It was my pleasure to speak with Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo on the Everyone’s Agnostic podcast.
My father has been in the hospital for over a month, with a week in the middle, in a nursing facility for rehab. Most of the time he has been bedridden. It really doesn’t look good, and I have no idea how long he has.
Every time I post an update somewhere, people ask if I’m okay. I appreciate the concern but I don’t like being asked that because I don’t have a simple answer. I don’t like that question because I feel like I can’t answer honestly in an off-the-cuff fashion like the way people say “fine.”
It’s complicated. And most people who ask you how you’re doing in social settings are looking for a one or two word answer. They’re not expecting a full buffer-dump of details about all of the crap you’re dealing with.
Right now I am extremely tired. I’m stressed out more than I have been in my entire life. I’m trying to maintain a job, make sure there’s food in the house, get my mom to her appointments when she has them, check on my dad, and make some very unpleasant and difficult decisions on his behalf. I’m also trying to take care of myself, pay my bills, and get out and spend time with friends and in nature, and get as much rest as I can. I am probably dealing with a certain amount of depression and anxiety. I’m seeing someone monthly to talk that out. But none of this will begin to resolve itself until my dad is better.
I know everyone has their hearts in the right place when they ask, but when I see the question “Are you okay?” my first reaction is to roll my eyes.
I’ll be okay, just not right now.
It was 1967. I was 4. For a couple of years I had been going to a daycare place a couple of streets over from my grandparents’ house. I never liked being there. The owner and her daughter were mean and would spank us or threaten to spank us over the most trivial things. One Thursday the owner read some story to us about a farm. Then she had us line up single-file and she asked us where cows were found. The thing is, if you didn’t give her the answer she wanted you got your hand swatted with a 12″ ruler.
Every kid was saying the wrong thing. There was even a girl ahead of me who said, “in the country where the farms are,” and she got swatted. I had seen a few Tarzan movies and probably had looked at one or more of the comic books. So when my turn came up I said, “In the jungle.” She hit my hand several times with that ruler, and it stayed sore the rest of that day. When she was done with her interrogation of the last child in the line she told us that a cow is found on a farm. I may or may not have seen African buffalo in the movies, but the female of the species is referred to as a ‘cow.’
After I got back home I told my aunt that my hand hurt. It was red but not swollen, as far as I can remember. She asked what happened and I told her that the woman read us a story and hit us if we answered a question wrong. My aunt told my mom and grandmother, and they had to talk my mom down from going and confronting the woman. And I started going to a different facility after that.
I have a memory of my aunt coming to me and telling me that they were taking me to this woman’s home to watch me for a while, while the adults all went and did something. I remember being there for several hours. I did not trust the woman, and I was scared of her. Three or four hours seems like an eternity to a 4-year-old. It was so long that I started crying. And eventually my aunt came back to get me.
Recently I told my mother about that day from 50 years ago, and I asked her if she remembered what everyone was out doing that necessitated leaving me with that woman after what had happened. She said that they hated that woman for what she did and that none of them would have ever taken me to her home to babysit me. She suggested it was either a dream or something my mind cobbled together due to trauma. I have bits of memories from dreams over the years. This has always felt like it actually happened. There wasn’t anything ‘off’ about the surroundings like you’d have in a dream. kind of the way you can tell the CG effects in a movie from actual scenery outside.
I’m going to take my mom at her word, that they wouldn’t have put me through being babysat by that woman. I may have in fact dreamt it but it didn’t fade like most of the other dreams I’ve had, and it’s always felt so real.
Shit like this is why I cannot be a part of this religion anymore. All my life growing up teachers and others were feeding my head with this idea that Lincoln freed the slaves. 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments all ratified. Then I get to the church and find out I’m still a fucking slave. Christianity is the slave-master’s religion, and I recognize it as such. If Hell is the price then I’ll pay it. The world’s white idol can fuck off.
“There is no feasible excuse for…what we have made of ourselves. We have chosen to put profits before people, money before morality, dividends before decency, fanaticism before fairness, and our own trivial comforts before the unspeakable agonies of others.”
-Iain Banks, Complicity
The only thing that matters is how we treat one another. The rest, the dollar and blessing chasing, is shit, from top to bottom, as far as the eye can see.
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” Acts 1:7, NIV
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Matthew 24:36, NIV
Christians engage in two types of date setting. Sometimes they assign an actual date to the second coming and other apocalyptic events. We’ll call this hard date setting. This always ends up in some degree of embarrassment for the person setting the date, and anyone who bought into their pitch. The most notable of these debacles is the ‘Great Disappointment,’ which eventually led to the formation of the Seventh Day Adventist church. Most of the time people engage in what I call soft date setting. Soft date setting takes several forms. In 2015, Michelle Bachmann spoke after returning from Israel, “We recognize the shortness of the hour,” she said, “and that’s why we as a remnant want to be faithful in these days and do what it is that the Holy Spirit is speaking to each one of us, to be faithful in the Kingdom and to help bring in as many as we can — even among the Jews — share Jesus Christ with everyone that we possibly can because, again, he’s coming soon.”
Ms. Bachmann was careful to not assign a specific date. There’s no call to be at any particular place or ready at any particular hour. Just, ‘soon.’ Of the two this soft date setting is the worst. It is the most subversive and pernicious. It places people in a constant expectant mindset, and at the end of the day, when there’s no trumpet sound or chorus of legions of angels in the sky, they go to bed a little disappointed, even if on an unconscious level. It’s a constant source of stress for many. I’ve even heard people testify that they had experienced stress effects from anticipating the rapture/second coming/end times eschatology.
Humans have caused all the problems we have today. We’re the problem, and we’re the solution. We don’t deserve a divine ass-wiping. It’s not needed. Pathological expectation of a heavenly revolution on earth happens in direct conflict with the Bible. It is neither healthy nor helpful. It leads to a depraved indifference to suffering, and has people on one level or another wanting their lives to be over. It was something I dealt with and chose to abandon.