Aug 3, 2017
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
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.
"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.