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

Cass Midgley talks with Casper Rigsby. I had Casper on back on episode 153 and being how he lives right here in Murfreesboro, I invited him over for a little chat about the state of the union and the subject of Identity.

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 this conversation on August 19th, 2018. 
The intro music is by Dave Weckl called "Just Groove Me"
The segue music on this episode is "We Care A Lot" by Faith No More.
Thanks for listening, and be a yes-sayer to what is.

Casper is a prolific blogger and has personally published 7 books, including his best-selling title, "The Bible in a Nutshell." His work ranges from comedic blasphemy to philosophical inquiry and discourse. He was also nominated in 2015 for the Hitchens Prize which recognizes “an author or journalist whose work reflects a commitment to free expression and inquiry, ‭ ‬a range and depth of intellect, ‭ ‬and a willingness to pursue the truth without regard to personal or professional consequence.”

To me, he's a young man, probably around 30, with a strong mind, a big heart, and a feral determination to thrive. He and I have very different histories. I don't know much about this because he doesn't talk about it much, but he served time in prison and was involved in white supremacy. Perhaps that's why he's so vehement now against it. I love him and I think you'll gain something from being with him for 45 minutes.

Message from listener: "Hi Cass, I really loved and appreciated the episode with David Hayward. My deconstruction began almost two years ago when I lost my 21-year-old daughter in a tragic UTV accident in which she was a passenger. She was home for the weekend from her Air Force duty station in SC. I lost a husband at 24 that was very difficult, but losing my daughter has destroyed my foundation and all that I knew. I was a student pastor at the time and had been an active devout christian for 3 years. A short time, but I was all in. I went from being a believer to a disciple very quickly. I had grown up "knowing" there was a god and I was supposed to get right with him one day. And so I finally did. Joined the church and served with all that I had to give...three years later on a Sunday, my best friend, part of my everything, was taken from me. The night we lost Morgan, my faith began to collapse. Where was god when I prayed for my child to survive. Where was he when I was lying on the floor day in and day out in agony wishing for my breath to escape my body and never return? Where was he when all the people abandoned me and my family?  Where was he in all of my questions and pleadings? Nowhere, I learned. I learned the night of the accident that prayer doesn't work. It's nothing but mere words to a sky. Soon after, within weeks, the pastor informed me "I needed to be at church, so people could love me." I guess meeting me in my brokenness at my home was too much. I needed to be in their comfort zone. I couldn't comply. The church, the people were soon gone...before the casseroles could get cold actually. It was then that I learned that the holy spirit was a lie. People aren't changed by anything. They are the same selfish people they've always been. That was step two in my deconstruction. Step three was realizing that when I stopped brainwashing myself with singing, bible reading and teaching, and Sunday services suddenly god was gone. I never felt him after I lost my child. Not one time in my pleading, begging, and praying for something, anything, did I get a reassurance that my child was in Heaven, he didn't do this, he was good...or any of the stuff I needed. I learned it was because he was never there. It was all in my head.....Step four was when I enrolled at university to pursue the undergraduate degree my daughter was in the process of getting. I had my children young so I put off getting my degree to raise them and work. I wanted to do this to honor her. As I began taking classes, at a christian university of all things, I began to learn about the early church and its beginnings in a western civilization class.....this added to my newly formed belief that the church and religion were nothing more than man-created ways to handle the existential issues of life. Well, that and a way to rob men of their money and time. I also began exploring on the internet and in books all the things I had closed my mind to to keep from being of the world when I was a believer. Books, articles, websites, etc that were filled with rational information helped me see that what I was learning and feeling was legitimate. I soon left the christian university and transferred to the university my daughter attended before joining the air force. I'm in my sophomore year there now. I say all this just to give some background as to why I related to this episode with David so much. In addition to my husband and I losing our daughter, we lost our faith. Our complete beings were attacked and therefore so was our marriage. It has definitely been hard with both of those combined weights attacking it from all angles. We are fighting though. We have 16 years together and we both believe its worth the uphill climb. Some days are really hard. Neither of us is the same person, and we are having to relearn each other, grieve, help the other grieve, help our surviving daughter (who was at the accident that took her sister) deal with PTSD, and create new meaning, all while doing the necessary tasks that life demands. I have related to many of your guests and I'm thankful for the echo chamber and think tank that you provide with this podcast. Validation is a very important thing for humans in order to not feel alone and isolated, which is very easy to do in a situation such as ours. I need it in the loss of my child and grief, and I need it in the loss of god and the grief that that brings. Thank you for your wisdom and for sharing your own journey, as well as those of your guests. What a great way to create meaning in your life, helping us who are new on this journey. Much love to you Cass.  (I added her to the private support group on FB - ep207 death, ep216 Grief)

Leisha: Thank you for adding me to the group and for sharing those episodes. I will most definitely be listening. I am grateful for this community. Damn this is a lonely place. Especially where I live: Rural, bible-loving, preacher-growing, conservative sweet home Alabama. Ugh... I love the place but finding like minded people is extremely difficult. Online communities and support are all I have with the exception of my support group for bereaved parents, which is full of people who believe they will see their child in heaven.
My daughter lived life fully and on the edge, never scared of anything... I was always fearful of losing her and then I did. And the Christian's wanted me to believe it was god's plan. Well the hell with that and their god... what an asshole. I'd rather accept that hes not there than think he chose, caused, or planned this for her or I. 🙂
Cass: Yep. THAT god can't exist and even if he did, I'd never bow the knee to him. I've believed for some time now that atheism is the best practice of theism, bc by ignoring him/her/it, I find myself looking at my fellow humans instead of heavenward. I find I care more, feel more, trust more, live more and that's what a good god would be pleased with. Besides, he/she/it has to be ineffable, unfathomable, and unimaginable, so the fool says "I know God. What He likes, dislikes, approves, disapproves, etc." I know immediately, I'm dealing with an arrogant, power-loving, insecure, scared, delusional person, and I turn tail and run. 🙂  Agnostic atheism produces the best human being, morally and ethically. In my opinion. 🙂
Leisha: And I agree. I find myself more caring and compassionate without religion. I'm a good person and I want to do good and be altruistic in nature because I know other humans love/suffer/hurt as I do. I dont need a crutch or a moral law-giving god to make me do or be good and I have realized that I haven't turned into a new person so much but really just rediscovered who I was the whole time. I am my own agent, my own judge and forgiver, my own support, and my own means creator. It's very freeing. I've had a couple of people see a few tweets I've shared that had atheistic ideas or views reply with, "this makes me sad." I reply back with, "dont be sad, if there is any area of my life that I actually feel good about, it's this one. I'm good there." Yes it's been a process and a difficult one but one that's grown and stretched me so much. Sometimes my brain is just like, holy shit, stop with the information." And my husband and daughter probably say the same thing 🤣 I just wish I could have discovered it all without losing my daughter. 😞 I am alot like you, I think,  in the fact that my wheels are always turning, my mind is always inquiring, digging, grasping, pondering, contemplating,  and philosophizing. Its exhausting but I think I would go crazy if I never got any of it out.

I've been fascinated with identity recently, in a dialectic way. On one hand, the search for "who am I" type identity crisis is often over-played. Friend and former guest on this podcast, Tony Woodall writes, "99% of becoming who you really are...is turning loose of who you think you are supposed to be." Mark Manson, the author of "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck“ writes, "My recommendation: don’t be special; don’t be unique. Redefine your metrics in mundane and broad ways. Choose to measure yourself not as a rising star or an undiscovered genius. Choose to measure yourself not as some horrible victim or dismal failure. Instead, measure yourself by more mundane identities: a student, a partner, a friend, a creator. The narrower and rarer the identity you choose for yourself, the more everything will seem to threaten you. For that reason, define yourself in the simplest and most ordinary ways possible.This often means giving up some grandiose ideas about yourself: that you’re uniquely intelligent, or spectacularly talented, or intimidatingly attractive, or especially victimized in ways other people could never imagine. This means giving up your sense of entitlement and your belief that you’re somehow owed something by this world.”

But what if you're Hispanic in America. What if you're Arab-American or African-American. What if your gay or trans? why does the culture simultaneously hold those identities in contempt while claiming to not see them? People have claimed to be colorblind when it comes to race, but what if people of color don't want to be invisible?

Here's some James Baldwin quotes on the subject: "An identity would seem to be arrived at by the way in which the person faces and uses his experience. If you're treated a certain way, you become a certain kind of person." I'm a firm believer in like breeds like when it comes to treatment of others. If a teacher conveys respect to his/her students, the students are more likely to return that respect. When parent's confer love to their children, those children are more likely to be loving to their peers. And the opposite is true of hateful or judgmental parents--the children will turn out hateful and judgmental. Again, James Baldwin, "I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain." And the sneaky thing about bigotry, judgment, racism, or hatred is that often the people that wield these attitudes don't think of themselves as such. Baldwin says, "We have all had the experience of finding that our reactions and perhaps even our deeds have denied beliefs we thought were ours."
All this to say that, in this world, we're all trying to find our place. Where do we contribute? Where do my gifts shine and help others? How do I contribute to the betterment of things? But if those very things which make me ME are stigmatized negatively, how will I ever be given a chance to prove myself virtuous? Pigeon-holing people as such-and-such because of something about them is SO goddamn presumptuous, narrow and ignorant of how complicated we are as humans. Atheists must be immoral, polyamorists must be slutty, Christians must be judgmental, blacks must be lazy free-loaders of welfare, rednecks must be stupid, Arabs must be anti-freedom, women must be over-sensitive, etc. How fucking lazy is it for someone to assume because someone is "blank" they must be "blank?" We might have to think, we might have to give each person we meet a clean slate, we might have to honor the identity of their ethnicity, orientation, religion, or occupation while stopping before broad-brushing all people who share those identities. Goddamnit, we're complicated. NOTHING about this is simple! Nothing about sharing space with other human beings is easy, even if you're family.

Agent Smith is an artificial intelligence character in the Matrix films who is the primary antagonist. He hates humans. He reminds me of the Biblical mindset that hates humanity and wants something better. It's not the only biblical mindset, but it is the primary in my opinion. It also resembles racism or any other bigotry that elevates itself to superiority over reality. These are no-sayers, mind you, wishing that things were different. (play clip)

In this next clip, Agent Smith is fighting Neo, the protagonist in the series, and does not understand why he cares. Like my guest today, and myself, and many of you, if not all, we care. You wouldn't be listening to this if you didn't. You get out of bed everyday because you HAVE found meaning and purpose in a godless world. You haven't let naturalism infect you with complete nihilism. Why? Well that's the question Agent Smith poses. (play clip)

 

My interview today is political in nature. You may wonder how that fits into the deconversion theme of this podcast. Well it doesn't, really. But I'm concerned about the future of this country because I know that all empires eventually fall. And they've fallen for the very reasons that are happening today. And you know, what the fuck, why not try to stop that? why not resist? and this is my small way of resisting. I'm going to play a clip from the 1970 movie, "Catch 22." The history of that phrase comes from the military. The novel looks into the experiences of airmen who attempt to maintain their sanity while fulfilling their service requirements so that they may return home. While most crews are rotated out after twenty-five missions, the minimum number of missions for this base is eventually raised to an unobtainable eighty missions. Compliance with this insane number invokes regulation 22 for which there is a catch: An airman would have to be crazy to fly more missions, and if he were crazy he would be unfit to fly and he get sent home. Yet, if an airman would refuse to fly more missions, this would indicate that he is sane, which would mean that he would be fit to fly the missions. Hence the name, Catch-22. In this scene, an American soldier gets into a talk with an old Italian owner of a whorehouse about the future of America. (play clip)

Here's the rub: by wanting America to be great again, we have to believe that we're superior. We know Trump believes in eugenics, which is the science of improving a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics. Developed largely by Francis Galton as a method of improving the human race, it fell into disfavor only after the perversion of its doctrines by the Nazis.But it sounds like something Agent Smith would endorse, does it not?

The catch is, wishing things were better is a trap. In some ways, those of us who are opposing Trump and this racist agenda toward "greatness," we are espousing normalness, humaness, reality. Saying yes to what is. What Casper and I talk about today is not wishing things were different, but the opposite. It's calling down those who do wish things were different. Christians wish it. Nazis wish it. Trump wishes it. Uber-wealthy one-percenters wish they had more stuff. People want to live forever. People want life with no pain. They want a skinnier waist, a sharper nose, for things out of their control to be different. Contrast that with people who want to stop unnecessary shit, like cancer, or starvation, or climate change. They've said, "yes, cancer is upon us, AND we can stop it, or die trying."

If you want to make the world a better place while embracing the realities of our complexities as a species, namely our different skin colors, our different cultures, beliefs and religions, then you are simultaneiously a yes-sayer and a world-changer. If you want to make things better by denying reality and the complexities of being human, then you're a lazy, fearful coward in the line of Agent Smith and Donald Trump.

 

Direct download: Ep_220_Casper__Cass.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:46pm CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley interviews David Hayward. 
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.

David Hayward was baptized Anglican as a baby, came to faith in a Baptist church when he was a teenager, changed to Pentecostal in his late teens, married another Pentecostal named Lisa, was ordained Presbyterian, pastored a Vineyard church, and planted others. He has a Masters in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, as well as a Masters in Religious Studies and Ministry from McGill University in Montreal. But in 2010 David left the professional paid clergy. He is still passionate about how people can find and follow their own spiritual path with courage and joy, as well as in how people can freely gather and form community in healthy ways. David started a blog called nakedpastor in 2006, and initiated his public analysis of religion, religious community and spirituality through his writings, art and cartoons. Thousands of people are challenged and entertained by nakedpastor every day. His art, cartoons, writings and book have found their way all around the world. David lives with his wife Lisa on the beautiful Kennebecasis River near Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. They have 3 grown children close by.

I just want to relax. on wishing anything were different. I am most healthy when I release and accept...that which I have no control over. We don't really realize how destructive expectations are, do we? Imagine someone your sideways with comes to you, humbles themselves and tries to repair the breach and because you were expecting it, the beauty and miracle of it is lost on you. It may not have measured up to your expectation and thus lost on you. The degree in which I wish things in my life, over which I have no control, were different has a direct and immediate effect on my satisfaction with my life. Release and accept. Say yes to what is. Because, unlike my Christian life, where I was compelled to carpe diem, to keep pressing in. One scripture that I memorized and quoted almost everyday in my quiet times was Philipians 3:7-13. And it demonstrates a disdain for satisfaction. Even now, that machosim, that rigor appeals to something in me, but I now consider it to be something life-draining, and that is...never let a guy relax, be content for a goddamn minute. It's saying no to what is and constantly trying to get better, be better, be more pleasing, be more spiritual, and just reciting that again sounds exhausting and reminds me of the debilitating effect that had on my fatigue and frustration. Today I want to be satisfied, I want to relax. I want to say yes to what is. To quote Nietzsche (and I'm paraphrasing), "“I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful that which is out of my control; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati--the love of fate: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. The only thing I will say no to is looking away. I will not look away. I will not bury my head in the sand and deny that shit is happening. I will look at my life with eyes wide open. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer. It's my formula for human greatness: amor fati: that I want nothing to be different, not in the future, not in the past. Not only that I would endure what is necessary, much less to hide it from myself, such idealism is wishful thinking and a lie, in the face of reality— , but instead to love it...to embrace it as mine to learn from, within which to find truth. Amor fati: this is the very core of my being—And as to my hardships, failures and mistakes, do I not owe much more to these than I owe to my successes? To these I owe a higher kind of health, a sort of health which grows stronger under everything that does not actually kill me!—To these, I owe even my philosophy, which is great suffering is the only and ultimate emancipator of spirit, for it teaches one that living fearfully and suspiciously is constantly making mountains out of molehills. Only great suffering; that great suffering, under which we seem to be over a fire of greenwood, the suffering that takes its time—forces us philosophers to descend into our nethermost depths, and to let go of all that which we formerly staked our humanity which was a trust that everything happened for a reason, that life was good and fair. No, acknowledging that chaos runs the universe, not order; that absurdity is the norm, not meaning or purpose. Suffering. Beauty in it all. Not hating it; loving it. By saying saying yes to it. Release and accept."

In this talk with David Hayward, we discover that he and I were both muscians in the Lort's service. Writing Christian songs. Well, just to show how truly shameless I am, I'm going to play a song I wrote and recorded in 1983 as a 17 year old, and it's the opposite of the philosophy I just prescribed from Nietzsche, and directly taken from Paul. It's about never being satisfied. Contrast that with today when all I want in these last two or three decades of my life is satisfaction. Relax, release and accept.  

We taped this conversation on August 19th, 2018. 
The intro music is by Dave Weckl called "Just Groove Me"
The segue music on this episode is "If You Could Read My Mind" by Gordon Lightfoot. 
Thanks for listening, and be a yes-sayer to what is.

 

Direct download: Ep_219_David_Hayward.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:09pm CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley interviews Tanya Harrison. Tanya is 44 years old, totally blind since birth. She explored a variety of Christian denominations for most of her life in an earnest quest to find God. Today she's convinced that God's not anywhere! And now has more time to dedicate to her passions, which include her dog, Molly, her friends, music, reading, Star Trek and psychology. She writes, "It is a wonderful feeling to have a mind I can trust, not having to feel guilty about leaning on my own understanding." As you'll hear, she is quirky and eccentric. Tanya suspects she gets that from her mother and as Tanya is shunned by her mother and her sisters, she misses her mother dearly. Her life motto is "live life to love and laugh."

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 this conversation on July 29th, 2018. The intro music is by Dave Weckl called "Just Groove Me" 
The segue music on this episode is a song that Tanya chose that she says picks her up when things are getting her down, "Since I Met You" by the Avalanches

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

 

Direct download: Ep_218_Tanya_Harrison.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:39pm CDT
Comments[0]

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
Comments[0]

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
Comments[0]

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
Comments[0]

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
Comments[0]

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
Comments[0]

Welcome everyone to episode 212 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 guest is Pat LaFord Green. 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.comWe taped this conversation on July 21st, 2018. The intro and segue music is by Dave Weckl called "Just Groove Me."  Thanks for listening, and be a yes-sayer to what is.

Pat decided before coming on this podcast, because he's been featured on a few, that he was gonna be real. He was gonna relax and not pre-imagine what it was going to be, or plan out what or how he was going to present. He was going to be Pat. Not "just" Pat, or "just" Cass, because that intones "only or merely." And there's nothing mere about Pat or me or you. On the other hand, "merely" means only as specified and nothing more. So in this sense, Pat did show up as merely Pat and nothing more. No showboating or posturing or masquerading. Just Pat. Which sounds like something Mr. Rogers would say, "just you." And we're enough, aren't we? We're all a mixture. We're all confused. We all succeed and fail and we vary on what those words even mean. We avoid placing judgment on the art that is us, don't we? Hopefully we do, because if a painter or sculpture or poet or songwriter or woodcarver sets out to express themselves in ways that they don't even know where it's going to go when they put paint brush to canvas, then the Big Bang certainly didn't know either where this was going, did it? So everything is a big "OOPS" isn't it? How many of us are accidents where our Dads were in such ecstacy in climaxing balls deep inside our mom's that we're really just a big "oops?" When we see the reality of this chaotic mess we find ourselves in we lose entitlement and expectation and privilege, don't we? We're not privileged to be here. A privilege is a benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most, and when it comes to our biology, our cellular makeup, the fact that we're all animals and accidents at best, is the truth. Any narrative that lifts us above another is mythology, and a pernicious one at that. Scared people kick and scratch to elevate themselves above others. It's only true in their imagination. They love the elusion, don't bother them with the facts, their "enjoying" their superiority, their lie, their bedtime story that calms their fears of being stuck in an elevator with 10 other strangers for 24 hours where body odor and urine and feces and rage and panic would manifest, maybe even death. They might have to be in the same room with a corpse, which is basically 150 pounds of mud that was formerly animated by electronic synapses firing impulses and orders to the eyes and mouth and now is gone to who knows...Where was I. Oh yeah, Art. Isn't it lovely?

In art, especially in the medium of movies, we have the full gamut of "feel good" movies and horror. I've often wondered why some people find horror movies entertaining, because I personally find them ugly, repulsive, disturbing and vile. But I'm suspicious that my place of privilege far removed from the real horrors of life, raised white straight cis male upper middle class by parents who loved me and never fucked me. If my childhood had been a horror instead of the blissfully ignorant and naive pampered version of a super-loved, mono-ethnic, Christian rural upbringing, I might find some entertainment, even comfort, from horror films. It seems that the privileged don't want to be reminded of the horrors of reality, whereas those whose reality and childhood were already a horror, perhaps they find comfort and entertainment in the mockery and public display of the horrific. There's some fascinating scholarship out there studying the existential connections between the art-horror genre and humanities' attraction and avoidance of anxiety and repulsion.

I learned a word when researching this subject: intersticial. It has to do with a small or narrow space or interval between things or parts. In the Hegelian dialectic, its the synthesis, but in the case of horror, it's disrupting and/or disturbing.  On the question of what makes a monster horrifying, Noël Carroll, in his seminal work "The Philosophy of Horror," argues that monsters are ‘interstitial’ or ‘impure’. They are not entirely alien to us, but rather fall between familiar categories: for example, vampires, zombies, and Frankenstein’s monster are somewhere between living and dead, werewolves and the the Fly are both human and beast. The Exorcist and The Omen, even Christ demonstrate something part human and part supernatural entity.

These hybrids throw a wrench in modern western binary thinking. And some of us are ready for complexity, nuance and even outlandish, because perhaps we're bored with chocolate and vanilla. Maybe we're not afraid to be wrong or that life is beyond our understanding. We don't have to have it all figured out in order to have fun. In fact, quite the opposite.

Well my guest today, Pat Green vomited the fruit from the knowledge of good and evil and decided that he didn't need such shallow knowledge, nor did he need to know or place judgment on things as either good or evil. He chose neither. Pat is a former minister of 16 years who left ministry and entered the secular life around the time his son came out transgender.
After attending Christian Life College with an undergrad in Pastoral Studies he was a youth pastor in a smattering of Assemblies of God and non denominational churches. By the time he started pastoring his own church, LifeBridge Church in Lockport Il (near Chicago), he had jumped ship and went into liberal land.

Between 2012 and 2013 his life entered an upheaval and he found himself divorced, driving a taxi, and loving his LGBTQIA+ son for all he was worth. Together, they rode the storm and Pat was left with no faith in a god, but a lot of love.
Today, as a photographer, writer, and a storyteller, he is trying to navigate his way through this new existence in a free market capitalist world he does not fully grasp.
His professional writing has been seen in various publications both online and in print for over the last 12 years. He was a regular contributor to 22nd Century Media, Aquarius News, and also in the Secular Spectrum on Patheos with his blog Tranparent Expedition.
Pat also wrote a book in 2015 titled, “Night Moves: An Ex Preachers Journey to Hell in a Taxi“, which is available online on Amazon. His professional photography has been featured in various newspapers, websites, and other formats since 1985. Most recently, Pat is a proud member of The Artist Guild Of Lockport and the international group RAW Artists where he volunteers as an ambassador helping new artists showcase their work in shows.
With Pat’s passion for his son, his new life is told as honestly and as openly as he can be. He misses Disney World, financial solvency and having a back yard to mow.

 

 

Direct download: Ep_212_Pat_Green.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:49am CDT
Comments[0]

Welcome everyone to episode 211 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 guest is Peter Montoya. This is the 3rd time I've had Peter on the show. You can get his full story back on episode 130. He was also featured briefly in episode 163, on Dr. Marlene Winell's second appearance. Peter is all about living a fulfilled life and he sees community as an integral part of achieving that goal. For us ex-Christians, church used to be the main place we connected with a community. Some of us had bad experiences but it's likely that even those were the exception and not the rule. I know I used to look forward to seeing everyone and feeling that energy of people gathering every Sunday morning. But what now? How do we find community after faith is gone? Peter has some tips on how to do just that.

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 this conversation on June 25th, 2018.

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

Featuring "People" by Barbara Streisand. 

The outro song: You've Got A Friend In Me (From "Toy Story"/ Soundtrack) by Lyle Lovett & Randy Newman.

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

Perhaps it's not about finding community but creating one. If we wait to be found or to find our people, we could possibly die waiting. Some of us have the means to CREATE a community. As you'll hear in this conversation with Peter Montoya, there are steps one can take to create a recurring meetup with friends. One way that you can calm yourself around this audacious and ominus undertaking is that even if you just meet once a month, at the end of a year you can look back and see 12 meetings that changed lives. It doesn't have to be a big deal or life changing each meeting. It's the 30,000 foot view that says, "we make the path by walking it." One foot in front of the other and before you know it, deep relationships are formed, and enriching exchanges are had. For those who find themselves in remote locations, there is the internet. Charles, a long-time friend and supporter of the show, started a virtual community that meets every other week on a platform called Zoom that functions like Skype where you can see and hear the other participants. We have listeners all over the English speaking world and many don't have community in their geographical proximity, so Facebook and groups like Charles' EA Virtual Small Group can help serve such people with a means to connect to others. It's SO important. .

Dr. Mark Hyman said, "The power of community to create health is far greater than any physician, clinic or hospital." If you're interested in being a part of the communities that have formed around this podcast, you can message me on Facebook or email me at midgley.cass@gmail.com and I'll help you get connected to virtual communities and support groups specifically designed to encourage people who no longer believe in the supernatural, are opening their eyes and ears and saying yes to reality and they're feeling the void of lost community.

Relationships are a two way street. They will be dynamic in direct relation to how honest both parties are. If you've done the deep, hard work of accepting yourself, you bring that unhidden person to the gathering. If you encounter someone who has also done the deep, hard work of accepting their self, you will be able to assess the real potential of that relationship. A natural byproduct of accepting one's self--flaws and all--is a greater capacity to accept others--flaws and all. The joy and depth of a community is directly correlated to how honest the participants have been able to get. A Christian author, Catholic actually, who I respected when I was a Christian and still do, is Henri Nouwen. He said this, "Solitude is very different from just a 'time-out' from our busy lives. Solitude is the very ground from which community grows. Whenever we pray alone, study, read, write, or simply spend quiet time away from the places where we interact with each other directly, we are potentially opened for a deeper intimacy with each other."

