is my wildness. Life is not tame. The universe is not orderly. Fearful people want things to make sense, to be controlled and directed and neatly organized in partitions and walls and boundaries. But nothing about the natural world, including us humans, will ever be successfully caged or controlled or domesticated. And that's not just something I love about life, it's the only way it could ever be. And so the brave must say yes to it. Nassir Ghaemi (Naw-sear Gomy), in his book "A First Rate Madness" argued that the greatest leaders and world changers, including MLK and Ghandi, were a little bit crazy. Normal people don't do amazing things, at least not while they're being normal. By definition, they have to do something abnormal for it to stand out against the vast, boring sea of normalcy. I imagine these people are difficult to be around. Like a tempest is hard to be around. The people around them have to really love them just to endure their shit. But the people that learn to love the wild things have learned the trade-off is they get to live a more vibrant life than they would wer they not around them. It's dangerous. It's unpredictable. It's insane sometimes. It's not for the feint of heart. Have people tried to tame you? Look at the artists that have found their own voice, whether in music or painting or writing. They must be in touch with their inner wildness. Where are the people whose eyes are wide open? They're hiding none of the harshness and ugliness of life from themselves. Where are the people who get angry, get excited, get sad, whose emotions actually flow in sync with what's actually happening. They don't try to do the opposite; like feign happiness when things are sad. This is the work of religions and reality-deniers, whose lives are dominated by their insatiable desires that things be different than what they are. They're the fake it til you make it crowd. But those are aligned with reality and honest with themselves channel those passions into life-giving creativity. Kylie McBeath wrote, "The more we disconnect from our own anger, the more fearful we become." The wild people are not passive, they just fight the right things. No-sayers are working just as hard to fight back reality and yes-sayers are fighting against the temptation to become a no-sayer.

We taped the following conversation on January 28th, 2018.We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts.

Also, we offer these podcasts freely. And your support truly makes a difference. You can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge a monthly donation through Patreon. that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, If you've pledged a dollar per episode in the past because it was within your budget to pledge 4 or 5 dollars per month, please go on patreon and change your pledge from one dollar to to 4 or 5 because Patreon forced us to changed to a monthly pledge and you're now pledging a dollar per month, which might be why our monthly check was half of what it's been for over a year, which is around $400. Thank you for your support. it helps my family resent the amount of time I spend on the show less. or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com.

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

mvollmer2012@gmail.com

 

Direct download: Ep_189_Matt_Vollmer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:29pm CDT
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Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo interview another Canadian guest, 2 weeks in a row. A guest we talked to back in October of 2015 on episode 67, Gretta Vosper.  Gretta is an ordained minister of the United Church of Canada who is an atheist. Her latest book is titled, "Time or Too Late: Chasing the Dream of a Progressive Christian Faith. Her other books include the best-selling "With or Without God: Why The Way We Live is More Important Than What We Believe," and "Amen: What Prayer Can Mean in a World Beyond Belief in 2012." She has also published three books of poetry and prayers.

Vosper is a graduate of Mount Allison University, and received her Master of Divinity degree from Queen's Theological College in 1990 with ordination in 1992. She has been a minister with West Hill United Church in Toronto since 1997. Gretta Vosper is also founder of the Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity.

Despite a finding in September 2016 by the church's Toronto Conference Review Committee that her atheism made her "not suitable to continue in ordained ministry", her congregation has remained staunchly supportive. The matter has been referred to the church's General Council for a decision that could have her defrocked. As of September 2017, the matter remains unresolved.

Her work bridges progressive Christianity and atheism exploring beyond the boundaries of Christian thought. Her website indicates, "In 2001, I made it clear that I did not believe in a supernatural, interventionist, divine being. At first, I identified as a non-theist as I do in my first book published in 2008. Then, in my second book, I felt the need to further distinguish myself from those who used the term non-theist but retained a belief in the supernatural aspects of god; there, I identified as a theological non-realist. In 2013, I embraced the term atheist which means, literally, no belief in a theistic, supernatural being."

I've met Gretta. She's a very impressive, powerful woman. One thing I love about Gretta and her work is the level of honesty she exudes and in fact personifies. Having graduated from Vanderbilt Divinity school, my professors and my fellow classmates looked at things honestly and each found their own unique measure of faith in the supernatural that could remain true to the facts and the truth in front of them. This goes on in academia every day. And yet, these clergy, ministers, and pastors graduate and are ordained and get into their congregations and their pulpits...and they can't say to these poor people in their pews what they just learned in their seminaries. In fact, whole Bible Colleges have been erected to teach people how to REALLY tell the people what they want to hear and our proud to do so. But for those with a conscience, with values and moral integrity who've become scholars in theology find themselves having to be disingenuous from their pulpits if they're going to keep people coming. Enter Gretta Vosper...and David Dark...and Stan Mitchell...and all the many ministers who are walking that tight rope of theology and honesty and integrity and love and trying to find this tiny little space that the Christian narrative and reality share. And there are those that just can't give up the ghost of Jesus but aren't willing to sell their souls, bury their heads in the sand, and hang on to that which they know is only embraced because they need it to be true. Bob and I really enjoy talking to Gretta and I think you will enjoy this conversation too. We enjoy talking to all our guests and helping people through this difficult journey of life, feel less alone. Religion, like any other drug or alcohol can make some people's life easier and destroy others. And one thing you're doing by trying to stay honest, and maintain your agency and freedom as a thinking human being is truly be the steward of your own happiness and not make the values and priorities that work for you the measuring stick of what everyone else should believe. And that can be hard sometime because your epiphanies have brought you so much joy that you want to share them with others. In that way it can feel like your loving them, but when it infringes on their freedom and agency to think for themselves it ceases to be love.

That reminds me of a story from my life. During my high school years I lettered in varsity basketball and I had multiple coaches but this is the tale of two coaches. The first was a guy who was really just a dick. He was insecure. He didn't like himself and so in order to save himself from drowning in his own self-loathing he would elevate himself by lowering others. So when he was critical of your playing or dribbling or shooting, the undertone was judgment, condemnation, and spiteful. Another coach I had later was Jeff Levitzow. I remember his name because a made a wholesome impression on my life. He loved us and we all knew it. He believed in us. He never said as much but you could just feel it. He smiled a lot. We could tell he really enjoyed being with us and teaching us and encouraging us to be the best players we could be in the short time we had together. Certainly he would also critique our playing but it was assessment and evaluation and feedback from an expert. The last thing he wanted to do was crush us or diminish our confidence. Quite the opposite. So that's my tale of two coaches. We, as a team, had no incentive to play hard for our coach or even listen to him, and we sucked. And didn't care. Conversely, we all love playing for Levitzow, we wanted to hustle, he motivated us to excellence. And under his leadership, we made it to the State playoffs for the first time in decades at that little rural Oklahoma high school. So when we're critiquing others or offering feedback, first of all, make sure it's solicited feedback, and secondly, check your heart to make sure you love that person just as they are and not who you wish they were.

We taped the following conversation with Joy Hopper on January 27th, 2018. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, we offer these podcasts freely. And your support truly makes a difference. You can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge a monthly donation through Patreon. that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com.

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 "Lost in You" by Dirty Loops

The GoFundMe for Gretta

Friends of Gretta Vosper Foundation on FB

 

Direct download: Ep_188_Gretta_Vosper.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:06pm CDT
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