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.

Welcome everyone to episode 217 of the Everyone’s Agnostic podcast. I’m Cass Midgley. Today I don't have a guest. My wife and I are headed up to Madison as this is being released to visit our dear friends, Bob and Edie Pondillo. Bob was the co-host of this podcast for the first four years, over 200 episodes. I miss him greatly as I'm sure you do too, if you were listening through those years. But back in September of 2014 we recorded episode 14 with Bob reading an essay he wrote called "Good Without God." It remains one of our most downloaded episodes ever, with over 4,000 downloads.  So I'm going to rerun that reading by Bob as a tribute to him while I'm up thinking, stinking and drinking with him on his porch. One of my favorite things to do in the world.

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


We taped Bob's reading of "Good Without God" in August of 2014

The intro music is by Dave Weckl called "Just Groove Me"

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




Direct download: Ep_217_Bob_Pondillo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:37pm CDT
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Welcome everyone to episode 216 of the Everyone’s Agnostic podcast. I’m Cass Midgley.  My guest today is Rachel and that's all she's going to go by today. She's hear to talk about GRIEF, especially secular tools for coping with grief. This is a great convo.  You're not going to believe how sharp Rachel is. Prepare to be a better person 2 hours from now (if you listen in one sitting; which no one does, so...) Prepare to be a better person and more equipped to deal with grief whenever you get through this episode.  

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.

Between 2002-2011, Rachel moved ten times for her husband's graduate education and career in ministry.  The more she studied the scriptures and served in the church, the more her faith eroded. This was true for her husband, as well. For him, addiction ensued and secrecy abounded.  

In 2010, Rachel left her religious tradition to explore new worldviews, including humanism and applied positive psychology. While she flourished in her newfound freedom, her husband languished... consumed by regret, self-doubt, and anxiety around the potential fallout of leaving the fold.

Two years later, Rachel's optimism was put to the ultimate test when her husband died in a car accident, leaving her widowed overnight with three boys to raise. Although surrounded by loving and well-intentioned family and friends, her support system offered definitively Christian comfort and consolation. This minimized her loss and compromised her ability to process her grief honestly and openly.  

Ever since she's been exploring new pathways to navigate both life and death in the pursuit of wholehearted healing and reality-based hope.  Her desire is to build secular communities of support for people whose lives have been disrupted by tragedy, transition, and loss... including (and especially) the loss of faith.

Rachel is a resilience trainer and grief support specialist. Even though she talks about death and loss a lot, she's into all things mind-expanding, life-enriching,  and joy-inducing. She is currently developing "resilience without religion" retreats through www.FlourishingBeyondBelief.com.

We taped this conversation on July 29th, 2018. 
The intro music is by Dave Weckl called "Just Groove Me"
Thanks for listening, and be a yes-sayer to what is.

find your 25 strengths at https://www.viacharacter.org/

Maria Paplova's Blog - Brain Pickings

 

Direct download: Ep_216_Rachel_on_Grief.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:40pm CDT
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Welcome everyone to episode 215 of the Everyone’s Agnostic podcast. I’m Cass Midgley. Today, my guest is James Exline.

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.

James is a coffee zealot and self-proclaimed coffee snob who is a former jesus follower who became a pastor who was not only derailed by his own cognitive dissonance and loss of faith but his abusive childhood and his mother's solution of feeding him into obesity by age 3, James retained, at no easy feat, to keep his integrity, agency and self-respect to go on to serve at a drug and alcohol treatment center. Today he's an atheist and humanist. Overcoming decades of self-hatred and endless bullying, he is in recovery himself from alcohol, opioid and food addictions, he is passionate about helping fellow addicts and alcoholics obtain better lives through sobriety—this time sans god.

James has written memoirs chronicling his journey from faith to atheism; those memoirs and more can be read on his blog https://jamesexlineatheist.blogspot.com/ He is also a contributing author at https://www.fullydeconverted.com/ and currently works as a barista at Starbucks while he works on certifications to return to work in the addiction treatment industry.

We taped this conversation on July 21st, 2018. The intro music is by Dave Weckl called "Just Groove Me" Thanks for listening, and be a yes-sayer to what is.

https://worldbeyondwar.org/good-people-doing-bad-things/

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2012/nov/12/improbable-research-seeing-upside-down

Cog Dis : the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change. you either give in to it and let it keep your world upside down, or you listen to it and reject the nonsense.

