Future of the Show + Listener Stories

S2:E11
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April 20, 2024
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Support the Show • Santiago shares some personal news, updates on the future of the show, and listener stories.

Resources / Topics Mentioned:

Slate: Why Do We Give Our Pets Death With Dignity but Not Ourselves?
More Listener Stories

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Full Transcripts, resources and more: hell.bio/notes

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Credits: Music: Hall of the Mountain King Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) • Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Episode Transcript

Haystacks & Hell Intro

[00:00:00] Santiago: Welcome to Haystacks and Hell, an ex-Adventist podcast where we tell stories about growing up Seventh-day Adventist, leaving faith behind, and building new, fulfilling lives.

Some Personal News

[00:00:17] Santiago: Hey everyone, I'm your host Santiago, and today's episode is going to be a bit different. I'm going to share some personal news, some updates about the future of the show, and then I'll read some stories shared by fellow listeners. As you might've noticed, there was a long and unplanned gap between the last two episodes.

[00:00:37] And I know I don't necessarily owe everyone an explanation, but I wanted to share what's been going on. First off, I want to apologize to everyone that has recorded an episode with me that hasn't been published yet. Some of these unpublished interviews were recorded as long as one year ago, and I haven't made the time to edit and publish them yet. There's honestly no excuse for that long of a delay, but I wanted to give some context as to why.

[00:01:07] Not too long after launching the podcast, I had some pretty big and unexpected career changes. So work has been a significant part of why I haven't made more time for the show. That's actually the reason it took me a while to start Season Two after Season One ended. And then more recently, I ended up in crutches back in December the day after publishing Season Two, Episode Nine.

[00:01:33] I was jogging with our dog at night and ended up twisting my foot horribly. I had so much swelling on my ankle and I literally could not walk on it. It was really, really bad. To the point where I had to stay in bed with my foot elevated. And I couldn't walk without crutches for weeks. And I ended up going to urgent care. Thankfully there was no break, there was no fracture.

[00:02:01] And even though I did go in and check in with my doctor, I feel like the followup care that I had and the advice I was given wasn't really great. Because nobody told me anything about getting a good walking boot. I've never broken a bone before or had a fracture. And even though in hindsight, it's common sense, it didn't occur to me to think about that until a few weeks ago, when I went back to the doctor, because my foot still hadn't fully healed.

[00:02:27] And as I'm recording this right now, it's still isn't fully healed. So months after my accident, I'm off the crutches, but I'm wearing a giant boot. And thankfully that seems to be helping and hopefully in a couple more weeks, I'll be back to normal or almost back to a hundred percent.

[00:02:49] Then on top of that, last month my parents, brother, and I lost one of our dogs to cancer. We knew our dogs are getting older and expected that they didn't have many years left, but this came as a shock and happened incredibly fast. At first, her appetite seemed just a little bit off. And then she started limping out of nowhere, so we took her to the vet for an emergency appointment and had some x-rays done.

[00:03:19] And because the x-rays seemed okay, we had to bring her back for an ultrasound. And after the ultrasound, the vet let us know that she had cancer that had already spread throughout her body. And there was essentially nothing that could be done at that point. So the vet told us that it would be best to euthanize her. And my brother and I were there — my brother and I were together when we got the news and then we called our parents to let them know. So at the very least we were all able to spend some final moments with her. And just grieve together.

[00:03:58] I want to share what that experience was like, but if you'd rather not hear any more details, you can skip ahead about two and a half minutes.

[00:04:09] My brother and I stayed in the room and the vet was very empathetic, walking us through the entire process so we would know what to expect. They gave our dog a bowl of really great treats, including meat, peanut butter, and M&M'S. And even though chocolate isn't good for dogs, it's alright as part of a last meal. But by this point, she didn't want to eat at all.

[00:04:37] So after spending some last moments with her by ourselves, we let the vet know we were ready to say goodbye. So the vet came back into the room and by this point, our dog already had two IV catheters inserted, one in each of her front paws. Because that's the safest way to administer the solutions. The vet explained that the first one would essentially put her in a very deep sleep. And the second one would stop her heart. Thankfully, she wouldn't be in any pain at all.

[00:05:15] So as she's lying on this big blanket they laid out on the floor, my brother was petting her and holding her and I held her head and also gave her pets. The vet started the process and right after injecting the first solution, her head became really heavy and just rested in my hands. At this point, she was totally unconscious but her heart was still beating, and she was still breathing.

