Everyone's Agnostic Podcast
Cass & Bob interview people you don't know about a subject no one wants to talk about--God. What's not to like?
Episode 123 Rev. George Cunningham

Cass Midgley interviews Rev. George Cunningham, a local pastor of a Disciples of Christ church who is openly gay with a partner of 12 years. Their church is called open table because all our welcome. I present these Christians every now and then to model a version of Christianity that is non-toxic and even beneficial for society, in my opinion. I think honestly that Christianity is not going away any time soon. (Never soon enough.) So since we have to share society with it for at least a few more generations, I find it worthwhile to elevate and highlight those that are doing it right, if there is such a thing. George is that guy, as is Stan Mitchell 118, David Dark 90, Becky Garrison 65, Geoff Little 41, Roger Wolsey 13, Patsy Moore 8, and many others. Also to show that these are human beings doing the best they can with what they’ve got. They are NOT delusional about the negatives in scripture and in how others apply their Christianity, and they seek to show a better way, and I applaud them.  They are reforming from within and that’s no easy task, trust me. 

Something I want to highlight about this conversation with George is his work in his work helping mentally challenged people. He talks about his funding from United Way and city and county support (which is tax dollars) and with that comes a lot of government regulations. Also that it’s difficult to find good help at $9.50 an hour. Call me crazy but I honestly would love to live in a country upside down from the one I currently live in, where people who help people—from people like George and his care-givers, to police and firefighters, to teachers—would make a minimum of $80,000/year.  When the 30 wealthiest Americans have the same net worth as half of Americans, and the 60 wealthiest human’s net worths equal have of the earths population’s net worth, then we have a problem and we could do much better in sharing the planet, sharing resources, and creating the best possible life for the most people possible. And yes, I’m talking about wealth distribution and yes, I’m a socialist.  I despise money because it enslaves all of us. If we all cared about noble moral things rather accumulation of stuff, life could be a much better experience for more people, if not all. 

 

We taped these conversations on October 15th, 2016. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, give it 5 stars, and/or leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated. Our Indigogo fundraiser is here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ea-podcast-equipment-upgrade#/

 

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

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

 

Direct download: Ep_123_Rev_George_Cunningham.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:45pm CDT
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Episode 122 "Casey"

Cass and Dr. Bob interview a man who we’ll call Casey, to protect his true identity and so that he can be more candid in telling his story. Casey kept a deep dark secret from age 10 to 30, and today, at age 38, he shares in publicly for the first time. The deconstruction of his Christian faith happened relatively quickly, in less than a year, but not until he was 36. He is surrounded by believers, including his wife, parents and siblings, but he does a good job of keeping the peace and maintaining those relationships. 

Casey’s story brings up a touchy subject—victimhood, and how to handle it. Many people are reluctant to call themselves a victim out of a disdain for being aligned with those who seem to capitalize or gain some much needed attention from dwelling on it or wallowing in it.  Sometimes victims are offended when they’re unfairly accused of this. I made the mistake of doing this on episode 6 of this podcast when I accused a dear, life-long friend named Sam of playing that card. He hasn’t spoken to me since, and won’t, and he lives right here in Nashville.  In this age of political correctness and the strong arguments on both sides, there is much for us to learn on this nuanced subject. One side is trying to enlighten people too privileged to understand how words can hurt someone traumatized by decades and even generations of abuse and discrimination. The other side is trying protect 1st Amendment rights to say what you want and let societies toughen up. As a vocal, opinionated person, I have said hundreds of times to people offended by my words, “if the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it.” But the question remains, who made me the shoe cobbler of other people’s feet? I find myself agreeing and disagreeing with both sides of this quandary. And here we find ourselves.

Casey took the tough-guy route and suppressed his victimhood for 2 decades but found that no matter how hard he suppressed it, it was determined to resurface and demand a reckoning. Casey models how, as humans, we are fragile and vulnerable, AND YEt strong and resilient. This should come as no epiphany. After, we all—literally all—are fighting our own battles, and it is never the place for anyone—stranger or friend—to give unsolicited critique of how that person is working through their own unique circumstance. So in case you’re listening, Sam, I apologize for my callous, presumptuous accusations and although you are in no way obliged to restore our friendship or even forgive me, I confess that I would like that whenever you’re ready.  Ooh, did you catch that? “Whenever you’re ready” implies a weakness on his part. There I go again. Like I said, this shit is nuanced. That said, Sam, I hope that you can see my heart and know my intent and separate my inept choice of words from my actual character and core.  Knowing that Sam could say, “Oh I see your character, and you are not capable of empathy and thus not safe to be around.” And that would be his prerogative, of course.     