Upside down. I'm not trying to boast here, but all my life I've been a softie. As a young boy I once shot a Robin out of a tree with a BB gun. I went to his broken body on the ground, picked him/her up, petted her, wept and buried her.  I've only ever wanted people to just get along. I hate estrangement of any kind, let alone war and hatred. I hate separation of any kind, especially the kind that gives a person licence to benefit at another's expense. It was the Love I was presented in Jesus in God that I bought into. It was the peace-maker Jesus. We know now that if you have a good heart, that the good-hearted Christianity will appeal to you and make you an even better person, because a good person is always looking, whether they know it or not, for those things that will augment the good in their own hearts and in the world. If you're a person with deep-seeded pain that you've not dealt with, talked through, worked through, then bitterness, resentment, fear, self-pity, victimhood and self-dislike or distrust is going to draw you to the mean-spirited Christianity. We humans don't see things as they are, we see things as we are. If toxicity is running through our hearts and minds, then our insecurity will drive us to find things that confirm the skewed lens through which we interpret the world, not confront it. But Nobel Prize winning physicist Steven Weinberg said, "With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion." Weinberg points to a phenomenon that truly turns things upside down. An otherwise good-hearted person can find themselves thinking, saying, and doing things so inconsistent with their original goodness by giving their freedom and agency to dogmas that flip their morals upside down. Devotion to the wrong things produces devotion to wrong things and it breeds in on itself. We become what we admire. And like all successful scams, they pull your naive, gullible good self in with goodness and then slowly turn things upside down the moment they recognize that you've lost your bearings. And before you know it, you become what you used to hate. Stockholm syndrome. One thing I say when people ask why I left Christianity, its because I somehow mustered enough conscience and agency to spot it. To spot what I was becoming. For me, it was 9-11. For some more recently, it's been the evangelical support of Trump. It's noticing cog dis when you see it. Christians that hate Sharia Law wanting our schools, cop cars, and money to say, "In Allah we trust," and to impose Biblical law on non-bible adhering fellow citizens.  It's Christian racists. Christian anti-education. Christian misogyny. Until some of us began to wonder, "are these betrayals of Christianity or loyalties to Christianity?

Some years ago, the psychologist Albert Bandura listed eight mental tricks people play to disengage their consciences so they can perform the acts of violence they would normally abhor. I present them now with some commentary from Kent Shifferd, a Ph.D. History Professor with over 30 years experience studying Peace:

  1. Moral Justification: one is persuaded, for example, that killing the enemy serves a higher moral purpose such as protecting one’s country or serving God’s plan, etc.
  2. Euphemistic Labeling: people mask the true nature of behavior they know is unethical, such as labeling “enhanced interrogation” for torture, “servicing the target” for shooting the enemy, and “disinformation” for lying.
  3. Advantageous Comparison: as in “What I am doing is not as bad as what they are doing.”
  4. Displacement of Responsibility: Uncritically following orders, as in the Nazi concentration camp workers or SS execution squads.
  5. Diffusion of Responsibility: when a whole group decides on the unethical action or when the action is divided into many subparts, for example, the building of nuclear weapons. (“All I do is assemble this little electronic part.” Or, “I’m just driving a truck bring supplies—I don’t shoot anybody.”)
  6. Disregard or Distortion of Consequences: for example, when harm is inflicted at a distance (as in officers in Montana who guide drones that make “bug splats” in Afghanistan) or dropping bombs from a plane on “targets” even though women and children and old men are being killed below.
  7. Dehumanization: labeling the victims of one’s violence as non- or subhuman, as in calling Vietnamese people “slants” and “gooks” during that war, or Germans “Huns” in WWI, or Arabs “towel heads” and “sand niggers” in the First Gulf War.
  8. Attribution of Blame: or blaming the victim who is seen as deserving the mistreatment or seen as having brought it on themselves. For example, “These German civilians we are killing below should not have voted for Hitler; therefore they are to blame for our bombings.

One of the great dangers of letting one's morality get turned upside down, is our brains can trick us into thinking everything's fine, everything is right side up. Not only ideologically, but literally.

In the middle of the 20th century, an Austrian professor turned a man's eyesight exactly upside-down, but after a short time, the man adjusted and could function as normal. Professor Theodor Erismann, of the University of Innsbruck, devised the experiment, performing it upon his assistant and student, Ivo Kohler. The professor had Kohler wear a pair of hand-engineered goggles. Inside those goggles, specially arranged mirrors flipped the images that would reach Kohler's eyes, top becoming bottom, and bottom top.

At first, Kohler stumbled wildly when trying to grasp an object held out to him, navigate around a chair, or walk down stairs. In a simple fencing game with sticks, Kohler would rise his stick high when attacked low, and low in response to a high stab. Holding a teacup out to be filled, he would turn the cup upside down the instant he saw the water apparently pouring upward. The sight of smoke rising from a match, or a helium balloon bobbing on a string, could trigger an instant change in his sense of which direction was up, and which down.

