Everyone's Agnostic Podcast (general)
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 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
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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
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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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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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