In the area of friendships, Casey has had great success, maintaining lifelong friendships and making new ones in the present. As a tip, he offers a practice that reminded me of Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn.” This sound like common sense, and it is, but I appreciated Casey’s emphasis on it, and that is that a true friend is able to celebrate other people’s successes and not be jealous or envious, but truly happy for them. Some of what we gleamed from scripture when we were Christians turned out to be common sense, good advice, and unlike much of scripture, remains relevant today. This is part of what drew us to it in the first place. Perhaps we mistook it as the sole source of morality for humanity back then, but for those of us unanchored to insisting that it’s God’s word, we can retain some of what we learned and be the better for it. 

So today I’m introducing a new segment of the show that we’ll feature every now and then, not every week, but I am a huge proponent of talk therapy (for the world) and love to think about why do what we do as humans, and I have a few friend who are psychologists or therapists who I’ve asked to give their two cents every now and then regarding things that come up on a particular episode or just something interesting the relevant in the culture, so after Bob and I do our post-interview commentary, I’ve tacked on a 15 minute conversation with Dr. Brynda Quinn, a former guest of the show, episode 77.

We taped these conversations on October 8th, 2016. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, give it 5 stars, and/or leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated. Our Indigogo fundraiser is here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ea-podcast-equipment-upgrade#/

 

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

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

 

Direct download: Ep_122_Casey.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:44pm CDT
Comments[0]

Episode 121 Mark Stephens

Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview an ex-Christian, and now police officer, Mark Stephens.  Mark’s story has a lot to do with him noticing that much of his Christian way of thinking—the  “logic” whereby Christians made choices, for spouse, for President, for where to live, what college to go to, just life choices in general, were flawed.  When he ventured outside reliance on scripture or prayer for making decisions and trusted his own skills of deduction and reason, he found that he made wiser choices and reaped better outcomes. 

We taped these conversations on October 1st, 2016. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, give it 5 stars, and/or leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated. Our Indigogo fundraiser is here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ea-podcast-equipment-upgrade#/

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

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

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

DarkMatter2525 video about why Christians take our Atheism personally

 

The insert I put in the middle of the interview:

I’m stopping the tape here to enter a footnote regarding this issue of the Christian notion of the Fall or what Mark is calling here Sin. I didn’t fully understand the gravitas of Bob’s question in real time, but after listening back to it, I realized that there is something here to elucidate.  We’re talking about the problem of evil and how the fact that an alleged good, all-powerful god doesn’t heal amputees or intervene in any measure of suffering is a big problem. It’s important to understand how Christians get around this and maintain their allegiance to and a loving image of a good god, despite this evidence. To most Christians, God created everything perfect. And there are actually several Falls that ruined God’s perfect world—the two main one’s being the Fall of Satan from Heaven as he questioned God’s authority and wanted be like God, and second, the Fall of Adam of Eve, which was prompted by Satan as the serpent to do the same—question God and desire to be like God. Now being like God, in this context, would mean being knowlegable—knowing stuff—the knowledge of good and evil for example, but also being free. The rebellion to want to eat from any tree I want to. The desire to think for one’s self, etc. It’s important that we understand that to the Christian, God is the only source of goodness. In the Biblical narrative, humans have always messed things up and God is constantly disappointed and frustrated with our ineptitude.  This is pounded into us over and over. Eden was only the first time we fucked things up. The flood was God giving his creation a do-over because our disobedience and rebellion led to debauchery and ruin. The same with Sodom and Gomorrah, the same with the Tower of Babel. This is what is drilled into the Christian mind—humans always ruin things when they ignore God. These narratives keep God’s reputation squeaky clean and human’s reputation hopeless. This is why they are so quick to assume malice when we misbehave, this is why’s it’s easy for them to demonize humans, and have ZERO reservoir of hope for humanity. They already walk around with a presupposition that humans are evil, hopeless, and incapable of turning things around. “Only God can save us” is there goto answer for everything. In fact, when they hear some of us saying that we trust our own ability to think and reason our way out of problems and don’t need God to fix this, THEY HEAR SATAN. They hear the voice of the Serpent. They hear Adam and Eve. They hear the stomping footsteps of a wrathful God approaching. Atheists, naturalists, secularists, scientists scare them and anger them just like their blind ignorance and allegiance to their non-existent savior angers us. We both think the other’s ideology leads to more suffering. Eden represents the perfection of God’s world before humans got prideful and disobedient and rebellious. To the Christian, restoring the Kingdom of God, represented here by pre-Fall Eden, is their main agenda. Why, because they hate suffering too. They want to end racism, poverty, famine, and war. They too want social justice, equality, civil liberties, but many of them only see it possible by way of humbling ourselves before God and crowning him King of the World. But I think it’s helpful to keep in mind that we both want the same things (at least for the earth). Now the after-life is really another layer of this altogether, but I think all humans, especially as were born into this world as children, pre-tainted by fears and prejudice, want the same good things—food, water, and shelter for everyone, peaceful relations, joy and laughter, fun and freedom, etc. We just see two very different means to those ends. They believe that the invisible third-party Maker of everything is the only hope of that coming to fruition. In fact, God will thwart the efforts of humans who have not called on His help first. This is what would lead Newt Gingerich or Mike Huckabee to say things like whoever’s president should be first and foremost a man of prayer. Christians want the good life too, but they frame it as wanting to get back to Eden. They want the kingdom of God to come on earth as it is in heaven which will only happen when every nation, tribe and tongue bows the knee to Jesus. This is why they do missions around the world. And they’ve added a loophole just in case that’s impossible here on earth (and they fear it is), and that is that God will create a new heaven and earth populated only by Christians and that’s when they’ll get their Eden back. And then God will have his way. Because finally, He’s got a bunch of obedient people around him.  They see me and my atheism as rebellion and disobedience to the God who wants to bring it about. I see their fictional narrative as a brainwashing that impedes us solving these problems ourselves.  And here we find ourselves. 

