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Everyone's Agnostic Podcast

Cass & Marie 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.

Dec 19, 2017

Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo interview Valerie Torico. Dr. Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer with a passion for personal and social evolution. Today, we discuss Tarico’s book, Trusting Doubt:  A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light, offers personal insight into how we can apply “constructive curiosity” to our most closely guarded beliefs.  

As a social commentator, Tarico tackles issues ranging from religious fundamentalism to gender roles, to reproductive rights and technologies. A primary focus is on improving access to top tier contraceptive technologies. To that end, in 2015, she co-founded Resilient Generation, a family planning advocacy hub based in Seattle, Washington. She serves on the board of Advocates for Youth, a D.C. based nonprofit with wide-ranging programs related to reproductive health and justice, and is a Senior Writing Fellow at Sightline Institute, a think tank focused on sustainable prosperity. Her articles have appeared at sites including the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Salon, AlterNet, and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and they are available at

Bob and I (Cass) wish you a wonderful summer solstice, time with family and friends, the giving and receiving of gifts from loved ones, and however else you recognize these year end holidays. If you're going to be with family with whom there is religious tension, I encourage you to stick to humanist values when you're with them and be present as a healthy, mature version of yourself. To that end, I will now read excerpts from the third Humanist Manifesto and David Richo's declarations of healthy adulthood:

As humans, you and your family members are an integral part of nature, the result of evolutionary change, an unguided process. Our ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Our fulfillment in life emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals. Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships. Working to benefit society, even a micro-society like your family gatherings, maximizes your own individual happiness. We humanists have respect for differing views in an open social context, as long as they are humane.

And from Richo, in preparation for potentially incendiary encounters with family and friends, say these to yourself before you engage:

I accept full responsibility for the shape my life has taken.
I need never fear my own truth, thoughts, or sexuality.
I let people go away or stay and I am still okay.
I accept that I may never feel I am receiving – or have received – all the attention I seek.
I acknowledge that reality is not obligated to me; it remains unaffected by my wishes or rights.
One by one, I drop every expectation of people and things.
I reconcile myself to the limits on others’ giving to me and on my giving to them.
Until I see another’s behavior with compassion, I have not understood it.
I let go of blame, regret, vengeance, and the infantile desire to punish those who hurt or reject me.
I am still safe when I cease following the rules my parents (or others) set for me.
I cherish my own integrity and do not use it as a yardstick for anyone else’s behavior.
I am free to have and entertain any thought. I do not have the right to do whatever I want. I respect the limits of freedom and still act freely.
No one can or needs to bail me out. I am not entitled to be taken care of by anyone or anything.
I give without demanding appreciation though I may always ask for it.
I reject whining and complaining as useless distractions from direct action on or withdrawal from unacceptable situations.
I let go of control without losing control.
If people knew me as I really am, they would love me for being human like them.
I drop poses and let my every word and deed reveal what I am really like.
I live by personal standards and at the same time – in self-forgiveness – I make allowances for my occasional lapses.
I grant myself a margin of error in my relationships. I release myself from the pain of having to be right or competent all the time.
I accept that it is normal to feel that I do not always measure up.
I am ultimately adequate to any challenge that comes to me.
My self-acceptance is not complacency since in itself it represents an enormous change.
I am happy to do what I love and love what is.
Wholehearted engagement with my circumstances releases my irrepressible liveliness.
I love unconditionally and set sane conditions on my self-giving.

So get out there and be your self. Your "self" and presence are precious. Someday you and all your family members will be dead, never to be experienced ever again. You and they will not be sitting around the dinner table someday. But this Christmas,  you and they will be there, together, in the same rooms, and that is valuable beyond measure. Bring your body, mind and soul into those rooms. As much as you're able and comfortable, be the miracle that you are with those people, whether they understand that or not. Be gentle with yourself. Don't do anything you don't want to do. Be as honest as you can and look for the magic moments, as brief and rare as they may be. And remember Bob and I and the relationships you've made through this podcast and the larger atheist community and that you are LOVED just as you are, even if your family is unable to do that. Happy Holidays my agnostic friends!  

We taped the conversation with Valerie Tarico on November 19th, 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. Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.

"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode was created by Cass Midgley

Thanks for listening! And be a Yes-sayer to what is.

Twitter: @valerietarico 

The movie, "The Mask You Live In."