[00:05:46] Then after the second solution, I heard her exhale and let her last breath out. I actually felt it. And the vet was listening for her heartbeat and confirmed that it stopped, and told us to stay in the room as long as we needed. And then the vet left the room. And while it was just the two of us, my brother and I stayed there, just continuing to pet her as we cried and said our very last goodbyes. We chose to have her cremated and got her ashes about two weeks ago.

Death with Dignity

[00:06:25] Santiago: And thinking back on this experience, obviously it's horrible. You never want to have to go through something like this. And, um, right now we're, we're mainly just hoping that our other dog who had been with their sister for the longest time and was inseparable, we're hoping that they're going to be okay. And we're, we're doing our best to make sure that they're getting plenty of love and attention, but it's, it's not the same. And we've, we've noticed a difference.

[00:06:58] The vet gave us some advice and some things that we can do to help with that. But it's, it's really just not the same. It, it can't be the same. And going through this experience just reinforced my stance on euthanasia. Why do we give our pets death with dignity, but not ourselves?

[00:07:22] That is a question I've been asking myself for some time now. And that's actually the title of an article that I found and have linked in the show notes. It's written by a vet who believes that people should have the right to choose euthanasia for themselves. If you haven't heard Season One, Episode Two, I talk a little bit more about that concept there. That episode is all about death and beliefs about the afterlife, including what the Adventist church officially teaches. And what many of us learned growing up as Adventists.

[00:07:54] And I know this topic can be a little bit controversial. Unfortunately, there are some horrific stories that I've read coming out from Canada, where people who are not asking for this are being told to consider medical aid in dying as an option, instead of getting the care they've requested and need. So I want to be very clear that I don't support coercing anyone into choosing medical aid in dying, and I believe healthcare systems should only present that as a last resort, or when people request it and provide fully informed consent.

[00:08:34] There's a lot more to be said about that. Bottom line, I fall ultimately on the side of choice where I feel people should have that choice. But again, the choice has to be free and informed and can't be coerced. It can't be used as an excuse or a workaround for governments to save money on healthcare, as it seems to be the case in some of these reports I'm hearing from Canada.

Future of the Show

[00:08:59] Santiago: So those are some of the updates from my personal life. And I also wanted to share some updates about the future of the show. First off, the show isn't going anywhere. I want to make that clear. Like I mentioned earlier, I have plenty of recorded interviews that still need to be edited, transcribed, and published. And there's also plenty of pending interviews that need to be scheduled. And I also owe an apology to everyone who's been patiently waiting to be interviewed. I haven't forgotten about you. I'm working on getting the calendar updated and making the time to do these interviews.

[00:09:38] And there's also a lot more that I want to do, and my biggest limitation is really just having and making the time to do it. Each episode takes hours of editing and correcting the transcripts. And after hitting publish, it takes even more time to create reels for social media. So while Season One was mostly on a weekly schedule, that wasn't really sustainable in the long run. And clearly that hasn't happened for Season Two.

[00:10:07] So my goal is to publish episodes maybe every other week and at a minimum, once a month. I'm also hoping to start introducing exclusive content from new interviews that are recorded in the future, and other original episodes, to help pay for the expenses of creating and hosting the show. So, if you're interested in supporting the show and this work, links to Ko-fi and Patreon are below.

Story: Book Report

[00:10:32] Santiago: So now, I want to share some stories from listeners like you. It's been a minute since I recorded some of these and included them on the podcast feed. These have been up on the website for a while already, but weren't included on the podcast until now. And if you have a story you'd like to share, see the show notes for a link to submit a written story or feel free to send me a written or voice DM on Instagram.

[00:10:58] So this first story is from Dalila and it's about the time she wrote a book report for her SDA school. She wrote:

[00:11:07] Santiago (Narrating): I wanted to share my story of a book report that got me in trouble at my Adventist school. I was in eighth grade and it was my first year at an Adventist church. I loved to read and was reading Disclosure by Michael Crichton. I asked my teacher if I could use that book for the book report and she said no, because it had too many sex scenes.

[00:11:33] It only had two and I was forced to tell my mom in Spanish why I couldn't use the book for my report. My mom made me throw away the book, and I was really sad because it was a hardcover and I paid for it.

