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

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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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