Cass Midgley and Bob Pondillo converse with Daniel. Daniel is a teacher, coach of a robotics team, and overall computer nerd. He grew up in a small suburb of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and attended a Southern Baptist church until he transitioned to a Charismatic, Non-denominational church in High School. He married his wife of sixteen years, a high-school friend, when he was 21 and has two daughters (13 and 10), two cats, and 1 Bearded Dragon. In college, he pursued a number of different degrees before finally graduating with a degree in English and Social Studies Education from Southeastern Louisiana University and obtaining a Masters Degree from Louisiana State University in Higher Education Administration with a focus on Student Affairs. His career as a teacher and coach has allowed him to work with students on developing their ability to think critically and to lead effectively. The fact that Daniel is robotic coach is appropo because from a young age his approach to his faith was mostly cerebral–more brain and less heart–so when his faith eventually unraveled it was not as traumatic as it is for those whose hearts are truly in it. I’m not saying he wasn’t devout. He was militant in his devotion to the gospel, prayer, worship, advancing the kingdom on earth. And yet, he had a relatively soft landing after jettisoning Christianity. In this conversation, Daniel describes his desire to be in God’s inner circle. He wanted more than just casual Christianity. His high school experience of Christianity borrowed military jargon, assembled and marched down the halls in prayer, waving the Christian flag and blowing the shofar, shod in matching fatigues and combat boots. Spurred on by Audio Adrenaline, DC Talk, and Caedmon’s Call, they sought the face of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Remember that song “More Love, More Power?” Power seems to be what modern evangelicals want more than love. Power is addictive. I personally attended a lot of conferences…to be with the people who were serious, to ascend the hill of the Lord with others who desperately wanted God to show up and establish his kingdom on earth as in heaven. We wanted Jesus to be Lord of All, even politics if necessary. Jesus for President was just another way of seeing him as Lord or King of Kings. Jesus and God were so good at running things, we wanted them to run everything. And it’s what they wanted to do, but they were gentlemen and thus needed an invitation…and for righteous behavior to increase. So abortions and homosexuality were keeping good things from coming to America. A commonly quoted scripture was 2 Chronicles 7:14 which placed the focus on God’s people repenting rather than those not considered to be God’s people. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” There are pockets of Christianity today that focus on themselves getting right with God as a means to achieving God’s favor on the earth. They see themselves as a remnant, like Lot’s family, that would stay God’s wrathful hand from destroying the nation. I used to believe that our worship was a pleasing aroma to God, like a burning cow, it was a sacrifice of praise and it counteracted the stench of sin rising up in his nostrils. We were saving people from God’s wrath by worshiping. After all, He look for people to stand in the gap and fend him off. That was me.
About 50 years ago, there began a shift in Christian thinking. They decided that praying in your closet was getting the job done. That minding their own business within the four walls of the church wasn’t being true Ambassadors for Christ. They felt that remaining the sweet, loving insular community was a form of being ashamed of Jesus before humankind, for which Jesus threatened to be ashamed of them before his Father in heaven. So they began their campaign to be Salt and Light in the public square. They formed a powerful voting block upon whom corporations capitalized. Fox News hijacked what little agency they had left after decades of Bible-worship. They now fill our senates, congresses and courthouses. George W. Bush prayed for direction on major decisions. Wisdom, science and scholarship are disparaged.
So God’s people have looked within, searched their own hearts, repented, prayed longer, fasted, worshipped more passionately, beat their breasts harder to get God to move. Another pocket of Christianity has blamed all the sinners, the gays, the baby-killing. THIS is why God is angry. This is why He doesn’t do signs and wonders like he did in biblical times. He’s angry and waiting on his people to run for more political offices.
Everyone’s trying to solve the problem of God’s silence. We were too, when we believed. How many times did we notice that life was happening exactly as it would if there were no God and then commence to perform theological gymnastics to make excuses for his absence. We’ve heard that a lot in the four years we’ve been interviewing ex-Christians: “I stopped making excuses for God.” Believers for centuries have pulled Jesus down off the cross, propped him up, carried him around like the movie “Weekend at Bernies,” even tried CPR on him, for years in fact. 1 2 3 breathe, 123 breathe, over and over again for decades. We’ve pressed the shock paddles on his chest, yelled “clear” and zapped him, over and over again. It’s like Bob always says on this show, “C’mon! it’s been 2,000 years! he’s not coming back.”
Some of us have pulled the plug, taken him off the ventilator and walked away lost and confused wondering what the fuck did I just spend the last 20 years doing. It was a lie so big and so repeated…by so many people over so many centuries of which countless cathedrals have been erected, billions of dollars have been spent that we believed it, and millions still do. Even now, some of our nearest and dearest still believe it and actually want us to return to it. To pick up the silent god again and drag him into every aspect of our lives, crown him lord of lords and president of presidents. I think we’re witnessing the type of chaos and absurdity that hoisting up a hollow shelled corpse into leadership produces. It’s for the same reason why our universe is chaotic and absurd–no one’s watching the shop. It’s just us here. We’re the only hope for solving our problems, taking care of our world, our societies, each other. Imaginary gods have distracted us too long. We’re the ones in need of resuscitation.
We taped this conversation on April 7th, 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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Credits:”Towering Mountain of Ignorance” intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU Intro bumper “Never Know” by Jack JohnsonThe bumper music on this episode is “One Love” by Danny E. B. Tracks on YouTube
Thanks for listening and be a yes-sayer to what is.