This week’s guest is Cat Delmar. Cat grew up in a nominally Seventh-day Adventist family. The SDA churches, however, were anything but nominal. They had all the rules, from no caffeine to no pierced ears.
“There’s a lot of control of the body [in Seventh-Day Adventism].”
At sixteen, Cat took ownership of her faith and started going to church on her own, but she never quite fit in. By her twenties, she realized that the difficult questions in adulthood don’t have easy “Biblical” answers. Before she knew it, she’s figured out that the SDA church doesn’t have the answers and that perhaps no one does.
Today, Cat doesn’t need solid answers. She finds peace within herself and in her connection with nature. Cat’s story is one you’ll want to hear!
“There’s a lot of control of the body [in Seventh-Day Adventism].”
“There was definitely this dark cloud of shame for getting my ears pierced at sixteen years old.”
“[The Bible] is literally a bunch of fairy tales that we’re using to dictate people’s lives.”
“You aren’t supposed to lean on your own understanding…The damage of that? It has lasted for years.”
“Christians really have a monopoly on this doctrine that their way is the only way, and if you don’t believe this religion, you are going to hell!”
“I guess it was this ‘longing to belong;’ why I kept going back every couple of years…”
“…you can’t apply what’s happening [in the Bible] to the twenty-first century. It just does not compute.”
“This religion was forced on my people…[and it comes] with the racism, the sexism, the homophobia. All of those are intricately tied to the Christianity that was taught to my people, to really all Americans.”
“‘Forget what you know and conform! So we can control you!’ I don’t even know if all pastors know that’s what they’re doing, but even if it’s not conscious, that’s what they’re doing.”
“If Christianity is all about love and light and about peace, why do you have to wipe out other people’s religions?”
“The audacity of these fundamentalist religions to tell people that they know you better than you know yourself.”
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“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats
NOTE: This transcript is AI produced (otter.ai) and likely has many mistakes. It is provided as rough guide to the audio conversation.
David Ames 0:11 This is the graceful atheist podcast United studios Podcast Network. Welcome, welcome. Welcome to the graceful atheist podcast. My name is David and I am trying to be the graceful atheist. Please consider rating and reviewing the podcast on the Apple podcast store, rate the podcast on Spotify, and subscribe to the podcasts wherever you are listening. If you are having doubts going through deconstruction, you do not have to do it alone. Join us in our private Facebook group deconversion anonymous, you can find us at facebook.com/groups/deconversion If we just met at the Portland pod calm 23 Welcome. I'm glad you're here. I hope you enjoy the podcast. And if you're a regular listener, I'm really glad you're here as well. Special thanks to Mike T for editing today's show. On today's show, our Lean interviews our guest today, Kat Delmar cat grew up in the Seventh Day Adventist Church, there was a lot of bodily control from everything from caffeine to purity culture. As Kat grew up, she realized that the pat answer she was given within the Seventh Day Adventist Church didn't fit the reality of the world she was living in. Today cat has a spirituality around nature and the fulfillment that she gets being in nature. Cat has an Instagram it is at cat mangrove, as well as a link tree and we will have the links in the show notes. Here is our lien interviewing cat Delmar. Arline 1:57 Cat Delmar. Welcome to the graceful atheist podcast. Cat Delmar 2:00 Thanks for having me. Happy to be here. Arline 2:02 Yes, I'm super excited. I have been following you on Instagram since sometime last year, I have no idea how I found you. I'm sure Instagram or someone else that I followed was like you would like this account. And yes, I've enjoyed your content. Yeah. So thanks so much for being online and putting great things out there. Cat Delmar 2:19 Yes. And thanks to the algorithm for bringing us together. Yes, every Arline 2:25 now and then I'm like, okay, I can I can be okay with this AI. This worked out for me. So we usually begin with just tell me the spiritual background that you grew up in? Cat Delmar 2:37 Sure, yeah. So I'm Kat and I grew up as a Seventh Day Adventist sect of Christianity. I was raised Adventist, and my dad was raised adventus. And you know, his mom and his dad. So at least on my dad's side, from his grandfather, all the way down to me and my sister, we've been Adventist. So you know, a few generations back. And the thing is, it's like my mom had to convert Adventism to marry my dad, I mean, had to convert. I say that kind of loosely. But for all practical purposes, yes, she had to convert. But my dad was really one that was raised that way. So because my dad was more culturally Ventus. And my mom kind of did it out of I would say obligation, not necessarily because she believed in it. There always was this kind of like tug of war, a little bit between the parents. So it was a pretty inconsistent, like situation with us like a pretty inconsistent rearing as far as religion was concerned, because for instance, Seventh Day Adventist, they refrain from working on Saturday or on the Sabbath. So from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday, you're not supposed to be going to work doing any labor like around the house. Some people don't even want to dry or go to restaurants or anything like that. pump gas on Sabbath. So they try to the people that really adhere to that Sabbath, they really try to get everything done during the week, so that by Friday, sundown they can start, you know, opening the Sabbath with prayer and all that stuff. We never really did that. Only sometimes when like family would come to visit or friends of my dad, you pretend to be a little bit more pious. But like Mexico, my mom often worked on Saturdays, but my dad really did not. My dad was pretty good about not working on Sabbath. And, you know, because my mom was working on Saturdays. My dad would kind of inconsistently take us to church, and then we kind of fall out of it. Take us and we go to Sabbath school then not go for months, like and then by the time that was during my childhood. And so then by the time my mom and my sister and I we moved away from South Florida to North Florida, we really weren't going to church at that point. Like, sometimes my dad would bring us whenever he would come to visit, or whenever we would go down to South Florida to visit, but it was really inconsistent as we were like in our preteen area, like that era. Arline 5:18 So how did your mom grew up? What was her religious background? Cat Delmar 5:21 Um, like, because they're both Jamaican. So, obviously Christianity is the predominant religion in Jamaica. I would say like Anglican Baptists like that kind of, like a general Protestant but probably more Anglican. Okay. Yeah, her, I would say her family wasn't as