[00:11:50] Anyways, as I was browsing through the school library, I found a very interesting book. What caught my eye was that the cover had a warning of Satanic themes! So I can't read a book that had two little sex scenes, but I can read a Satanic themed book that had murder, necrophilia, and much more, and that was okay? Wild!

Story: Ingrained Adventism

[00:12:16] Santiago: So that's the story from Dalila. Next, we have a story that comes from Daisy, and it's about how Adventism is ingrained in her family, even though her mom left the church before she was born. So Daisy wrote:

[00:12:31] Santiago (Narrating): As a kid, I understood the hurt both of my parents and all of my family had connected to Adventism, and got an odd amount of residual Christianity. I prayed every night, wore a cross, and when my grandmother fully realized I was being raised atheist, received an annotated Bible every year for my birthday.

[00:12:56] I didn't ever pray because I truly believed, I prayed because the people I loved that were not immediate family saw worth in faith. The more faith I had, the more worth I had. I haven't prayed in years, the cross I wear is a Celtic cross (a symbol of my roots and pagans my grandfathers would hate), and the pile of Bibles in the corner of my room is growing dusty.

[00:13:25] But I keep finding myself and my parents falling back into the same patterns. I have a hard time with self-identity, because I was told by my grandmother that women were simply an extension of men, altered to carry children and burdens no one else wants to deal with.

[00:13:46] Me and my mother will chide our own clothes for being too sinful, showing too much skin. The culture of Seventh-day Adventism is ingrained in my bones. My mom has often voiced the fear that I will never be free of the religion that warped our perceptions of self image, even though she left the church before I was born.

[00:14:13] My great uncle passed last year. At the funeral, I did the hardest thing I've ever done, and told my grandfather that I hadn't prayed in years but that I had prayed for my uncle before he passed. Faith is odd. It warps over time. I never once thought that I would be helping my uncle by praying, but the need to do something for someone I love, who did have unwavering faith, won over logic.

[00:14:44] My story is a warning to all ex-Adventists who want to start their own families: no matter how much work you do, no matter how much you deconstruct your faith, raising a child is always going to be a struggle. Be there for them the way my family was there for me. Guide your kids through their residual trauma and learn together.

[00:15:11] Santiago: I want to say thanks to Daisy for submitting that heartfelt story. Even though I'm not a parent, and I don't plan to be a parent, I feel for all of you parents out there. I can only imagine how difficult it is. And I want to encourage you that despite the difficulty of raising a kid, with the added difficulty of going through or having gone through deconstruction, it can get better. And there are definitely resources there for you. Some of those resources include books and podcasts that are linked on the Haystacks and Hell website. So if you go to hell.bio/books you can take a look at some of those resources there.

Story: SDA School, Conference Dad

[00:15:55] Santiago: Lastly, I want to read a story that comes from a woman using the pseudonym Verity, which covers her experiences in SDA boarding school and having a father who works for the church. She wrote:

[00:16:11] Santiago (Narrating): I sat here looking at a blank screen for nearly an hour, wondering how to even begin. My brain is too full of the memories of my life growing up in Adventism. How it shaped me and everyone around me. But I really can't figure out how to put my memories down in actual words. So many people over the years have told me that I must write a memoir or find any way to get my story out there. But I've never known how.

[00:16:44] My story slips out only when I'm comfortable enough to explain something about my past. And when it does, people seem to be mostly quite interested. But in a horrified way. I've had some interesting questions about my past over the years. A friend who knew some of my story insisted I tell another of their friends, who I had just met an hour earlier, all about it. "She went to boarding school!" "Go on, tell him all about it." "It's crazy!" my friend said from across the room. "Boarding school?" "Was it like Harry Potter?" "Hogwarts?" they asked me eagerly.

[00:17:25] I had to stifle a laugh. Growing up, I wasn't allowed to read Harry Potter. Strictly forbidden. I was finally able to in my mid twenties, And it was somewhat life-changing for me. And helped me get through some very difficult life events. So fiction aside, comparing this magical school with all its many helpful lessons, to the hell I went through at a religious boarding school in the middle of nowhere is... ridiculous. Unfathomable, even. I smiled, felt uncomfortable, and did not know where to begin. "It was not at all like Hogwarts" I managed to choke out. "Think more Azkaban." "But worse."

[00:18:14] Their eyes grew large, and the room was quiet. Discomfort filled the empty silence. But how could I explain to a stranger what it was like to live with your own tormentors? Watching staff abuse students. Watching students abuse students. All between chapel and Bible classes. How do you tell a stranger that you saw two young female classmates regularly go into a male faculty member's office, close the door, and all you could hear was giggling, muttering and shushing?