But over the next week, Kohler found himself adapting, in fits and starts, then more consistently, to such sights.  After 10 days, he had grown so accustomed to the invariably upside-down world that, paradoxically and happily, everything seemed to him normal, rightside-up. Kohler could do everyday activities in public perfectly well: walk along a crowded sidewalk, even ride a bicycle.


Erismann and Kohler did further experiments. So did other scientists. Their impression is that many, perhaps most, maybe just about all, people are able to make these kinds of adjustment. Images reach the eye in some peculiar fashion, and if that peculiar fashion is consistent, a person's visual system eventually, somehow, adjusts to interpret it — to perceive it, to see it — as being normal. Kohler writes that, "after several weeks of wearing goggles that transposed right and left, one person "became so at home in his reversed world that he was able to drive a motorcycle through Innsbruck while wearing the goggles". This automatic, almost-effortless adaptation to visual weirdness is one of many bizarre things that brains do that scientists simply do not understand.

Like many of us ex-Christians, my guest today, James Exline, started listening to and giving credence to, his own head-scratching cognitive dissonances. We took off our metaphorical goggles that had flipped everything and we realized we'd been dooped. However, since we'd been wearing the goggles for so long, our brains had to correct the adaptation they'd adopted. By taking the goggles off, we were seeing reality--things as they really are--but now normal seemed upside down. It was probably due to this alarming revelation that some of us quickly put the goggles back on, saying, "I don't care if my world is not real, I'm not ready to have my world turned upside down." For those of us on whom the goggles where placed at an early age, we'd never really seen the world as it is. And it's scary. Probably the very reason that the goggles were invented at all.  

I want to trust the convictions of the boy in me who regretted killing that Robin. I want to believe myself when I tilted my head at the Noah's ark story, or Jesus saying he came not to bring peace but a sword. I want to be wary of my own propensity to justify violence when I'm coming from a place of fear or victimhood. One thing I love about James' story and so many of these deconversion stories, is that we all know tons of people who will go to their grave believing in the inverted world of Christianity, and some of us feel grateful that if not for the grace of honesty, there go I. There is a resilient human spirit that will not be snuffed out by the Bible. James, like many of us, found that his devotion to Christian doctrine brought out the lower angels of his nature, which ironically only intensified the self-hatred willed to him by his father. His fight out of the dumps to eventually develop an endearing fishing partnership with his aging father is a product of James trusting his own heart--his good heart--that was good all along, despite what the Bible told him so.  

 

 


 

Direct download: Ep_215_James_Exline.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:44pm CDT
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Welcome everyone to episode 214 of the Everyone’s Agnostic podcast. I’m Cass Midgley. I'm going to die. A big thanks to each and every one of our Patreon and Paypal supporters.  Today, my dear friend Dave Warnock and I talk with Marcia Wickham.

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.

Marcia Wickham is an organic farmer from central PA and the mother of eight beautiful kids. Her recovery from childhood incest has led her to a passionate interest in helping other survivors and in building bridges of understanding between the Christian faith and those who have left. She engages in dialogue with pastors to address the ways theology can collide with psychology when it comes to the often messy process of recovery. She’s studied psychology, sociology and philosophy of religion through Harrisburg Community College and has collaborated with Refinery29 in New York on a feature length documentary about recovery from incest that is in its final edit. She’s also done podcasts with Life After God and Women Beyond Belief.

Like all of these episodes, we interview regular people, fighting their own battles, reaching for oxygen, discovering their own selves, wrestling to steal back their own lives, their own agency, formerly hijacked by people and gods and people-made-gods, just to craft some kind of life worth living and find the laughter and joy that is theirs to procure. Buckle your seatbelts. Push your earbuds in tight. You're gonna wanna take this in, drink this in, deep into your soul because we all have a lot to learn from Marcia. This is what power looks like. This is what overcoming odds and violation and people who step WAY beyond the bounds of other precious human's rights. Fuck the takers. Applaud the givers but most of all, WORSHIP the BE-ers. They just want to be. They've detached from the myth of NEED NEED NEED. Not Marcia, she KNEED her malefactor in the metaphorical balls posthumously and reinvented herself anew. This kind of power is what excites me, gives me hope. It's strangely non-violent yet kicks ass and takes names in a way that foments love and tenderness and respect and hope. So with further Beauty, I bring you, Marcia Wickham.

We taped this conversation on July 22nd, 2018.