devout. Yeah, I think they would consider themselves Christians. Even back then they would consider themselves Christians. But from what I've heard from other family members, there was a little bit more of like religious syncretism, like there was, perhaps some people were practicing some Obeah, which is the Jamaican version, I guess, for lack of a better term than Jamaican version of voodoo. So there were some dabbling in that some religious syncretism, but mostly Christian. Arline 6:07 Okay, my family were kind of what nominal Christians like, you just go to church, I grew up in Georgia. And every one you just go to church, there's no, nobody really asks you whether you believe or take it seriously or care. It's just that's just part of what you do. Exactly. But then thinking about the like syncretism, there were certain just little superstitions that my family had that I thought, I feel like when I eventually become became a Christian in college, I thought, why are you superstitious about this? Like, how did this get pulled into your beliefs? This feels like it should be something that they would if someone else were superstitious, they would judge them for they're kind of superstitious stuff, but just little things that I wish I could think of an example. But just Yeah, strange things that it was like, you've combined this with something else. And you're okay with it. It didn't, didn't seem to bother anybody. Cat Delmar 7:02 Definitely, like, was my mom, she was always interpreting dreams. So if I said, I had a strange dream, she would take that as something superstitious and use whatever knowledge that she had about that, and interpret the dreams. So maybe it was something similar to that. Arline 7:19 Yeah, there were things like that, like, not necessarily dream interpretation, but my mom was funny about not talking about dreams if they were bad dreams, or not speaking certain words, like it was it was just strange things that didn't feel biblical. It was like it would conjure some kind of demonic thing, which, I guess some people could consider Christian, it just felt different. But I was also I became a Christian in college. Yes. And it was Calvinism and very, like, head knowledge type stuff. So it was different. I did not grow up in the church what what my family believed so you guys moved to North Florida? You said your mom and your sister in you? Yeah. Was your dad in the picture? Or? Cat Delmar 8:14 Well, he stayed down in South Florida. And so we ended up having two houses, there was one down here and and one in North Florida. So it was kind of like, you know, latchkey kid, almost like a single motherhood situation. I went from, essentially a two parent household to now it was more like a one parent household. And, you know, I was young, and my mom was working. So, you know, my sister and I would be getting, I mean, we weren't getting ourselves up to go to school when we were very young, but we get ourselves up together. No, would be home when we got home from school. You know, making Kraft macaroni and cheese, like, I can't really eat that anymore, because I ate so much of it as a kid. And, you know, a lot of weekends spent, obviously not going to church because my mom was working, but a lot of boring weekends just left to our own devices. And so then by the time, like, as far as the adventure story is concerned, by the time I was like, 16 1516, and I had my permit. That's like, when I entered a different phase of my religious like, life, I guess. Because at that age, people are trying to people teens are kind of starting to contemplate like what life is and like, what the meaning of it is. And like what kind of person they should be, I guess. And so I was thinking, Oh, to be a good teenager, whatever young adult, I should start going to church by myself. So and my sister wasn't really interested in going to the Adventist church because I think by then, she huh, by then she kind of was on her own path. She's she's still a Christian, but she's a non denominational Christian. So by then she was already kind of kind of starting to leave You've Sunday Adventism. So I just went to church by myself, there was a local church in the area. And yeah, I kind of was pretty close with the people there. They were a few young people in the church, around my age and, and a couple of them are really nice because it was a very small church with a new pastor who was a young pastor. And so it felt a little bit like a family. Especially because yeah, my dad wasn't at home. And Mom was always at work. I was in a pretty rigorous high school curriculum. So that was nice to have, like, Oh, these are some people that maybe I can look up to. But you know, also when you're 16, you're starting to come into your own as a person and there's a rebellious nature that comes into play, when I'm not sure how rebellious it is to wear pants want to have a piercing or to just like little things like that became a problem. Because Adventist again, they're very conservative, not only with the Sabbath Keeping, but with like, dress, like they really don't use the years that tattoos are forbidden. There's a lot of control of the body. You know, I mean, we we know all about like purity culture, and that kind of stuff. Like that's something that I'm sure a lot of people on this podcast or other people in the deconstruction community talk about. Because yeah, there's a strain on the relationship with the body. Like even event is they don't want you to eat caffeine. And they follow a lot of the Leviticus dietary laws that even a lot of Jewish that I know don't follow most of the Jews. I know don't follow those rules. But Adventists are they add? They don't eat shrimp? No pork? No, Doc. You know, only animals that chew the cud and all that, like it's just all this extra stuff. Wow. Yeah, yeah, I was following all those rules. You know, I was a virgin, whatever. But I just wanted to get my ears pierced. And I remember having to hide my ear piercing because I felt like I was going to be shamed about I mean, they found out but there was definitely this, like dark cloud of shame for getting my ears pierced at 16 years old. Oh, my Arline 12:17 heavens are almost an adult. Yeah. And your ears pierced. There are so many, far worse things that teenagers would want to do. And I'm so sorry that there was such a cloud of shame for such a simple thing. Cat Delmar 12:34 Yeah, I'm so glad that I'm out of that. Like now like, I'm so glad I'm much older that I can just see it for what it is, which is yes. Did literally a Arline 12:44 bunch of made up stuff that someone thought we don't like this. So we're going to make a list of the things you can't do. Because we don't like these things. Yeah, Cat Delmar 12:51 it's literally a bunch of fairytales that we're using to dictate people's lives. And to control people, that's really what it's all about. It's about control. Like I said, control the body control of your mind, control your spirit, literally like and when I say spirit, I don't necessarily mean like spirit in the religious sense. I mean, like, your essence, who you are. So yeah, I just kind of got fed up with the control