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The podcast is recorded in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, USA
Cass Midgley earned his Masters in Theological Studies from Vanderbilt in 2013…as an atheist. But that’s not where his infatuation with God began. As a boy, he knew there was a God…they were close, personal friends. Born and raised in Oklahoma, he walked right into Christianity. As a teen he discovered there were many Christianities . He was determined find the right one, and if he couldn't, he would start it. Through undergrad in the '80s, he found that he could twist and turn the creeds of Christianity to meet his own unorthodox theories, but it was clear he had to keep those to himself in order appear in lock-step with the organization. Plus, there was something about millions of believers over thousands of years creating countless seminaries, churches, books, and music that dwarfed the speculations of a little nobody from rural Oklahoma. Besides, Christianity gave him a great life: purpose, friends, community, laughter, hope, etc. Why would anyone want to burst that bubble?
In 2004, at age 38, he left the church and began thinking and reading things he would not allow himself to while in the Christian Matrix. He took the red pill. All those "dark night of the soul" experiences were glimpses into reality, not confusion from the devil. Once he let himself admit there was no Adam and Eve, it was the thread that, over the next 10 years, unraveled his theology completely. Today, he looks squarely in the face of life's absurdity and meaninglessness and says "yes" to it . With zero extant meaning in the universe, he has released all expectation and/or hope that life is in any way "good" and thereby finds it to be surprisingly and ironically beautiful. He purports atheism and even nihilism to be the best practice of theism.
Cass is a Humanist Chaplain who performs non-religious weddings for all genders and orientations. He counsels students on the Vanderbilt campus as the Staff Adviser to the Secular Student Alliance. He is a para-legal specializing in Qualified Domestic Relations Orders. He is married to his wife of 28 years; they have 4 young adult children.
Dr. Pondillo earned his Ph.D. in Media and Culture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a tenured, now retired Professor Emeritus at Middle Tennessee State University, where he taught screenwriting, media history, and media and culture classes for 15-years. He’s the kind of doctor that can’t help you if you’re choking…but could have a nice philosophical discussion about the cultural meaning of choking…if you live.
Pondillo has worked as a writer/producer/director/performer in various electronic media before transitioning to film writing and directing. His previous writing and performance credits include: The Voice of America, Washington, D.C.; WNBC radio, New York; ABC Radio Networks, New York; Columbia Pictures Television, Los Angeles; Paramount Pictures Television, Los Angeles; as well as more than twenty local radio and television stations from Ohio to Florida. Clearly, the man can’t hold a job…and if not for thievery and stealth would be sleeping under a bridge right now. He’s garnered four Emmy Awards for broadcast writing and producing, and in 2002 was inducted into The Ohio Radio/Television Broadcasters Hall of Fame in Akron. Or so he thinks. He was hammered at the time.
His short narrative movies, Would you Cry if I Died? (2005), My Name is Wallace (2006), Wait…(2007), and The New, True, Charlie Wu (2009) have won dozens of awards from film festivals around the world including: “Best Screenplay,” “Best Director,” and “Best of Fest” honors. My Name is Wallace, which Pondillo wrote and directed, was chosen as an “Official Selection” of the Cannes Film Festival, and was seen in more than 30 national and international film festivals. His most recent effort, The Miracles on Honey Bee Hill (released in late spring, 2012), is a sweet, controversial story of marriage equality starring child actors from 7-11 years. Wait, whaaaat? A movie about gay marriage starring kids? Yep! And no, it’s not as creepy as it sounds. (Although one conservative minister compared it to something Satan would film!) The movie earned dozens of awards and rave reviews from critics and audiences alike, but also stirred up a lot controversy. Pondillo is currently in post-production with his latest short film, Happy New Year, Mr. Kates! It will be released in the fall of 2014. Or not. Post-production is a bitch.
Bob’s Movies and Books:
MY NAME IS WALLACE
THE NEW, TRUE, CHARLIE WU
THE MIRACLES ON HONEY BEE HILL
The film is currently up on YouTube for the producers/bookers to screen, at an "only you can see it" site Also available for download at amazon.com
WOULD YOU CRY IF I DIED
HAPPY NEW YEAR, MR. KATES
Bob’s other book
Agnostic means “not knowing.”
When it comes to “god,” no one knows. Seriously…no one! No one can REALLLY "know" whether God exists or not let alone any details about Her (see what I did there?). So, Everyone’s Agnostic...whether we know it or not.
Jack Johnson (who, like us, clearly hasn't a clue) put it like this:
We’re never knowing
It’s shocking but we're nothing
We're just moments
We're clever but we're clueless
We're just human
Amusing but confusing
The truth is all we got is questions
We'll Never Know
As a species powerfully driven by curiosity, we look for answers. It begins at birth, matures into scientific exploration, and throughout our lives we bump into more and more important questions to which there are no answers. When this happens, we have three choices: 1) keep looking, 2) make something up, or 3) get comfortable with not knowing. (Suicide is also an option, but we don’t recommend it!)
Our podcast is focused on gathering stories of how humans navigate the unanswered questions.
We hope to learn from each other in our quest for Big Life—love, light, and laughter amidst an otherwise absurd existence. Where in our lives have we knowingly adopted an un-provable narrative as something that aids in that journey? This is the realm of "blind faith." And we think many folks spend too much of their time there. What’s wrong with faith? Hey, what’s right with faith? Where in our lives have we chosen to live comfortably with the questions? That's right: getting comfortable with mystery! THIS is open agnosticism.
Atheists may wonder how people can feel certain about something about which there is no verifiable evidence. Theists may wonder how people look at the beauty and complexity of this life and not recognize an intimate Creator. Well, we want to talk to both, and everyone in between. We want to know what works for you. What doesn't work? And we want to cut us all some slack on the need to be right. After all, no one knows if we’re ever right or wrong on these topics.
We interview regular people. And at the level of story, truth is stranger than fiction—we’re all interesting, thanks to all the shit we go through.
About the Podcast, Bob, and Cass