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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rogier's photography website

Karen Garst's new book: Women vs Religion 

 


Direct download: Ep_191_Rogier_Bos.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:05pm CDT
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