aspect. And there were a few people in the church that were like, vaguely racist. And I just, I just thought I was finding it to be boring. And just like, I didn't really fit in, like, I didn't want to be that devout. So, yeah, yeah. And also school was pretty rigorous. Like, as I was entering those last couple years of high school, I was like, I don't even think I have time for this. Because they're saying, don't don't study on Sabbath. I gotta study like, so that's another thing school. And that's kind of that was kind of a recurring theme. As I got a little older, but I just fell fell out of that situation there was a, there was something else that actually happened as well. Um, two other things that kind of made me pull away. The pastor, he was from South Africa. And he was, like I said, a young pastor, he seemed pretty genuine, pretty, pretty kind. I did like him as a person. But there was some rumor about how he definitely didn't want to have a black wife because he was looking for a wife because he was about 40 Something and unmarried, and he was a white, South African, and somehow that became the rumor. And I was like, Okay, I know, I was 16 I didn't really understand much about racism at 16. I mean, I had some experiences that were racial, but I didn't understand like, society and like social the social construct of racism to well, like the system Demick situation. And I was like, this is weird, like, I'm a black person and this pastor is using race as a criteria for who's worthy of marrying him. So I was kind of all the way turned off by that. Yeah, yeah. And yeah. And then there was a deacon in the church, who, I don't know. If something happened one time at church camp, where like, we were eating breakfast, and he like, fed me some of his food. And I thought that was friggin weird. Arline 15:30 Yeah, that feels very bizarre. And it's not, you know, Cat Delmar 15:35 why? Like, what? Um, I don't think I even asked if it was, well, maybe I may have asked Is it good of whatever he was eating was like, I think it was applesauce with peanut butter and jelly or something like that, I think was bread with peanut butter and applesauce, or apple butter. And I don't think I've ever tried apple butter before. And he offered it to me, like with his forte and I and he fed it to you didn't let me just take it myself. Which, I don't know. Maybe I'm reading into it. But I wouldn't. I wouldn't do that to somebody at my big age. Now that I'm in my 30s I wouldn't feed a kid from my spoon feed them. Like a teenager. Maybe a young kid like a baby. But I just found that to be strange. Arline 16:22 That is strange. I felt uncomfortable. I don't even know how to wonder about it. Like that just feels bizarre. Yeah. Cat Delmar 16:29 I mean, it was giving me just unsavory vibes. So that was a good one. That was one of the last straws. And I was like, Okay, I'm out. Like, I don't feel comfortable. Yes. Arline 16:39 And before we started recording, you and I were just talking about how our bodies know things. And there is truth in like, when our bodies are like, some something doesn't feel right. We often not, they're not perfect, but we often need to pay attention to that. Cat Delmar 16:53 I'm so glad you mentioned that. I've had a hard time with that, like all my life. And literally my upbringing was such that you're supposed to not lean on your own understanding. I've literally that's one of the most quoted phrases in the Christian community. And like the damage of that it has lasted for years. And even though I'm more aware, I still because I have really good intuition. And it's got better. But I still second guess my intuition because of that upbringing, where like, I'm not supposed to trust my humaneness? Because that's evil. Arline 17:29 Yes, because that's evil. We're supposed to trust other humans who apparently aren't evil and know things because they have heard from God or even, even like, I think back to the times of when it's, we were told to read the Bible more or pray more. If we could only know if it was from God, if it went in line with the things we already believed, from the people around us. And the way we have been told to interpret the Bible in it still, it still came down to other people's interpretation of the Bible, or what prayer is or however, but But it never occurred to me to trust my own judgment. And question the other people's judgment, if that makes Cat Delmar 18:16 sense. Yeah, definitely, definitely, like, as if some people have revelations or have access to revelations that I don't have access to. It's just it's a power structure. It's, it's all about securing power. Because if they're the ones that have preferential access to these revelations, then they can delegate out and dictate what everyone else is supposed to do, because everyone else is beneath them, because they don't have access to these insights or whatever. Arline 18:49 And I think back to, like, we believed in we were Presbyterian for most of the time, but as an adult, and we believed in what, what was it called? Oh, the priesthood of all believers. So we believed that like everyone had access to God's revelation, like nobody was above, but someone like John Piper or Matt Chandler, or the pastor or just anyone if they said something and interpreted scripture, it was, even though we weren't supposed to think it was probably more holy and more correct. We still did. They were celebrity pastors, they knew all the things. So yeah, our functional theology was very different than what we said we actually believed. For sure. Cat Delmar 19:31 And that kind of reminds me of how like, even if we kind of zoom out a little bit to Christianity as a whole Christians are really I mean, I have more Sprint's of Christianity, but from what I've seen, Christians really have a monopoly on this doctrine that their ways the only way and if you don't believe this religion, you're going to hell So and by that time by 16, I was already thinking to myself, I just don't think that's true. Because what about people that are, you know, living in I don't know, Bangladesh, or, or on a deserted island somewhere in Ghana, not deserted, but like some island that doesn't have access to missionaries or whatever? Are they just going to hell? Because they didn't hear about the European version of Christianity? How does that even make sense? Why would the only divinity if there is such a thing? Why would that be just relegated to just this little area of the Middle East? And so it just, it was starting to make sense. And I even talked to one of my aunts about this, who was an advantage on my dad's side, and she's like, yep, well, I don't think those people are going to help you there. So even she, as an as a pretty decently developed event, didn't believe that you had to believe in Christ to go to heaven or whatever. So I was already starting to think that by the time I was in my mid teens, Arline 21:10 yeah, I was going to ask, were you asking questions outwardly, as a team? Were you asking other people? Or was or were these just internal questions that you were curious about? Cat Delmar 21:20 Well, I think the main thing they asked