The intro music is by Dave Weckl called "Just Groove Me"

The segue music on this episode is "Ghost Train" by Counting Crows

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

 

Direct download: Ep_214_Marcia_Wickham.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:35pm CDT
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Welcome everyone to episode 213 of the Everyone’s Agnostic podcast. I’m Cass Midgley.Today, I'm going to feature a short piece by Mark Manson, author of "The Sacred Art of Not Giving a Fuck."

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.
The intro and segue music is by Dave Weckl called "Just Groove Me"
Thanks for listening, and be a yes-sayer to what is.

I don't have a guest today. In fact, this is really just a filler episode that I figure is better than posting nothing. I've had a crazy week, I've got several shows in the can, in fact next week's show is a doozy and I just didn't have the time to do it justice, so I invite you to go listen to episode 35 of Ryan Bell's podcast Life After God with his guest Marcia Wickham to get some background on her story. She's my guest next week. My fellow ex-pastor Dave Warnock sits in as co-host as well. Marcia is a Phoenix that rose out of the ashes of incestuous sexual abuse that was exacerbated by Christianity. She is one impressive woman.

Today I'm going to play a couple of pieces by Mark Manson. I really like Manson and they way he thinks. I relate to it. Sometimes I listen to things that stretch me, and sometimes I listen to things that affirm my crazy thoughts and it helps me not think I'm crazy. Self-acceptance is a big deal. The world would be such a better place if more people accepted themselves. I used to say love themselves or like themselves but I prefer accept one's self because acceptance includes even those things that one doesn't like or love about  one's self. Bob and I used to talk a lot on this podcast about seeing ourselves as connected. The bell tolls for thee type stuff. When I see you I see me. When I'm mean to you I'm mean to me. etc. Self-acceptance is the precursor to any of that even beginning to happen. Why? Because saying yes to what it means to be me is achieved by looking at myself eyes wide open, not hiding or denying or wishing anything were different. With that level  of acceptance, I clap my hands, slap my face, jump up and down and enter the world. I bring it. I bring me. Unashamed. Unapologetic. I don't answer to anyone. The only person I have to be loyal to is me. The only person I need to impress is me, and I don't want to be impressed, so I'm off the hook from having to perform or wow. I don't need anything from anyone in the room. I'm not feeding off of them, or looking for affirmation or validation. I'm enough and I know it because I accepted my reality and said yes to what is.

On the other hand, if you doubt yourself, or reject yourself or deny who you are, you say no to it, then you don't REALLY ever bring yourself into the room. Well, you do, because you have to, but it's really scary for you because you don't really want to be seen because you know how weak you are, how bland, how not funny or not smart or not educated or not clever. Almost everywhere you go you feel out of your league, you're less than and you know if people really knew you and saw you for who you really are they would reject you like you've rejected yourself. So you put on a mask and a cloak and people's desire to connect with you is preempted by your costume because they think they're connecting with you but they're connecting with a fictional character you've created. I've been in relationship with these types for years, and eventually I got the nagging sense that I didn't really know them. If I thought about it or cared enough to think about I'd discover that there's no depth to our friendship, there's something missing. What's missing is THEM. They're not here. They've sent their avatar.

So this ideal of humans connecting and seeing their self in each other is hijacked because humans can't fully connect with ghosts, with hidden people, with guarded people, with fakers and posers.

As Christians we embraced this line of thinking because we were sinners in the hands of an angry God who could only look upon us if we were (and I kid you not) HIDDEN IN CHRIST! We put on the mask of Christ and not only thereby hid from God, but we hid from each other. That's why church always felt like a play. We were actors. Taking our cues from what we believed God wanted from us--in the way of behavior and vocabulary, values and priorities. We got our identity from outside of ourselves. So we were hollow. Shells. The lights were on but no one was home. And when we lost our faith and found ourselves in a godless world, some of us didn't know who to be. We didn't know who we were. We may have carried over some shame from being human, being sexual, being crass, being normal. We may have been tempted to hide. Old habits die hard. But the real world out there wanting to connect with us needs us defrocked, demasked, delivered from self-rejection and fear.

So come on in the water's warm. We're all fucked up. We're all cellular accidents with no owner's manuals. Join the human race. Join this insane, inane experiment of evolutionary biology. Fart if you want, we all do it. Sing if you want. Be angry, but hurt, and most of all be honest. We'll decide how much we like you and how much time we want to spend with you, but don't take it personal, you get to do the same with me. And that's not rejection, that's actually us ACCEPTING each other for who we are. That doesn't mean we'll be best friends, but at least we'll be making these kind of decisions based on the truth of who we are, not some facade.  

 

Direct download: Ep_213_Mark_Manson_Bits.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:12am CDT
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