We're learning that this tension that we all feel between introvert and extrovert is not black and white. We're all both. We get energy from time alone and from time with others. As the steward of your own happiness and health, only you know what you need and your needs are unique to you. We're learning that the "one size fits all" mentality of conformity religions is not honest nor real. Thus, we are free to navigate our relationships and free to let others navigate theirs. Some of us are uncomfortable with the thought of Sunday Assembly or Oasis or any kind of forced intimacy, other's love being in these gatherings, engaging with others, meeting new people. However, most of us are both--sometimes we do, sometimes we don't. And that's my point. As in most things I say, I almost always end up saying "you do you."

The acceptance of what is, the acceptance ourselves, each other, the form the moment is taking, empower us to navigate this tumultuous, unpredictable world that we could be yanked from at any moment, give us the smile we need to calm down, to pick our battles and our fucks better, to get excited about the right things, to give ourselves permission to take in this magical moment, with these beautiful disgusting people, eating this food that we'll only shit out later, drinking these drinks that we may regret in the morning, acknowledging the unavoidable awkwardness that occurs when any two people try to walk up to each other and make something happen.

This is the dance. This is our lives. May we find each other, accept each other and benefit somehow from the shared experience that is the human condition.

http://thriveunion.org/

 

 

Direct download: Ep_211_Peter_Montoya_3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:15pm CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley's guest is Kai (anonymous). Kai left home when she was 19 moving to Australia to study art. She counts this as a pivotal time in her life that created the space to begin examining her upbringing in the Seventh-Day Adventist church.  

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 this conversation on June 30th, 2018. 
The intro music is by Dave Weckl called "Just Groove Me"
The segue music is "I'm Coming Up" the 1980 hit by Dianna Ross
Thanks for listening, and be a yes-sayer to what is.

Having grown up in an almost cult-like Adventist community, Kai struggled for many years with the knowledge that she was gay and what this meant for her salvation according to the church doctrine. Ultimately, this caused her to leave the Seventh-Day Adventist church, and by leave I mean she kinda went out with a bang, didn't just slink away, which is fine too, but that's not Kai. Kai, despite her small frame, is a force to be reckoned with. Rugged and tenacious. Today Kai is an ER and ICU nurse, published author and photographer, as well as an officer in the United States Navy, having served in Afghanistan and aboard a ship in the South Pacific. She insist that above all else, she is an artist.     

I really enjoyed this conversation. One theme came up that I've said for years and that is that atheism is the best practice of theism. I think at one point Kai identifies as a Idon'tcareist or apatheist. People think that by buying into a religion they're hedging their bets, but I think the best way to be ready for there to be a possible God in an afterlife is to make him proud by weaning one's self of him. Maybe 2 ounces of my 190 pound frame believes gods exist, but I just can't because it smacks SO loud of human concoction (and there's no evidence).

Think about 2 really deep human conditions: the fear of loneliness and abandonment. From the time we're babies, we think that when mama leaves the room, we don't exist. As toddlers, we scream when they leave us with a babysitter or at school. As children we are taking in everything and how the people in our lives and, especially our parents behave and we simply mimic it. Our identity is informed and shaped by what we see and hear. It comes from the outside. As we lose our naive innocence and realize the world is a scary place, we take comfort in the fact that there's a roof over our head and mom and dad are in the next room, AND they've got a plan. They make our lives work. I don't have to worry about a thing.  Yet. The older I get the more I start to develop my own agency--my own ability to develop my OWN identity that is not merely a reflection of my parents and siblings. I form my own values, tastes, and priorities. Some don't develop agency. The more devout a Christian one is, the less one will learn to listen to and trust their own heart and body. If the parents or friends or boyfriends are controlling, this to might stunt their personal maturation. Then when they move out of their childhood home, they're comforted by having God, their portable parent who will never leave or abandon them as they embark into the real world. And in some ways, the don't get to grow up. I'm one of them. I like to think that my inner self, gagged and bound in the dungeon of my soul escaped, came bursting out of the basement and went on his own heroes journey, which he is still on, of course. To our surprise some of us found the scary, chaotic, parentless world was scary at all. We were more scared in the bosom our parents than we are in this godless snake-infested jungle.  Irony!

Kai mentions the movie, the Village, in which a small cult-like community lives cut off from the outside world by the woods, in which they believe dangerous creatures exist. They have an uneasy truce with the creatures - if they stay out of the woods, they are left unharmed. So they are fenced in by a scary forest.

Fences are a theme in this talk. There was a fence around her compound in Afghanistan, a fence that kept her from coming out gay for so many years, and the electric fence of the church. Just about the time she thought she was gaining freedom and agency, Saturday would roll around and a one hour sermon would crush her spirit, and throw her back down the very pit of confusion and despair from which she'd spent the week climbing out. This crazy-making cycle eventually forced her hand to take some really brave steps to climb the goddamn fence and begin her journey toward wholeness.

 

 

Direct download: Ep_210_Kai.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:25am CDT
Comments[0]

Welcome everyone to episode 209 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 guest is Devin Andre Woodard. Devin is a young professional living and working in Austin, TX. Devin is a passionate man, who, after being burnt out of spending years pouring his entire being into Christian fundamentalism, is attempting to discover the freedom that comes with embracing life as it is, and making the most of the time we're given.

We taped this conversation on June 9th, 2018. The intro music is by Dave Weckl called "Just Groove Me" The segue music is "Ghost II" by Corey Kilgannon, a favorite of my guest.
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.

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

You've probably received a pop-up warning on your computer or your phone saying you've been infected by a virus, click here to have it removed. But if you do click it, it will give you a virus. Just this week my son got a call from Apple Tech Support telling him his phone had been hacked and that all the phones in his family plan would soon be hacked accessing all their personal info, passwords and use their friend list to invade all their friends info. He naively fell for it and proceeded to do whatever the person on the phone told him to do, including download an app on daddy's desktop computer. Which almost completed the hack for which they were warning against. It reminded me of Trump's weak, lazy, cowardly, insecure tactic of warning people about fake news, when in fact every time he opens his mouth, its fake news. An accusation is made against someone that is not true of the accused, but IS true of the accuser. There's a quote attributed to Joseph Goebbels that says, "Accuse the other side of that which you are guilty" and although there's no proof that Goebbels ever said it, it is a common tactic throughout history. Sometimes in full knowledge of its genius; sometimes from stupidity and pure survival mode of insecure bullies. But as weak as the accuser is, this tactic is not; it is highly powerful in wreaking destruction and creates a vicious vortex that entraps any victims who fall prey to it. How does one fall prey to it? If the accused get defensive and say "no I'm not" it plays right into the hand of the accuser. As in this 10 year old scene from a SNL Weekend Update episode where Amy Poehler subtly accuses Seth Myers of having a small penis. Immediately after she jabs him with the joke she holds her hand up for a high five and says "up top." Listen to Seth's reaction.  

So it's a trap to fight against the accusation but it's also a trap to agree with the accuser. When we agree with their accuser, we can fall into a trap of shame and even look to our accuser for a solution, like my son did with the fraudulent Apple Tech support guy. Either way, too much attention is given to the accuser. The best thing is to just hang up. Because both the accuser and the accused can become what they hate.

You know the phrase, "it takes one to know one?" This is a phrase of empathy, which can be good. But even empathy has its pitfalls. Many say that compassion is better because, in the metaphor of someone falling in a pit, empathy gets down in the pit and both are now worse off, whereas compassion throws the fallen a rope. Now, in this age of Jordan Peterson mania, that sounds like something he would say (and I believe he does) and so I just threw up in mouth a little bit, but as with all truth, sometimes you find it in places that make it hard to swallow.  When we hate our enemies, we are apt to swing wide in the opposite direction and merely mirror the poor emotional health of our enemy. But consider a modification of that adage "it takes one to know one": It takes one to hate one. How much of my own intolerances are a result of my ‘dislike’ of my own weaknesses or past weaknesses in any particular area? Often my impatience manifests when I feel ignored or invisible. In traffic it appears. Often I see everyone as trying to block my progress or ignoring me or being insensitive or even thoughtless. At the same time, they're probably driving slow in the fast lane because they're compensating for years of having no power or voice or have been oppressed by others and this moment of power feels good to them, whether they know why or not. So our life-long developed pathologies are clashing on I-24. And if we hate or resent certain people its often because we either see their actions reflecting back to us what we don't like about ourselves OR the opposite: we're not like them at all and thus don't relate to their weaknesses and thus can feel superior and judge them, thereby hating them, and thereby becoming like them. Judgement of others and self keeps us in this fucking cyclical pit of stupidity and immorality.

Take the shanty call center of scam hackers calling my son. They're trying to get rich and they can justify it because they resent other rich people. They may never admit this but the thinking is "They’re crooked, so we’re justified in being crooked too." Victims often become victimizers. And this is all about people acting, behaving, thinking in RE-action to others, only mirroring their adversaries, as opposed to acting, behaving and thinking from one's own core. To stay above the fray of insecure bullies and accusers and jealousy and resentment. To avoid such traps and swirling eddies that pull us into that muck and mire. We can and should assess and evaluate our circumstances and relationships all day long without falling into the trap of judgement. Blame, no matter where it lands, helps the situation. Honestly, keep in mind that every fucking human being on this planet is fighting the same battles-- with their history, their abuse, their shortcomings and insufficiencies, and most will never have the wherewithal or self-awareness to understands what's happening to them in real time, but you can! Listeners of EA podcast have such a huge advantage over the rest of the unevolved world because those people are losers and we're winners and if they only knew as much or had as much knowledge as we do, they too could be as cool and healthy as us. They probably don't even read books or go to therapy. It must really suck to be them...oh wait. I've become what i hate. Ground me William Shakespeare. "Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind." What? Say that again. "Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind." So by seeing myself as guilty, as bad, as evil, I'm more prone to be suspicious of everyone else? "Something like that." And by lifting myself out of guilt, by giving myself a break, by giving myself the grace and forgiveness that I would give my own loved ones, I help alleviate the suspicious lens through which I see others? When I assume that people driving slow in the fast lane, or people that over groom their lawns, or people that scam little old ladies out of their money, or people that are ignorantly afraid of people different than them, when I assume that they are bad people, I'm letting suspicion stifle what might otherwise be curiosity. Hell even apathy would be healthier than suspicion. "I don't care why that person's being a dick" is no less moral than, "I wonder why that person's being a dick?" One is slightly more mature than the other, but requires more energy than I might have at the time. As long as I don't let myself feel too superior to their assholery, because I certainly display my share of it in other contexts. It's kinda "live and let live" with just a tad more care than that, but not much. At the end of the day, it's saying yes to what is. This place, this planet, this human race is MAJORLY fucked up, and we don't help it get well by responding in ways that are either the same type fucked up or the opposite type fucked up, we're still adding to the fucked upness of the planet when we react in kind. Nietzsche wrote, "My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati--a love of fate: that one wants nothing to be different, not in the future, not in the past. Not just to bear what is reality, much less hide myself from it, for all idealism is just dishonesty in the face of what is, but to love it. I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is the reality of things; then I will be one who helps make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be the only thing I say no to. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer."  Now Nietzsche was a white, straight European male in the early 20th century, so he may be afforded privileges that allow him to apply and practice that more thoroughly than others, but it is at least a virtue and value to which to aspire. Hatred is the easiest of emotions to invoke. Love requires self-awareness and intention. At minimal, we would do well to select our enemies carefully, for more often than not, we will become like them. Thus, if your enemies are people, those people will often define you. If you are not defined from without, you will be defined from within. My hunch is that we humans kinda need enemies and will create them if that role is vacant. I suspect the enemy is within all of us and thus can have the uniting effect of a common enemy, and yet, an enemy that we will not emulate. My tattoo defines my enemies as Fear, Pity, Resentment, Victimhood, and Insecurity. If we'd all resist these enemies within, without an ounce of shame for having them, we might be able to laugh and drink and eat and cry together with those we formerly identified as enemies. That's a tall order. But I've got a short life.

In summary, there are two paths of weakness, small creativity, and short-sightedness: 1) accuses others of the same behavior the accuser is doing, and the second judges others for the same behavior the judge ends up mirroring. Both are afraid, as we all are. The high road is refusing to let fear evoke a reaction we'll later regret. Just close the false virus pop-up, hang up on the scamming caller, journalists ignore our baby-president and keep reporting the news, stop judging yourself and thus others who reflect back to you what you either don't like about yourself or don't like about them, live with a clear conscience so you'll be less suspicious of others, and don't take yourself or the size of your penis too seriously.

Corey Kilgannon Ghost II video

http://www.thepaepae.com/self-hate-as-a-metric-of-intolerance/23098/

http://www.thepaepae.com/the-paradox-of-animosity/258/

https://www.fhu.com/articles/hate1.html

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/enemy



 

Direct download: Ep_209_Devin_Woodard.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:17pm CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley features two audio clips from talks that Tara Brach and Noah Lugeons gave on their podcast. I love the Hegelian Dialectic, contrasting two seemingly opposite things and forming a third, entirely different thing out of the clash, not unlike mammalian reproduction. Tara Brach and Noah Lugeons are necessarily opposites, but they contrast starkly. She's an American psychologist, a proponent of Buddhist meditation, and founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, D.C. Noah is the founder and co-host of the Scathing Atheist Podcast. Each week he begins the episode with The Diatribe--a solo rant he writes himself and they are genius, whether you agree with him or not, his writing is amazing as is his intellect. We play his diatribe from episode 179 of the Scathing Atheist where he addresses Attorney General Jeff Sessions getting up and quoting the Bible to justify separating children from their parents. That's 7 minutes. And then a 45 minute talk by Dr. Tara Brach. I pulled this description off her website: "This talk explores how we can undo the identification with thoughts, emotions and feelings that keeps us landlocked and unable to trust and live from our naturally loving and radiant essence." In other words, we are less artificial and more authentic versions of ourselves when we stop trusting what our thoughts, emotions, and other people tell us we are. She's a bit woo-woo, new-agey, and buddhisty. But I love her. And remember, she has a Phd. in Clinical Psychology from the Fielding Institute, so not too shabby, right? Her talk is 45 minutes.

 

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

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

Scathing Atheist Podcast - Diatribe on Jeff Sessions by Noah Lugeons

Tara Brach's podcast





 

Direct download: Ep_208_Brach_and_Lugeons.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:50pm CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo bring you a very special episode. This is Bob's last show as co-host. Bob chose the theme of today's episode: death--the most awkward subject and conversation there is. Bob and Cass discuss the Seneca book for about an hour and a half then a 4 minute clip by Caleb Wilde's Tedtalk followed by a 30 minute reading of an article by Eric Puchner, then Bob and I interview Anne-Marie Zanzal, a Hospice worker with end of life experience, and end with a 6 minute playing of your voice mail farewells to Bob.

For Bob's last episode, he wanted to talk about death and I think it's appropo. For weeks prior to the taping of this episode he'd been reading a book titled, "How to Die: An Ancient Guide to the End of Life." It's the ponderings of the 1st century philosopher, Seneca, edited, translated, and introduced by James S. Romm. "It takes an entire lifetime to learn how to die," wrote the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca (c. 4 BC–65 AD). He counseled readers to "study death always," and took his own advice, returning to the subject again and again in all his writings. Seneca believed that life is only a journey toward death and that one must rehearse for death throughout life. In his writings, he tells us how to practice for death, how to die well, and how to understand the role of a good death in a good life. He stresses the universality of death, its importance as life's final rite of passage, and its ability to liberate us from pain, slavery, or political oppression.

Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death “The irony of the human condition is that the deepest need is to be free of the anxiety of death and annihilation; but it is life itself which awakens it, and so we must shrink from being fully alive.” Seneca admonishes us to study how to die. 6th generation mortician, Caleb Wilde infers that we are death amateurs, and Ernest Becker says we kick and scratch to subdue the notion that we're ever going to die. Perhaps the greatest application of the adage, "say yes to what is" applies to this--the great leveler, that which we all have in common, and that is our impending, unavoidable death.

We taped this conversation on May 26th, 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
The music behind it is "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is "Moonlight on the River" by Mac Demarco
Thanks for listening, and be a yes-sayer to what is.

Caleb Wilde's Tedtalk on Death

Emily Levine's Tedtalk on Death

Eric Puchner's article about Caleb Wilde


 

Direct download: Ep_207_Bobs_Last_Show_-_On_Death.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:34am CDT
Comments[0]

Today, Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Alan Witmer, also known as his alter ego, Rex Jamesson on Facebook. Alan is a software designer in Lebanon, NH.  He's been married 34 years to his second wife which puts him about Bob's age. He has two adult children and one 3-year-old grandchild.  He and his wife enjoy motorcycling together, swing dance, and reading books together. He's an avid runner, a musician, a philosophical naturalist but not a nihilist: he believes there is awesome purpose and meaning to be found in this life. Alan grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch country, surrounded by Conservative Christian values, billboards, and memes.  He “accepted Christ” at age 9. In his mid-20s he left the church for 5 years following the tumultuous breakup of his first marriage.  But went back to faith again, and stayed the second time for almost three decades. He was happy and active in his faith. When he ventured into Christian apologetics, he unwittingly swallowed the “red pill” – his investigation led down a path of reason which, had I known where it would lead, I would never have chosen. Today, he is happily out of the faith.  Although he discredits fundamentalism as an evil, immoral system that entraps and enslaves people, his own narrow escape from the illusion taught him respect and love his family and friends who remain, including his Christian wife.

We taped this conversation on May 20th, 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 
The music behind it is "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
Thanks for listening, and be a yes-sayer to what is.

Before we get into our talk with Alan, I want to share a little about our recent trip to Barcellona. Without talking to much about Barcellona, as amazing as it was and is a fantastic city, I want to emphasize the benefit of travelling in general. Because the truth is, that this planet has countless cool cities and amazing destinations that no one (not even Anthony Bardeau, RIP) could see them all in one lifetime. But I want to focus on the word "orientation." And especially the value of disorientation. Getting out of our homes, our home towns, our cultures, our routines can be disorienting. Travel pushes us out of our comfort zones and we're forced into disorientation. When traveling, the way you wake up is different, the expectations of the day are full of unknowns, when you're walking around, you're taking in the scenery with heightened awareness. You're woke to the new surroundings and excited and a bit scared. Thus you are present. Much more present than back home.

Orientation has to do with identifying where I am in relation to something immovable. I'm moving around, but I know where I am because I know where I am in relation to home base, ground zero, headquarters, something stationary, central and unchanging. How do we orient our North, South, East, and West compass points? In relation to the Sun--a non-moving object. Directions that are not relative to something else are 100% and absolutely arbitrary. If you ask me to “point up,” I’m going to orient myself to the ground and point away from it. If, however, I were to travel to the opposite side of the world, the “up” I was just pointing at would be the “down” in the new orientation.The same basic principle applies for ideas like the compass points. There is no scientific reason why the Northern Hemisphere is “on top,” or why London is higher than Miami, instead of the other way around. In truth, the reason is entirely political. Our current map-orientation comes from the European map makers of a few centuries ago. That orientation of the globe is the one that the entire world uses today. But it is no less true or legitimate to turn the map upside down and find yourself on it. While helpful to our existence, our sense of direction and thus our orientation are man-made constructs. Like language they are tools and symbols that help us relate to one another. Which brings me to the second word I want to highlight, "relationship." Our orientation is entirely based on where we are in relation to something else.

Before you think I'm being critical of these constructs, have you ever tried driving down the road with your head tilted 90 degrees to the right? Just by changing your orientation a little, you seriously throw off your ability to drive straight, to avoid other cars, to stay in your lane. We need order, structure and reliability in our lives just to function. These constructs save our lives every day. Disorientation may be a good exercise or even fun, but it is not a sustainable way of life. Vacations are cool because they take us out of our comfort zones AND because we get to come back to them.  

I say all this in relation to our talk with Alan because he is extremely graceful towards people that need faith. Faith in God and/or the scriptures and/or the weekly community gatherings give people something with which their relationship orients their lives. Like turning my head sideways while driving scares me and in fact threatens my life, for some people, giving up God scares them and threatens their lives. I know I've inferred before that people who need faith have stunted their maturity by clinging to it, and I know that was my experience, but I'm loath to become nothing more than an inverse rendition of judgmental Christians. Alan models this. He says at one point that if his wife goes to her grave believing in Christianity, he won't think any less of her. Wow, that's something to think about.

If we're going to be yes-sayers to reality, we might do well to disorient ourselves from false stationary standards by which we measure and judge things. To stop measuring people and circumstances against a pre-existing idea of how things SHOULD go or how we want people to be, including ourselves. Remove measurements like north south east and west in relation to the sun and the presumed map of the world and let ourselves float in space. Let people be what they'll be, circumstances be what they'll be...and have the presence and heightened awareness of one on vacation, away from home out of one's comfort zone, disoriented and ready for the un-normal, the spontaneous, and the unpredictable. We live on a three-dimensional orb, not a one-dimensional plane. There's no pattern to the numerical sequence of pi. We think we understand things. We think we know how people should be? or what they should believe? People are free and we are free to leave them that way. This is the beauty of agnosticism, of humility, and of saying yes to what is.


 

Direct download: Ep_206_Alan_Witmer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:25pm CDT
Comments[0]

Welcome everyone to episode 205 of the Everyone’s Agnostic podcast. I’m Cass Midgley. Today, Dr. Bob Pondillo  I interview Anne Marie Zanzal. Anne-Marie Zanzal has a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School and a graduate certificate in Women's Leadership from Hartford Seminary.   She is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and has worked as a church pastor and as a chaplain in both hospitals and hospices. She is a Compassionate Bereavement Provider certified by the MISS Foundation. Anne-Marie is an informed and entertaining speaker and group leader about coming out late in life, end of life issues and hospice, and women and divorce.  You can find Anne-Marie at www.annemariezanal.com, on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, or email her at revzanzal@gmail.com.

We taped this conversation on May 12th, 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

The music behind it is "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode is "Release It" by Afro Celt Sound System, one of Raymond's favorite bands.

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

Ivan Coyote's "Hats Off" to Femmes

If you've listened to this podcast, you know that Bob and I can very critical of bad religion, especially bad Christianity. We would like nothing more than for it to eliminated and something we look back on someday soon as the silly phase in human history where we believed that shit. However, in the meantime, we occasionally like to highlight when Christianity is done right. In the four years we've been on the air, we've had numerous brave Christian guests in here who have learned to navigate this faith that most commonly corrupts otherwise good people with its fear-ridden, insecurity-appealling dogma that brings out the worst in its adherents. But the Christians we've had on here, like David Dark, Tony Woodall, Stan Mitchell, George Cunningham, Mary and Julia in episodes 4 and 5, Jim Henderson, Benjamin Corey, Jennifer Crumpton, Becky Garrison, Geoff Little, Krista Tippet, Brian Quincy Newcomb, Angela Pancella, William Paul Young, Angela Cantorna, Charlie Smith, and many others who have retained portions of their previous held beliefs while rejecting others, they were willing to bring their stories in here and showed us that there are ways to practice Christianity that truly make the world a better place and don't turn them into assholes. That's certainly the case with our guest today, Anne Marie. In a small way, this is us adopting the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" mindset. As we oil the wheels of deconversion and #emptythepews, we also applaud those who, while practicing some form of faith, have not forfeited their intelligence and agency to a false, insecure, jealous, and small God. They celebrate rather than shame what it means to be human. Unlike the majority of their fellow Christians, they do not bury their heads in the sand, and they say yes to what is.

Okay, I found a YouTube of someone reciting the poem to which Anne Marie just referred.  The voice here is apparently a lesbian that presents as masculine, perhaps even trans, it's not clear and I'm reluctant to presume but do so to give you a picture of what's happening because it is relevant. I highly value empathy and compassion, and often these virtues are best attained by putting one's self either in the shoes of those we don't understand or at least listening with an ear to learn. My understanding is that the poem is addressing the fact that some lesbians are butch and/or trans men and some are feminine. This is a world that I do not know. And so I insert here a recitation of the poem by Ivan Coyote titled "Hat's Off.

Again, that's a poem called "Hats Off" by Ivan Coyote, a trans man, found in his book, "Missed Her."  And now we return to the tail end our talk with Anne Marie. We had some technical difficulty at the end and so it abruptly starts.

So that's our talk with Anne Marie Zanzal. Bob and I enjoyed getting to know her. What a tough story. Lots of strength. Lots of courage. Lots of pain. Getting real, getting honest can be really hard work when we're trapped inside false narratives--strong, reinforced, lots of rebar type cemented narratives. Like Han Solo frozen in that giant ice cube and everyone around, also immobilized by self-denying, self-suppressing constraints, doing their best to ignore the cement or wanting everyone to remain incased in it, lest they upend the social construct. But good on you, Anne Marie, or Emery. Congratuations. You know, one thing that makes this so hard is, not only the personal pain, but the pain that getting honest is going to cause others--often those near and dear to us. In fact, while one is getting out of pain, others experience pain. But I think its important to keep in mind that the one getting free, getting honest DID NOT CAUSE THE PAIN. The false narratives cause the pain. Coming out gay or coming out atheist to your loved ones is only painful for them because of the beliefs to which they hold. And they hold them by their own volition...kinda. (that's debatable). But no matter how innocent they're indoctrination was, they are responsible to listen to THEIR own hearts and moral compasses, and ALSO have the courage to do their own breaking out of the lying concrete ideologies that demand allegiance at the price of betraying their own children or friends or siblings. When being a kind, loving person is mutualy exclusive to being faith to your creed, it's time to punt your fucking creed. This is not rocket science. Follow your heart, like Anne Marie is did, and is doing. It's NOT decietful. You're not wicked. You can and must trust yourself, especially more than you trust someone else's made up, over-confident, erection of certainty and projected image of a god to whom one must bow the knee and surrender their freedom and agency. Hell, the word Islam means surrender. The Christians sing "I Surrender All." Bullshit. Surrender nothing to imaginary narratives that are pure speculations derived from anecdotal personal experiences. Stick to evidence and the scientifc method of questioning everything. We are so prone to getting shit wrong that if we don't remain humble and teachable we are doomed to be encased, trapped, imprisoned in a lie to which we pledge allegience and devotion, all the while thinking we've attained the only truth and look down upon anyone who doesn't share in it. Doubly decieved. Doubly duped. and doubly paralyzed to do anything about it.