about was, yeah, what if you don't believe what if you're, you're coming from somewhere where you don't you don't have access to this particular doctrine? And even like, Yeah, my dad said, Oh, in the Bible, it says, you know, God will wink at you. Or there's, there's some I forget where exactly, I had my Bible years. But yeah, that there is this idea, this ideology that you will receive some type of mercy. Because you just didn't know. Oh, like if you're a baby, or if you're from somewhere that doesn't have access to this information. Arline 22:02 Okay, we had, I don't know, if we had a name for it. We had a similar idea for people with like, cognitive special needs. It was like, Well, God will somehow reveal himself, you know, or babies or children and even elderly people, anyone who, I guess was not just neurotypical adult who can understand all the theological things were well, we're sure God will take care of that somehow. Yeah, yeah. Like, we'll just make up something we don't know. So we'll just have something. Cat Delmar 22:30 Just to shake your question down. Yes, Arline 22:33 yes, we really don't want to have to think through all the mental gymnastics of how we can possibly make this work. So you said you're in your 30s. Now, so what were your 20s? Like? Was it still working? Christianity still working? Cat Delmar 22:53 Well, okay. So I took a break from the Adventist Church, probably for the rest of high school. And then once I got to college, I was like, Okay, maybe we can try this again. So, and I don't know, I guess it's this like longing to belong, why I kind of went back every couple of years and tried to be a little bit more devout. So you know, I got into college, college is very difficult. Academically, and then just being on my own, just having the independence and having to navigate friendships and relationships in a more complex way. Like I just did not have the skills for that. Because again, harkening back to the religious upbringing, you're not really told about. I mean, the Bible is not. I'm not saying that there aren't any good principles in there. But you can't apply what's happening there. To the 21st century. It just does not compute. You know, so it just, yeah, so it doesn't doesn't answer a lot of the burning questions and like the practical situations that you might get into, like, it's not really well applied. So in college, I, there were a lot of events there because there were a lot of Caribbean Americans and a lot of Caribbeans tend to be Adventist, so I did not know that. Yeah, yeah, for sure. For sure. Especially like Jamaicans so when I got into college, I was rooming with a roommate that was a high school classmate of mine and she was a Christian and but like a non denominational Christian. And you know, kind of more conservative, right wing leaning as much as you can get 18 at 18. You're just following what your parents tell you to do. Okay, like I was too. And now I have my own thoughts, obviously. And you know, I've able I've been able to flesh them out a little bit more because I've had more experience, which is used more kind of on that side, and in the very, very beginning of college. After the first couple of months I experienced the sexual assault Oh, and oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. So my whole world kind of like got turned upside down. And I think I wasn't like going to church in the very beginning of college. But after that, I was like, okay, maybe I can try to get in cool with these adventus go to church go to their potlucks join their club, but they have to have events or whatever. And I met, again, a couple of nice people that were around my age that were, I think, genuinely good people. And they were just trying to their best, and they're young and young and dumb. We're all young and dumb. But again, I was going through that sexual assault, and are these people that I can really talk to about that? No. Are they going to blame me? Yes. So it's like, I really couldn't relate to them. And I don't think they could really relate to what I was going through as far as like, the trauma that I experienced. So and you know, I didn't have a car. So to get to the church was all due on the other side of town. So I would have take the bus that only ran every hour on a Saturday. And if some event ran late, then I was going to be SOL. And even some weird things happened. Like I remember I had dreadlocks in the very beginning of college, or I started them. Like, in the very beginning of college, and I remember one of the guys in the church, he said to me, you know, like what, what man is going to want to have a wife or girlfriend that has dreadlocks. Meanwhile, all the girls love my hair, like, like, the girls are always touching my hair, they love the hair. But But this man who is a black man, a dark skinned black man, he says to me that my dreadlocks are not appropriate for to be a woman to be a wife. Arline 26:52 That is, I don't know exactly that experience. But I don't even know how to articulate my question. You know, like, he has the privilege of being a man. But he also understands the systemic, like with racism. And yet here he is feeling this is okay, to tell you how you should do your hair, because that's because it matters what some imaginary future spouse may be remotely interested in. I'm so I'm sorry, I don't I don't know how to Cat Delmar 27:21 what to say. It leaves a person speechless. Like kind of to hear these things. And for me to even repeat it back. I'm just like, wow, like, if someone were to say that now I would just rip them a new one verbally, you know, because I've been able to come up with clap backs as as I've gotten older. But when I was younger, I was just so shocked. And again, you know, having this religion, it teaches you to be modest, and to be quiet to shut the EFF up. You know, you're a woman, you're places to be quiet. So even though I didn't really fully believe those things. I wasn't fully invested in that, in that doctrine. It's still had an effect on me to be quiet and to not rock the boat and to not be controversial. And then it's the it's the self hatred piece for me as well, because and I learned more about my history as as time went on, but being a person of African descent of West African descent, because I know that Ethiopians have a different relationship to Christianity than West Africans do. Arline 28:27 Ethiopian Christianity is very old, isn't it? It's much older, very much, much older. Okay, that's Cat Delmar 28:32 much older. Christianity didn't come to West Africa until the Portuguese brought it there. And like the 15th century, I believe. So this religion was was forced on my people. And, and it comes with the racism. You know, the sexism, the homophobia, like all of those are intricately tied into the Christianity that was taught to, to my people, to really all Americans. I mean, you know, in the Americas, it's really the same thing. We're all we're indoctrinated with this BS. So then for someone to say that to me. I mean, it's just par for the course for this religion. Like how could he be uplifting me as a woman as a woman as a black woman as someone