Facebook Live Q&A on 3/9/2019
Marie D'Elephant was immersed in the Christian religion as a child. She attended a Lutheran church growing up and then General Baptist Conference. She took church very seriously as its message satisfied her need for black and white in the world. Correspondingly, her doubts about the supernatural also began early, at the age of 13. The Christian high school she attended required "religion class" every year and in her freshman year, the teacher pretended to be New Age on the first day in order to challenge the students' beliefs and their ability to defend them. Well, that backfired. That experience along with common sense sprung Marie on a journey of doubt. Her teen years were tumultuous as she attempted to respect and follow her doubts while her peers, family, and community all agreed that the doubts were baseless and that coming to the right conclusion was a matter of life and death.
When she graduated from high school, she decided to double down on her faith and signed up to do a Discipleship Training School through Youth With a Mission in Mexico. The religious culture was more dogmatic and toxic than anything Marie had experienced up to that point and it galvanized her faith. However, as a recurring theme, Marie's religious passion couldn't withstand her doubts. After being a missionary in Mexico for 2 years, she returned home and continued on her deconversion journey. By her mid-20s, she was no longer calling herself an Christian but was still dealing with the fallout of losing her faith and her entire worldview. Taking their place were major depression, an eating disorder, and panic/anxiety disorders. Marie has spent the subsequent years getting help for her religious trauma, hitting on topics such as autonomy, agency, assertiveness, and authenticity. Now, even at 36 years old, she deals with her religious trauma on a daily basis.
She discovered Everyone's Agnostic in 2016 after hearing Ryan Bell from Life After God interviewing Cass Midgley. She started listening to the podcast and found the tone profoundly refreshing. There were plenty of angry atheist podcasts out there but this one seemed to strive to treat others with compassion, to seek empowerment and healing, to embrace nuance, and to develop a life that is fulfilling. In her first email to Cass and Bob as a fan, she invited herself on the show and casually offered that she could co-host anytime they needed her (foreshadow much?). Her interview in late 2016 was deeply healing and cathartic for her.
When Cass shared that Bob was leaving the show and that Cass was feeling stretched thin, Marie immediately felt inspired to be a part of it all. She is now the administrator for most of the EA work and as of late November 2018, she is Cass's co-host. She seeks to bring her unique and honest voice to the conversation. Her goal is show up to the world in an vulnerable and authentic way, approach the terrifying questions, and empower others to do the same.
Marie is a Senior Executive Assistant for her career. She enjoys photography, videography, hiking, boxing, speaking Spanish, learning, talking about feelings, swearing, watching kitten videos, doing scary things, and being authentic as hell.
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; the two were close, personal friends. Born and raised in Oklahoma, Cass walked right into Christianity. As a teen, he discovered there were many Christianities. He was determined to find the right one, and if he couldn't, he would start it. Throughout his undergrad career 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, 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 some nihilism to be the best practice of theism.
Cass started the Everyone's Agnostic podcast in 2014 with friend and former co-host Bob Pondillo. Four years later now, the show has over half a million downloads. In this time, thousands of new friends, listeners, and show guests have begun contacting each other, even meeting in person, and a global network has formed, creating an amazing, loving community - something Cass and Bob never could have imagined. While some long-time listeners no longer need the show for support, more and more people continue to leave religion and are finding the podcast. The show must go on!
When not uniting the deconvert community, Cass also enjoys his daily crossword puzzle, watching college basketball, and drinking cheap gin, diet tonic water with lots of lime. Cass is also a Humanist Chaplain who officiates non-religious weddings and funerals for all genders and orientations.