Okay, that's my rant. One quick announcement, Bob only has two more shows with us, the last one of which I will feature your tributary comments and farewells. You can Love Bomb Bob by calling 1 (800) 685-1797 that's 1 (800) 685-1797. I'll repeat that again at the end. I’ve set up a voice mailbox for you to call in and give a toast or tribute to Bob as he’s leaving the show. You may want to write out what you want to say before calling or just wing it. Either way, try to keep it under 30 seconds, unless you really want to pile on the love and go longer, but the average message should be under 30 seconds. Address him in first person, like “Hey Bob (or Dr. Pondillo or Dr. Bob, whatever), I just want to say…” It can be silly or serious, or both, you can mimic him, try to sound like him, and/or share some of your favorite Bob-isms or quips. I reserve the right to edit your message. You can say your name or not. I’d like it if you would say where you’re calling from (at least the State). These messages will be part of a tribute episode to Bob sometime in July. Thanks for participating in this. Call (800) 685-1797.

Have a good week everyone. I love you. Peace out.





 

Direct download: Ep_205_Anne-Marie.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:03pm CDT
Comments[0]

Welcome everyone to episode 204 of the Everyone’s Agnostic podcast. I’m Cass Midgley. Today, Dr. Bob Pondillo  I interview Raymond Gilford. Raymond Gilford was born in Austin, Texas and lived there until age 11 when he moved with his parents to Fallbrook, California in 1974 at age 11. His grandfather was a Baptist preacher but his parents didn't force it on him as a child. Like some of us who took Christianity more serious than our parents, Raymond converted to Christianity in 1983 as a college sophomore and stayed in the faith for over thirty years, studying Greek and Hebrew and teaching Sunday School. But it was Christianity that oversold itself and Raymond slowly saw through its preposterous claims. Today he works as a proofreader and copy editor in Austin, Texas.

We taped this conversation on May 6th, 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 
The music behind it is "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode is "Release It" by Afro Celt Sound System, one of Raymond's favorite bands.

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

Blog:  www.galacticwanderlust.com
Design site:  raymondgilford.com

For Raymond, the beginning of wisdom wasn’t faith, or the fear of God. It was concrete thinking. Growing up, and for just about all his life he’s looked for the world to make sense, and he’s been disappointed when it hasn’t, perhaps this is why he looked for a source of justice or purpose in the universe. Like pretty much everyone he just wanted to get paid. He wanted to get laid. And he always found the church to be a frustrating mesh through which he was expected to filter his desires.

In this conversation, we hear that Raymond always had a problem with the concept of Jesus dying for his sins. He couldn't square that with the logic and reason that plagued his intelligent mind. Eventually that square peg just couldn't be forced into the round hole, the alleged god-shaped-hole in his heart and he walked away.

I want to do something here that may be triggering for some of you. I typed into the search of YouTube "the best presentation of the gospel" and the first one to come up was John Piper. Now, when I was a Christian, I loved me some John Piper. I had cassette tapes of John Piper. Piper is a brilliant man. Which is good because I want the gospel to be represented by the best in this little experiement. The second video to come up was Matt Chandler, the third was Ravi Zacharias; both of whom are smart, well-versed preachers. Chandlers was a little too emotional; Ravi's was too cerebral. Piper's is good blend of both. So I"m going to play a 4 minute presentation of the gospel by John Piper, followed by a 4 minute refute of the gospel by Christopher Hitchens. Hitch is so dear to my heart. Hitch is truly one of the top 5 heroes on my lifelong list of heroes. And Piper used to be.

But I wanted to show the juxtaposition that Raymond faced, then tension he experienced for 30 years.  Here it is: first John Piper, then Christopher Hitchens.

So that was Pastor John Piper, certainly not a spokesman for all the hundreds of Christianities but he's one of their big shots, especially with a Calvinistic leaning. Up next is a man I hold very dear to my heart and miss him greatly, Christopher Hitchens with a critique of the Christian gospel.

 

Many of us hung onto the gospel that didn't make sense to a deeply hidden part of us. Why? Because of the community. I think that's foremost over the fear of Hell. Deep down, we didn't believe in Hell because we couldn't fathom it. Nobody believes in Hell. No one can fathom eternal anything, let alone eternal suffering. Our brains just can't go there. What we do believe in...what we do understand is the friends and community that we experience right in front of us, each week. The third reason we clung to an absurd, even immoral gospel, was probably our deep need for the world to make sense, for our fear of death and meaninglessness to be silenced by a master narrative that gave us the peace we so desperately craved.

And so here we find ourselves. Especially those of us who walked right into Christianity before our adult minds could scrutinize it. It latched onto us until, as awakening adults, we scraped it out of our bones with knives and chisels. And began our pilgrimage back to our lost self, rebuilt our personal agency, said yes to our reality and what it means to be ourselves and carved out a path forward to find an honest  meaning to our existence and a morality that came from within shaped by our values we forged from our own hearts.

This is what Raymond did...and is doing. It's a life's work, really, and many of us are hard at it. But we've found that there's freedom and joy and strength--true strength--in ourselves. A strength that Piper denied existed and said, out loud mind you, couched in the presentation of good news that we would never, never, never, outgrow the need to preach to ourselves our wretchedness apart from Christ's redemptive work on the cross to vicariously make us loveable to a supposedly loving god.  In a moment where one of Christianity's best is presenting Christianity's best news and the point he drove home the hardest and raised his voice the most was when he chose to emphasize the absolute hopeless impotence of being a human being, never out from under the need of a savior, day in and day out for eternity. No thank you. As one who devoted my life to Christianity, the first 40 years, and now on the outside, no promise of eternal bliss or threat of eternal torture would move me to give up my hard earned self-love, my acceptance of reality, and the restoration of my personal agency. Like our guest Raymond, I wanted Christianity to be true but in the end it just didn't hold water or even pass the laugh test. Now we're free, empowered, responsible, back on a path of maturation, and happy as one might be in a meaningless universe.

Direct download: Ep_204_Raymond.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:05pm CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley interviews Jenny Q. Unfortunately Bob's not with us on today's episode.  Jenny Q was born in Southern California to Palestinian immigrants. Her love of herbs began in her teens while on the road following the Grateful Dead. She has set her roots in Joshua Tree, California, where she opened Grateful Desert, a local apothecary. In 2014, Jenny suddenly became seriously ill and rapidly descended into a coma with slender chance of survival.  She has quite a story and put it in a book entitled "Held Together" which incorporates many of her friends who bore witness to the experience. The book releases June 1st.

Here's what one reviewer said of Jenny's book: “Held Together” tells a villages account of a personal tragedy. While seemingly detailing the medical marvel that left Jenny with both of her legs and five fingers amputated, the book truly centers around the power of community and the strength people find in a time of tragedy."

This is what drew my interest in Jenny's story: it's testament to the power of community and the determination of the human spirit. So often when tragedy strikes, people either blame god or spin it around to make god look good in spite of it. As humanists and atheists, we avoid both of those silly explanations and just get busy helping remedy it. How Jenny's friends rallied around her to mitigate the suffering and hardship of the tragedy, while beautiful in it's own way, is not unique to Jenny's situation. Many, if not all, of us have witnessed friends and family descend on a problem with love and care when one of our own goes down.  And yes, I have an agenda to assign credit where it belongs--even when it happens in church settings--the credit, and glory, if you will, goes to humans. Loving, caring, compassionate, and godless human beings.

Spoiler alert, Jenny survived the sepsis that nearly took her life, and today she joyously shares her life with her tight-knit desert community, her beloveds Yazzy, her daughter and Myshkin, her wife.

Jenny's story raises the question, "what is spirituality?" I recently read a book that I highly recommend titled Living the Examined Life: Wisdom for the Second Half of the Journey, by James Hollis. And before we get into my talk with Jenny I'd like to play a clip from it.

So here's my talk with Jenny Q. If you connect with her and would like to correspond with her, get the book, or talk about herbs and essential oils, her email is connect@heldtogetherbook.com , her website is www.heldtogetherbook.com, and the website for her herbal business is gratefuldesert.com

We taped this conversation on April 29th, 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
The music behind it is "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode is portions of "Shades of Grey" by Grateful Dead.

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



Direct download: Ep_203_Jenny_Q.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:10pm CDT
Comments[0]

Welcome everyone to episode 202 of the Everyone’s Agnostic podcast. I’m Cass Midgley. Today, Bob Pondillo and I interview Elisa. Elisa was one of four women featured on Episode 200, the Sexpisode as she called it. We taped both conversations on April 15th, 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 background music is "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The bumper music on this episode is a jam on the end of "Closure" by Maroon 5

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

Elisa was raised in the Gulf Coast of South Texas in a large Hispanic Catholic family.  As a runaway teen, troubled about treatment at home, she became involved with the Praise Chapel/Potters House evangelical church and became born again at 17. She found herself in the Southern Baptist Church when she fell in love with a Baptist boy and remained there until she met her husband. They married nearly 19 years ago and have two children. Elisa was a teacher  but remained home after having children and she homeschooled for many years. Elisa almost left her husband when he came out as an atheist 8 years ago. She had been struggling with her own doubts but was holding on tightly to her faith. When the black lives movement came on the scene she had a hard time understanding the hate from Christians. This opened her eyes to the Christian political machine that actively oppressed minorities, immigrants, women, and the lgbtq communities. When Trump became the Republican presidential nominee with huge evangelical support, she finally felt comfortable calling herself an atheist. Her life has changed from a life of fear to a life of peace, a life of homeschooling to a life of pole dancing. She has let go of god and has embraced herself and is having the time of her life.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow first developed his famous theory of individual development and motivation in the 1940’s. He suggested that human beings have a hierarchy of needs. That all humans act in a way which will address basic needs, before moving on to satisfy other, so-called higher level needs. Maslow represented this theory as a hierarchical triangle. It shows how basic needs are met before one can “climb” the hierarchy, to address more complex needs. 
The Maslow motivation theory is typically represented by 5 steps:

Physiological needs – such as hunger, thirst and sleep
Safety needs – such as security, protection from danger and freedom from pain.
Social needs – sometimes also referred to as love needs such as friendship, giving and receiving love, engaging in social activities and group membership.
Esteem needs – these include both self-respect and the esteem of others. For example, the desire for self-confidence and achievement, and recognition and appreciation.
Self-actualization – This is about the desire to develop and realize your full potential. To become everything you can be.
Maslow’s contention was that one’s sense of well-being. i.e. the ‘feelgood factor’ increases as the higher level needs are met.

I want to merge this needs study with a few of David Richo's declarations of healthy adulthood. Keep in mind that one of the things that fundamental Christianity did to us was stunt our growth. Even Maslo's needs reveal that within Christianity, we weren't responsible for meeting our needs! God was! We were to ignore our needs. It would be selfish to think of our own needs--the very self we were trying to die to.

But in this deconversion process, along with acknowledging our own needs, the absence of a supernatural being to meet them, and resurrecting our own agency to meet them, we might do well to combine this line of thinking with our arrested maturation development. Richo teaches that a healthy adult can say the following things:
I accept full responsibility for the shape my life has taken.
I accept that I may never feel I am receiving – or have received – all the attention I seek.
I acknowledge that reality is not obligated to me; it remains unaffected by my wishes or rights.
One by one, I drop every expectation of people and things.
I reconcile myself to the limits on others’ giving to me and on my giving to them.

In these declarations, we can hear a powerful agent taking responsibility for ourselves. So there's two very important things going on here, especially for us ex-Christians:

  1. we discover our selves, our power, our voice, our thoughts and feelings. Self-awareness, or as Maslo puts it, self actualization is a big first step once we acknowledge the delusion of an imaginary god to whom we had surrendered our selves, power and voice.
  2. we acknowledge that we can't just transfer our dependence on god to another person in our lives. It's up to us to secure our place in this world, our footing, our grounding, our needs.

I would think that the intent, or at least the hope, would be that we could be fully present, fully engaged in our relationships because we're bringing our full selves, un-needy, and interdependent. Feeling neither inferiority nor superiority to those in our lives. Comfortable in our own skin, no delighted in our skin, AND responsible for the emotional health of the soul encased in our own skin, that we might find ourselves, ideally, in community with others exercising the same level of power and agency, and thus fully free to enjoy and be enjoyed by one another. Delivered from the insecurity, fear, and competition fostered by Christian gatherings where we're all trying impress each other with how advanced we are in our devotion to and relations with Abba.

Because we've been trained co-depency by and with God, we have our work cut out for us to find what must be a wonderful balance between wanting other's company, yet not needing it. Wouldn't that be something?

 

 


Direct download: Ep_202_Elisa.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:59pm CDT
Comments[0]

Welcome everyone to episode 201 of the Everyone’s Agnostic podcast. I’m Cass Midgley. Today, Bob Pondillo and I interview David Burns. David is now 50, but was a lifelong Mormon. He unpacks his passion for Mormonism, how it was his life, his tribe, his identity. He served his two year door to door mission and it was there that his faith in Mormonism experienced its first crack. I fell in love with David during this talk. He's a really sharp and gentle man and it comes through here. He's on the Asburger/Autism spectrum and his tendency to interpret everything literally contributed to his devotion to the whacky foundations of Mormonism AND eventually his departure.

We taped this conversation on April 14th, 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 "Wake Me Up" by Dirty Loops

I wonder if the need for human beings to find a tribe isn't a primary motivator behind the formation of and devotion to religions. We need to belong. Loneliness is so scary. And communities are one of the most beautiful things that humans form. There's hardly anything more fulfilling and life-enriching than finding yourself at a party, or in a circle of friends to which you truly belong, are genuinely celebrated, loved, and supported, in your truest form. When you're celebrating a promotion at work, or a new house, or a new baby, or marriage, or a birthday and you have a community of people around you that organize a celebration and/or send you cards in the mail, or bring you gifts, what better feeling is there?

As a human being, we are aware of so much that the animal kingdom is not. We know that the universe is big, dark, and impersonal. We know that the world is a difficult place, with it's unpredictable weather and tragic happenstances. Animals don't get overwhelmed. We alone feel alone on this dirt clod hurling through space. We can feel adrift with nothing solid to hold onto. We can even be surrounded by people and feel totally alone. We can live in a city and feel no roots or connection to it. We look to our spouses and our children for some grounding and belonging, but can end up putting too much burden on them to validate and rescue our drowning, bankrupt self-esteem. We ache for friendships. Without them, we can feel lost, that the world is closing in on us, that nobody understands us, we can become disgusted with humanity, and quickly lose any desire to remain on this selfish, exclusionary planet.

But when suicide is not an option, we re-enter the world, but in an angry, scared survival mode. We become racked with suspicion and distrust of others, further isolating ourselves. Our default is to blame others for our problems, and then we turn that blame inward spiraling us deeper downward into self-loathing (unconscious of course, nothing about this type of person is conscious). Pretty quick we see ourselves as victims and thus martyrs for our tail-chasing cause. So what do we do? Our tribal instincts kick in and we find other disenfranchised people, lost and lonely. Misery loves company, right? Safety in numbers. We rally with pitchforks to avenge our insulted egos against our enemies and the mere fact that we've formed a common enemy endears us to each other and the next thing you know, we've formed a tribe. But it's not a healthy tribe. It brings out the worst in us. It fosters resentment, contempt, and bitterness. It appeals to and compounds the lower angels of our nature--fearful, insecure, hateful, and our hatred for ourselves gets projected onto our unknowing enemies. On April 24th, Alek Minassian, the 25 year old Canadian man who killed ten and injured 15 as he drove a van down a one-mile stretch of sidewalk in Toronto, was allegedly a part of a tribe called the Incel Rebellion. Incel is short for involuntarily celibate. In other words, men who can't form relationships, or more crudely, can't get laid. And because of the internet, the group is said to be 5,000 members strong. Their common denominator is that they're furious at constantly being rejected by women.

In the following conversation with our guest, your going to hear David talk about the strength of the Mormon community and the excruciating pain of detaching himself from his lifelong tribe that was precious to him, especially as one who'd felt excluded all his life. He, like many of us, threw himself headlong into the ministry he loved. It gave him purpose and identity and community. Life was good, and somewhat easy. What on earth would pry us out of those deep loving relationships with our Heavenly Father, our dear friend Jesus, our constant companion the Holy Spirit, and, most of all, our fellow human sojourners? The undeniable eye-opening discovery that its a delusional way of living? The corruption, the under-belly, the greed, the exclusivity?

I watched the movie "Come Sunday" about the withering of Carlton Pearson's ministry as he came out as a universalist and began preaching what he called the Gospel of Inclusion. It's on Netflix; it was produced by Ira Glass and the This American Life staff. I recommend it but with a warning. You'll see the excruciating pain of Carlton praying and praying and crying out to God as his life was falling apart, but the heavens were silent. You'll see the tug of war on his heart as his giant ministry dwindled to a handful of people, all because he wouldn't recant or back-peddle from his convictions that no one was in Hell. At times, he can't believe the indignation he witnesses just because he believed Jesus saved everyone. How is this bad news? Brennan Manning, an author I loved when I was a Christian, gave this definition of Phariseeism: when you see love and grow indignant. But, like some of us, he lost everything--his income and career, his friends, even family. And this is why this podcast exists.

I believe the power and pull and magnetism of community is at the core of why people unfriend us as soon as they perceive that we're saying something outside the beliefs that the community holds to. In their minds they have to make a choice...between you and the giant construct in which their entire lives are held together (they call it God). I'm sure it breaks their heart, but deciding to ditch us is probably much less difficult a decision than the one we're making. People have no idea...and they SO don't want to have that idea that they scoot us out of their lives as quickly as they can lest they begin to entertain it. The music stops and all the children scramble to plant their ass in a chair so they're not the ones left standing without one.

People who gather under the banner of mutual hate get their identity from without. Their actions are reactive. They are hollow.  They are defined by what they hate, not by what they love. They don't even know what they love because they lack the self-awareness and agency to ask themselves, to go within. They are all-around no-sayers. They pout in self-pitiful tantrums that nothing is they way it should be. No to the persons, bodies and psyches in which they find themselves. No to people who are different. No to the harsh realities of existence. No to the abyss of random chaos in which they find themselves. They are ill-equipped to be overcomers, to find true meaning in this meaningless life. They fall under the trance of some fairy tale that keeps them childish.  And they're lazy. Making lemonade is hard work.

0ur proneness to tribalism can be used to elevate ourselves at others expense. We can take so much pride in our community that we move into feeling superior to other communities. We can live our lives fueled by comparing ourselves to others and competing with other tribes for power. Even healthy communities can fall prey to this.

Perhaps you've been a part of a book club or a small group house church small group where the members bond and look forward to seeing each other every week or month. Then someone invites a friend and you can feel the elementary school resentment wrinkle it's nose at the invader. Now this isn't entirely evil or immature. I personally reserve the right to pick my friends and close the door on new seekers because the current chemistry is good and might be disrupted by introducing new blood. I think everybody' free to do that without shame. And the point is that relationships and communities are complicated and nuanced and even a bit fragile and have always been that way. The magic is so intense and the dynamics so delicate that friendships and communities that last a lifetime are extremely rare and thus you're very lucky if you pull that off. Even marriages have a much higher chance of losing their luster than remaining vibrant for the long haul.  So here we find ourselves...looking for love, for connectivity, for our tribe, our people. These magical relationships don't just happen. They form because we foster it intentionality. We set out to find friends, schedule get togethers, keep in contact, constantly navigating the feelings. Are they mutual? Do they like me as much as I like them? Am I smothering? Can I be myself and they still like me? Is there a breaking point on the horizon? A deal breaker? And if years go by, with dozens of dinners, engagements, parties under your belt and the intimacy is only deepening, you've won the lottery. You've hit the jackpot. Because 2 or 3 or 7 hominids getting together, enjoying each other for a long period of time is a rare and precious thing.

Direct download: Ep_201_David_Burns.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:46pm CDT
Comments[0]

On this special occasion of celebrating 200 episodes, we talk about the greatest, most alluring topic known to humankind: SEX. Specifically after leaving a faith this is negatively obsessed with it. We're featuring 4 different interviews, each about 40 minutes long: Two conducted by only Cass Midgley, one with Cass and Bob, and one with guest co-hosts Dave Warnock and Bryan Maynard. All guests are anonymous so they could be as honest as possible.  

As a heads up, these talks today are all about cisgender hetero sex. I had a trans man and a gay man scheduled to come on but they both ended up not being able to do the taping. And all four guests are women. One could argue that male sexuality is less damaged by Christianity. And sex is an entirely different experience for men as it is women. Listen to this paragraph by (Ah-nay-ees Neen) Anaïs Nin, a 20th century American diarist, essayist, novelist, and writer of short stories and erotica. Notice how she contrasts the man's sexual experience with the woman's. “Man can never know the loneliness a woman knows. Man lies in the woman's womb only to gather strength, he nourishes himself from this fusion, and then he rises and goes into the world, into his work, into battle, into art. He is not lonely. He is busy. The memory of the swim in amniotic fluid gives him energy, completion. Woman may be busy too, but she feels empty. Sensuality for her is not only a wave of pleasure in which she is bathed, and a charge of electric joy at contact with another. When man lies in her womb, she is fulfilled, each act of love a taking of man within her, an act of birth and rebirth, of child rearing and man bearing. Man lies in her womb and is reborn each time anew with a desire to act, to be. But for woman, the climax is not in the birth, but in the moment man rests inside of her.”

First up is Sierra. Her first marriage was riddled with sexual problems that she largely attributed to their inability to restrain themselves from having sex before marriage. Thinking, "if we'd just obeyed God, our sex life wouldn't be so messed up." Ironically, their sex life was ill-affected by their premarital sexual tension. As happens so often with Christian marriages, lovers have trouble shaking all the guilt, shame, and ugliness that shrouds sexuality in that context. Sierra's first husband passed away and she began a journey of self-discovery and sexual awareness that is a work in progress, of course. But it's a work that she's proud of, and well she should, because it's hard work and requires tremendous courage and honesty. Listen as her story goes from sexual shame to sexual pride.

Sierra touched on learning to listen to her own body. This is a theme throughout all these talks. Bad Christian doctrine puts a wedge between us and our bodies as something to distrust on one hand and something that belongs to God on the other--his temple, in fact. We were to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. Some of us our reclaiming our bodies as the beautiful, intuitive, sexy treasures they are. Up next, Bob and I talk with Elisa. As a part of getting in touch with her body and suppressed sexuality, Elisa took up pole dancing or pole fitness. She has posted many videos on her Facebook of her pole dancing and it's very sensuous. Think about the types of reactions that could stir in people: the exhibitionistic, she must need attention, that's inappropriate, I hope my husband doesn't see this, etc. But once you get to know Elisa and hear her motivation behind doing it, all judgement will dissipate in your love and understanding for this fellow human trying find herself and her way in the new, godless world in which she finds herself.  About 20 minutes into this talk, she gets very real. She's candid the whole time, but she accesses some deep emotions that I believe a lot of women feel.

Up next is Ruby Leigh and she's getting in touch with her own body and what it takes for her to achieve orgasm, which she didn't reach until her late 20s. Also, she's in the middle of her second divorce so we talk about relationship dynamics. She was deeply involved in Campus Crusade and the culture there to either marry or be single; anything in between was slutty.

Our last guest is Lacey. With Lacey's permission, I invited my friends, Dave Warnock and Bryan Maynard to co-host. We're all three ex-pastors and Bryan is a licensed therapist. Like many of us in the Christian faith, Lacey and we three men got married partially because Paul taught it was better to marry than burn in lust. A HORRIBLE reason to get married!  That's really bad advice. More bad advice from Paul comes from 1 Corinthians chapter 7. He writes, "The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband." This is a verse that has caused immeasurable damage in the world. It caused tremendous damage in Lacey's life.

So that's our 200th episode. I'm glad you made it this far with us. I hope we expanded the talkaboutable by talking candidly about human sexuality. Yet another area of our lives that we benefit from saying yes to it. I want to recommend two podcasts that are focused on sex every episode: Dan Savage's "Savage Lovecast," and Dr. Darrell Ray's "Secular Sexuality."  Thanks again for listening. We'll talk next week.

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 bumper music on this episode is the karaoke version of "Sexual Healing" by Marvin Gaye

Thanks for listening and be a Yes-sayer to your own sexuality! 

Direct download: Ep_200_Post-Christian_Sexuality.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:02pm CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo converse with Daniel. Daniel is a teacher, coach of a robotics team, and overall computer nerd. He grew up in a small suburb of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and attended a Southern Baptist church until he transitioned to a Charismatic, Non-denominational church in High School. He married his wife of sixteen years, a high-school friend, when he was 21 and has two daughters (13 and 10), two cats, and 1 Bearded Dragon. In college, he pursued a number of different degrees before finally graduating with a degree in English and Social Studies Education from Southeastern Louisiana University and obtaining a Masters Degree from Louisiana State University in Higher Education Administration with a focus on Student Affairs. His career as a teacher and coach has allowed him to work with students on developing their ability to think critically and to lead effectively. The fact that Daniel is robotic coach is appropo because from a young age his approach to his faith was mostly cerebral--more brain and less heart--so when his faith eventually unraveled it was not as traumatic as it is for those whose hearts are truly in it. I'm not saying he wasn't devout. He was militant in his devotion to the gospel, prayer, worship, advancing the kingdom on earth. And yet, he had a relatively soft landing after jettisoning Christianity. In this conversation, Daniel describes his desire to be in God's inner circle. He wanted more than just casual Christianity. His high school experience of Christianity borrowed military jargon, assembled and marched down the halls in prayer, waving the Christian flag and blowing the shofar, shod in matching fatigues and combat boots. Spurred on by Audio Adrenaline, DC Talk, and Caedmon's Call, they sought the face of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Remember that song "More Love, More Power?" Power seems to be what modern evangelicals want more than love. Power is addictive. I personally attended a lot of conferences...to be with the people who were serious, to ascend the hill of the Lord with others who desperately wanted God to show up and establish his kingdom on earth as in heaven. We wanted Jesus to be Lord of All, even politics if necessary. Jesus for President was just another way of seeing him as Lord or King of Kings. Jesus and God were so good at running things, we wanted them to run everything. And it's what they wanted to do, but they were gentlemen and thus needed an invitation...and for righteous behavior to increase. So abortions and homosexuality were keeping good things from coming to America. A commonly quoted scripture was 2 Chronicles 7:14 which placed the focus on God's people repenting rather than those not considered to be God's people. "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." There are pockets of Christianity today that focus on themselves getting right with God as a means to achieving God's favor on the earth. They see themselves as a remnant, like Lot's family, that would stay God's wrathful hand from destroying the nation. I used to believe that our worship was a pleasing aroma to God, like a burning cow, it was a sacrifice of praise and it counteracted the stench of sin rising up in his nostrils. We were saving people from God's wrath by worshiping. After all, He look for people to stand in the gap and fend him off. That was me.

