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?

Today, Cass has a short conversation with Neil Carter on the struggle for ex-Christians to establish personal agency, or what he calls self-possession. After that, Cass and a clinical therapist named Jeanine interview Trav Mamone. Trav is a Bisexual genderqueer atheist blogger and podcaster, who has two podcasts: Bi Any Means and the Bi Skeptical podcast. He blogs on freethoughtblogs.com and has had articles published in many medias including Humanist.org, Splice Today, and has been featured on numerous podcasts. 

The word for today’s episode is tension. And by that I mean a strained relationship between. Between gender identifications, between sexual orientations, between being selfish and selfless, between getting what you want and wanting what you got, between love and hate, between the pursuit of self and the denial of self.

This episode goes out to those trying to discover what or whom they like and are giving themselves permission to like those things or people. To those who eventually, through intensive labor and self-examination, find themselves in the body and mind of what appears to be their own singular unique person and identity, mixed with weakness and strength, joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, and they say yes to it. Welcome to the community of self-lovers who, by simply being honest, make the world a better place. In so doing, we project our waning self-dislike on others less and less and own up to what it means to not only be human but to be ourselves. As a warning, you will overdo it at first and it may get ugly and even painful for those around you. You may hurt others but don’t let that stop your progress because the ones that truly lovely will take it on the chin to see you emerge and will be by your side when the smoke clears. And the others…they just may see you and your imperfectly perfect self and find the permission they need to do their own work toward self-acceptance. But if they do, they just might hurt you in the process, but you’ll recognize what’s happening and take it on the chin for their maturation.  This is part of the tension. The most honest relationship is a love/hate relationship and yes-sayers know how to abide in it and let love win. 

We taped the conversation with Trav Mamone on January 28th, 2017, and February 26th with Neil Carter. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

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

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

http://freethoughtblogs.com/bianymeans/

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/trav-mamone/bi-any-means-podcast

https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-biskeptical-podcast

Neil Carter’s blog

Direct download: Ep_140_Trav_Mamone.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:52am CDT
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Episode 139 Stephen B & Solan McClean

Cass Midgley interviews author Solan McClean about his new book “Learning to Drive Into the Now,” followed by Bob and Cass interviewing Stephen B about his minority trifecta: black, gay atheist.

Many ex-Christians and atheists have discovered the benefits of living a contemplative life, being self-aware, practicing mindfulness or meditating regularly. Sam Harris has written extensively on this. These terms can make us think of self-help gurus or woo-woo but my first guest today posits that people of faith or no faith can benefit from these practices. In particular today, he’s talking about his new book, “Learning to Drive Into the Now: PRND.” You may recognize that acronym as the gears of your car—Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive. But Solan uses them to remember his method of meditational driving: Practice, Relax, Now, Drive. Solan’s a brilliant guy…literally; he’s a member of Mensa. I think you’ll find him interesting.

Stephen B is a young African American man who is atheist and gay. He is a former 7th Day Adventist and was devout in his faith and his pursuit of God. He lives in Chattanooga, TN. 

We taped these conversations on January 22nd, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms.  Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

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

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

https://www.solanmcclean.com/

http://barryorchestra.tumblr.com/

https://barryorchestra.bandcamp.com

Direct download: Ep_139_Stephen_Barry__Solan_McClean.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:43pm CDT
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Episode 138 Bill Finley

Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview Bill Finley. Bill was a latch-key kid that took matters into his own hands as a senior in high school to map his path through Bible college and 13 years of service in the Salvation Army. But his mind and heart were too broad for the narrow path of Christianity, or as he puts it as an arm-chair linguist: "I needed another language."

Here in Nashville on Saturday, March 18th, we're hosting a one day convention called the Nashville Nones Convention, or NaNoCon. This is our second annual gathering. You can find more information at nashvillenones.com. Tickets are just $15 if you register before March 12th and only $20 at the door. Matt Dillahunty is our key note speaker and they'll be breakout workshops.