that has dreadlocks? That's not fitting into the status quo? How could he How could he uplift me? He's literally been fed his entire life. A racist, homophobic, sexist. Prejudice prejudicial doctrine. Yeah, so it's not it's an I was shocked back then. But I'm not surprised now. Yeah, it's just another arm. But what we've been taught is just another arm of, of supremacy. That's what it is. Christianity, the way it's functioning the West. I'm not saying all Christians are this way. Oh, yeah. But it is an unconscious bias. And it's and they're unconsciously being too Hot. This rhetoric, they're not even aware of it. Even if they have good intentions, they think they have good intentions. Arline 30:07 We're swimming in it, we have no we don't. We don't even know that it's there until someone points it out. And then as as a person, like, as a white person, I have a choice. I can be super fragile and embarrassed and like, have all my feelings and center them and be like, because it's what I want to do. Oh, my goodness, I just got embarrassed because this person called out something that I said or did, or I can be like, okay, they are showing me that I have been swimming in this. And now I either pay attention to it or I don't. But moving forward, what no better do better. No better do better. Or worse. I don't know where you were headed. You were? Cat Delmar 30:54 Yeah. So this is me in college. And it kind of remind me of something a quick tangent, but then I'll bring it back to college. I'm pretty good at staying on task pretty good. But it just reminds me because we're talking about how we're swimming in this. And it's not really I don't think any white person, black person, Asian person, Spanish version, you know, purple goo, whatever, should feel like, well, I'm just the scum of the earth, because I am what I am. But we all have a responsibility to like you said Know Better do better. But for instance, the other day, I went to a church service, because my cousin had a baby dedication for her baby. And I was going there to support my my cousin, and my family. It was at a nondenominational church, a pretty large one, I would even consider probably a mega church. And the sermon was racist, it was homophobic to a predominantly sexist. He even talked crap about progressive Christians. And he's saying this to a predominantly Hispanic and black American slash Caribbean American congregation. And everyone was like, yes, Pastor. Yes, say that. We're enjoying this like repeating what the pastor was saying. Because I didn't want to repeat what the pastor was saying, because I wasn't in agreement in agreement with what you were saying, my aunt hit me with a pen that she had in her hand, she hit me because I wouldn't repeat what the pastor was saying. So again, talk about swimming, it's swimming in hatred. Yeah, and someone has to be put down. For other people to be elevated, that is the Western Christian, theocratic way, like that is Christian supremacy, we got to put these people down, to lift ourselves up, we have to have an enemy to rally around. So Let's rally around, let's talk crap about you for being from the Caribbean. You know, if you practice any sort of voodoo, whatever your piece of crap, you're not going to be saved unless you come to this site and do what we tell you to do. To practice this religion in this way, that has nothing to do with your culture, forget what you know, and conform so we can control you. I mean, I don't even know if all pastors know that's what they're doing. But even if they're not conscious, that's what they're doing. They're trying to get you in line to forget yourself, so that you don't feel anything. You don't feel that you're being that hate is being, you know, spat at you from the Pew. You just, were just, everyone was just internalizing these hateful messages. Imagine what that's doing to their bodies to their souls, their minds, hearing those messages day in and day out. I was aware, but I was literally having a panic attack in in the church at the time. Arline 33:54 Who because again, your body knows it. And it makes you wonder how disconnected the congregation members have to be from their own bodies, their own consciousness, their own, like your own morality, to be able to just suck it all in and think it's good and think this is good and right. Cat Delmar 34:13 Sometimes it really just hits me like how sinister and insidious all of this is. And the thing is, sometimes it's difficult to feel these feelings everyday because I have a job to do. I've got to take care of myself. But when I'm in those quiet moments, maybe when I am in the shower, or before bed, sometimes it really gets to me, or I'm driving, you know, on a dark road or whatever and Movie Night. I'm like, this is really actually evil, that the goal of these people, even if they don't know it, is to make us feel disconnected from ourselves. Because when you're disconnected from your natural spirituality, that is when it's very easy to subjugate you. That's one of the ways to subjugate somebody is to disconnect them from their natural spirituality. Arline 35:02 I love that. What do you mean by that? Because, yeah, what do you mean Cat Delmar 35:06 that to disconnect them? Well, to disconnect them from their connection to themselves and to their desires, to their physiology for one because like you said, these people, maybe they weren't noticing their heart racing or their breathing, breathing, quickening, maybe those maybe those anatomical responses were suppressed for me. I was like, wow. I'm also like, he talked about how nature was evil. So when I say natural spirituality, I even mean like your connection to actual nature. Because he was he talked about how crystals were evil. Hello, crystals grow on the ground? How are those evil? What? How does it make sense? He talked about how Hurricanes were evil. They're a natural phenomenon that has no consciousness or like, you know, he was like, so what? Like, it doesn't even make sense. Like, how could he even say that he's not, he's not a meteorologist or anything like that. He was just, he was just going off in about incense was evil. So is perfume evil to? Who gets Arline 36:19 to decide which versions of different things are good and which ones are bad? Cat Delmar 36:25 Exactly? If instance, is evil, how come holy water is not? You know, if Mala bees are evil, why are Catholic prayer beads? Okay? It's just, it's like, there's a lot to me. There's a lot of witchcraft and Christianity, a lot of magical workings in Christianity, but it's their version. That's okay. Yeah, kind of like the superstition. Just like a superstition. The Christian ones are okay. You know about the angels and the demons and all that stuff. That's okay. But if it has any sort of indigenous African sway to it, that's evil, is because they don't want you to actually connect to your roots and to connect the land. Why do you think we have so many people fighting about? Or how about this? Why do you think we have so many people? Yeah, fighting so that we don't know America is real history. Why are the American Indians all but erased from general society? It's, I'm