About 50 years ago, there began a shift in Christian thinking. They decided that praying in your closet was getting the job done. That minding their own business within the four walls of the church wasn't being true Ambassadors for Christ. They felt that remaining the sweet, loving insular community was a form of being ashamed of Jesus before humankind, for which Jesus threatened to be ashamed of them before his Father in heaven. So they began their campaign to be Salt and Light in the public square. They formed a powerful voting block upon whom corporations capitalized. Fox News hijacked what little agency they had left after decades of Bible-worship.  They now fill our senates, congresses and courthouses. George W. Bush prayed for direction on major decisions. Wisdom, science and scholarship are disparaged.

So God's people have looked within, searched their own hearts, repented, prayed longer, fasted, worshipped more passionately, beat their breasts harder to get God to move. Another pocket of Christianity has blamed all the sinners, the gays, the baby-killing. THIS is why God is angry. This is why He doesn't do signs and wonders like he did in biblical times. He's angry and waiting on his people to run for more political offices.

Everyone's trying to solve the problem of God's silence. We were too, when we believed. How many times did we notice that life was happening exactly as it would if there were no God and then commence to perform theological gymnastics to make excuses for his absence. We've heard that a lot in the four years we've been interviewing ex-Christians: "I stopped making excuses for God." Believers for centuries have pulled Jesus down off the cross, propped him up, carried him around like the movie "Weekend at Bernies," even tried CPR on him, for years in fact. 1 2 3 breathe, 123 breathe, over and over again for decades. We've pressed the shock paddles on his chest, yelled "clear" and zapped him, over and over again. It's like Bob always says on this show, "C'mon! it's been 2,000 years! he's not coming back."

Some of us have pulled the plug, taken him off the ventilator and walked away lost and confused wondering what the fuck did I just spend the last 20 years doing. It was a lie so big and so repeated...by so many people over so many centuries of which countless cathedrals have been erected, billions of dollars have been spent that we believed it, and millions still do.  Even now, some of our nearest and dearest still believe it and actually want us to return to it. To pick up the silent god again and drag him into every aspect of our lives, crown him lord of lords and president of presidents. I think we're witnessing the type of chaos and absurdity that hoisting up a hollow shelled corpse into leadership produces. It's for the same reason why our universe is chaotic and absurd--no one's watching the shop. It's just us here. We're the only hope for solving our problems, taking care of our world, our societies, each other. Imaginary gods have distracted us too long.  We're the ones in need of resuscitation.

We taped this conversation on April 7th, 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 bumper music on this episode is "One Love" by Danny E. B. Tracks on YouTube

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

Direct download: Ep_199_Daniel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:54pm CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and Jennifer Kates interview Nicole, who wishes to remain anonymous. Bob was out of town for this one. Nicole was raised as a devout, non-denominational Christian and home-schooled for most of her youth. She gave her life to the lord as a young teen and became involved in the “apostolic church” movement. In her early 20’s, she served as a deacon in a charismatic, evangelical church and led a home group for several years. She has worked as a nurse for 15 years in pediatric oncology and pediatric critical care at a university hospital in California. She also facilitates courses for health-care workers on self-compassion and self-care. In learning about the neurobiology of self-compassion, and seeing the healthiness, joy and peace of the “un-believers” she worked with, she began to question the health of some of the Christian teachings. A journey of seeking health above all slowly changed her view of what “righteousness” was and changed how she saw the world around her. Valuing health over righteousness led to leaving her church and she is now slowly dismantling the beliefs and experiences that have shaped her identity and worldview. She is replacing what once was “a beautiful faith” with personal agency and a freedom to be healthy, no matter what.

I want to share something from Gretta Vosper. She's our Canadian friend whose been on the show twice, episodes 67 and 188. She's developed a conference as a fundraiser for their refugee family. Sobak Pakhi is one of the most threatened secular bloggers in Bangladesh and has been in hiding since September 2015. I was in Chattanooga TN this weekend speaking to the Humanist Assembly with my friend Tad Beatty and someone asked me if I knew about the persecution and even execution of atheists in that country. We Gretta's church, West Hill United has been approved as Sobak's resettlement sponsor. They are trying to get his processing expedited. It is a long and dangerous time for him, his two small children, and his wife. I cannot even imagine. So she's doing this conference up there in Canada for you Canadian listeners to raise money for this cause.

What: Lives in the Balance Conference
Where: Factory Theatre, 125 Bathurst Street,Toronto
When: Saturday 2 June 2018, Registration at 08:00 am. Events 8:45 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Cost: Early registration - $125 until the end of April; $150 following.

Here is the website: livesinthebalance.ca. Here is the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/livesinthebalance2018/

The second thing I want to talk about that came in our talk with Nicole was the word "supposed." We learned early on that we were supposed to behave certains ways, talk in certains ways, and, conversely don't behave or talk in certain ways. NOW, as free moral agents, we get to decide who we are and how we show up, without any wagging fingers shaming us for following our own moral compasses. So, in summary, the only thing we're SUPPOSED to be is US! Here's your freedom, your licence, my admonition: DO YOU. That's it: DO YOU. And trust yourself. You don't need any external laws, rules, or parameters to guide your heart. It's not impure; it's good. You're good. Unless you're a psychopath or sociopath, you know what's right and wrong for you and the way you treat others. That should go without saying, but for those of us who left the faith, it's music to our ears and empowerment to our integrated selves, welcoming our bodies into our minds into our hearts and ourselves into reality. It's beautiful. Come on in, the waters warm.  

We taped this conversation on March 25th, 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 bumper music on this episode is by The Best Deep House Chill Out Music

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



Direct download: Ep_198_Nicole.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:31pm CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley talks with Marissa Alexa McCool. Bob was out of town for this taping. This episode is a bit of detour from our regular format. Marissa doesn't have a personal deconversion from faith story, but she does have a gender conversion story that religions generally oppose. I call this episode, much like episode 60 with Callie Wright, back in the summer of 2015, a beginner class in Trans 101. I support this kind of education because in order to be a part of the solution and not the problem we need to seek to understand, stretch out our imaginations, and expose our blind spots regarding these our fellow human beings, and of course, say yes to what is. Also, we ex-Christians can relate to this: one can only lie about who one is for so long before going crazy.

Author Ellen Wittlinger is quoted as saying, “People change lots of other personal things all the time. They dye their hair and diet themselves to near death. They take steroids to build muscles and get breast implants and nose jobs so they resemble their favorite movie stars. They change names and majors and jobs and husbands and wives. They change religions and political parties. They move across the country or the world — even change nationalities. Why is gender the one sacred thing we aren't supposed to change? Who made that rule?”

Our guest today, Marissa Alexa McCool, is 32, a podcaster, author, performer, speaker, ​and an LGBT rights/atheist activist. She's a trans woman, married, partnered, and a parent. Born in Akron, Ohio and currently residing in Saint Paul, Minnesota with her family, she graduated the University of Pennsylvania in 2017 with 3 degrees: English, Cinema and Media Studies, and Anthropology, while also studying theatre, Shakespeare, and communication theory. Within the atheist community, she's spoken at Lehigh Valley Humanists, Minnesota Atheists, Skepticon 10, NaNoCon 3, and several others.

Marissa won a 2014 Keystone Award for Excellence in Journalism, a 2015 audience choice award at the Hershey Student Film Festival for a short film, and co-founded The Trans Podcaster Visibility Initiative with Callie Wright in 2017. She blends her theatrical background and fiery passion for atheism, humanist and secular values, and intersectionality. Marissa mentions a video by Steve Shives on this trans subject and I feature a 5 minute excerpt within the conversation. We taped this conversation on March 24th, 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

Thank you for listening. And be a Yes-Sayer to what is. 

Steve Shive's video: Pluto's Not a Planet and Trans Women Are Women

 

Direct download: Ep_197_Marissa_Alexa_McCool.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:45pm CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo talk with Jennifer Cates. She's a Middle Tennessee State professor here in Murfreesboro where Bob used to teach. She was raised entrenched in Nazarene and Church of Christ southern fried Christianity but found her way out. Jennifer will be helping out here on the show as one of two co-hosts that will jump in when Bob leaves.

At the top of the conversation, we make a brief reference to a film that Bob made while there at MTSU called, "The Miracles of Honey Bee Hill." If you search for it on YouTube it comes up and you can see some of Bob's excellent work. It's only 23 minutes long. Stop what you're doing, which is listening to this podcast and go watch it. It's a great piece and you'll get a little window into Bob's head.

I also insert a brief YouTuber named Paul Dalton who talks about the difference in empathy and compassion. Jen starts one of her classes by playing David Foster Wallace's famous commencement address at Kenyon College on May 21, 2005.Wallace was one of those humans who manifested an extreme version of what all humans are--quirky, sad, confused, imaginative, fun, hedonistic, narcissistic and self-debasing...all at the same time. He committed suicide 3 years after this speech. His novels are so huge, both in length and in swath that it can be like drinking from a fire-hose. His footnotes were almost as long as his books. He had lots of voices and personalities firing in his brain at all times. He was exceptional in a way that is just bigger than the exception we each are.  What people like Wallace give me is the permission to be weird, to be my authentic self, to realize that life is really just a fucking game, a video game, or a movie in which we find ourselves and that taking one's self serious is the poison that one drinks to slowly die a fake life. We Americans have got it all wrong. We are shaped by comparison and competition which only robs the creative, playful joy-monger out of us. Life is just too short and precious to give a fuck about what people think. Wallace makes me want to live wild and carefree and jubilant. I wonder if my depression and melancholy isn't me being crazy, it's my most sane and healthy self getting sick by breathing this American air. Life is SO hard and unfair that to place expectations on it to be anything otherwise is setting oneself up for disappointment. I recommend lower the bar so low that is you have a moment of pleasantness or laughter or orgasm or intrigue or contemplation of something original, consider yourself damn lucky. The American air we breathe is paranoid and scared and cowardly and it pumps out of the exhaust pipes of money-loving factories pushing out self-hating schizoids afraid to be seen or known or understood. The world I find myself in is afraid of all others unlike ourselves because we're so afraid to be unique we only find safety in the safe homogenous world we've created by exclusion--boring and meaningless instead of having the guts to admit it. We lipstick the pig and compartmentalize daunting truths so deeply in the dungeons of our minds. Like Trump, we walk around trying to convince ourselves that we still matter, when embracing that fact the we don't matter is the first step to true freedom and love and playfulness and hope. I recommend the movie, "The End of the Tour," which is about the life of David Foster Wallace. Truly a great soul of a human being. Rest in peace.

 

Anyway, I play Wallace's speech at the end of our talk with Jennifer. I love Jen. She's quick and sharp and learned and she, like all of us, is deep in the throes of learning how to say yes to what is and no to that which is robbing us of self-love.

We taped this conversation with Janet and Chad on March 18th, 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

Bob's Movie: The Miracles on Honey Bee Hill

Paul Dalton's video podcast on Compassion vs. Empathy

 

Direct download: Ep_196_Jennifer_Cates.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:24pm CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo talk with married couple Janet and Chad. They both are optometrists, they both deconverted but at different times and the calibration of that kind of dissonance is no easy task, but they've done and they share how they negotiated that and stayed married, in fact very happily married. This an emotional story with a happy ending, or as Rosie from episode 193 called it, a happy beginning.

I want to talk about Michelle Obama's admonition, "when they go low, we go high." Two huge contingencies to understanding yes-saying is 1) more often than not, it must be followed by an "and." And secondly, it only applies to things and circumstances that are beyond our control. I kinda thought it went without saying, but if something bad is happening to you and you can do something about it, Yes-saying is the wrong application. Say no to to things that damage, diminish or debase your person. You must be a person with boundaries, agency and assertion of your will and feelings. And often that means saying no.

So on point one, "and" most often should follow "yes." Yes this weather sucks, And I don't have to let it ruin my day. That's also agency and assertion. I'm hurt by what my daughter said to me. I can't control her so I'm saying yes to her humanity, her emotions, and whatever else is going on in her life to evoke such anger. AND I can respond with understanding and compassion and empathy. I can resist the temptation to put on my armor, grab my sword and let myself be vulnerable to her in hopes that a restorative dialogue can occur between us, as opposed to escalating the animosity by doubling down on my pride or insecurity. When they go low, we go high.

People are prime example of that which we can't control. And because they are more valuable than anything, a prime opportunity to say yes to them--their being, their person, their body, their feelings...even when they go low. No-saying is always wishing things were different and entering the ring with a brick wall. No-saying is throwing a tantrum. Saying no is what 2 year olds do when they don't get their way. When the weather, the world, our jobs, the people in our lives go low, we can say YES, this is real, this is happening, AND I can engage in a way that is remedial and fosters an environment that will stop the downward spiral that going low in turn will allow. This may have been what Jesus was trying to say in "turn the other cheek," but that's a horrible example and one in which, if taken literally, enables abuse and mistreatment. Which is often mistaken for yes-saying.

Those with agency and dignity discern wisely when to say no and when to say yes. If your friend has behaved below their true character. When they've done something that themselves are ashamed of, that is a moment when they need you to see past their raging eyes or impassioned over-reaction and know that they know they've just gone low and await your next move. Going high is not joining them in those depths, and throwing them a lifeline that will restore them to the values and virtues you know they really hold. Now, if this is a pattern and they don't seem to have any self-awareness, remorse and take no action to correct the behavior? It might be time to say no. Again, this takes discernment and wisdom and strong heart. Both our yeses and our nos can come from the same place if played well--and that is love. Love is the high road. Love of self, in that you respect yourself enough to say no when your boundaries have been violated, and yes to leaning in to the rain, to those you love and believe in when they're at their worst, and ultimately all that you can't control.

Our guests today are a married couple with two homeschooled children approaching teenage. Chad deconverted first and kept it to himself for a couple of years. When Janet found out, her first reaction was driven by fear. Psychologist Tara Brach says that we can get in a fear trance, where we are walking around, going through the motions of daily life, but we can't see, hear or feel those we love most. It's hard to reach people while they're in a fear trance; they have erected a force-field around themselves for protection. But if you'll wait patiently, maybe even stand guard around them, their solitude might serve as a cocoon that buys them the time they need to truly ponder what they've experienced. They may be watching through the glass bubble to see if it's safe. It may seem unfortunate that both parties must be yes-sayers in order for any restoration or even revolution to heal their relationship. But then we'd be saying that our freedom is unfortunate. Chad said yes to Janet's initial no-saying and waited. Janet bravely mustered the courage to come out from behind the force field and say-yes to Chad's evolution. and a new thing emerged, far better than what they had before. It doesn't always happen this way. In fact, yes-saying may mean that parting ways is the best thing for one or both people. But those that adopt the position that there's no God protecting them, realize that it's up to them to protect themselves, do what's right for them, and say yes-and to that which is out of their control, and live on.

We taped this conversation with Janet and Chad on March 4th, 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 "The Road" by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis

Janet's Blog

Richard Dawkin video

 

Direct download: Ep_195_Janet__Chad.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:09am CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley talks with Ryan Connell. Cohost Bob Pondillo was not able to be there for the conversation. Ryan is an Assembly of God pastor's son and himself was in ministry and aspiring to be a pastor like his father. But his pursuit of truth and love took him to some unexpected places.

Ryan is the homeschooled son of a pentecostal pastor and was himself a traveling preacher and inner city missionary. His crisis of faith caused him to dig deeper into philosophy of religion and church history, where he has spent the last thirteen years or so trying to make sense of what we were raised to believe. He is now a nomadic religious scholar and journalist, traveling the country sleeping on people's couches and guest rooms, documenting the American religious experience. He also jokingly refers to himself as a "missionary to evangelicals" as he writes a weekly contemplative blog directed to them about how to move past the more damaging aspects of their belief system while still holding on to their faith. You can check out his essays on his website theholyapostate.com that help explain his background and what he's up to now. I loved this talk and I love Ryan. He's truly a brother of a different mother. We could hang. It's all I'm saying.

At one point, Ryan refers to the theodicy of divine silence and I want to address this for a second. Theodicy means the vindication or the insistence of divine goodness and providence in view of the existence of evil, in this case, the fact that God is silent and rather cryptic in revealing himself to his creation. The seeking and finding of a hidden God. This serves as a way for humans to feel superior to those that have not found God because of this very promise--that if you had truly sought God then you would find God. You're not humble enough. You're not desperate enough. Your pride is keeping you from seeing God. It flips upside down the old adage, "you have to see it to believe it," to "you have believe it to see it." Which conveniently puts the blame of not being able to see a non-existent god onto the unbeliever, creating guilt and deep distrust of one's self as inadequate to see the invisible. And the temptation for people in that tribe to keep pretending has little to do with their true beliefs, but rather the safety the feel in numbers. All these people can't be wrong! It's the prime environment to fake it til you make it. After all, what would we do outside this tribe? The chaotic world full of unexplainable injustices and daunting emptiness awaits us outside this tribe. At least here we all know what's going on, don't we? Please keep preaching to me week after week! Please let's go see all our friends in the tribe because we all wouldn't be coming here if it wasn't true. We wouldn't build this building or the local police wouldn't direct traffic outside our parking lot. Handel, Bach, Mozart and Beethoven wouldn't have written about God if it weren't true. Billy Graham wouldn't be invited to the White House by 11 Presidents from Truman in 1945 to George W. Bush in 2007 if it weren't true. Look at all the cathedrals around the world. Look at all the seminaries and books written about our God. Look how many times we remind ourselves, "God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good." Because God is silent, because life happens exactly as it would if there were no god, we fill the silence and replace the chaos with the sounds of praises and the grand narratives of meaning, lest we lapse for just long enough to catch a glimpse of the meaninglessness, to hear the deafening silence, and actually consider that all these people and buildings and books and music and popes and general hoopla says more about our childish fears and  insecurities and our need to hide the man behind the curtain and protect God from his own scriptures than it does about the actual existence of God. Believers need things to be simple. They can't handle chaos. Life is complex. Humans are complex. The cosmos is complex. And all are chaotic. They like order and neat, clearly divided compartments where everything fits and makes sense. It's why the homophobic authors couldn't understand gayness, and why today's homophobes are fighting LGBTQ and transgender humans. We're messing up their sandcastle. Stephen Hawking, may he rest in peace, threw a wrench in their perfect, divine plan.

Now, for those of us who, like the Truman show, found the edge of the soundstage and stepped through the door to the real world, found the world to be much less scary than we were told or imagined. We discovered real humans and real art and real sex and the amazing creativity and determination of science and curing diseases and understanding our universe and cultures that worshipped other gods. That our little indoctrinations were so clearly man-made. Just this week I explored a couple of YouTubers called nerdwriter1 and Casey Neistat. I celebrated the music of Joe Bonamassa and The Kinks and brilliant artists that make us think and laugh like the Coen Brothers, David Letterman, Wes Anderson, Game of Thrones, Peaky Blinders, the Netflix series Seven Seconds and all the streaming shows that stretch us like Black Mirror or documentaries that challenge us to think about what we're doing to destroy the planet. Life is happening outside the Christian bubble in depths and breadths I wouldn't allow myself to consider inside the tribal walls.

 

And my guest today, Ryan Connell did just that--he not only left Christianity but he loaded up his car and went on the road to better understand why humans need religion, especially Christianity. His curiousity and lack of judgment is a breath of fresh air. I believe you're going to benefit from this conversation. We taped it on March 3rd, 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 "Hard to Be," by David Bazan

Ryan's Patreon site

 

Direct download: Ep_194_Ryan_Connell.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:39am CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo interview Rosie in Great Britain. Rosie's dad was a pastor and in the late 70s co-founded the apostolic, pentecostal church called Newfrontiers International. Today it has hundreds of churches worldwide. At age 12 Rosie was subjected to a traumatizing exorcism for an eating disorder, which of course didn't work but the pastors and congregation claimed it did which only intensified Rosie's need to keep it a secret. She was taught that it was the end times, Jesus was coming back at any moment. They emphasized spiritual warfare against Satan and his demons.  The World is a scary place, but the church is safe. Today she has a private counselling practice and works with teenagers in school. She has emerged from the horrors of her childhood and feels she's got her happy ending, but prefers to think of it as her happy beginning. 

Last week I talked my histrionic tendencies. That I have a profound felt need for attention and affection that turned out to be something of a black hole of needs. My parents loved me but I discounted it because they were prejudiced and parents are hard-wired to love their children. My friends loved me but I thought they hated me, and actually my distrust of their friendship made more all the harder to earn what they'd already given me and did in fact become a self-fulfilling because my antics to gain their attention and adoration only drove them to dislike me, which only confirmed my suspicions. When the Gospel was presented to, the unconditional love of a God from whom I could not hide or fool into thinking I was cool by being funny or cute or smart or handsome. At last a love I could believe in and trust. After all the Bible said so.

But after the initial high of getting saved wore off, which was about 3 months I suppose, my black hole opened up again and sought the limelight. Becoming a worship leader, youth pastor, and eventual founding pastor of a non-denominational church put me on the stage where I could wow people with my wisdom, charisma, and powerful homiletics. Standing in front of a hundred teenagers and eventually adults with all their eyes on me, hanging on my every word, and afterword a line forming of those wanting to talk to me. The esteem, the exaltation made my black feel good. But much like an opiate, when the drugs wore off, I was lonely and depressed, needed back in the limelight. I suspect that histrionic personality disorder could also be called with Pastor's Syndrome.

This cycle, much like the experience with my youthful friends, over time, drove people away from me, confirming all my fears that I was unlovable, enticing me to try harder to make them love, driving them further away, including those nearest and dearest to me.

Leaving faith was the beginning of me joining the human race, learning to relax and be at home in my own body, to actually like myself apart from outside accolades, say yes to what is, and begin to establish myself and and my view of the world in which I find myself with the meaning I give it. Now, this is a life's work and as most of you know who listen to this show, I've got a long way to go, be even that I'm okay with. I also acknowledge that my black hole, while much smaller and less insatiable, derives some pleasure from being the honcho of this podcast and having thousands of listeners. And I'm hoping that being aware of that will assist me in resisting the temptation to get my validation from it. To illustrate this line of thinking in another way, here's a clip from someone I've learned a great deal from, Dr. Sheldon Solomon, a scholar on Ernest Becker's book, "The Denial of Death."  

(clip)

In a text conversation I had this week with a dear friend of mine that I met through this podcast, Kyle Buckles. I wrote: I want to love myself (say YES) such that I don't need anyone's affection or affirmation to feel good about myself AND enough to desire to develop myself into a better and better version of myself, not for anyone but myself and not because I'm inadequate right now. It's saying YES AND. I know it sounds like common sense, but I need to keep it in mind.

To which Kyle replied: ""That is excellent advice. And hard to accomplish but recognizing is a huge step. The one thing I will say is be compassionate with yourself on this journey of awareness. As you intuit how you feel and respond more and more, you may get frustrated. Allow yourself the space to fuck up. It's just like meditating, when you recognize your thoughts have wandered you note it and come back to the breath...not bashing yourself for fucking up. Keep in mind, as humans, we evolved to crave and need attention from others because it contributed to our survival, so until we fully ditch that as a species I don't think anyone can ever reach 100% non-dependency on others for affirmation and affection but it is good to attenuate it. Maybe keep that in perspective."

Our guest today, Rosie, models this endeavor with considerable success. As ex-Christians, stunted by the Christian debasement of what it means to be human and the relinquishing our wills and agency in submissive serfdom to a sovereign dictator, we find ourselves re-entering the world that's been going on without us, and the instinctive, natural intent to develop ourselves in a beautiful and often confusing maturation, natural to our species ensues. We are shedding the co-dependence to which our fears and insecurities enslaved us, and learning to be our authentic selves, in public, needing less and less from those around us, growing independent and eventually interdependent in a community of people also learning to stand on their own two feet.

We taped this conversation on February 11th, 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 "Deeper" by Delirious

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

Sheldon Solomon's talk on Self Esteem

Direct download: Ep_193_Rosie.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:37pm CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo interview Mary D. She's right here in the Nashville area so she was here in the studio. She has quite a journey through Catholicism, alcoholism, various protestant and evangelical churches and strangely (and unique to any other guest on this podcast) hypnosis.

Even though Mary has been involved in many churches over the years, she was never compelled to worship a god, so in some ways she's not our typical guest who had a traumatic departure from faith, but rather has a very generous regard for people who need religion. Sometimes we ex-Christians need a break from the veracious animosity we feel towards religion and maybe even those that adhere to it and give our fellow humans some slack as they fight their own battles and navigate their own storms.

I had an epiphany this week and it's a little embarrassing to admit it, 'cause it's going to sound like common sense to most of you. It has to do with something that happened to me when I left the faith. God's grace toward me was appealing to me because I had come to dislike myself and the message of someone forgiving me and giving me a clean slate and empower me to change was extremely appealing. I think this is why the Gospel appeals so strongly to people in alcohol and drug addiction or convicts in prison. But on a smaller scale, I had acted out in elementary school and middle school in ways that were inappropriate and shameful and by high school, I was a prime candidate for God's antidote to self-hatred. After all, in His holiness, he had all the right to hate me (and in fact without Christ's sacrifice he would) and here He is offering his unconditional love to me and eternal, blissful life with a new body and a perfect nature. Sign me up!  

Paul, in the scriptures (also a self-loather) prescribes emptying myself, becoming less so He could become more, casting off the old nature and fleshly desires for a new nature and a renewed mind. Throw in a powerful plan for my life that he would guide me through and WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE?

Well, as we now know, that was all bullshit and we ended up giving our agency and personal accountability over to an imaginary, non-existent deity. SO, as a result, we often swing wide, like a pendulum to an opposite pathology. You may have heard me say many times on this podcast, "I will never apologize again for being human!" or "...being Cass Midgley," and I set out to embrace myself and love myself so thoroughly. And as usual, the healthy place is somewhere in the middle, where I acknowledge I'm imperfect and in fact capable of some pretty damaging behavior--damaging to myself and to my relationships. And unchecked, can truly fuck things up. So what is the truth here?