Direct download: Ep_121_Mark_Stephens.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:01pm CDT
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Episode 120 "Zoe"

Cass and Bob interview a woman using the pseudonym “Zoe.” She’s not entirely out to her family as an atheist, plus in her late teens she was lured into an affair with a married pastor, 12 years her senior so she would prefer to remain anonymous. 

Zoe’s story is a hard one. Not only did she endure the difficult work of deconstructing her faith, and the animosity that that creates with family and friends, but her faith involved falling in love with her pastor, and the pain of that church branding her with the Scarlet Letter. Then, as an adult, she found a man that loved her unconditionally. They’re happy, they have two children together, but her hardships were not entirely behind her. They endured a still-birth and a miscarriage in the process. Today she looks for beauty in our godless world through macro and conceptual photography and poetry which can find on her blog “Words to a Silent God." 

 

After the conversation with  Zoe, and Bob and I offer our post-show commentary, I tack on a section where I interact with an article posted in Psychology Today back in 2011 by psychotherapist Ken Page titled, “How To Love Yourself First: The least-honored and most powerful path to self-love.” Week after week, we talk with people who have not only done the difficult work of deconstructing their faith but invariably have had to discover how to love themselves after years, sometimes decades, of toxic religious self-debasement. Stories like Zoe’s embody the colossal achievement of raising one’s own chin to look one’s self in the mirror and affirm who you are…such that you can live out the remainder of your days looking people in the eye unashamed, unafraid, and free to bring your full human self—flaws and all--into the room.  This article prescribes some ways we can say yes to what is.

We taped these conversations on September 25th, 2016. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, give it 5 stars, and/or leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated. Our Indigogo fundraiser is here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ea-podcast-equipment-upgrade#/

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

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

Zoe’s blog site: https://wordstoasilentgod.wordpress.com/

National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month October 15th: http://www.nationaldaycalendar.com/national-pregnancy-and-infant-loss-remembrance-day-october-15/

http://www.october15th.com/

To raise awareness regarding Clergy Abuse of Power & Clergy Sexual Abuse: http://www.faithtrustinstitute.org/resources/learn-the-basics/ce-faqs

How To Love Yourself First: The least-honored--and most powerful path to self-love By Ken Page L.C.S.W. Posted May 21, 2011, Psychology Today

 

Direct download: Ep_120_Zoe.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:13am CDT
Comments[3]

Episode 119 Gayle Jordan & Nina Jackel

Bob and Cass interview two guests: Gayle Jordan, formerly featured on episode 79 who’s now running for State Senate in Tennessee as an atheist, and our second guest, blogger/activist Nina Jackel of ladyfreethinker.org which has generated over a million views. 

In the post-Christian experience we go from believing in God to not believing in God and we can get stuck in that stage of pushing against what we no longer believe in. Perhaps after the grieving process, it might be healthy for us to redirect our energies to something that we DO believe in. Today our guests are both modeling that for us. They’ve put themselves out there in active, public forums to be agents of change in the world, working towards promoting the things that they’re FOR. Many of us got into Christianity because it was a vehicle through which we could express our core values—love, compassion, healing, improving people’s lives, and whatnot. Gayle is addressing issues that would improve the lives of Tennesseans like health care, education, and equal rights. Nina is working for animal rights and human rights. We’re not focusing on Nina’s religious deconversion, because she really didn’t have one, her mother being a moderate Episcopal and her dad a moderate Bronx Jew. Gayle is an ex-Christian and we covered her story in episode 79. So this episode is a bit of a detour from our regular subject.

We taped these conversations on September 18th and 24th, 2016. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, give it 5 stars, and/or leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: on a per episode basis through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a 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 is by Sam Maher recorded on a handpan in the NY city subway.

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

http://gaylejordanforsenatetn14.com/

https://ladyfreethinker.org/

Our Indigogo campaign to upgrade our microphones and mic stands

 

 

Direct download: Ep_119_Gayle_Jordan__Nina_Jackel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:04pm CDT
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