not trying to be a conspiracy theorist. I'm really not because my place is not really in the political realm. I really more about like, if, if what I say can help somebody, undo some of the brainwashing that they've experienced, then, then I feel like I am fulfilling my purpose. Because I don't want anyone to have to go through what I went through for as long as I did. And just the ramifications, you know, especially like, yeah, the physic ramifications just like trusting my body. Eating Disorders, it was a lot, a lot most physical. Yeah, eating disorders, you know, sexual assault, maybe that would have been prevented if I were more grounded in myself. You know, I have a fiance now. And I know a little bit of our tangent, I'm trying to get back to like, where we were talking. But yeah, with my fiance, I sometimes have a hard time. Oftentimes, I have a hard time being intimate, in in the moment with this person. Because I've been taught that this is wrong, this is evil. We're bad. Like I can't even I can't even mesh with this person the way I want to. Because, again, that disconnection from self was a byproduct of this religious upbringing. And I will be damned if my relationship has issues because of this stupid, religious upbringing. Arline 38:59 You are not alone in that. And I'm sure you're aware how many people assume a little bit older than you. But it's like, there's a generation plus of us who our marriages and our sex lives and our just friendships, relationships, monogamy, non monogamy, so many things that people are like, I'm just trying to figure this out. Because I spent the first 20 years of my life being told there's good there are good things and there are bad things. There are holy things in there are simple things. And suddenly now I'm like, Oh, I don't believe any of these things. But but they don't just magically go away. When you change your thinking. It doesn't it doesn't work that easily. So how did you get where you are now? Cat Delmar 39:52 Okay, so, um, so in college, essentially. So I'll kind of fast forward now. So in college I broke away from that group of adventurers that I was kind of hanging out with. And because I couldn't, I wasn't living in my body. Because I didn't know how to, I would do a lot of things to self medicate. And that lasted for years. Although I'm a decently intellectual person, you know, I'm, I'm a little bit of an academic, but I'm also not like a type a weirdo. But yeah, I want to be a smart person, I want to have a career, whatever. So in college, I struggled in college, because with that sexual assault, I couldn't focus on school. So obviously, I turned to alcohol, I turned to to abusing drugs. I turned to sex with people that I wasn't happy with, that I didn't have a real connection with. Because the thing is, I'm not a person that's like, oh, you know, non monogamy is a bad thing, or serial dating is a bad thing or anything like that. I don't, I think you have to do what is edifying to you. But for me, I was trying to fill the void. I was trying to numb myself out. And so I ended up moving back down to South Florida and taking some classes in order to apply for medical school. But I ended up switching so that I could go to vet veterinary school. So I was taking my classes and just trying still trying to figure it out. And then I got into veterinary school. But I hear I'm struggling string struggling, I wasn't healed. You know, I still was self medicating. So that the veterinary school and you know, I'm alone, you know, in the Midwest, it's cold, I have no family. I am. It was not a very diverse school, like I was in a class of like, 160, something I was the only person with two black parents. So you know, so it wasn't very diverse. There were a lot of microaggressions. There's a lot of racism. And it's a lot of prejudice there in Midwest. And I remember all those shootings of unarmed people were kind of making the news cycle more regularly, like he was, that's when it really like and then I would say like the mid 2010. That's when it really started hitting the news cycle a lot more. And it was very disheartening, because I felt like the Christians that I knew, because that's kind of when I started trying to go back to the Adventist church one more time, because there were a few of the Adventist churches in the area. And there was one that had a young pastor. It was a predominantly African American church. And I was like, Ah, I guess I'll try this one out. And of course, he did speak to some of these issues of police brutality. But the classmates that I had that were that were Christians, they were very conservative and didn't think he's brutality was a real thing. They just weren't safe people to talk about about these issues, you know, politics or not like they weren't safe, and they didn't seem to have much sympathy or empathy. For what I was going through, like, my Luckily, I had my dog, like, that's my soul dog. He got me through, like, and that's why I became a veterinary in the first place because I don't know animals, they just have this light about them. They're just so pure. Even the ones that are trying to kill you, in the clinic. Are friggin pure. Like, I know, you're trying to check me out right now. But it's fine. Yeah, it's like, there are times where he was all I had, like, I'm just crying, crying on to him. His face is what with my tears. So I was like, okay, these people are supposed to be Christians are supposed to be all about love. And wasn't Jesus supposed to be about justice about the little person? Supposedly, but I'm not feeling that at all. Right now. I'm feeling very isolated. And I just don't think these people, whatever doctrine they believe, I don't think that is aligned with who I am as a person, my heritage, like my, my values. And so that's when I was like, okay, like, I need to start researching maybe more about, like, what were Jamaicans like, what did they believe? Maybe indigenously Arline 44:14 like, oh, wow, yes, Cat Delmar 44:17 you believe the indigenous people of Jamaica, but also like, the Africans, like, What were their belief systems? What What were they taking from like, what what kind of things were maybe preserved? Because that's another thing if Christianity so I'm all about love and light, and about peace. Okay, so why do you have to wipe out other people's religions? Why do you have to, you have to make Obeah illegal and punishable by death in Jamaica, if you're all about love, and light and peace? Why did you take these Native American children and forced them into these boarding schools, take them away from their families, and try to make them mold them into whatever you want them to be? That's not right. Hmm, part of Western Christianity has been about erasing histories and creating new dogmas and new standards. So in that, it pissed me off like so much like how much of our history was taken away? And like, where maybe all of us where this nation could be now. Generally, if we did have we didn't have this overarching I know there's no main religion United States, but there's a de facto religion in this Christianity. Arline 45:37 Christianity, I think, at least for