Well, stay with me for a sec. We all have personalities and these are the deeply ingrained patterns of behavior and the lens through which we perceive, relate to, and think about ourselves and their world in which we find ourselves. All personalities are flawed. Mental health professionals have defined 10 personality disorders as listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM. They are paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, antisocial, borderline, histrionic, narcissistic, avoidant, dependent and obsessive-compulsive. I invite you to investigate your own personality and these disorders to see where your imperfect personality errs on the side of one or more of these. Keep in mind that a full-blown diagnosis from a professional is far, far different and more extreme than simply recognizing that you find that you are mildly influenced by some of these, and of course you are. No one is immune to their influence because no one is perfect. And we all would benefit from some self-awareness of our own cryptonites. If we'er aware that we have this or that tendency, then we would benefit, especially those near and dear to us, if we could clue in to what they already know and that is we're all a little bit crazy. Being sensitive to your potential pathology could save a lot of pain and heartache, because you can reign it in when you start to feel it creeping up in you.

For example, my therapist told me this week that I'm not so much narcissistic as I am histrionic. Well I'd never heard the word "histrionic." The word itself means: an actor, overly theatrical or melodramatic in character or style, exaggerated dramatic behavior designed to attract attention.

For a diagnosis of histrionic personality disorder to be given, five or more of the following symptoms must be present:

1 Self-centeredness, uncomfortable when not the center of attention. Me.
2 Constantly seeking reassurance or approval. Not constant so I'll give it a half point.
3 Inappropriately seductive appearance or behavior. not me
4 Rapidly shifting emotional states that appear shallow to others. yeah, pretty much me. So that's 2.5
5 Overly concerned with physical appearance, and using physical appearance to draw attention to self. that's opposite of me, so I'm deducting a point.
6 Opinions are easily influenced by other people, but difficult to back up with details. not so much. I could be wrong, but I'm sticking with not me.
7 Excessive dramatics with exaggerated displays of emotion. OUch, pretty much me. back up to 2.5.
8 Tendency to believe that relationships are more intimate than they actually are. totally me. 3.5.
9 Is highly suggestible (easily influenced by others). Nope.

So 3.5 at worst 4.5 so I'm not at the level of "disorder" but close enough to arouse some self-awareness and some presence of mind to reign it in when I feel it arising, huh? Keep in mind, for these symptoms to be considered a disorder, they must cause significant impairment or distress in the individual.

Now, something that is not on that list of pathologies is lying. I've known some pathological liars in my years. Maybe you have too. They seem to get a rush from wowing people with their life stories and embellishing a little to get their listeners to that over-the-top place of gasps and awe. Today's guest, Mary D's story is like that at times. It's so brutal at times that I couldn't help but think, "is she embellishing?" But I only met her the day of this taping so I don't know, but I know this: we're all a little crazy, we're all needy, we're all insecure, and if we're aware of our own shadow side, we're much more likely to sense when we're tempted to resort to these lower demons of our nature, which will only end up hurting those we love and ourselves, and unlike our past religious lives where we'd either try to cast out the demon or try to get closer to God to dispell the darkness, or pray harder, we now know that it's up to us to be good, to do the right thing, to take the high ground, to say yes to our yin/yang nature and thus be empowered to say no to that which disconnects us from our fellow, flawed human neighbors.

We taped this conversation on February 11th, 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 was created Hans Zimmer from the movie Interstellar

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

 

Direct download: Ep_192_Mary_D.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:16pm CDT
Comments[0]

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
Comments[0]

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
Comments[0]

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
Comments[0]

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
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo interview a Canadian guest who'll go by the name Freddy to protect his identity. He's not fully out to his friends, family and co-workers. His faith began to crumble when he discovered that his dear, dear Lutheran grandma who raised him was going to hell according to his Church of Christ .

I admire the image of an old sage that if full and wisdom, knowledge, and experience and yet tells no one. Doesn't try to teach or enlighten, unless of course someone asks, but even then he discerns whether they're ready to hear it and doesn't waste it on those on whom it would be lost. In that way he's also respecting them and honoring the unspoken boundary of presumed pedagogy. It's ineffective and unattractive for one to presume to be the teacher. That role is given to them by their students, not taken without their consent. These monologues are my attempt to practice the teacher in me and I do it because I interpret your act of choosing to listen as consent. But even so, I can't help but hear the accusing voice in my head saying, "who do you think you are?" Well, truth rarely happens in a vacuum. It is relationships that help us grow, so we all play the role of teacher in each other's lives from time to time. Sometimes it's presumptuous; sometimes it's by invitation. The wisdom to know the difference is an tell-tell sign of the integrity of the teacher and thus the potency of their wisdom. More often than not, we should keep our revelations, wisdom, insight, and epiphanies to ourselves. And just hope that someday somebody asks. But I know that I need to work on being okay with no one ever asking.

We taped the following conversation with Joy Hopper on January 14th, 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, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can make a monthly pledge through Patreon. That’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode was created by Cass Midgley

 

Direct download: Ep_187_Freddy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:12pm CDT
Comments[1]

Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo interview Joy Hopper. She's the author of her memoir, "Joy Unspeakable: Toxic Faith and Rose Colored Glasses." This is the quintessential EA episode. Joy's story is many abused Christian  women's stories, and yet Joy shares the tragic details with the timbre of an upbeat college girl.

Before we get into our talk with Joy, a word of caution to the ex-Christian men listening. If you even slightly built your marriage on the scriptures, this story is going to sting. Now Joy's ex-husband, whose name is Troy, takes it to the extreme, but I found myself cringing when reading her accounts of the marriage in her book and during this interview. I can easily judge Troy and even hate Troy, but as I did, it had the familiar feeling of Troy reflecting back to me that which I hate about myself.

There's a Buddhist teaching that can help us understand Troy and ourselves and even Joy. It's especially relevant in this time when the cultural scales of justice are shifting in favor of the oppressed and the long overdo condemnation of the oppressors. What we're seeing these days with all these tragic stories coming to the surface about men using their power to get women to do their bidding and how that whole power dynamic steamrolls the woman's consent, is not black and white, it's a spectrum. This is why we're now seeing women push back in France against the potential for this to become a puritanical witch hunt. The human mating ritual is awkward even for married couples who've had sex 5,000 times. It's always a little awkward and neither party ever really knows how into it the other is until several risk-taking moves have been made to test the waters.

Anyway, I want to talk about the spectrum of human behavior and emotional health as interpreted through the Buddhist teaching called the 8 worldly winds. It's 4 sets of 2 poles sitting opposite of each other. In between is a spectrum. And throughout our lives we are somewhere on the spectrum between the two poles. We constantly ebb and flow across it. The first of the two pairs is something we all want and the second is something we all don't want. We all have a tendency to lust after the first thing and be afraid of the second. They are:

This model is a great map for understanding motivation in ourselves and in others. It teaches that every one of us, in our intention to move through this life, are affected by these 8 worldly winds that are constantly battering us. The first two are:

Greed and Lack - everyone of us has desire to gain, to get things, and with that a fear of loss or going without. Sometimes we operate from a place of greed, other times from a place of lack. Both are toxic for us and our relationships. The Buddhist aspiration is find a balance and detach from both the greed form more the fear of lack.

The second pair is Status and Disgrace - everyone of us has desire to be to be seen, to be known and respected, and with that a fear of disgrace, or a fear of being ignored.

the third: Praise and Blame - everyone of us thrives when we experience praise from others, and we fear blame.

lastly: Pleasure and Pain - everyone of us wants pleasure and we have an aversion to pain.

When we seek for the former or flee from the latter, we can live in an irritable often depressed state and it directly affects our relationships. when we reflect on conflict with others it can be interesting to sense which one of the motivators is running really strong at that moment.   

I bring this up in the context of Joy and her abusive husband. We'll see in Troy a deep need for status and thus a deep disdain for being ignored. If you too wrestle with these particular worldly winds, you may recognize yourself in Troy. This will likely disgust you with more fervor than others because it's so close to home for you (I'm speaking from experience here). This brings up another pitfall. It's clear that Troy has a problem--his extreme need for power and the fear of his own weakness. But he will compound this problem if he also has a problem with having the problem. Here's how this works. Joy tells a story where they have a disagreement in the house. Joy is late to run an errand and has to leave the house. Troy interprets this as Joy ignoring him. He's lost the status he craves and feels disgraced when she leaves him behind. He's feeling the pain and disappoint of this, so he storms out to the driveway, pounds on the window and demands that she come back inside. "We're not finished with this conversation," he yells. By now he's aware that he's out of control. He's scared the children in the car. The neighbors may be watching, and now he begins to hate himself for behaving this way but it's too late. He's in over his head, his adrenaline is pumping, he's invested and can't admit that he's made a mistake because he not only has this problem, but he's embarrassed that has the problem in the first place, let alone the unseemly behavior. He needs help, for sure, but the challenge for any therapist he visits is that they will likely have to build him up before he can deal with his issues. If he looks into the mirror and sees the monster, he will repel because he has a problem with having a problem and instead of owning it, he will deny it and distance himself from it, digging yet a deeper hole than he had when he walked in the office. His therapy will take week, months, years just so he has a strong enough self-esteem that when he sees the monster in the mirror he can have compassion on himself.

These theories help me when I see someone like Troy or Harvey Weinstein or even Donald Trump and see a reflection of myself. Obviously my first reaction is disgust and it can easily turn into self-hatred (which is not helpful). But if I can know that while, yes, I am on the same spectrum as these assholes, I'm not necessarily in the same spot on the spectrum. But just having this awareness can help me move along the spectrum in a way that is less like these monsters.

I'm not a hard core Harry Potter fan but one of the movies was on in the background at my house recently and I stopped to watch it. I learned that a part of Voldemort is inside Harry. It made me think that a part of Donald Trump is in me. Now before you vomit, consider this: one sure way that we can make the world a better place, improve society, mitigate wars, and promote world peace is to begin to see ourselves connected to one another--even those who disgust us, especially those that disgust us. Here's a brief excerpt from the Harry Potter story:

Harry:
[to Sirius] This connection between me and Voldemort, what if the reason for it is that I'm becoming more like him? [starts to choke up; fighting back tears] I just feel so... angry, all the time. And what if after everything I've been through, something's gone wrong inside me. What if I'm becoming bad?

Sirius:
I want you to listen to me very carefully, Harry. You're not a bad person. You're a very good person, who bad things have happened to. You understand? [Harry nods] Besides, the world isn't split into good people and Death Eaters. We have all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the power we choose to act on. That's who we really are.

Former guest of this podcast and host of the NPR program, "On Being," Krista Tippet Tweeted this week regarding the intense racist climate fostered by Donald Trump, "The spiritual danger in a moment like this is that we orient so passionately towards what we reject that we mirror it, amplifying its energy and its ethos. Dr. King said, "hate is too great a burden to bear." He modeled a "strong, demanding love" even as he battled hate."  

And one of the 32 declarations of healthy adulthood is "Until I see another’s behavior with compassion, I have not understood it." The danger of seeing another's behavior with judgment is that ironically, before you know it, you become what you hate.  So when I see disgusting behavior, I let myself feel as much disgust as my mind and body decide it merits AND I know that if not for higher love, understanding and compassion, there go I. I see the evil, feel it in my body, I don't judge myself for feeling it AND I don't judge the person for doing it. I see it, assess it for what it is, and try to get in touch with some compassion. Because the truth is, while I may be more self-aware or more disciplined or whatever, but at a primal level, I am not superior to that person and under the same circumstances as their life, I would likely do the same exact thing. This another way we benefit from saying yes to what is; to that which we cannot control.

The faith Joy inherited at the age of three worked for almost fifty years. She believed it, preached it, wrote songs about it, lived it. Jesus was the center of her universe, literally and metaphorically. Hence, one can only imagine the tsunami that followed when her ironclad theological foundation unexpectedly and involuntarily collapsed with a deafening thud.

Joy's narrative chronicles her experiences of indoctrination from a young child to the present, as viewed through her rose-colored glasses. From early neglect to domestic violence, she shares how her distorted lens of faith turned every obstacle into an object lesson and every injustice into a refining tool. She exposes the toxicity of a religion that promises unspeakable joy amidst the backdrop of terror and violence. Joy offers hope to others who, like her, have found the courage to walk away and discover the world is even more beautiful without the enhanced overlay of religion.

We taped the following conversation with Joy Hopper on January 14th, 2018 (the audio got this wrong).

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

Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge monthly gift at www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.


Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode the rhythm track of "Black Tamborine" by Beck 

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

Direct download: Ep_186_Joy_Hopper.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:39pm CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo interview Derreck Bennett. Derreck is the author a book entitled, Addictus, which is a word for someone who is a debt slave; a person who has been bound as a slave to his creditor. Derrick agrees with step 1 of the 12 steps that he is powerless over alcohol but most AA groups take that powerlessness to a degree in which Derreck found counterintuitive. As an atheist fascinated by religion and philosophy, Derreck has studied extensively to glean a comprehensive understanding of the history and origins of religion. His story is both tragic and inspiring as he models how to overcome nihilism and create a life for himself after hopelessness. He was raised believing John 3:16 literally, that believers were immortal in every sense of the word--even their bodies would not die. Imagine the cog diss when his father and mother both died. It's no wonder he  tried to anesthetize his pain through alcohol.

Raw nihilism is the belief that everything is meaningless. It's extreme form argues that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. That level of nihilism could produce a depressing hopelessness and despair. But a lite version of it could actually produce hope and happiness. Like the old bumper sticker, Life's a Bitch and then you die. I think these are truths that can set us free.

As argued in his book, The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker says that most humans work very hard to suppress the awareness of their own impending death. But I have found that when I do the opposite--I keep it at the fore of my awareness--then I actually value more the people and circumstances of my otherwise banal life. After all, if I'm alive to experience them, it means I didn't die today and that's a tremendous realization. If it's simply good to be alive, then even the worst day is at least a day--something I'm experiencing and any judgment I place on it feels like entitlement.
I don't do this, but what if we started each day saying to ourselves, "I could die today," instead of hiding that fact from ourselves. The "life's a bitch" part is similar. I think it's worth saying out loud and to ourselves every day, "life is hard." Not in a self-pitiful way, but just as a check-in to make sure we've not slow and sneaky buried our heads in the sand. There's not one human on this planet that doesn't take a beating from this existence on a regular basis. It's going to get you and HAS been getting you your entire life. Nothing can stop it from hurting us and fucking with us. As a species we work hard to mitigate our pain and suffering, but no amount of our money, medicine, religions, science, self-help, exercise, entertainment, culture, travel, drugs, alcohol, sex, technology nor fancy foods can prevent it from kicking our asses on a regular basis. All races, religions, nationalities, ethnicities, genders, rich or poor all feel the pain of being human. Life is hard. No one comes through unscathed. I'm not saying "get over it." I'm not saying "buck it up." I'm not even saying, "stop whining." I'm just saying two universal truths: life is hard and it could end today. Yeah, the hardness of life and our unavoidable impending deaths are unambiguous and self-evident. Usually such things should go without saying. But given how hard we try to drown out the constant dull hum of those truths, we would do well to instead pump up the volume and let honesty breed its best offspring: a jovial carefree acceptance of this amazing consciousness we're all experiencing.

I posted a meme this week that said, "Actions prove who someone is. Words just prove who they want to be." I like devices like this, that cut through ambiguity; that shine like a flashlight on that which is otherwise murky. I like how this particular axiom looks to the evidence to know something. It's an example of living by sight, not by faith. But I wonder if people aren't a little too complicated for bumper sticker size slogans to fully capture the nuances of being human. For example, if my mother saw me flipping off my best friend or heard me cuss she might use that line of thinking--that actions identify a person--to judge me as having poor character. And she would be wrong. In this case, I would she fulfill 2 Corinthians 5:7 and actually use her faith in my character to overrule what only sight might determine.

When I posted that meme, on old friend of mine from back in Oklahoma commented. He's a Christian. In fact, I once looked to him as a spiritual director in my life. I've had many good mentors in my life. His name is Mike Shaw if any of you have ever seen him chime in with his Christian rhetoric. He's really a great guy--just totally and irreversibly brainwashed in the Jesus-stuff. But when he read the meme, "Actions prove who someone is. Words just prove who they want to be," he wrote, "Not necessarily! If their words are truth then actions will eventually follow. The heart must have a truth infusion before their tree can bare apples!" Which actual affirms the axiom. I'm reminded of the saying, "what you think about expands," or another version of that comes from The Secret, "what you think about you bring about." And although I don't believe there's anything supernatural or magical about that or that we have the ability to think something into existence, I'm convinced that how we frame things is very powerful and can tremendously influence our attitudes, moods, emotions, and ultimately our lives. A few other mystical scriptures come to mind: "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." (people used to use that to point out my wicked heart because of my foul mouth. Which by the way, we cuss on this show quite a bit, I guess, and I just have to say that the vowels and consonants one chooses to form sounds that symbolize meaning is, in and of itself, amoral. What makes a sentence immoral is the content and the intent, not the form or packaging by which it is delivered). Anyway, "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" has always meant to me that when a person talks, they reveal what's in there heart. Which is another way that the meme I posted is inadequate in capturing human complexity. The meme says "actions prove who someone is. Words just prove who they want to be." Whereas if this scripture is true, "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks," then we can also know who someone is by some of the words they speak; especially if they grumble and complain a lot, or talk about their own achievements a lot. In that case, we might assess that they lacked praise and affirmation as a child and are now compensating for that deficit as an adult. Another scripture that may contribute to this topic is Romans 4:17, which refers to God as "one who calls forth that which is not as though it were." Or calls things into being from nothing. Now, as I mentioned, I don't believe in magical powers or even that things happen for a reason. As a matter of fact, if something happens that you've been thinking about, I believe its pure coincidence. 100%. However, if you've actually been doing something that would increase the potential for something to happen, then if and when it does, you can know that your actions and your words, that sprang from heart, brought about something that would not have happened had you not got off your ass, trusted your own heart and desire, spoke to yourself and others about how you could help bring that thing about, these are that which changed the world, altered history, and opened up opportunities in your life.

Also, the framing of your reality plays a big role in influencing your emotional health. When it comes to that which you cannot change, placing yourself in a posture of acceptance allows one to adjust and accommodate even one's mistakes as something one learned from rather something to be ashamed of. One of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes is, "Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn't know before you learned it."

Because today's guest, Derreck Bennett talks openly about his alcoholism and his experience with the 12 step program, he references the Serenity Prayer. Which he reinterprets from a secular perspective and is some pretty good shit, such as follows:

"May I grant myself the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking this flawed world as it is, not as I would have it; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with myself."

We taped the following conversation with Derreck Bennett on January 6th, 2017. 
We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts.

Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Thanks for listening and be a Yes-sayer to what is. :) 

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 Hans Zimmer from the movie Interstellar

Derreck's links:

Atheologica and Atheomedy:

https://www.amazon.com/Addictus-Nonbelievers-Recovery-Derreck-Bennett-ebook/dp/B076HGHRT8

https://atheologica.wordpress.com/


https://atheomedy.wordpress.com/

Bart Ehrman's blanket denial of dying and rising gods in antiquity:  https://atheologica.wordpress.com/2016/09/06/ehrman-errs-yes-bart-there-were-dying-rising-gods/

And the following two specifically address mythicism:

https://atheologica.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/jesus-man-or-myth/

https://atheomedy.wordpress.com/2017/09/16/not-even-a-carpenter-why-a-historical-jesus-is-doubtful/

Direct download: Ep_185_Derreck_Bennett.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:45pm CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo interview Joel de los Santos. Joel currently lives in Canada but was raised in the Dominican Republic. His Christian journey started as Catholic, then Unity Church, following his parents lead, then he took his own path to evangelical charismatic non-denominational. He and his wife have two sons, his eldest is on the Autism spectrum. The audio is not the best for the first 21 minutes, but gets better and Joel's English is fast and a little mixed with Spanish, but these audio challenges can't keep his big heart and sharp mind from coming through.

Listener email: 

Hi Mr. Midgley,

I have been listening to your podcast for about seven or eight months now and have become a huge fan. While I'm not like many of your guests who've de-converted, I struggled for many years trying to "become" a christian, and suffered a lot of anger and confusion about why it just wouldn't "click" for me and make sense like it does for so many others. I wasn't raised particularly religious, but we did attend church pretty regularly until I was a teenager. When I was a young adult I went back to church trying to become "Christian". I didn't throw myself into it, honestly believing I would naturally have some kind of epiphany and suddenly feel all the certainty that many of my Christian friends felt about the bible. My best friend is a Christian who's heavily involved in her church. She had always been the image of what I expected I would be like once my "epiphany" came. I envied her complete trust in god - despite the discordance I felt about the bible and god's influence in the world. Well, it all started unraveling when trying to start a family revealed that I had some medical issues that would prevent conception. So we prayed... a lot. In the end, god didn't answer our prayer, science did. We had a successful IVF cycle and achieved pregnancy. And although we stood up in church and thanked god for our miracle, I became bitter, angry, and confused afterward. I carried around this bitterness toward god for not giving me a pregnancy naturally. I paid thousands of dollars and underwent uncomfortable medical procedures in order to have my babies. I felt like god had cheated me. Finally though, I had my epiphany. I let go of trying to make sense of a senseless god. The transformation has been revitalizing! Finding your show has added to the peace I feel with my newfound non-belief. One of my biggest conflicts about giving up the search for god was, "What am I if I'm not a believer?" The word atheist sounded scary and like something I didn't want to be labeled as. This is something that your show has really helped me with. Hearing the stories of your guests has shown me that atheist is not a dirty word, goodness and kindness are not dependent on belief in god, and I'm not alone in my non-belief.

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

We taped this conversation on December 17th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode was created by the Barry Orchestra found at https://barryorchestra.bandcamp.com/

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

Joel's Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Joymaker

Direct download: Ep_184_Joel_de_los_Santos.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:12pm CDT
Comments[0]

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

This talk went long because after an hour of taping, Bob had to leave and yet Keith had more points he wanted to cover, he and Cass keep talking for another 40 minutes. They talk about mitochondria, polyamory and Keith's deconversion process. Keith is a fascinating person and thinker. We think you're going to enjoy this conversation. We taped it on December 16th, 2017.

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

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode was created by Cass Midgley

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

http://existentialcomics.com/

Kimchi Cuddles

Blues Dance World podcast w/ Tim O'Neil

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We taped the conversation with Valerie Tarico on November 19th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode was created by Cass Midgley

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

https://valerietarico.com/

http://www.wisdomcommons.org/

Twitter: @valerietarico 

The movie, "The Mask You Live In." 

 

Direct download: Ep_182_Valerie_Tarico.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:25am CDT
Comments[0]

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

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

 

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

We taped the conversation on November 18th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode was created by the Barry Orchestra found at https://barryorchestra.bandcamp.com/

Corinna's Blog site

Amazon for her book

Publisher's site for the book

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

Today, we bring you two guests: One is a follow-up interview with former guest of the show on episode 108, Marie. But before that Dave Warnock and Cass Midgley talk with Mark Russell about his book, "God is Disappointed in You."

Marie was a hard-core YWAMmer, an extremely devout Christian and her deconversion was long and difficult. It was around 10 years ago and she's still recovering. Her deconversion came about because she started asking why certain things were true. Well, if you keep asking why we do things, you're liable to unearth some social norms that are just not very grounded in logic, but rather tradition, or even fear, or just deeply ingrained social patterns. My talk with Marie is primarily about her and husband's exploration into what she calls Ethical Non-monogamy. also known as Polyamory. She is extremely honest and transparent and cusses like a sailor. This is good talk. But, before Marie, we're going to feature Mark Russell, author of the comedic slightly sardonic book about the Bible titled, God is Disappointed in You. He also writes the comic book series Prez and The Flintstones for DC Comics. I start with a presentation Mark gives at Comicon where he summarizes the entire Bible, alpha to omega, in 15 minutes. He's in front of a live audience and uses a Powerpoint presentation so some of the humor is lost on us, in this audio medium, but it's still a lot of fun. Then Dave Warnock and I interview Mark in Portland, OR via Skype for about 30 minutes. Then we get into Marie's open marriage. My beloved cohost Bob Pondillo was not involved in either of these interviews, but he's back for next week's episode in which we interview Corinna Nicolau, who's kind of the opposite of our typical guest. She was raised completely secular but wondered what she'd missed out on and set out to search for meaning the top 4 world religions. Her experience is expressed in her book,  "A None's Story: Searching for Meaning Inside Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam." That's next week's episode.

I want to talk about compartmentalization and love. Compartmentalization is a subconscious psychological defense mechanism used for the purpose of avoiding cognitive dissonance, or the mental discomfort and anxiety caused by a person having conflicting values, cognitions, emotions, beliefs, etc. I'm going to borrowing some of the thoughts I found in an article called, "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly of a Man’s Ability to Compartmentalize," on a blog called SGM for Single Black Male. But I'm also talking about how people raised in Christianity have some highly developed compartmentalization skills. One of the purposes that religions serve is to help people not think about scary things--to compartmentalize such thoughts. Death being the most daunting thought known to humankind, Christianity creates a narrative that literally enables a person to say, "death, where is your sting?" Everlasting life. Immortality. Done. Christians also have to compartmentalize eternal torture of their fellow humans. Those who concede that they believe in a literal hell have to compartmentalize that entire concept in order to not spend every minute of every day running around warning people. After that's what a good, moral person would do if they were conscious of its reality. This is why hell-fire preachers on the street are good people--they're deceived, but at least they're acting on those deceptions. They are loving you. As our the Westboro Baptist people. They just aren't as good as compartmentalizing as Christians who aren't warning you about Hell. I think it was Penn Jillette who said, "How much do you have to hate someone to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?” Eternal bliss and eternal torment hang in the balance. If compartmentalization requires some mental maneuvering, imagine how much mental contorting is going on in the brain of one of your loved ones who believe in eternal life, know you're going to the bad end of it, and have to sit through lunch with you? It's no wonder that relationships are broken when we deconvert. It's just too much for our believing friends and family to deal with. They may even take your photos down in their house, because just seeing you makes their hearts and minds wince in pain.