[00:18:54] Is it appropriate to tell someone you just met about the time police raided your school looking for CSAM? And that you knew what they were looking for and who was involved? And how do you tell someone you just met that people who had been your friends for years, suddenly turned on you and openly were trying to get you to kill yourself? It just feels like too much, all at once, and all at the wrong time.

[00:19:28] Finally, when it was clear I didn't know how to start, my friend changed the subject. I can't always talk about it. I can't always get it out. But I'm going to try now.

[00:19:40] I was raised by people who did not believe me when I told them any hell I was going through, and even actively put me back in harm's way. And it's created a nervous disposition in me when I talk about my past. I'm so terrified others won't believe me. Or worse, they'll mock me, discount me entirely.

[00:20:04] I also live my life trying to stay off the radar of those who have abused me the most. I want them to forget I exist. And if I speak openly about my past, that could change. And it terrifies me, even all these years later.

[00:20:22] But due in part to recent, disquieting changes within my former Adventist community and even family, I feel ready to try and be brave. To tell as much as I can. Because people are suffering and being abused within the Adventist system. Whether it's boarding school or church or both, the Adventist system can be so toxic. And smothering. And I feel that so many ex-Adventists just fade away and don't talk about it like ex-members of other denominations. I think we should.

[00:21:02] Adventism might not be as openly crazy on the surface as some of the other denominations / religions, but if you look deeper it certainly can be.

[00:21:13] I was not always this hesitant to speak up. I used to get myself in all kinds of trouble, at times nearly daily, when I was growing up in the church. One year, at boarding school, we were required to write a big paper on Ellen White. Unfortunately for the teacher, she had not specified exactly how or what to write about Ellen White. So my suitemate and I decided we'd tackle the crazy. Prove how stupid putting Ellen White on any kind of pedestal was.

[00:21:47] She tackled the giants on Jupiter and racism. I went for a very straightforward approach: why are we listening to anything said by a woman who was hit in the face with a rock? If I recall correctly, we both got in trouble for that. But I got in more trouble because I was so outspoken about it.

[00:22:08] I don't remember a time where I ever believed in Adventist teachings, or even Christianity. I certainly tried quite hard at several points in my life. But I never got there. Not once. It all seemed ridiculous to me. Meanwhile, my mother was a very devout. As was my younger sibling, who seemed to believe every teaching earnestly and at face value. I often wondered if something was fundamentally broken within me because I never could believe. Finally, as an adult, I know it's okay not to believe. But I'm still working through it daily. And the happy news is that my younger sibling ended up deconstructing as well, as an adult.

[00:22:57] I come from a long line of Adventists on both sides of my family. Many generations back, we were Adventist. It was always just a fundamental part of our family. Like being from the sparsely populated prairie, or being vegetarian. Just part of the makeup, it had always been that way and we were told it always would be if we made the right choices. We were separate from non-Adventists. We knew better. Even though we did associate with non-Adventists, there was always some kind of invisible barrier there. They'd never understand us. Because they didn't know the truth.

[00:23:38] One of my grandmothers wrote an entire book around the subject of how her parents (pioneers of the early 1900s) found their way to Adventism. And how much peace it brought them compared to their former denominations. As for the other side of the family, I believe they're Adventist even further back than that. I also have an uncle who was quite a prominent pastor and author within the church during his career. There have been multiple teachers in Adventist schools in my family, including my mother. And musicians. Nearly everyone went to Adventist college for their degrees. And the volunteer hours my family has collectively given to the church are countless.

[00:24:24] I suppose, to put it succinctly, my family is fairly deep in the Kool-Aid. Though within the church, my family was viewed as a middle of the road to even at times fairly liberal with how they conducted their lives. My parents especially had many non-Adventist friends (though they had many more Adventist ones). We were allowed just a bit more freedom on the Sabbath then some of our Adventist friends. I could use light nail polish tones. And my mom even let me wear jewelry and dress up time, and as I got older, I was allowed to wear light jewelry as long as I was not at church or Adventist school.