now is still the majority. Yeah, know how it's changing or anything. Cat Delmar 45:43 Still the majority for sure. So yeah, sometimes that just pisses me off so much. I was thinking about that in in veterinary school. And so I researched more about that. And I talked to some people that were more like indigenous practitioners like that practice, Voodoo or practice of nature be spirituality, or they practice witchcraft and things like that. And I was like, Okay, this is more edifying to me, because it, it speaks to the connection with nature, it's uplifting to people of all genders, and all races, all sex orientations. It's really about looking within and not just like taking what someone tells you. And when I say, like nature based spirituality. I'll use that as the catch all because a lot of things fall under that. Yeah, it's really about looking within during your shadow work. And not just taking what someone tells you as truth, like you, it's about finding your own truths, through through your experiences. And through opening yourself up to these experiences, taking that quiet time to meditate, or being out in nature, or to write or to read, listen to your body, body, paying attention to your breathing, feeling your heart. Like just those simple things that you don't need, or want necessarily some crystals or some stage, those things are are ways to get yourself into the headspace and to create a setting. But really, all you need is yourself, you know, to practice, to practice on a nature based spirituality. So and so then over the years as like, like towards the maybe the end of my graduate studies, and then go up until now that's kind of what I've been trying to do. And that the pandemic helped a lot with that because it gave me a chance because I was struggling a lot like mentally still struggling. But the pandemic just gave everybody a chance to just sit down and shut the EFF up and to evaluate what was going on. Like, you know, why are you still self medicating, with bad relationships? Like you deserve more than that? I know that you weren't told that when you were growing up in this fundamentalist religion. But yeah, you deserve to say no, you deserve to do things that only feel good for you. You know, not everyone has access to your time or space. These are like radical thoughts for me. But yeah, the pandemic really gave me a chance to and connect with like minded people that also were on a similar path of like, internal work, shedding the lies that we were all fed as children. Arline 48:36 Now, were you able to find real people to have these conversations with or resist online? Because I know for me, it's been only for the most part online. Cat Delmar 48:44 Oh, well, yeah. Yeah, for sure. I think mostly online. But I do have I'm very lucky to have a few people that I know like IRL, like in real life, that are also kind of more on the nature based side there's like spiritual but not religious, that are just on on this earth to try to figure things out and to try to do the best that they can without dictating other people like what's the right way? Yeah. I have a few people in my life like that. You know, online like Instagram with the whole like, hashtag deconstruction and everything has been so helpful, because everybody's different like this podcast is the graceful atheist right? But there and there are people in the deconstruction community that yes, are atheists, agnostics, humanists, secularists, there are people that are still Christians, there are US Hindus, Buddhists, and X X then juggles of all sorts. But we all respect each other. And we're all just we're all invested in the idea that your spiritual path is yours and yours alone and no one else can tell you what's right for you. It just the audacity of these fundamentalist religions. tell people that they know you better than you know yourself. It's just, it's really so I feel like an obvious feeling of disgust right now when I think about it. But that's not what, you know, all of us that have kind of, you know, for lack of a better term woken up, the rest of us are like, you know, she's an atheist. She's doing her thing. She respects me, I respect her. That's the Yeah. And I always say, use this phrase, that's the reasonable conclusion that she came to, based on her life experiences. You know, my reasonable conclusion was nature based spirituality, because, you know, what, to me, water is life. So if anything's going to be God, it's going to be water. So that's kind of how I would sum up what I believe. But, yeah, so and that's what I can't. That's the conclusion that I came to, because when I was suffering and crying, and, you know, depressed, where did I go to find healing and defined edification, I took my kayak out, by myself exposed to the elements. And that's where I found peace. So that's what I came to. And that's me that I would not say, Oh, you have to be a sea witch to to be, you know, right with with the world like, no, that's just what I decided to Arline 51:21 do. And it makes sense. Thinking back to the ancient times, people worshipped the sun, they worshipped the seasons, they worshipped water. And it makes sense. I mean, these are the things like you said, that give you life. Without them, we will die. If we can't guarantee that the sun is going to come back in the springtime in a way that's going to make everything start growing, it's going to get warmer. That's bad for everyone. I love springtime, that's one of the things that gives me hope is just every spring, I know, like today, my boys and I went to the State Park. And we walked by some plant, I don't know, plant was a plant. But it had little buds. And I was like, ah, spring, like, I know, it's only February. And it's kind of a faux spring in Georgia where it's warm, and then it'll be cold again, but it's, it's like it's coming the birds, I can tell the birds are changing and, and getting excited about finding a mate. And I just love it. It. It sure totally makes sense. And it's funny, you know, the, the atheist world. We're very, like sciency. And we just like research and blah, blah, blah. But it's like, there is so much science and research behind like, oh my gosh, just go outside and be around trees, go look at water, just quiet yourself sit somewhere, that there aren't other people or there aren't buildings like you just there's there's so much truth in all have that it is very healing for our bodies and our mind. And yep, everything that you said definitely. We're coming to a close. Is there there anything I should have asked cat that I did not ask that you would like to talk about? We have a few more minutes. Cat Delmar 53:06 Oh, I just have like one other thought, I guess. Because I do think that like my beliefs isn't for me, it feels. Not saying that it's concrete. But like, again, like you were saying, though, the water, the sun, all these things are things that we can rely on that we need to live. And there are things that I can touch and that I can access. Whereas, right so that to me that that is concrete in that we can physically access these things. A lot of the more lofty things like if I'm going to place like an