Okay, now some completely secular thoughts on compartmentalization. The good, the bad, and the ugly. It's a good thing to use for work environments. Say for example, your going through something difficult in your personal life. You would do well to compartmentalize that stuff as you walk into work. It's just not the place for it. If you're a car salesman, you need to be upbeat, positive, energetic in order to sell cars. If you're personal life sucks, you better figure out how to flip that switch. In fact, we all know that if you are unable to gather your composure, in other words, the thing you should be compartmentalizing is just too big for your mind to fit into that compartment, you should just stay at home. The inverse of this is true: if work is stressing you out, you should not take that out on your partner and/or your children or friends. Compartmentalize that shit. It stinks. It kinda comes down to knowing the appropriate time and place for things.

Which brings us to some ways in which compartmentalization can be a bad thing. Think back to Shanna's episode, #174. She pointed out that humans have two needs that are often in conflict: the need to be genuine and the need to belong to the tribe. If forced to choose between the two, survivors will always choose the tribe, even if it means sacrificing their authenticity. They're forced to Compartmentalize their true self and put on whatever mask or persona they know will keep their fellow tribespeople accepting them into the tribe. This is where Compartmentalization is utilized to make you into a disingenuous person. If you do this long enough, you can forget who you are. Your true self is miles and years in your rear view mirror and if and when you ever decide to get real, it can feel like a long way back. However, it's really not. It's hard to believe, but you can begin being true, genuine, honest, and authentic at the drop of a hat. What makes it feel difficult or even impossible is when we try to know ourselves by going within--by introspection. I recommend last week's monologue on episode 179 to better understand this paradox. Anyway, the solution to not having to choose b/w authenticity and belonging is find a tribe that accepts you just as you are, so you can have both. In fact, true friends and lovers will know when you're using your car salesman skills on them rather than just letting your down and will likely be hurt by your distrust of their open acceptance. They've created a safe space for you to be true and you're still putting on airs. That's rough. That's painful...for everyone, and can ruin otherwise good, healthy relationships if your Compartmentalization habits are on auto-pilot and you are emotionally unavailable to those really need you, it's going to strain those relationships. Those grooves in your brain can grow deep. Good thing neuroplasticity can change those old habits.

Another example of bad compartmentalization is if you're watching TV knowing that you've got a paper due tomorrow (and you're able to enjoy yourself) then you're compartmentalizing. Procrastinating is easy when you can put what you’re supposed to be doing in a box that you don’t have to look at.

Without going into it, the ugliest manifestations of toxic compartmentalization are infidelity and sociopathy. You can probably imagine how that happens.

In summary, bad Compartmentalization is when it's coming from a place of fear. Good Compartmentalize is coming from love. Love for that couple buying a car, the family waiting for you at home, and the community of friends that love you enough to call you if you bring that car salesman posing into that intimate space. A healthy adult is in control of their life in ways that uses Compartmentalization appropriately when it is to their advantage while still operating in love for their fellow humans. As I've said for years, "be who you is, cause if you is who you ain't, you ain't who you is." because the world desperately needs all of us to be more honest with ourselves and each other.

I taped the conversation with Marie back on October 16th, 2017, and we taped the conversation with Mark Russell on November 5th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode is recorded by Sam Maher on a handpan in the NY City subway.  

The article on Compartmentalization I reference, "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly of a Man’s Ability to Compartmentalize."

The book: "The Ethical Slut

The book: "More Than Two"

Mark Russell's Twitter (it's great!) is @Manruss
The Book, "God is Disappointed in You"




Direct download: Ep_180_Marie_and_Mark.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:36am CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo interview "Elle." She's not out to many of her friends and family as having left the Christian faith in which she was raised: Plymouth Brethren and a part of the Quiverfull Movement. She has a lot to say about women's issues, adopting orphans with down syndrome, her son coming out as gay, and the abundance of sexual misconduct in the Independent Fundamental Baptist denomination.

Cass' opening monologue is a complication of his thoughts, Friedrich Nietzsche, and an essay titled, "Self-Knowledge as Self-Narration in Nietzsche" by Kaitlyn Creasy. 

As complex embodiments of drives and values, we act upon a world with its own drives and values--a world in which we are connected, embedded in fact. And this driven world acts also upon us. And both are changed.  I'll close with this aphorism, number 119, from Nietzsche's book, "Dawn of Day."

"Every moment of our lives sees some of the tentacles of our being grow and others of them wither, all according to the substance which the moment does or does not bear with it… Take some trifling experience. Suppose we were in the market place one day and we noticed someone laughing at us as we went by: this event will signify this or that to us according to whether this or that drive happens, at that moment, to be at its height in us and it will be a quite different event according to the kind of person we are. One person will absorb it like a drop of rain, another will shake it from him like an insect, another will try to pick a quarrel, another will examine his clothing to see if there is anything about it that might give rise to laughter, another will be led to reflect on the nature of laughter as such, another will be glad to have involuntarily augmented the amount of cheerfulness and sunshine in the world and in each case a drive has gratified itself, whether it be the drive to annoyance or to combativeness or to reflection or to benevolence. This drive seized the event as its prey: why precisely this one? Because, thirsty and hungry, it was lying in wait… What then are our experiences? Much more that which we put into them than that which they already contain."  

We taped this conversation on November 4th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits: 
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU 
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode is recorded by Sam Maher on a handpan in the NY City subway.  

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

Self-Knowledge as Self-Narration in Nietzsche - Kaitlyn Creasy

Direct download: Ep_179_Elle.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:49pm CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley talks with 3 former guests of this podcast on the subjects of Death, Depression and Suicide. 

My first guest is Zoe from episode 120 going by the same pseudonym she used back then. Today's episode came out of a desire to conduct follow up shows with former guests to see how their journey is going. Zoe's husband of 12 years committed suicide this summer and she wanted to come on and talk about it. I believe talking about it (and everything for that matter) is how we heal as a species. Zoe has not been shy about sharing her pain with friends. Unfortunately, her husband was shy about it and he's no longer with us. As a side note, I would like to say that the community of people connected through this podcast has really turned out to be one of the most amazing and surprising outgrowths of doing this. I got to meet Zoe and her now deceased husband, Phillip and their two children in December of last year. Unfortunately I didn't get to spend as much time as I would've liked to with them, especially now, knowing that it would be the last time I'd ever engage with Phillip. Ernest Becker, author of The Denial of Death, writes that “to live fully is to live with an awareness of the rumble of terror that underlies everything.” We can't help but be more present, love more assertively, be less selfish and have a better attitude of gratitude if we walk around aware of our own impending death and that of everyone around us.  We also might get more comfortable talking about it. Hell, getting honest about what it means to be human would help us talk about every elephant in the room--sex, mental health, suicide, insecurities. Phillip, Zoe's husband, never spoke a word to anyone about his depression or suicidal thoughts. No one knew he was in his own personal hell. And this is common in suicides. So let's talk about it. Here's a clip from Sarah Silverman on expanding the talkaboutable.

My second interview is with Mark Stephens from episode 121, and Stephen Barry from episode 139 who happens to be the guy behind the Barry Orchestra, whose music I've used for a lot of the segues on the podcast in the last year. Bob Pondillo was not a part of these interviews. Mark Stephens is a police officer who deals with suicide frequently in his work, and Stephen is a black, gay, atheist man living in the south who has battled with depression and suicidal thoughts since was a boy.

I'll end these opening comments with a quote pulled from Jennifer Michael Hecht's book, "Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It."

“None of us can truly know what we mean to other people, and none of us can know what our future self will experience. History and philosophy ask us to remember these mysteries, to look around at friends, family, humanity, at the surprises life brings — the endless possibilities that living offers — and to persevere. There is love and insight to live for, bright moments to cherish, and even the possibility of happiness, and the chance of helping someone else through his or her own troubles. Know that people, through history and today, understand how much courage it takes to stay. Bear witness to the night side of being human and the bravery it entails, and wait for the sun. If we meditate on the record of human wisdom we may find there reason enough to persist and find our way back to happiness. The first step is to consider the arguments and evidence and choose to stay. After that, anything may happen. First, choose to stay.”
― Jennifer Michael Hecht,

I taped these conversations in November 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode is 1-800 by Logic

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

If you'd like to reach out to Zoe, her email is letterstoasilentgod@gmail.com

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
American Assoc of Suicidology

Zoe's Blog

 

Direct download: Ep_178_Zoe_Mark_Stephen.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:36pm CDT
Comments[2]

Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo talk with Jeff Haley and Dale McGowan, authors of "SHARING REALITY: How to Bring Secularism and Science to an Evolving Religious World."

Jeff T. Haley is a scientist, lawyer, and inventor. He has argued before the U.S Supreme Court, and founded and directed the nonprofit that led Washington state's successful medical marijuana
initiative. He is currently the founder and CEO of OraHealth, which sells his patented healthcare products through 30,000 pharmacies worldwide. Dale McGowan is the author and editor of numerous books, including Parenting Beyond Belief, In Faith and In Doubt, and Atheism for Dummies. In 2008 he was named Harvard Humanist of the Year for his work in nonreligious parent education.

Religions are a natural outgrowth of the intuitive ways of knowing that evolved with human culture. Though many people continue to find value in religious identity and community, intuitive knowledge has been eclipsed by a more effective way of knowing-the scientific way. A better way of relating religion to politics called secularism is gradually replacing theocracy. Once you understand and accept the scientific way of knowing and this preferred relationship of church and state, you become agnostic and secular-even if you continue to identify with and participate in religion.As Jeff T. Haley and Dale McGowan argue in this volume, this isn't some abstract dream-it's happening right now. Religions are in a continuous state of evolution, changing beliefs, values, and practices over time. All religions, including
Christianity and Islam, can evolve to accept the scientific way of knowing and secularism, becoming agnostic and even atheistic without losing their essential value. Haley and McGowan explain how you can help this natural process, sharing reality with your friends and family in a way that encourages religions to embrace the best of humanity'S knowledge and values.

The only reason I celebrate ANYONE'S faith is if it is "light" and "loose" and full of doubt and uncertainty and love and connectedness and empathy. And I only do that because in this chapter of human history it's the best thing I can do to further the demise of all nonsense forged out of fear, childishness, death-anxiety, and the need for extant meaning, aka religions. See, even if there is a "god" or something of the sort, no human should ever bow the knee to it, nor would a good god want that. The best practice of ethics, morals, virtue, etc. is to ignore god and attend to reality--your neighbors, problem solving, conflict resolution--all the stuff that plagues us and makes life difficult. The day that we stop looking to the heavens to fix us or to save us or to create a new place for us to exit this mess, is the day that we put on our big-person pants, roll up our sleeves, and get busy living and loving the facts, what it means to be human, and the honest resolution of real problems. All notions that take our eyes off reality and onto untruths contribute to our problems, not solve them. And for those too imprinted with religion to embrace that, consider this: after we forsake god and actually love one another and fix things, any god worth her salt will still say, "well done good and faithful servant," because if his ego is too fragile to share the "glory" then fuck him!

Now I also want to say something about pedagogy. Pedagogy simply means the function or work of a teacher. Now, nobody likes a smarty pants. But lets ask ourselves why? It could be argued that often the reason people don't like people who know something they don't and want to pass it on is insecurity or jealousy, which are not virtues I feel it must be said. On the other hand, when the student is ready the teacher arrives. Which implies that, like what Jesus said, that trying to teach someone unsolicited advice can backfire. It also has the potential of cutting into their freedom to figure it out for themselves, which knowledge that's hard earned and self-determined always has a more indelible and lasting effect on the learner. It's odd isn't it? My therapist is a wise, old sage who is extremely skilled and self-disciplined in NOT giving me the answers to my problems. Because he knows the value of me figuring it out for myself. He's told me that client after client beg him to "TELL ME WHAT TO DO!" And in his wisdom, he won't. And yet our schools are filled with teachers telling kids what they don't want to hear. What's the balance? You know the phrase, "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink?" Often, we focus on the "can't make them drink" part; but think about the first part: we CAN lead people to water and sometimes we should. It goes back to what Jesus said, doesn't it? We should assess the person we're engaged with whether they seem to be a candidate for the truth we could endow in that moment. Otherwise, we're being presumptuous, are we not? For those of us who love to set people free with truth, for those of us whose lives have benefitted SO greatly from truths we've discovered and we want to do is share this or that truth with them, for those of us who see our loved ones sabotaging their own lives by believing lies, we owe to ourselves and everyone in our lives to exercise some age-old wisdom and self-control and truly discern the moment whether it's pregnant with pedagogical possibility, or that person will only resent the impartation and experience it as condescending. It will be lost on them and it will backfire. Often they will double down on their self-deception just to spite you.

Similarly, our guests today, Jeff and Dale have taken a similar high road when it comes to the religious hegemonic stronghold Christianity has over America. Instead of the firebrand atheism, which has its place, they've chosen to play nice with their fellow Americans who identify as Christian. They, like the mission of the podcast, seek to oil the wheels of the natural evolution of religious culture and slow, gentle deconstruction that truth will inevitably have on untruths.

We taped this conversation on October 21st, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode is recorded by Sam Maher on a handpan in the NY City subway.  

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

If you would like to contact our guests directly, you can reach jeff@haley.net and dale@dalemcgowan.com

parentingbeyondbelief.com/blog

 

 

 

Direct download: Ep177_Jeff_Haley__Dale_McGowan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:54pm CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo talk with Joshua Lennon. Joshua is a quality control manager for a metal Factory in Pennsylvania. It's there that he discovered podcasts and listened his entire shift during his deconversion. He and his atheist and veterinarian wife of 6 years have a 3 year old son. Joshua has been obsessed with all things science fiction since he was very young, and this shaped his fascination with science and developed critical thinking skills. Little did his parents know that letting him watch Stargate and read the Myst novels would lead to him departing from their faith in which they raised him. His more recently focus has shifted back to the intricacies of religion and what it has meant for world history and our development as a species. He is currently re-reading the Bible, reading the Quran for the first time alongside it, while also diving into Hitchens' God Is Not Great.

To those on the journey of deconstructing their faith and are perhaps feeling alone in that difficult endeavor, that you'll find in these episodes people who were and are on a similar pilgrimage parallel to yours, unbeknownst to you, and yet you'll find great comfort and companionship in hearing their stories. I'm grateful for the bravery of those who have come on the podcast and shared their story and for those listeners who took the initiative to search the web for a community of people who understand what you're going through. Somehow there is comfort in knowing you are not alone.

We taped this conversation on October 7th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

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

The segue music on this episode is "Closure" by Maroon 5

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

 

Direct download: Ep176JoshuaL.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:51pm CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo talk with Lisa Hope. She Skyped in from the Netherlands. She and her husband are US Diplomats. Lisa was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist Christian in rural Pennsylvania. She became a SDA Pastor and was a Chaplain on the University of Tennessee campus in Knoxville, and it’s just in the past year that Lisa has begun identifying as “solidly agnostic.” Lisa has lived outside of the US since 2012, she lost her first husband to brain cancer, and been struck by lightning.  She's an adventurer, she rock climbs, hikes, rides horses, sails, scuba dives, and and paraglide. She is currently building her leadership and life coaching practice online www.lisa-hope.com. She enjoys helping people connect with themselves, with the people they love, and with their purpose, which sound like great tools for post-faith people.  We lost our Skype connection with Lisa near the very end and couldn't get her back so the interview cuts off cold with no goodbyes. There's a link to her go-pro videos of her adventures and her website lisa-hope.com.  

We taped this conversation on September 30th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode was created by the Barry Orchestra found at https://barryorchestra.bandcamp.com/

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

Lisa's website: lisa-hope.com

https://youtu.be/d6dVXabGsyk (Lightning strike at 7:30).

 

Direct download: Ep_175_Lisa_Hope.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:55pm CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and guest co-host and fellow ex-pastor Dave Warnock interview Shanna in Canada. After a portent encounter with "god" that left her searching for answers and doubting god's goodness, Shanna set out on a three year search to discover how the God she loved and devoted her life to could hunger for his own glory in the face of her suffering. In the process, she dismantled the scaffolding her Christian faith and dogma had built around life and love, deforming what it means to be human. She discovered that "God" is really the god of our imagination. It is in faith that we craft the god we need to meet the unmet needs of our lives. Shanna is a contemplative atheist on the journey of coming back to her self and the world - body and mind--after years of disembodied living perpetuated by belief and faith. In letting go of faith, she began discovering the gifts of being human by finding new life-giving rhythms to center her life inside the body and in trusting the lived experience. Shanna holds an M.A. in Counselling and a certification in play therapy. She is a licensed clinical counselor and has been working in the field of trauma and child development for 11 years.

The underlying theme of Shanna's story is disembodiment. She probably uses that word 20 times before I figure out what she's talking about. There are a few epiphanies in this talk, had by all, but Shanna, like many ex-Christians, found herself in a natural world, not a supernatural world, the real world. And she found it beautiful in its raw form. Religion tries to put clothes on reality to hide its ugly, shameful parts. But many of us peaked behind the covering and saw that it wasn't scary. The process of peaking was scary, but underneath was a beautiful body. Yeah, there's blemishes and irregularities and even loneliness. But those of us that left faith embrace life's blemishes including our own. Everything just is what it is and the clothing is a way of saying "no" to it.

Often the reason that the grand narrative of "God is in control" and is "working all things together for your good," is so appealing is that life apart from that comforting narrative life bangs with chaos and injustice; it rattles and throbs with unease and lack of settled significance or even hope sometimes, but it's the world in which we find ourselves. And saying "no" to it doesn't make it go away, it just hides it from our immature eyes. The real world is sometimes unnerving or banal; it is tactile and unpredictable like the wind. The physical world, which includes our bodies, is foreign, at first, to the human who's been steeped in the metaphysical world.  But our lives become art, not dogma. Dynamic, not static. Wild, not controllable. Physical , not metaphysical. Samuel Beckett, the 20th century Irish poet contrasted poetry and metaphysics like this: "Poetry is essentially the antithesis of Metaphysics: Metaphysics purge the mind of the senses and cultivate the disembodiment of the spiritual; Poetry is all passionate and feeling and animates the inanimate; Metaphysics are most perfect when concerned with universals; Poetry, when most concerned with particulars." For me, Art is my religion. The only world I want to live in is one seen through the lens of Art and the freedom of Art. The freedom to make mistakes and they become part of the creation and are in fact absorbed and welcomed as that which gives the piece character and honestly.  

Also, on this subject of embodiment, when I read Ta-Nehisi Coates' book, Between the World and Me, which is framed as a letter to his teenage son on how to live in a black body in America, I was immediately struck with ample his use of the word "body" throughout and how often he identified himself as his body. He calls disembodiment of form of terrorism. Perhaps you can see where a black person shunned and shamed for his skin color his whole life could be tempted to resent his own body and want to detach from it. But Coates defies the devaluation of his body and the mistake of disembodiment.

Adolescent teenagers or even adults can look in the mirror, maybe naked in front of a full body mirror and dislike with they see and engage in a form of disembodiment. Christianity seems to only convey that the human body is only good when God dwells there. In fact, that's it's main purpose--to be a temple, a vessel for the seemingly greedy dictator that wants to own all the bodies all and control them all. "You are not your own, you've been bought with a price." They do know that's the definition of slavery, right? They'll say, "it's because he knows best." Well, it's a good thing God doesn't exist because this is my body and although I may not always know or practice what's best for it, it is a precious thing and the only thing I truly own on the earth. So politically speaking, I'm a body anarchist, and I insist on my freedom. All the amazing functions of the body--eating, digestion, looking at things, feeling things, sex--are not ugly or sinful; they're amazing machines that took billions of years to evolve into what they are today.

We taped this conversation on September 23rd, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode is by Oh Hello, "Dear Wormwood"

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

Shanna's Blogsite

Krista Tippet's interview with Joanna Macy

Sex Therapist Esther Perel's Podcast

Krista Tippet's interview with Bessel van der Kolk about how trauma lodges in the body

Carrie Newcomer's "May We Be Released"

 

Direct download: Ep_174_Shanna.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:46am CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo converse with Thomas Amun. Thomas grew up in the heart of Memphis until he was 18 years of age. A young Christian boy who was on his way to Nashville to attend a Private Christian College and play his favorite sport, basketball. While things were working on the court, Thomas found himself having moments in the classrooms, where he started questioning the Christian belief. During his sophomore year, at the time just 20 years old, Thomas was kicked out of school for violating a school rule. Already questioning his Christian beliefs, Thomas saw the perfect opportunity to join the journey of a free thinker. He's continuing his higher education, now a junior at Belmont University in Nashville studying journalism, Thomas finds himself struggling with the outside world and how the figment of God probably doesn't exist in this chaos. Thomas is a poet and he recites one during the interview and we feature a spoken word song that he wrote at the end.

 

We taped this conversation on September 17th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode is by Ludwig Goransson from the movie soundtrack for Fruitville station.

Thanks for listening and try to cooperate with reality while making effective changes to improve it. In other words, be a yes-sayer to what is.





Direct download: Ep_172_Thomas_Amun.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:56pm CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo converse with Rusty Shackleford. That's not his real name. Like many of our guests, they're not completely out as non-religious to everyone and for their own personal reasons wish to keep it that way.

Rusty is a 31 year old mental health counselor. He holds two Master’s Degrees in Early Childhood Development/Education and Counseling. He's lived in TN his entire life, and church was always a part of his upbringing.  He grew up in the Church of Christ (with music) and Freewill Baptist. He played drums on the worship team and was involved in the children’s ministry and driving the church vans to pick up the children in the housing developments for the Wednesday night program. Rusty began chipping away at parts of his belief in his 20s, first dropping the literal interpretation, then realizing that the story of the Christ was a repackaged story from folklore of many other religions and belief systems that pre-dated Christianity. He tried attending a church that was a “Progressive" Christian Community, and found a lot of peace within this congregation, but also found that I simply could not align himself with even the most liberal of Christian beliefs.  

After interviewing people every week for over three years, most of the guests have told me that it proved to be a catalystic event in their lives. Something shifts. It can have a rattling effect or it wakes them up in a way or emboldens them to do something significant. People have gone on to start their own podcasts or write that book or come out to their parents, etc. Bob and I forget how nervous guests can be when they come on and almost everyone is at first. And I think that's perfectly normal and even right, since their story is now available to the world for the rest of time, or at least as long the electrical grid stays intact. Either way, people will be able to access it long after we're all dead. I just think its cool how many ways the show is changing lives. Who knew? that Bob and I started this thing that it would create such a beautiful community of people. I've never been a part of something so beautiful. If you'd like to be more involved, add me on FB, private message me that you'd like to be in the private support community of this podcast. If you're middle TN, there's a group, and there's also an international group, and the conversations that take place there (completely private) are so beautiful. I'm grateful for the courage of all the guests who have come on here and shared their story so that thousands of others could be encouraged and feel less alone, less crazy, less afraid.

One more thing I'd like to share. Back in January, I was diagnosed at Vanderbilt Psychiatric with clinical depression. I ended up in the hospital because I was suicidal. I was suicidal because I was thinking crazy thoughts, believed crazy thoughts, and as a result my anxiety and depression came unhinged from reality. I was prescribed medication and things started to get better. So much better that I thought I was fine, that my anxiety was sparked by circumstances and when the behavioral medicine doctor I was seeing was charging me $60 co-pay every two weeks to see him, I took the liberty to stop going and eventually ran out of meds. Well they didn't tell me that this kind of medicine has to be taken for a year or it'll drop you back down like a rock to the state that got me there. And this last month, it did just that. The way it manifests is that if I'm alone in my thoughts for more than 30 minutes, I start to get anxious. I get a tension in my abdomen area, my thoughts race into a vortex of panic and fear and rage and resentment and I start hating. Myself and people in my life. I start distrusting everyone and I marvel at their ignorance. Why can't they see what's happening. Well I'll tell you why. Because it's not happening. It's in my imagination. And if you don't think mental illness is real, then it's only because you haven't experienced that particular disfunction personally. I remember counseling a young man, as his pastor, about his fear of dying in his sleep. It was really debilitating. He fought sleep, he had anxiety attacks, he drank heavilly to cope. I didn't relate. I wanted to tell him, "Dude, you're not going to die in your sleep. You're 30. You're healthy. The odds are astronomical." Essentially I was saying, "stop thinking that way." And that was naive. He needed real help. He eventually got it and he's fine today. But no thanks to me.  

I was sharing with someone this week that I was excited to get back on my meds. I don't want to put too much hope in things but it may be why I drink as much as I do. It may be why I smoke. I may be why I'm unmotivated in life. Why I can't write the books I know I have inside me. Basically, I've been just trying to stay alive AND slowly killing myself at the same time. I told her, "help is on the way." Now I used to be a big Bryan Duncan fan and we were reminded of an old song of his called Help is on the Way.  So just for kicks we found it online and played it. But notice that he blames Lucifer--the author of confusion--for the suicidal thoughts.

The way my brain plays tricks on me can feel like a separate entity. We've talked a few times on this podcast about Sam Harris' question, what is the self? So the fact that our brain is firing constantly, feeding us thoughts with or without our permission can feel like we're possessed by another thinker. Secular people reference this metaphorically as "he's fighting his own demons" which is apt metaphor but within most forms of Christianity, Satan is real. Is it so that we can blame something outside of ourselves? So we're not responsible? so God's not responsible for giving us such fucked up brains? who knows why people throughout history have ascribed mental illness to demons, but I no longer have that luxury. I have to get help--real, scientific help. And I'm glad to so and certainly unashamed to do so. I go back to my prescription this week and I'm sure it takes weeks for the effects to start remapping my neural pathways, but it'll be interesting to see how it changes how I show up as an interviewer, but more importantly as a human being, a husband, father, co-worker and friend. I'm excited to find out.  

We taped this conversation on September 10th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode is a song that was influential in Rusty's deconversion: The Pig by Showbread.

Thanks for listening and try to cooperate with reality.

Direct download: Ep_171_Rusty_Shackleford.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:44pm CDT
Comments[0]

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

We taped this conversation on August 27th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

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

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

 

Direct download: Ep_170_Dustin_Lawson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:27pm CDT
Comments[0]

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

We taped this conversation on August 26th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

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

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is Paul Thorn's "You Might Be Wrong."