The second event is ReasonCon 3, being held the weekend of April 21st and 22nd in Hickory NC. This conference puts an emphasis on atheist podcasts and the communities that build around them. Tickets range from $45 to $180. For more information go to reasonnc.com.

In addition, I want to plug two medias that truly illustrate what it means to be a yes-sayer. The novel by Alain de Botton, "The Course of Love," and the movie, "Arrival," starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner.

Alain de Botton's "The Course of Love" follows a young couple, Rabih and Kirsten, for around 30 years from courtship to mid-life. Francine Prose, of the Guardian calls the novel "a sympathetic account of the relationship that begins only after the besotted courtship has ended. Having fallen deeply in love, the couple “will marry, they will suffer, they will frequently worry about money, they will have a girl first, then a boy, one of them will have an affair, there will be passages of boredom, they’ll sometimes want to murder one another and on a few occasions to kill themselves. This will be the real love story.” Journalist Michelle Newton writes, "De Botton argues we are all crazy and broken; that is the human condition. I would argue that the culture we live in is also in need of major repair as it is riddled with anxiety. No wonder the promise of escape via the wings of love is appealing. A strong dose of reality is needed to ensure the long-lasting survival of love. De Botton argues it is a skill to be learnt over time. I am no expert on love, but that is just the point. No one is."

De Botton invites us to put away our fairy tale expectations of what romance should look like and do the hard work of cohabitating with another person just as crazy as us, with just a different brand of crazy. The lie that the grass is greener continues to pull us out of our present reality into a delusional dream-state that says no to what is. I'm convinced that most couples in the world bear some measure of resentment when their partner is praised by others, thinking to themselves, "if you only knew him/her like I do, you wouldn't think so highly of them."  Obviously, this advice only applies to couples who are not in a perilous relationship where they're safety and well-being are threatened. But barring that, being a yes-sayer means deciding if you want your pursuit of companionship to divest itself over and over again with new partners, looking for mr or mrs right? Or if the person laying next to you snoring or drooling or farting suffice for the task?

And lastly, the movie, "Arrival."  “Arrival” is not your typical alien movie. This film has tremendous depth and a message that blew my mind. Amy Adam’s character, Louise, is a Professor of Linguistics and is called on to help communicate with aliens from outer space who have arrived on earth. As she grows more intimate with the aliens, they bestow on her, through dream-like visions, an ability to transcend time by seeing the future. What she does with this information and how she reacts to it emerges as the ultimate message of this movie cloaked in an alien invasion context. What I’m about to say could be considered a spoiler, but I think your experience with this movie will be enhanced by understanding the twist at the end as you watch it from the beginning. Louise is able to see her future self marry the scientist she’s working next to at ground zero, see the daughter that they bear, and see her die as a pre-teen with some kind of cancer. AND SHE CHOOSES TO FOLLOW THAT PATH ANYWAY. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Life’s a journey, not a destination.” To quote movie critic, Jarrod Canfield: “Arrival is a thoughtful adaptation of that adage. Arrival introduces us to a new prism by which we can better view our own lives. There is no salvation in this vantage point, nor protection from death. Instead, Arrival asks a simple question: if you could view your life as an image, a story told in one nonlinear and infinite symbol, would you change it? Would you live it anyway? Louise embraces life for all of its myriad victories and losses, knowing that the journey is worth far more than the final destination.” This is yes-saying. Looking the cruelty and absurdity of life in the face and walking into it anyway. Nietzsche’s formula for human greatness is Amor Fati, latin for love of fate—not wanting anything to be different. No-sayers look at their lives and they say NO, they want things to be different, they puff and pout over things for which they have no control.

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

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

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

 

Direct download: Ep_138_Bill_Finley.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:16pm CDT
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Episode 137 Steve Dicus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Direct download: Ep_137_Steve_Dicus.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:04pm CDT
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Episode 136 Wendy Marsman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Direct download: Ep_136_Wendy_Marsman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:41pm CDT
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