actual deity onto it, those are things that are can't necessarily be proven, you know what I mean? So for someone to use their deities as not just a personal like totem, but to try to expand that to everybody else. And to try to make it fact, it just falls apart every single time. And maybe that's why I would maybe consider myself more of an agnostic theist. At this, at this juncture, just because I cannot say with certainty, where the heck we came from, why the heck we're here, or where we're going. I can't say that. And I say that to my mom all the time. Like we don't know where we came from. Where the heck did that Big Bang come from? Like, whatever created us, entity or whatever. It's beyond probably our understanding. It's beyond the time and space probably of this dimension. So I'm not even going to pretend to apply what I believe to every single universe and all time and infinity. So it is to me foolish for any religion, to again claim to be the only one And that's what I hold on to. Because once I started to think more along those lines, that's when I started to feel more freedom that I could leave. Seventh Day Adventism. Because they don't have they don't know the truth, none of us know the truth. They're just using this doctrine, because it's a way, it's popular enough, enough people are invested in this belief system, so enough people can be controlled with it. So that gives me some sort of peace that I know once I started to believe the way I do believe, that's when I was able to stop drinking, stop having relationships with people that were sucky for me that we're emotionally unavailable, you know, start working on my career and like being where I am now where like, I have money to eat, and I live in a nice enough place, and I can afford to bring my fiance from his country over a year, things like that. I wouldn't be able to do that if I were still being harmed, really just being harmed by this religious indoctrination. Yeah. So it's given me a peace, a taste of freedom. And I'm craving and yearning and reaching for that every day. Arline 56:18 I love it. That's awesome. I love it so much. Cat, how can people connect with you online? Cat Delmar 56:23 Okay, well, I have an IG. And so the name on there is Cat Delmar, but the handles at cat mangrove cat like the animal with like the chain. And so it has my link tree. So I have a Twitter and a little YouTube channel that I have a couple of videos, I might post a couple more. But I'm really not like a camera person. I like to write way more. But I have a couple of things I want to get out. And I rant a little bit in this interview. But I just feel like I wanna at least have a space where if someone has been feeling like me, like they're questioning Adventism or questioning their religion, like at least they can be like, Oh, so this person went through this, this and that. And they came to this conclusion. Cool. Alright, so it's possible. So yeah, the Instagram is probably the best. And then you can find all the links from there. Arline 57:12 That sounds great. And yes, we'll put everything in the show notes. So Kat, thank you again for being on the grace faith. Yes, Cat Delmar 57:18 no problem. Thanks for having Arline 57:25 me, my final thoughts on the episode. I really enjoyed this episode with Kat. This was a fun conversation. I love hearing how passionate she is the things that make her angry and frustrated and the things that that when she was younger, she had so many questions that couldn't get answered. They just they couldn't get good answers. And now she can think through things and ask questions, and wonder and seek all and hope and beauty, in nature in her own body in her relationships. Without the shame and guilt. The shame and guilt may still come every now and then. Because years and years and years of being indoctrinated with things like it doesn't just magically disappear out of your body. When you change your beliefs. That's just not it's not a true thing. But she is finding hope and beauty and wonder in the world. And it's fabulous. I just love it. This was a wonderful, funny, enjoyable conversation. And Kat thank you again for being on the podcast. It was a pleasure. David Ames 58:40 The secular Grace Thought of the Week is about meeting new people. If you've listened to the podcast at all, you know that I definitely an introvert. And all of us have just gone through an incredible amount of time during lockdown and COVID. And it just feels like we are now coming out of our cocoons for the first time. This weekend, I had the opportunity to go to pod camp in Portland, Oregon, where a bunch of independent podcasters got together and we got to share ideas with each other. This is the first time for a non work event that I've been in a public venue and it was amazing. I got to meet really very interesting people. And I also had the opportunity to share about the podcast with literally brand new people, people who had no context and see in many of the people that I got to speak with the sparkle in their eye. Just the title graceful atheist, the concept of secular grace, something that my motivated reasoning leads me to believe that people really want and people really need and it was really exciting to get to share with people who had never heard of the podcast at all, as well as share a bit of experience of building a podcast And what that is like. But the point I want to make is that we may need to make an effort, particularly those of us who are introverts, to connect with people to connect with people who we don't know, connect with people who are literally strangers. A little bit of effort on our part will go a very long way. Trust me coming from an introvert, it was absolutely worth it. We should make that a practice in our lives. I am very interested in in person connections with people who are in the deconversion anonymous Facebook group and or just people who have listened to the podcast. I really want to encourage you that if you are interested in all in starting something in your area meetup.com is super simple. You can just throw something out there meet at a library or a coffee house and you will be amazed at the connection that you will get. I'm trying to figure out how we can make this more practical and easier for people to do. I'm very much interested in your participation. Let me know your experience. If it works, what doesn't work. And let's see what we can do to help build human connection in the secular Grace Community. Next week is Joanna Johnson, who has written the book silenced in Eden. It is a painful story of sexual abuse and recovery as well as her deconversion you're not going to want to miss that. Until then, my name is David and I am trying to be the graceful atheist. Join me and be graceful human beings. The beat is called waves by MCI beats. Do you want to get in touch with me to be a guest on the show? Email me at graceful firstname.lastname@example.org for blog posts, quotes, recommendations and full episode transcripts head over to graceful atheists.com This graceful atheist podcast a part of the atheists United studios Podcast Network Transcribed by https://otter.ai