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

Tony Hupp's Podcast, Unfiltered and Unfettered

Paul Thorn "You Might Be Wrong"

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

Direct download: Ep_169_Tony_Hupp.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:36pm CDT
Comments[0]

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

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

We taped this conversation with Martin Hughes on August 20th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode is Let It Go by James Bay

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

Martin's Blog: Barrier Breaker

Martin's Twitter: @ernestlyseeking

 

Direct download: Ep_168_Martin_Hughes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:20am CDT
Comments[0]

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

The conversation with Kamaria Powell on August 19th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

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

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode is a rendition of Stevie Wonder's Higher Ground by Dave Weckl and Jay Oliver

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

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

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

The PachaMama Experience

Kamaria's Facebook page

Twitter: @WTFIsEnlighten

Email: wtfenlightenment@gmail.com


Direct download: Ep_167_Kamaria_Powell.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo converse with Sean Ritter of Wichita, Kansas. He's kind of a good ole boy from a fly-over state but his wit and intellect took us by surprise.

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

We taped the conversation on August 6th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

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

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode is "Say It Isn't So," by Hall & Oates. 

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

Sean's email: 3crazydogs@cox.net 

Twitter: @3crazydogs24

 


Direct download: Ep_166_Sean_Ritter.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:40am CDT
Comments[0]

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

We taped the conversation on August 5th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode is a song called "High Life" by the Dave Weckl Band

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

https://scathingatheist.com/

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 



Direct download: Ep_165_David__Arrianna.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:09pm CDT
Comments[0]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We taped the conversation on July 30th, 2017, and my talk with Peter on August 7th. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode are segments from music by Nightwish, a favorite of our guest today.

 

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

Molly's Blog: Doubting Dogma


Direct download: Ep_164_Molly_UnMormon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:53am CDT
Comments[0]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We taped the conversation with Marlene on July 29th, 2017, and my talk with Peter on August 7th. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode is me goofing off on various percussion instruments from my collection.

 

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

http://journeyfree.org/

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

Peter Montoya's EA episode 130



Direct download: Ep_163_Marlene_Winell.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Bonnie & Clyde. They wish to remain incognito. They are a middle-aged married couple in a southern state in the US. And their story is almost as amazing as their personalities.  

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We taped this conversation on July 29th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode was created by the Barry Orchestra found at https://barryorchestra.bandcamp.com/

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


Direct download: Ep_162_Bonnie__Clyde.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:07pm CDT
Comments[0]

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

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

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

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

 

We taped this conversation on July 16th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode was created by the Barry Orchestra found at https://barryorchestra.bandcamp.com/

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


Direct download: ep_161_Amber_Bill_and_Henry_revisit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:24pm CDT
Comments[0]

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

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

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

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

We taped this conversation on July 15th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode was created by the Barry Orchestra found at https://barryorchestra.bandcamp.com/

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

http://doubtcomic.com/

"Murmurs of Doubt" on Amazon

How to contact Rebecca Fox

Rebecca's website

Leo Igwe's Skeptical Manifesto for Africa

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

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

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

Direct download: Ep_160_Rebecca_Fox.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:10pm CDT
Comments[0]

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

We taped this conversation on June 25th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode was created by the Barry Orchestra found at https://barryorchestra.bandcamp.com/

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

Sarah Silverman is visited by Jesus Christ

www.faithlessfeminist.com

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

Karen Garst's YouTube Channel

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

 


Direct download: Ep_159_Karen_Garst.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:09pm CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo interview Josh Hupp. Josh has spent the last ten years trying to rebuild his life and identity after escaping the grip of a Christian Cult he was in for 10 years. As per the cult leader's demands, he broke off ties with his family, physically abused fellow cult members, and was himself beat up by other cult members, while his wife at the time watched--a wife that the cult leaders picked for him to marry.

Before we get into our talk with Josh, I want to plug the book "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life" by Mark Manson. I got it on audiobook and the first chapter is the best summary of what it means to be a yes-sayer that I've ever heard.  Just like all self-help material, I don't agree with all of it, but overall, this book posits my philosophy of life as close as anything I've ever heard. I truly believe it will change your life for the better by leaps and bounds.

Also, I received an email from a listener and supporter of this podcast, John Rexrode from Akron, Ohio, that is really well written and rich in thought. He writes,

Hi Cass, I do want to thank you and Bob for the podcast. I have just recently started listening and find myself enjoying it very much.

One of the things I like most about your podcast is how willing you are to share the stories of everyone, including those with whom you don't entirely agree. I just finished listening to the conversation with Cheri Jamison. She seems like a good person and what a shame it would have been to have excluded her ideas and thoughts for a broader perspective. You should be commended for being willingly inclusive.

It would not be inaccurate to call me an atheist, but I dislike the term specifically because too many atheists are as dogmatic in their unbelief as christians are in their belief. I understand well the anger, hurt, intellectual distrust, and historical perspective for this dogmatic response. I have had the same reactionary responses myself for many years, and I continue to do so under certain conditions. However, now that I am older, retired, and hopefully a little more insightful about life and myself, (or is it actually early dementia?) I find I am no longer as sure or as smart as I once thought myself. Or maybe I am just worn out and tired of all the bickering. I want to find a way to care, accept, and mutually tolerate others.

My life and work is based in science. Science and math are great constructs as constructs go, but they still only expose the very tip of what may actually exist. The quantum enigma exposes this vulnerability quite well despite the protestations or denial of scientists saying otherwise.

Can any of us really be so convinced that our own opinions are representative of “objective reality”? Can any of us even know what “objective reality” is, being the primitive little primates that we are? I am not talking about our collective objective reality as humans. I think we can speculate on that just fine and my opinions are as good as anyone's. I am talking about actual “objective reality” which I believe will always be beyond our reach.

I am as intolerant of intolerance as one can be, but should it matter to me if people believe things I find ludicrous or silly if it makes life easier or happier for them and they are good people. Many of the things I think and believe are actually emotionally based and not actually true. There are some fairly recent neurological studies that actually support the idea that all our opinions and conscious thoughts originate as emotions. Our thoughts may all be rationalizations for our emotions.

I enjoyed Frank Schaeffer (that's way back on episode 21) on your program and read his book. You tuned me into Mike McHargue (aka Science Mike) and I read his book. I found his “wave” experience too much for me, but since his wife threatened to leave him and his mother was pressuring him, to speak nothing of his life being turned upside down, is it really any wonder that his mind gave him something to bridge the gap? At least his religion is now apparently loving and less toxic.

I am going to write something that will sound arrogant but I don't mean for it to be. I just think that while some people like us, may be perfectly capable of devising our own moral system and fiber, many people are not. They are not as intense or intuitive because they have no interest in being so. They need some sort of moral structure and religions offer that in prepackaged form. Unfortunately, these religions are often toxic, hateful and hurtful.

So I am drawn in my later years to try and make peace with people and my past. I am attempting to find some kind of connection beyond, or in spite of, our disparate dogmas. It is a real struggle for me since like you, I have many emotions and past conflicts to deal with. I find your program very timely and helpful with that.

Take care and may you be at ease,
John Rexrode

My thanks to John for articulating his desire to "care, accept, and mutually tolerate others." You can hear the humility that comes with age and the self-confidence it takes to admit that we don't know everything. He also understands that some people aren't as interested in the truth as others, or spelunking the caves of philosophy and critical thinking or need a pre-fab moral framework to guide their lives. They're comfortable in their beliefs and really don't want to be bothered with disrupting those comforts. And as long as they're not assholes about it or are making the world a worse place, leave 'em be. Of course, some could argue that they are passively extending the life of toxic religions on a macro level, but I think we all have friends and family that we have to keep the peace with on a micro level and John's wisdom here is giving us permission to pick our battles wisely.  

And can I just say that I have really impressive listeners. Every week I get emails and messages from listeners that without exception are well thought out, well articulated, and full of integrity, compassion, and virtue-seeking people. The communities that have been built around this podcast--some online and some in person--are full of the most impressive people I've ever seen assembled. And I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I take great encouragement from the quality of people this show attracts.  And John's email reminds me that while we atheists are truly taking the moral high road, we would do well to not do so while looking down on religionists from our high horse.

We taped this conversation on June 24th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode was created by our guest today, Josh Hupp, and we feature an original number by Josh at the end.

 

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


Direct download: ep_158_Josh_Hupp.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:33pm CDT
Comments[0]

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

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

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

We taped this conversation on June 10th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode was created by Top Shelf Sounds on YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NItAIPJuk4I

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

http://www.cherijamison.com/

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

Direct download: Ep_157_Cheri_Jamison.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:02pm CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley interviews Brian Peck. Brian is a licensed clinical social worker in Boise, Idaho, who specializes in faith transitions and religious-based trauma. His practice, Room to Thrive PLLC grew out of a desire to reduce the suffering unique to faith transitions and to trauma experienced within a religious context.

We taped this conversation on June 6th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Direct download: Ep_156_Brian_Peck.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:37am CDT
Comments[0]

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

We taped the conversation with Jeff on May 7th, 2017 and the talk with Hannah on June 3rd. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode was performed by the Barry Orchestra 

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

Jeffery Bates' Amazon page

Video mentioned about of the Universe inside

 

Direct download: Ep_155_Jeff_Bates__Hannah.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:38pm CDT
Comments[0]

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

We taped these conversations on May 6th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:

"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU

Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson

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

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

Direct download: Ep_154_Ginna.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:21am CDT
Comments[0]

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

 

We taped these conversations on April 18th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

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

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

Casper's blog on Atheist Republic

Casper's books

Casper's FB profile

 

 

Direct download: Ep_153_Casper_Rigsby.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:55am CDT
Comments[0]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We taped these conversations on April 18th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode was created by the Barry Orchestra, found at barryorchestra.bandcamp.com

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

https://www.protruthpledge.org/

http://intentionalinsights.org/

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

Chris Hedges' article

 

Direct download: Ep_152_Gleb_Tsipursky.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:55am CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and Mark Stephens interview 2 students from Vanderbilt University, Stephen Lee and John Roso. They met through the Secular Student Alliance. Bob was out of town for this one so Mark Stephens is filling in. 

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

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

We taped these conversations on April 15th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode was created by the Barry Orchestra, found at barryorchestra.bandcamp.com

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

Let's Paint, Exercise and Blend Drinks Video

C Span prank caller compilation

https://www.recoveringfromreligion.org/

 

Direct download: Ep_151_Stephen_Lee__John_Rosso.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:23pm CDT
Comments[0]

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

 

We taped this conversation on April 9th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode was created by the Barry Orchestra, found at barryorchestra.bandcamp.com

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

amy.monsky@campquest.org

www.campquestsc.org

http://womenbeyondbelief.com/

http://www.hingepodcast.org/


Direct download: Ep_150_Amy_Monsky_-_Camp_Quest.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:22pm CDT
Comments[0]

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

We taped this conversations on April 6th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode was created by the Barry Orchestra, found at barryorchestra.bandcamp.com

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

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

Direct download: Ep_149_Japh_Thompson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00pm CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Henry & Charlie Smith from Colorado. They’re in their 70s, married 47 years. Henry is a former minister, now atheist, Charlie has retained some of her faith, and we witness how they remain respectful and loving in spite of their religious differences.

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

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

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

We taped these conversations on March 19th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode was created by the Barry Orchestra, found at barryorchestra.bandcamp.com

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

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

 

Direct download: Ep_148_Henry__Charlie_Smith.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:25pm CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Josey Woltersdorf. Josey is 24 years old, the eldest of 12 children, homeschooled and raised on a farm til he was 18.  I think you’re gonna love his genuineness, and his simple yet intuitive engagement with the reality in which he now finds himself.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

We taped these conversations on March 25th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode was created by Aaron, former guest of the show on episode 110

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

Aaron’s song on YouTube

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

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

We taped this conversation on March 25th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits: "Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU 
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode was created by the Barry Orchestra found at barryorchestra.bandcamp.com
www.reasonnc.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.recoveringfromreligion.org/

To volunteer at Recovering From Religion

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

Tracy McMillan's TED Talk

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

Direct download: Ep_146_Colleen_Jousma.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:09pm CDT
Comments[0]

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
Comments[0]

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
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob interview Raul Cardona, after Cass' talk with Carlton Larsen—our two "nobodies" on this week’s episode. We interview people you don’t know about a subject no one wants to talk about.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

We taped these conversations on February 18th and 19th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode was created by the Barry Orchestra found at barryorchestra.bandcamp.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We taped the conversation on February 5th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode was created by our guest today, Matthew O’Neil. His music can found at soundcloud.com/immattoneil

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

Dr. Ricoh’s book: How To Be an Adult

Matthew’s books on Amazon

Matthew’s Twitter: @mwoneiI

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

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

Matthew’s Facebook

 

Direct download: Ep_142_Matthew_ONeil.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:04pm CDT
Comments[0]

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
Comments[0]

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
Comments[0]

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
Comments[0]

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
Comments[0]

Episode 137 Steve Dicus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We taped this conversation on January 14th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode is called “Reasons” and was created by friend of the show “The Barry Orchestra” found at barryorchestra.bandcamp.com

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

 

Direct download: Ep_137_Steve_Dicus.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:04pm CDT
Comments[0]

Episode 136 Wendy Marsman

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

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

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

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

 We taped this conversation on January 8th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode is by our guest's 17 year old daughter. Here's the YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSZjKwV-kTs

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

 

Direct download: Ep_136_Wendy_Marsman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:41pm CDT
Comments[0]

Episode 135 Homo Sapien (Anon)

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

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

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

The first one is from Matt Schmidt. He writes,

Cass-

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

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

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

Matt Schmidt

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

― Albert Einstein

This next one wanted to remain anonymous:

Dear Cass and Bob,

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

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

So thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Kind regards, Anonymous

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

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

We taped this conversation on December 4th, 2016. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode is called “Reasons” and was created by friend of the show “The Barry Orchestra” found at barryorchestra.bandcamp.com

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

 

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

Episode 134 John Loux

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We taped this conversation on December 3rd, 2016. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode performed by Sam Maher on a handpan in the NYC subway.  

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

John Loux’s website with music

 

Direct download: Ep_134_John_Loux.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:55pm CDT
Comments[0]

Episode 133 Kate

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

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

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

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

We taped this conversation on December 11th, 2016. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode performed by Sam Maher on a handpan in the NYC subway.  

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

http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/

 

Direct download: Ep_133_Kate.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:21pm CDT
Comments[0]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We taped this conversation with Blake on November 20th, 2016. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode performed by Sam Maher on a handpan in the NYC subway.  

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

“When It’s Time to Say No” Blog

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

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

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

Hi Mr. Midgley,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely, Jennifer Casey

 

Direct download: Ep_132_Blake_Coleman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:01pm CDT
Comments[0]

Episode 131 Amber Cantorna

Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Amber Cantorna.  Amber was raised evangelical Christian and home schooled. Her father works for Focus on the Family and has for 30+ years. At age 27 she came out to her parents as gay and they disowned her, regarding her as dead—sounds like a practice they borrowed from Sharia Law. Today she is 32, married to her wife, and they both are Christian.  Amber’s book, “Refocusing My Family: Coming Out, Being Cast Out, and Discovering the True Love of God” is set to release in early 2017.

As an ex-Christian myself, I find that my sense of how comfortable I am being around Christians has a lot to do with the doctrines they personally hold to. It’s been said that Progressive or Liberal Christians have more in common with us atheists than they do with fundamentalist Evangelicals, and I think that’s true. Many of us who have rejected Christianity are able to look back at the damage it did to us. I see many damaging effects of Christian doctrines on society, to name a few:

  • The concept of eternal life diminishes a person’s ability to be present and concerned with reality
  • The concept of reward and punishment in the afterlife inhibits people’s ability to grow up, to think for one’s self, to determine one’s own personal ethics, and contributes to a divisive sectarian view of others, thus enhancing the potential for judgment, superiority, violence and an “us versus them” mentality. In other words, an asshole.
  • Hell forces one to suppress and compartmentalize one’s natural sense of connectedness to all things in order to be okay with human beings being tortured forever. This hardens the heart and numbs one’s innate sense of compassion. It narrows one’s capacity to empathize with all humans by removing empathy from those outside one’s tribe. It promotes in-group loyalty and out-group derogation.
  • The concepts of Heaven and Hell falsely satisfy the innate human need for justice, inoculating one’s ability to acknowledge that, in reality, life is not fair; it is random chaos, and justice rarely happens. This harsh reality is too much for some to bear and they hide under the delusion that God is someday going to right every wrong, further postponing their maturation.
  • To quote Psychologist, Scott McGreal, “…belief in Hell at a national level is probably associated with greater support for retributive policies such as capital punishment and torture, as well as with prejudice against people who violate religious norms such as gays. Aside from being an extremely cruel thing to believe in, the idea of Hell may have done more harm to society than good.

So perhaps you can understand why I am apprehensive to build a friendship with a person who believes in Heaven and Hell. They can admire the teachings of Jesus, hold loosely to the Christian doctrines and I find I’m not as suspicious or nervous around them than if I know that deep down they’re okay with a God who tortures those who reject him and trains his followers to be servile, infantile, and void of agency.

Not all Christian doctrines are toxic, but some of the most fundamental core tenants are deeply damaging to the individual who buys into them and to the societies where a majority of the population adhere to them. The most violent countries are the most religious, and the least violent countries are the least religious. These jealous god’s abhor the goodness and freedom of humans to find their own path without the aid of a celestial dictator, thus their followers distrust and deny their own innate sense of morality and thereby turn morality on it’s head—calling evil that which natural humans regard as good, and calling good such things as ignorance, stupidity, and servility.  

Knowing this about Christianity can be the difference in religiously-mixed couples staying together or divorcing.  A couple like the Thompsons, featured on episode 111, get along because neither are radical fundamentalists of their own beliefs. This is one reason I like to elevate the agnosticism that all humans share. Certainty, rigidity, and fear are destroyers of relationships. If one or both parties are, as Peter Montoya put it in episode 130, “0% capitulation and 100% capitalization,” then they are at an impasse.

Sometimes the Christian accuses their Atheist partner of being intolerant of their Faith, and this may in fact be happening when the atheist attacks their partner’s Christianity on purely judgmental terms, like, “you have to be stupid to believe.” However, if the atheist is positing that the beliefs their Christian partner hold to are immoral and have lowered the character and integrity of that partner, that’s a much more robust argument for establishing irreconcilable differences. Remember, one thing that it’s okay to be intolerant of is intolerance itself. Meaning we’re all free to believe what we want, but if one or both parties deem the other’s beliefs as depreciating the value of the relationship or in fact disgusts one or both of them, then no covenant or promise we made at an altar years ago should lock anyone into a situation that is draining the life out of them. Here again, though, Christianity can foster a lack the agency on the part of the Christian to protect their own pursuit of happiness and oblige them to a higher power to stay in a toxic environment. Not so with the free-thinker.

So there’s my thoughts on whether or not I can respect or be friends with a Christian. Rigid, immutable beliefs in toxic ideologies limit, if not eliminate, my desire to spend time with that person. If they believe in a literal Hell or are even hesitant to take a stand on it, that’s a deal-breaker for me.  

Okay, back to our interview with Amber. Amber is an activist, author and speaker with a heart for people who find themselves at the intersection of their faith and their sexuality. She strives to bridge the gap between two seemingly opposing communities. She has been featured in Huffington Post’s Religion column, as well as on Liberal America and other writing mediums.

We taped this conversation on November 21st, 2016. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, give it 5 stars, and/or leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode performed by Sam Maher on a handpan in the NYC subway.  

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

Amber’s website

Belief in Hell: Does it Benefit or Harm Society?

"Untangling the Mess" by Kathy Baldock

https://www.facebook.com/Beyond.AmberCantorna/

 

 

Direct download: Ep_131_Amber_Cantorna.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:53am CDT
Comments[0]

Episode 130 Peter Montoya

We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. Today, Cass Midgley interviews Peter Montoya. (Bob was not able to be present for this one.) I heard Peter interviewed on Bart Campolo’s Humanize Me podcast and wanted to bring him on to talk about his work in developing communities. Peter is one of those energetic communicators and creative brains that motivates people and discovers solutions. Very entrepreneurial. He was raised Catholic but today models an unbelieving worldview that is non-threatening and, in fact, very amiable. I call this relaxed atheism, and it’s something to which I aspire.

Before we get into my talk with Peter Montoya, let me get a couple of things off my chest. 

My prescription for creating something tolerable in this world is "say yes to what is." By all means, find yourself, THEN LOVE THAT SELF, pursue your dreams, set goals, etc., but if, at the end of the day, you don't say yes to what's right in front of you, you'll always be chasing that next thing and hitching your happiness to it. I believe self-denial is actually more rewarding than self-indulgence. The good life is not about getting what you want, it's wanting what you got.

What I mean to say here is that part of the loneliness and restlessness that we all experience comes from thinking that we’re the only one fighting battles, under stress, embarrassing ourselves with fits of anger or saying things we regret. We could tell ourselves that everyone else is having fun (Facebook does this to us), everyone else is able to control their emotions, everyone else has amazing friends as demonstrated on TV shows like Friends, Seinfeld, or New Girl. This loneliness and sense of missing out can be even more intense among ex-Christians. We devoted our lives to the social boundaries of the Christian subculture. We suppressed our true selves, our likes and desires, in order to be like Jesus. For some of us, when that tent collapsed and we pushed and crawled our way out from under the heavy tarp, we got the sense that a party had been going on the whole time without us—a party we formerly regarding as sinful or worldly. Now we see that humans have been creating strange and exotic cultures, making music and all art forms, experimenting with scientific theories, calculating and understanding the cosmos, figuring out how to enjoy being human instead shaming ourselves for being human. All while we were parsing scripture to unlock the code of God’s hidden intention for our lives. So perhaps we feel like we’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Some of come out swinging with rage and embarrassment and a hefty appetite for hedonism. But what I’m shooting for (and what I think my guest today models) is a calm mature exploration of who I am, what I believe, what makes me happy, why I do the things I do, how can achieve better emotional health, where is my own moral compass pointing to, how can I be a better husband, father and friend, --all things I maybe thought I was doing within Christianity but this time NOT out of an obligation to appease an angry god or please the judgmental measuring stick of my pretentious peers. This time, I’m doing it for me. Because I can, not because I should. Not just telling ourselves lies in attempts to get fired up, or fake-it-til-we-make-it, but affirming actual facts about ourselves—qualities and traits that are true, that everyone else already knows about us but we’ve too afraid to admit. By seeing ourselves as the natural accidents we are rather than the creation and property of an owner and master, we realize that we are neither good nor evil, we just are. And the sooner we show up as ourselves comfortable in our own skin, having said to yes to what it means to be ourselves, the sooner we live the fulfilled life. And by fulfilled I mean the one in which we find ourselves—wherever that is at any given moment. It means being present and unafraid to be ourselves. This is the opposite of what Christianity taught us. We were taught to be downplay our strengths and highlight our weaknesses. This was the virtue of humility. But I call bullshit. It is of utmost importance that we hone our skills and acknowledge our weaknesses so we know when to act or not act, when to speak or shut-up, to stay in our lanes, so to speak, and see the nuanced balance of our skillsets and lack thereof and how we are neither savior nor invisible in the societies we orbit.

I felt this moral inversion imposed by Christianity for years but couldn’t wrap my head around it until I read Nietzsche’s theories on morality. This is a difficult concept to comprehend and will probably require revisiting many times before it starts to sink in. This 8.5 minute lecture unpacks it concisely. I encourage you to listen carefully to this entire 8.5 minute excerpt of a lecture given by Joseph Vukov, Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University. It just might blow your mind.  Listen also for how this upside morality would serve to suppress women even more than men in western civilization.

In conclusion, a tongue in cheek axiom that has been the goal of my life is “be who you is, cause if you is who you ain’t, you ain’t who you is.”  Let us aspire to stop apologizing for being ourselves and being human and hiding ourselves from each other. This type of inner work of affirming yourself and showing up as the truest you is well laid-out in Amy Cuddy’s book titled “Presence: bringing your boldest self to your biggest challenges.” I highly recommend it. A link to it is in the show notes.  And to bring it back to my interview with Peter Montoya, I believe that being in community helps foster this type of personal growth. It is in the context of healthy, loving relationships that we feel safe enough to try out our true selves on our friends; selves that have been hiding in fear and shame for possibly decades. We need communities so we can see, in more mature people, what it looks like to be true and thus powerful. Not a poer that wields itself over others, but that lifts others up by modeling a healthy, inclusive confidence. We need safe places to give and receive honest feedback as we step out of the dressing room with our new duds on. There is a certain vulnerability that comes with choosing to confide in each other and exercising our innate gifts to help each other be brave and bold.

I taped the following conversation with Peter Montoya on November 19th, 2016. 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, give it 5 stars, and/or leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode is Sam Mayer recorded on a handpan in the NYC subway 

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

Peter Montoya’s website

Amy Cuddy’s book: Presence

Prof. Joseph Vukov lecture on Nietzsche’s Master and Slave Moralities

Sebastian Junger’s TED Talk

Another Sebastian Junger’s TED Talk

petermontoya@petermontoya.com

Peter’s phone number: 949-334-7070

https://www.facebook.com/newfreethinkers

 

So that’s my talk with Peter Montoya. I hope you benefitted from that. I did. I’m driven by past experiences, some of which were in a Christian context, to be involved in community. Peter talked about levels and layers of community or tribes, defined by proximity or common interests, but also shared suffering. I think that can be achieved by intentionally getting involved in some cause, but also by just sitting together and sharing in our everyday suffering that life ultimately imposes on everyone on a regular basis. The idea of getting together and sharing your life stories, drilling down, getting to know each intimately is very enriching and exciting. Especially if it’s recurring. It can become something you look forward to, a place that helps you feel less alone in your struggles. We need this, people. We need one another. We’re pack animals. We really start to live when we’re actively involved in helping others and making a tangible difference simply by loving one another and listening and expression compassion and shared experiences. This is what the ex-Christian movement needs. We need each other. The problem is that it’s messy sometimes, it’s taxing on time and energy. Often it becomes overwhelming if too few are the caretakers of the group and experience burnout. These are pitfalls that are common in community building. I hope this talk gave you some inspiration toward being involved as both a beneficiary of the community and playing an active roll in making it happen. This is one of those things that isn’t going to land in your lap. We all have to get out, risk awkwardness, risk exposure, spend precious time, energy and money to keep it going and exercise a lot of grace (to borrow a religious term) and patience with the complexities of being human. Thanks again for listening. Have a great week. Think about how you could be better connected to a local community. Do some research to find groups in your area and start reaping the benefits of being actively connected to others in your area. We’ll talk to you next week. 