[00:25:07] When I was quite young, an old aunt was visiting my parents' house, and I happened to be walking around the house wearing a hideous, giant, smiley face plastic ring. I believe it even glowed in the dark. My great aunt, quite startled and upset, remarked "Well, aren't you just a little heathen?" while looking like she'd sucked on a lemon. That was one of the first times I was really aware of the restrictions. And aware that it was important what others thought and how they saw me. My very appearance could get my parents in trouble with their older family members.

[00:25:49] However, I was a very strong-willed child and decided to instead be offended and rebellious about the incident. I wanted to wear more jewelry. More often. To church. My poor mother. My mother was a lifelong devout believer in the church. When she was dying, too young, she was so comforted by the Bible and her beliefs. And I know she was disappointed I did not share them.

[00:26:21] "Just tell me you believe in Jesus." "You don't even have to believe in the church, just believe in Jesus." "I want to see you again in heaven" she said to me shortly before she passed. I don't quite recall exactly what I said, but I know I placated her. Which was unusual for me, the stubborn black sheep of the family. But in that instance, I simply didn't want her to worry.

[00:26:49] Mom did Bible study with us every day during the years my sibling and I were homeschooled. She made sure there were so many Christian and Adventist childrens' books around the house. And she read to us copiously. She herself wore out her personal Bible going over and over it and underlining and highlighting passages and making notes in the margins. She always read her Bible before bed. She always made sure we prayed before a meal. She was so very careful to do everything exactly right.

[00:27:28] But there was a sadness in it for her, because my dad never would participate in these things with her. She so badly wanted to share her spirituality with him. I remember it being her deepest desire. But the most I remember her ever getting out of him was a very short, uninspired prayer before dinner. My sibling and I didn't really think much of dad's spirituality, or lack thereof. We knew he slept during church. We knew he sometimes would pray his mundane dinner prayer, always the same. But due to the fact that he largely ignored us (or mistreated me) during our childhoods, his spirituality was never something we thought about. We just assumed he was simply quieter about it than mom.

[00:28:21] It wasn't until after my mom died that dad came clean. He was an agnostic. Something that made my mom incredibly sad, and it was why she tried so hard all of their marriage to get him to come around. She was never pushy and always gentle and kind about it. But dad stood unmoved, and that broke her heart. What I know would further break her heart, was when my dad was very suddenly remarried, and with that came his quote "newfound spirituality" with his second wife. They even have daily Bible study together. My heart aches for my mother, even though she is gone. And though I would generally never speculate on the sincerity of a person's faith, I know my father. And I know a tiger cannot change its stripes.

[00:29:18] A few years after my mom's death, my father was asked to work in a prominent position in his church conference office. By this point, he rarely went to church. My mom was gone, so what was the point? Yet he was still very socially enmeshed in the church. His closest friends were all still very much Adventist, even as he drifted away. He turned the conference down on their job offer multiple times, even admitting to the conference president about his unbelief. I was terrified as I watched the church try to get my father back. The further, he straight from the church, the kinder and more open-minded he was, especially toward his children.

[00:30:06] It felt, for the first time, that I actually had a father. And just as I started to feel any kind of connection to him, it was taken away. The conference president told him, in confidence, that they didn't care what my dad believed. They needed a vice president, someone to get the finances in order, and he was the perfect fit — belief or not. Just keep his non-belief quiet, as he always had, and things would be fine. My dad accepted. And that's when I watched him quickly drift away. Not only would my dad be working for the church that abused me, but he would be making sure the boarding school that nearly destroyed me had funding.

[00:30:53] My Adventist family members absolutely fawned over my father. A conference VP, right in our family! I found it ridiculous, but by that point I'd been out of the church for years. I did not care about the status of having a conference VP family member. My sibling felt similarly. We were, and still are, the only two in our entire family to leave the church.

[00:31:23] It didn't take long for all the adulation to go to my dad's head. Finally, everyone saw him for the amazing and important person he always knew he was. And as he sank deeper into church politics, he sank deeper into national politics as well. I cannot count the amount of times I was screamed at about his real passionate beliefs: national politics. That had always been what he'd felt the strongest about in life.

[00:31:57] He even let national politics govern how he handled many things within his conference. During the height of COVID, several churches filled with mostly elderly begged for the conference to set out some kind of rules to protect their health. My father was influential in the conference's blatant refusal. In another instance, my dad heard that a pastor was preaching about quote unquote "liberal nonsense", and he was sure it was making this pastor's congregation uncomfortable. This pastor was young. He was excited about what he was sharing. Not an easy thing to come by anymore in the church. And yet my dad proudly drove to his church and gave him a stern talking to. How dare he preach support for the oppressed and love for all! That's hippy nonsense. It was time for this young pastor to clean up his act, and stick to the script.

