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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.

May 28, 2018

Welcome everyone to episode 205 of the Everyone’s Agnostic podcast. I’m Cass Midgley. Today, Dr. Bob Pondillo  I interview Anne Marie Zanzal. Anne-Marie Zanzal has a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School and a graduate certificate in Women's Leadership from Hartford Seminary.   She is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and has worked as a church pastor and as a chaplain in both hospitals and hospices. She is a Compassionate Bereavement Provider certified by the MISS Foundation. Anne-Marie is an informed and entertaining speaker and group leader about coming out late in life, end of life issues and hospice, and women and divorce.  You can find Anne-Marie at, on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, or email her at

We taped this conversation on May 12th, 2018.

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.

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"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green

The music behind it is "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music on this episode is "Release It" by Afro Celt Sound System, one of Raymond's favorite bands.

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

Ivan Coyote's "Hats Off" to Femmes

If you've listened to this podcast, you know that Bob and I can very critical of bad religion, especially bad Christianity. We would like nothing more than for it to eliminated and something we look back on someday soon as the silly phase in human history where we believed that shit. However, in the meantime, we occasionally like to highlight when Christianity is done right. In the four years we've been on the air, we've had numerous brave Christian guests in here who have learned to navigate this faith that most commonly corrupts otherwise good people with its fear-ridden, insecurity-appealling dogma that brings out the worst in its adherents. But the Christians we've had on here, like David Dark, Tony Woodall, Stan Mitchell, George Cunningham, Mary and Julia in episodes 4 and 5, Jim Henderson, Benjamin Corey, Jennifer Crumpton, Becky Garrison, Geoff Little, Krista Tippet, Brian Quincy Newcomb, Angela Pancella, William Paul Young, Angela Cantorna, Charlie Smith, and many others who have retained portions of their previous held beliefs while rejecting others, they were willing to bring their stories in here and showed us that there are ways to practice Christianity that truly make the world a better place and don't turn them into assholes. That's certainly the case with our guest today, Anne Marie. In a small way, this is us adopting the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" mindset. As we oil the wheels of deconversion and #emptythepews, we also applaud those who, while practicing some form of faith, have not forfeited their intelligence and agency to a false, insecure, jealous, and small God. They celebrate rather than shame what it means to be human. Unlike the majority of their fellow Christians, they do not bury their heads in the sand, and they say yes to what is.

Okay, I found a YouTube of someone reciting the poem to which Anne Marie just referred.  The voice here is apparently a lesbian that presents as masculine, perhaps even trans, it's not clear and I'm reluctant to presume but do so to give you a picture of what's happening because it is relevant. I highly value empathy and compassion, and often these virtues are best attained by putting one's self either in the shoes of those we don't understand or at least listening with an ear to learn. My understanding is that the poem is addressing the fact that some lesbians are butch and/or trans men and some are feminine. This is a world that I do not know. And so I insert here a recitation of the poem by Ivan Coyote titled "Hat's Off.

Again, that's a poem called "Hats Off" by Ivan Coyote, a trans man, found in his book, "Missed Her."  And now we return to the tail end our talk with Anne Marie. We had some technical difficulty at the end and so it abruptly starts.

So that's our talk with Anne Marie Zanzal. Bob and I enjoyed getting to know her. What a tough story. Lots of strength. Lots of courage. Lots of pain. Getting real, getting honest can be really hard work when we're trapped inside false narratives--strong, reinforced, lots of rebar type cemented narratives. Like Han Solo frozen in that giant ice cube and everyone around, also immobilized by self-denying, self-suppressing constraints, doing their best to ignore the cement or wanting everyone to remain incased in it, lest they upend the social construct. But good on you, Anne Marie, or Emery. Congratuations. You know, one thing that makes this so hard is, not only the personal pain, but the pain that getting honest is going to cause others--often those near and dear to us. In fact, while one is getting out of pain, others experience pain. But I think its important to keep in mind that the one getting free, getting honest DID NOT CAUSE THE PAIN. The false narratives cause the pain. Coming out gay or coming out atheist to your loved ones is only painful for them because of the beliefs to which they hold. And they hold them by their own volition...kinda. (that's debatable). But no matter how innocent they're indoctrination was, they are responsible to listen to THEIR own hearts and moral compasses, and ALSO have the courage to do their own breaking out of the lying concrete ideologies that demand allegiance at the price of betraying their own children or friends or siblings. When being a kind, loving person is mutualy exclusive to being faith to your creed, it's time to punt your fucking creed. This is not rocket science. Follow your heart, like Anne Marie is did, and is doing. It's NOT decietful. You're not wicked. You can and must trust yourself, especially more than you trust someone else's made up, over-confident, erection of certainty and projected image of a god to whom one must bow the knee and surrender their freedom and agency. Hell, the word Islam means surrender. The Christians sing "I Surrender All." Bullshit. Surrender nothing to imaginary narratives that are pure speculations derived from anecdotal personal experiences. Stick to evidence and the scientifc method of questioning everything. We are so prone to getting shit wrong that if we don't remain humble and teachable we are doomed to be encased, trapped, imprisoned in a lie to which we pledge allegience and devotion, all the while thinking we've attained the only truth and look down upon anyone who doesn't share in it. Doubly decieved. Doubly duped. and doubly paralyzed to do anything about it.

Okay, that's my rant. One quick announcement, Bob only has two more shows with us, the last one of which I will feature your tributary comments and farewells. You can Love Bomb Bob by calling 1 (800) 685-1797 that's 1 (800) 685-1797. I'll repeat that again at the end. I’ve set up a voice mailbox for you to call in and give a toast or tribute to Bob as he’s leaving the show. You may want to write out what you want to say before calling or just wing it. Either way, try to keep it under 30 seconds, unless you really want to pile on the love and go longer, but the average message should be under 30 seconds. Address him in first person, like “Hey Bob (or Dr. Pondillo or Dr. Bob, whatever), I just want to say…” It can be silly or serious, or both, you can mimic him, try to sound like him, and/or share some of your favorite Bob-isms or quips. I reserve the right to edit your message. You can say your name or not. I’d like it if you would say where you’re calling from (at least the State). These messages will be part of a tribute episode to Bob sometime in July. Thanks for participating in this. Call (800) 685-1797.

Have a good week everyone. I love you. Peace out.