Jul 12, 2018
Cass Midgley's guest is Kai (anonymous). Kai left home when she was 19 moving to Australia to study art. She counts this as a pivotal time in her life that created the space to begin examining her upbringing in the Seventh-Day Adventist church.
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We taped this conversation on
June 30th, 2018.
The intro music is by Dave Weckl called "Just Groove Me"
The segue music is "I'm Coming Up" the 1980 hit by Dianna Ross
Thanks for listening, and be a yes-sayer to what is.
Having grown up in an almost
cult-like Adventist community, Kai struggled for many years with
the knowledge that she was gay and what this meant for her
salvation according to the church doctrine. Ultimately, this caused
her to leave the Seventh-Day Adventist church, and by leave I mean
she kinda went out with a bang, didn't just slink away, which is
fine too, but that's not Kai. Kai, despite her small frame, is a
force to be reckoned with. Rugged and tenacious. Today Kai is an ER
and ICU nurse, published author and photographer, as well as an
officer in the United States Navy, having served in Afghanistan and
aboard a ship in the South Pacific. She insist that above all else,
she is an artist.
I really enjoyed this conversation. One theme came up that I've said for years and that is that atheism is the best practice of theism. I think at one point Kai identifies as a Idon'tcareist or apatheist. People think that by buying into a religion they're hedging their bets, but I think the best way to be ready for there to be a possible God in an afterlife is to make him proud by weaning one's self of him. Maybe 2 ounces of my 190 pound frame believes gods exist, but I just can't because it smacks SO loud of human concoction (and there's no evidence).
Think about 2 really deep human
conditions: the fear of loneliness and abandonment. From the time
we're babies, we think that when mama leaves the room, we don't
exist. As toddlers, we scream when they leave us with a babysitter
or at school. As children we are taking in everything and how the
people in our lives and, especially our parents behave and we
simply mimic it. Our identity is informed and shaped by what we see
and hear. It comes from the outside. As we lose our naive innocence
and realize the world is a scary place, we take comfort in the fact
that there's a roof over our head and mom and dad are in the next
room, AND they've got a plan. They make our lives work. I don't
have to worry about a thing. Yet. The older I get the more I
start to develop my own agency--my own ability to develop my OWN
identity that is not merely a reflection of my parents and
siblings. I form my own values, tastes, and priorities. Some don't
develop agency. The more devout a Christian one is, the less one
will learn to listen to and trust their own heart and body. If the
parents or friends or boyfriends are controlling, this to might
stunt their personal maturation. Then when they move out of their
childhood home, they're comforted by having God, their portable
parent who will never leave or abandon them as they embark into the
real world. And in some ways, the don't get to grow up. I'm one of
them. I like to think that my inner self, gagged and bound in the
dungeon of my soul escaped, came bursting out of the basement and
went on his own heroes journey, which he is still on, of course. To
our surprise some of us found the scary, chaotic, parentless world
was scary at all. We were more scared in the bosom our parents than
we are in this godless snake-infested jungle. Irony!
Kai mentions the movie, the Village, in which a small cult-like community lives cut off from the outside world by the woods, in which they believe dangerous creatures exist. They have an uneasy truce with the creatures - if they stay out of the woods, they are left unharmed. So they are fenced in by a scary forest.
Fences are a theme in this talk. There was a fence around her compound in Afghanistan, a fence that kept her from coming out gay for so many years, and the electric fence of the church. Just about the time she thought she was gaining freedom and agency, Saturday would roll around and a one hour sermon would crush her spirit, and throw her back down the very pit of confusion and despair from which she'd spent the week climbing out. This crazy-making cycle eventually forced her hand to take some really brave steps to climb the goddamn fence and begin her journey toward wholeness.