 

 

 

Direct download: Ep_130_Peter_Montoya.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:13pm CDT
Comments[0]

Episode 129 Hank Vincent

Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Hank Vincent. Like so many of us raised in small, rural, heartland-of-America towns, Christianity was the assumed world-view of everyone he knew, and he might still be a Christian had it not been for being shown the door at a church where he served as worship leader.  

Hank points out that in his small town, people don’t approach Christianity doctrinally. The emphasis is on loving God and obeying God and inviting Jesus into your heart as Lord of your life. I know because I too was raised in a small town in Oklahoma, 100 miles from his little town in the Texas panhandle. They want to know that you’re in the club; that your name is in the Lamb’s book of Life, that you are “one of us.” Christian hegemony is nowhere stronger than in rural areas in the red states. If you’re child doesn’t list their church as they’re introduced as football homecoming royalty, you’re the exception. And after all, it’s a club of the nicest, sweetest, kindest backstabbing gossipers this town’s ever known. The questionable aspects of the Bible are swept under the rug, along with everything else with which they’re uncomfortable. The supernatural acts of Moses or Daniel or Jesus are simply assumed to have happened; end of discussion. 

After our conversation with Hank, Bob and I do a brief commentary. Then, local friend and clinical Psychologist, David Mathis and I discuss various ways humans use denial to protect their beliefs and their emotional security. Lastly, we feature a song written and performed by Hank. It’s a break-up song but much like worship songs can resemble love songs, this break up song could easily be about his break-up with God.

We taped these conversations on November 13th, 2016. 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, give it 5 stars, and/or leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode is an original piece written by our guest Hank Vincent

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

 

 

 

 

Direct download: Ep_129_Hank_Vincent.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:37am CDT
Comments[0]

Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Nathan Keith, of San Antonio, Texas. Nathan is a gifted musician, served as worship leader and youth pastor. Nathan, like many, took Christianity SO literally, SO serious, only to realize later that most people—most Christians—DON’T take it as literal as we did. In fact, it may be that Christianity is only a sustainable ideology when handled metaphorically or loosely or at least with a lot of wink-winks along the way.

Nathan is in his mid-20s, married around 2 years and just recently decided he couldn’t believe anymore despite sincere efforts. His wife remains a believer but models one of the best examples of how to handle this situation as I’ve ever heard. His parents are also handling it well. As what happened to many of us in the first year of our deconversion, some aspects of our world and identity are turned upside down. For example, Nathan’s a musician and yet he has picked up an instrument since deconverting; he used to be an avid hunter now he’s working on a flexible vegetarianism. He attempts to exceed the F-bomb record set on this podcast by Marie LePage, Episode 108, but doesn’t quite make it. 

We taped these conversations on November 12th, 2016. 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, give it 5 stars, and/or 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 by Sam Maher recorded on a handpan in the NY city subway.

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

The news story on Nathan’s church embezzlement case

 

 

Direct download: Ep_128_Nathan_Keith.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:43pm CDT
Comments[0]

Episode 127 Erin Leigh

Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Erin Leigh. She’s another Minnesotan guest, she’s a math teacher a marathon runner, and she’s an ex-Christian. We interview people you don’t know on a subject no one wants to talk about, but we think it helps people to talk about it AND we are, in fact, about to get to know Erin Leigh.

Erin was raised Evangelical, went to church 3 days a week, thought she knew 100% 'truth.’ She left Christianity when the questions outnumbered the answers at age 25. She’s now 32. She blogs as A Math Person at amathperson.blogspot.com. One of her posts is a letter to my Christian friends. The following are exceprts from that blog:

“As many of you know I was once one of you.  From a young age, I was active in the church community I grew up in.  My mom and dad loved him, my grandparents loved him and so did most of the other people I knew, so it seemed like a pretty reasonable thing to do. We participated in AWANAS and I was a dedicated verse memorizer. When I was old enough I joined the youth group, and my life began to revolve around Christianity even more.  We had the best parties, amazing retreats, I got to sing in the band, and all my friends were there too.  It wasn't just about fun stuff though, I took my faith seriously.  I lead the campus bible study.  I questioned my faith and found solace in various apologetic resources.  I lost someone dear to cancer and was compelled by their story to believe ever more deeply that there was a God.

In college, I was equally involved in a campus ministry, but the questions I felt I had wrestled with in high school still remained and were in some cases were emboldened.  I struggled with the lack of intellectualism expected from anyone in ministry I was involved in.  I struggled a lot in college with 'fitting in' within Christian circles.  I felt like a strange anomaly in this group because I wanted to get a degree that was marketable outside of ministry, which seemed to mean a lot more homework and not enough time for leading a bible study (though I tried).  About the time I graduated from college I found faith again in my own terms.  I flirted with Catholicism, because I really enjoyed the ritual and reverence.  I joined a church where my questions were honored, or at least not completely laughed off and considered irreverent.  I met people who 'believed in Evolution' and God, who could have a cocktail and a Bible and who swore and said Amen who prayed and voted democrat.  At this time, I felt my faith was dynamic and honest.  I wanted nothing more than to stay true to that honesty and remain faithful for the rest of my life. And I did stay honest. And that in turn was the problem.

There were three main sticking points that led to me leaving the faith.  The efficacy of prayer (or lack thereof), the ubiquity of the messiah stories,  and evidence that existential experiences are not strictly divine. I had a strong, but complicated emotional connection to my faith and despite it's messiness I had no desire to leave.  I felt forced by the plain logic in front of me, and I was a somewhat unwilling deconvert.  I attempted to hang on in various ways.  I joined an emergent church, I read Anne Lamott, but it didn't really work. In the end, I found atheist is the best description I could give myself, though I'm still not a fan of labels in general.

Here's the thing I didn't expect from leaving religion.  I'm happy now.  I expected pain and heartache and suspected I would feel some sense of existential dread, but to be honest leaving Christianity has made me a much more fulfilled person.  I'm finally free to pursue the passions I always loved without guilt or shame, and that has made be very fortunate and fulfilled person.   Ultimately, leaving Christianity alleviated the pain I had always felt in my brain, and eventually alleviated the pain I didn't know was in my heart.”

We taped these conversations on November 5th, 2016. 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, give it 5 stars, and/or 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 by Sam Maher recorded on a handpan in the NY city subway.

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

Erin’s Blog: http://amathperson.blogspot.com/

 

Direct download: Ep_127_Erin_Leigh.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:06pm CDT
Comments[0]

Episode 126 Jen Senko

Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Jen Senko, who wrote and directed a documentary titled “The Brainwashing of My Dad.” Jen’s documentary and the effect that political pundits and talking heads have on the human psyche brings up a fascinating subject, especially relevant in view of the election of Donald J. Trump to the highest office in the world (or at least it was before he took it). This catastrophe has so stupefied people that we’re finally talking about the elephant in the room: “fake news.” and it’s ability to influence people  to vote against their own self-interest, their own conscience, or against whatever decency they have left after 30 years of right-wing propaganda.

This really is a fascinating conversation with a fascinating personality—Jen Senko. There are several nuggets of unique dialogue here and a few at my expense.  I love this episode and I hope you will too. 

We taped these conversations on October 30th, 2016. 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, give it 5 stars, and/or 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. Our Indigogo fundraiser is over and as of this taping, we raised $530. We were trying to raise $1600 for 3 new microphones and 3 boom arm mic stands. We raised enough for the mic stands with a head start toward the mics. My thanks to everyone who donated. 

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is by Sam Maher recorded on a handpan in the NY city subway.

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

Official Website: www.thebrainwashingofmydad.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thebrainwashingofmydadmovie?ref=hl
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq2PQ5pM-6oYAdAGSsreB4Q
Twitter: @brainwashingdad
Tumblr: http://thebrainwashingofmydad.tumblr.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_brainwashing_of_my_dad/

 

Producer/Sales Contact: Adam Rackoff
CINCO DEDOS PELICULAS
(917) 207-5169
adam@cincodedospeliculas.com
https://vimeo.com/cincodedospeliculas

 

Maslow’s 5 hierarchies of needs start with the basic needs of food and shelter, then safety and security. The third is community. The fourth is esteem. The fifth, and top of the pyramid is self-actualization. But in light of today’s show and the premise of this podcast, I want to point out how falling for counterfeit means of meeting the 3rd and 4th level’s needs—community and self-esteem, keeps one from ever achieving self-actualization. This is where false ideologies come in and hijack personal growth and true agency. This where religion and Fox News come in. 

People can overlook a lot of nonsense associated with an organization IF they’ve made friends within it. Churches are full of people that don’t tow the party line of all 7 tenants of their church’s statement of faith, but they go back week to week because “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows you’re name, and they’re always glad you came. You want to be where you can see our troubles are all the same. You want to be where everybody knows you’re name.” That’s the 3rd tier—community. 

The fourth tier has to do with self-respect or self-esteem.  We all need a sense of contribution or value. This might include a felt need for strength, competence, independence, and/or freedom. These are true paths to the 5th need—self-actualization. But we can be tricked into thinking we have freedom when we’re yet a slave; we can think we’re thinking for ourselves when we’re being told what to think. We can be tricked into thinking we’re strong when in fact we’re weak.

The church does this by conveying that God loves you uniquely. He knows the number of hairs on your head. He knit you together in your mother’s womb. You are special. The music, the stain glass windows, the grand narrative from Creation to Apocalypse, the goose-bumps all make a person feel alive and a part of something bigger than themselves. All this was made with you in mind. But what if it’s not true? What if life is not the intent or creation of a being and we’re all just accidents; that the universe doesn’t know or care that we’re here? Wouldn’t it be important that we’re getting our needs met by things that are true? That are real? We don’t eat imaginary food? We don’t shelter ourselves under imaginary roofs. Our self-esteem must be based on facts or we’ve fallen for counterfeit girding of our existence.  The banner under which we rally our community must be real.

Fox News meets the esteem need by igniting the emotions—primarily fear and anger. When our brains light up with these emotions, they release dopamine and adrenaline and we feel alive, powerful, and most importantly: right. The need to be right cannot be underestimated. But it actually stunts our maturation, not fosters it. Yeah, you’re exerting your energy, flexing your muscles, fighting enemies, but they’re not real. Fake news keeps people on an imaginary playground with imaginary battles and thus in a perpetual state of infancy.

The most honest path to true self-esteem is thinking for one’s self, doing the work yourself to build your beliefs, but this is hard work. Part of the difficulty is facing harsh realities like the chaotic, absurd meaninglessness of life. Part of it is acknowledging that we all die a permanent death and will be forgotten in a few generations—as if we never existed. If a person cannot or will not exert the effort needed to face reality, it can actually lower their self-esteem. Life is SO complex, and navigating human problems is such an intricate labyrinth, that it’s very attractive when someone offers to do your thinking for you and feed you what to think and believe.  Religious leaders and political pundits are eager to feed us. There is great wealth to be gained by creating followers. 

We all can get overwhelmed with our realities and the temptation to bury our heads in the sand is powerful. But this is saying no to what is.  There are many popular ideologies, including religion and partisan politics, that when adopted can trick you into falsely maintaining your self-esteem, self-respect, and self-righteousness in spite of your cowardice, incompetence and sloth.  I’m saying that Maslo’s needs are real; we all want to feel alive and part of a community. I’m pointing out that there are people who understand that humans can be stupid and lazy and are eager to exploit us for personal gain by introducing deceitful pitfalls that can derail our heroic journey toward genuine self-esteem and authentic community. Don’t fall for it. Smell it out. Follow the greed. Discern the liars. Say yes to reality and no to falsehood, not the other way around. Jesus may have been right when he said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

 

Direct download: Ep_126_Jen_Senko.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:58pm CDT
Comments[0]

Episode 125 Tim Flynn

Cass and Bob converse with Tim Flynn of right here in Nashville. He was raised Southern Baptist in west Tennessee but unlike some of us, was not good at the fake-it-til-you-make-it gambit to maintain faith. Once he got his driver’s license and some autonomy, he stopped going to church and never looked back. 

Tim realized relatively early in life that no matter how hard he tried to establish a personal relationship with Jesus it just never took, and in so doing he avoided years or even decades of tension and confusion and wrestling with doubts and trying to make the Christian narrative hold water; which, once conceded, is followed by shame and embarrassment for taking so long to get honest. So Tim models a less painful way that one leaves their childhood faith, and we witness a snapshot of how many millennials are reacting to their inherited religion. His ability to trust his own common sense and be less prone to need something to be true when you know deep down that it’s not saved him a lot of heartache and we hear that in his calm, pleasant disposition. 

We taped these conversations on October 23, 2016. 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, give it 5 stars, and/or 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. Our Indigogo fundraiser is here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ea-podcast-equipment-upgrade#/

Credits:

"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is by Sam Maher recorded on a handpan in the NY city subway.

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

 

 

Direct download: Ep_125_Tim_Flynn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:53pm CDT
Comments[0]

On Trump

Just Cass sharing his thoughts on the Trump election

Direct download: on_Trump_election.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:48pm CDT
Comments[0]

Episode 124 Kile B. Jones

Cass and Bob converse with Kile B. Jones. Kile gets around in post-Christian circles and is very much a bridge-builder. He plays well with Christians, Muslims, other faiths and inter-faith functions. He actively engages with churches in helping them understand that atheists are human too and helps integrate Darwinism into their faith.

Kile is a Bible scholar with a Masters in Sacred Theology and another Masters in Theological Studies, both from Boston University.  He’s the Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Claremont Journal of Religion. He’s the Founder of Interview an Atheist at Church Day (and I play a clip as an example of what happens there). Kile is also the founder of the Take Darwin to Church Project, which we discuss. He’s been published in many scholarly periodicals and has presented at Conferences across the U.K. and U.S.A. on Religion and Philosophy.

This is good talk with Kile. We talk about current events, which can be problematic because I usually give myself 2 to 3 weeks to edit each show, sometimes 4 here at the end of the year, but at as a result, for example, the election of President had not happened when we taped this, and, in fact, has not happened yet as I’m taping this, so some of that is a little dated, but I think it’s still interesting, maybe even as we reflect back on how we were feeling in the weeks approaching it, etc.

We taped these conversations on October 22, 2016. 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, give it 5 stars, and/or 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. Our Indigogo fundraiser is here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ea-podcast-equipment-upgrade#/

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is by Sam Maher recorded on a handpan in the NY city subway.

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

Kile’s interview w/ Ryan Bell on the Life After God podcast

The Youtube interview w/ Pastor Phil Wyman and Jonas Green

https://interviewatheists.wordpress.com/about/

https://www.facebook.com/kilebjones?fref=ts

So here are the most commonly used words on the EA Podcast according to the Facebook thread:

  1. Hegemony
  2. Credulity
  3. Ontological
  4. Certainty
  5. Agency
  6. Inerrancy
  7. Secular
  8. Woowoo
  9. Epistemology
  10. Volitional
  11. Community
  12. Humanist
  13. Difference
  14. Transcendent
  15. Epiphany
  16. WooWoo
  17. Nuanced
  18. Wow
  19. Narrative
  20. Fuck
  21. Cognitive Dissonance
  22. Mental Gymnastics
  23. Meaning making, story-telling, pattern seeking creatures
  24. Drank the Kool-Aid
  25. Apologist
  26. Firebrand –
  27. Fundamental –
  28. Reason –
  29. Zeitgeist –
  30. Apostate

 

 

Direct download: Ep_124_Kile_Jones.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:22pm CDT
Comments[0]

Episode 123 Rev. George Cunningham

Cass Midgley interviews Rev. George Cunningham, a local pastor of a Disciples of Christ church who is openly gay with a partner of 12 years. Their church is called open table because all our welcome. I present these Christians every now and then to model a version of Christianity that is non-toxic and even beneficial for society, in my opinion. I think honestly that Christianity is not going away any time soon. (Never soon enough.) So since we have to share society with it for at least a few more generations, I find it worthwhile to elevate and highlight those that are doing it right, if there is such a thing. George is that guy, as is Stan Mitchell 118, David Dark 90, Becky Garrison 65, Geoff Little 41, Roger Wolsey 13, Patsy Moore 8, and many others. Also to show that these are human beings doing the best they can with what they’ve got. They are NOT delusional about the negatives in scripture and in how others apply their Christianity, and they seek to show a better way, and I applaud them.  They are reforming from within and that’s no easy task, trust me. 

Something I want to highlight about this conversation with George is his work in his work helping mentally challenged people. He talks about his funding from United Way and city and county support (which is tax dollars) and with that comes a lot of government regulations. Also that it’s difficult to find good help at $9.50 an hour. Call me crazy but I honestly would love to live in a country upside down from the one I currently live in, where people who help people—from people like George and his care-givers, to police and firefighters, to teachers—would make a minimum of $80,000/year.  When the 30 wealthiest Americans have the same net worth as half of Americans, and the 60 wealthiest human’s net worths equal have of the earths population’s net worth, then we have a problem and we could do much better in sharing the planet, sharing resources, and creating the best possible life for the most people possible. And yes, I’m talking about wealth distribution and yes, I’m a socialist.  I despise money because it enslaves all of us. If we all cared about noble moral things rather accumulation of stuff, life could be a much better experience for more people, if not all. 

 

We taped these conversations on October 15th, 2016. 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, give it 5 stars, and/or 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. Our Indigogo fundraiser is here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ea-podcast-equipment-upgrade#/

 

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is by Sam Maher recorded on a handpan in the NY city subway.

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

 

Direct download: Ep_123_Rev_George_Cunningham.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:45pm CDT
Comments[0]

Episode 122 "Casey"

Cass and Dr. Bob interview a man who we’ll call Casey, to protect his true identity and so that he can be more candid in telling his story. Casey kept a deep dark secret from age 10 to 30, and today, at age 38, he shares in publicly for the first time. The deconstruction of his Christian faith happened relatively quickly, in less than a year, but not until he was 36. He is surrounded by believers, including his wife, parents and siblings, but he does a good job of keeping the peace and maintaining those relationships. 

Casey’s story brings up a touchy subject—victimhood, and how to handle it. Many people are reluctant to call themselves a victim out of a disdain for being aligned with those who seem to capitalize or gain some much needed attention from dwelling on it or wallowing in it.  Sometimes victims are offended when they’re unfairly accused of this. I made the mistake of doing this on episode 6 of this podcast when I accused a dear, life-long friend named Sam of playing that card. He hasn’t spoken to me since, and won’t, and he lives right here in Nashville.  In this age of political correctness and the strong arguments on both sides, there is much for us to learn on this nuanced subject. One side is trying to enlighten people too privileged to understand how words can hurt someone traumatized by decades and even generations of abuse and discrimination. The other side is trying protect 1st Amendment rights to say what you want and let societies toughen up. As a vocal, opinionated person, I have said hundreds of times to people offended by my words, “if the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it.” But the question remains, who made me the shoe cobbler of other people’s feet? I find myself agreeing and disagreeing with both sides of this quandary. And here we find ourselves.

Casey took the tough-guy route and suppressed his victimhood for 2 decades but found that no matter how hard he suppressed it, it was determined to resurface and demand a reckoning. Casey models how, as humans, we are fragile and vulnerable, AND YEt strong and resilient. This should come as no epiphany. After, we all—literally all—are fighting our own battles, and it is never the place for anyone—stranger or friend—to give unsolicited critique of how that person is working through their own unique circumstance. So in case you’re listening, Sam, I apologize for my callous, presumptuous accusations and although you are in no way obliged to restore our friendship or even forgive me, I confess that I would like that whenever you’re ready.  Ooh, did you catch that? “Whenever you’re ready” implies a weakness on his part. There I go again. Like I said, this shit is nuanced. That said, Sam, I hope that you can see my heart and know my intent and separate my inept choice of words from my actual character and core.  Knowing that Sam could say, “Oh I see your character, and you are not capable of empathy and thus not safe to be around.” And that would be his prerogative, of course.     

In the area of friendships, Casey has had great success, maintaining lifelong friendships and making new ones in the present. As a tip, he offers a practice that reminded me of Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn.” This sound like common sense, and it is, but I appreciated Casey’s emphasis on it, and that is that a true friend is able to celebrate other people’s successes and not be jealous or envious, but truly happy for them. Some of what we gleamed from scripture when we were Christians turned out to be common sense, good advice, and unlike much of scripture, remains relevant today. This is part of what drew us to it in the first place. Perhaps we mistook it as the sole source of morality for humanity back then, but for those of us unanchored to insisting that it’s God’s word, we can retain some of what we learned and be the better for it. 

So today I’m introducing a new segment of the show that we’ll feature every now and then, not every week, but I am a huge proponent of talk therapy (for the world) and love to think about why do what we do as humans, and I have a few friend who are psychologists or therapists who I’ve asked to give their two cents every now and then regarding things that come up on a particular episode or just something interesting the relevant in the culture, so after Bob and I do our post-interview commentary, I’ve tacked on a 15 minute conversation with Dr. Brynda Quinn, a former guest of the show, episode 77.

We taped these conversations on October 8th, 2016. 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, give it 5 stars, and/or 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. Our Indigogo fundraiser is here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ea-podcast-equipment-upgrade#/

 

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is by Sam Maher recorded on a handpan in the NY city subway.

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

 

Direct download: Ep_122_Casey.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:44pm CDT
Comments[0]

Episode 121 Mark Stephens

Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview an ex-Christian, and now police officer, Mark Stephens.  Mark’s story has a lot to do with him noticing that much of his Christian way of thinking—the  “logic” whereby Christians made choices, for spouse, for President, for where to live, what college to go to, just life choices in general, were flawed.  When he ventured outside reliance on scripture or prayer for making decisions and trusted his own skills of deduction and reason, he found that he made wiser choices and reaped better outcomes. 

We taped these conversations on October 1st, 2016. 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, give it 5 stars, and/or 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. Our Indigogo fundraiser is here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ea-podcast-equipment-upgrade#/

Credits:
"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is by Sam Maher recorded on a handpan in the NY city subway.

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

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

DarkMatter2525 video about why Christians take our Atheism personally

 

The insert I put in the middle of the interview:

I’m stopping the tape here to enter a footnote regarding this issue of the Christian notion of the Fall or what Mark is calling here Sin. I didn’t fully understand the gravitas of Bob’s question in real time, but after listening back to it, I realized that there is something here to elucidate.  We’re talking about the problem of evil and how the fact that an alleged good, all-powerful god doesn’t heal amputees or intervene in any measure of suffering is a big problem. It’s important to understand how Christians get around this and maintain their allegiance to and a loving image of a good god, despite this evidence. To most Christians, God created everything perfect. And there are actually several Falls that ruined God’s perfect world—the two main one’s being the Fall of Satan from Heaven as he questioned God’s authority and wanted be like God, and second, the Fall of Adam of Eve, which was prompted by Satan as the serpent to do the same—question God and desire to be like God. Now being like God, in this context, would mean being knowlegable—knowing stuff—the knowledge of good and evil for example, but also being free. The rebellion to want to eat from any tree I want to. The desire to think for one’s self, etc. It’s important that we understand that to the Christian, God is the only source of goodness. In the Biblical narrative, humans have always messed things up and God is constantly disappointed and frustrated with our ineptitude.  This is pounded into us over and over. Eden was only the first time we fucked things up. The flood was God giving his creation a do-over because our disobedience and rebellion led to debauchery and ruin. The same with Sodom and Gomorrah, the same with the Tower of Babel. This is what is drilled into the Christian mind—humans always ruin things when they ignore God. These narratives keep God’s reputation squeaky clean and human’s reputation hopeless. This is why they are so quick to assume malice when we misbehave, this is why’s it’s easy for them to demonize humans, and have ZERO reservoir of hope for humanity. They already walk around with a presupposition that humans are evil, hopeless, and incapable of turning things around. “Only God can save us” is there goto answer for everything. In fact, when they hear some of us saying that we trust our own ability to think and reason our way out of problems and don’t need God to fix this, THEY HEAR SATAN. They hear the voice of the Serpent. They hear Adam and Eve. They hear the stomping footsteps of a wrathful God approaching. Atheists, naturalists, secularists, scientists scare them and anger them just like their blind ignorance and allegiance to their non-existent savior angers us. We both think the other’s ideology leads to more suffering. Eden represents the perfection of God’s world before humans got prideful and disobedient and rebellious. To the Christian, restoring the Kingdom of God, represented here by pre-Fall Eden, is their main agenda. Why, because they hate suffering too. They want to end racism, poverty, famine, and war. They too want social justice, equality, civil liberties, but many of them only see it possible by way of humbling ourselves before God and crowning him King of the World. But I think it’s helpful to keep in mind that we both want the same things (at least for the earth). Now the after-life is really another layer of this altogether, but I think all humans, especially as were born into this world as children, pre-tainted by fears and prejudice, want the same good things—food, water, and shelter for everyone, peaceful relations, joy and laughter, fun and freedom, etc. We just see two very different means to those ends. They believe that the invisible third-party Maker of everything is the only hope of that coming to fruition. In fact, God will thwart the efforts of humans who have not called on His help first. This is what would lead Newt Gingerich or Mike Huckabee to say things like whoever’s president should be first and foremost a man of prayer. Christians want the good life too, but they frame it as wanting to get back to Eden. They want the kingdom of God to come on earth as it is in heaven which will only happen when every nation, tribe and tongue bows the knee to Jesus. This is why they do missions around the world. And they’ve added a loophole just in case that’s impossible here on earth (and they fear it is), and that is that God will create a new heaven and earth populated only by Christians and that’s when they’ll get their Eden back. And then God will have his way. Because finally, He’s got a bunch of obedient people around him.  They see me and my atheism as rebellion and disobedience to the God who wants to bring it about. I see their fictional narrative as a brainwashing that impedes us solving these problems ourselves.  And here we find ourselves. 

Direct download: Ep_121_Mark_Stephens.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:01pm CDT
Comments[0]