[00:32:57] During this same time, my dad was being courted by families within the church who were well-known social climbers. My dad had known they were, but when I reminded him, he scoffed at me and said how nice they were to him. Suddenly he was invited to every event! He was the life of every party! And it would have been one thing if the main social climbing family was simply that at their worst — social climbers. But they weren't.

[00:33:28] This family had a son around my age who was a well-known predator. As a teenager, several pastors had noticed his unhealthy behavior and tried to warn others. But it was laughed off as "Boys will be boys" and "He will grow out of it."

[00:33:46] He never did. I went to boarding school with him. There was hardly a girl within several states in the Adventist church who he had not quote unquote "dated." I even watched him reach the hard to get, sheltered Adventist girls by charming their mothers, until he wore them down enough to spend time with their daughters. Once he got what he wanted, he moved on.

[00:34:13] I watched him slowly destroy the mental health of a dear friend of mine at boarding school. She was pulled out of school halfway through the year due to self-harming behaviors. He moved quickly onto the next victim. She never came back.

[00:34:31] At Adventist college, he was even worse. But thankfully I had left the church by that point and didn't have to experience any of this firsthand. In part, this was actually due to the fact that my parents expected me to ride back and forth from college with him, alone in a car for a full day's drive one way. Knowing this was in my future, and for many, many other reasons, I fled the state after graduation. I could not bear to be part of the Adventist world anymore.

[00:35:07] As a grown man with a wife and children, he was accused of luring a minor and a trial date was set. This was after his antics had torn apart several small churches in the area. My father knew all of this. And I reminded him of what kind of person I knew this man to be. I and others had been saying it for years. But dad laughed me off, and even mocked me, saying in a text to my sibling that quote, "He was seen as a normal guy." "Though your sister was not as charitable." "She has always despised him since high school." As if somehow I was out of line for thinking this, even as this man was in the papers, his photo taken in an orange jumpsuit.

[00:36:00] Years earlier I had found out that my dad was feeding this man information about me, despite my boundary of him not sharing anything with church members about myself. When I confronted my father, he made fun of me. "What do you think he's going to do?" "Come to your house?" "You're so paranoid!" he said derisively. "Besides, he's a charming young man!" "A real up and comer in the church!"

[00:36:30] I wish men in positions of power within the church would listen when women tell them about these things. Dad could play dumb after the fact all he wanted, but he couldn't in good conscience say I didn't warn him. Luckily for this man, his family members were the best at getting close to powerful people in the church. If you were part of the conference office, they would absolutely be sucking up to you. And in this case, they needed to use the church to make their son look better in court.

[00:37:04] Suddenly he needed to read scripture before the sermon, or volunteer for Sabbath school, or do almost anything that would get his face in front of others doing good things. Things his lawyers could pass onto the court to make him look like an upstanding man. When I heard about this, I begged my father to stop it. Do not let him in the church. He will strike again.

[00:37:33] My father talked it over with the conference president, who just so happened to be extremely close with the man's family. Ultimately, they decided he could still come to church. Until he was actually convicted, they said they'd treat him as innocent.

[00:37:50] I felt like a failure. Like somehow I hadn't spoken up enough for what I'd seen this man do over the years. To my friends. To my acquaintances. Even to girls I was not friends with, and even to his own family. I had even reminded my dad, how much my mom disliked this man and his family. How she'd seen right through them all along. Nothing worked.

[00:38:19] I'm trying to keep his misdeeds as vague as possible, so as not to upset his victims. But I can assure you, there are many more than even I know of. And whatever you're thinking, it's likely worse. All the while I got to see inside the good old boys network in the conference office, due to speaking with my father. He'd tell me all about what various elders and even the conference president said or thought. And it all revolved around the theme of, "Well, we don't know for sure." "What if he's innocent?

[00:38:58] I wonder when the day will come for these men where the thought will be, "But what if he is guilty?" "We need to protect our congregation." Likely not in my lifetime. Disgusted, I refused to discuss the matter any further. I don't know what ended up happening in the end. Likely, not much as far as the church goes. I do know that his actions, which did bring him some jail time, broke so many hearts, and hurt so many families involved. The pain was felt from miles. But this man is a future good old boy. Untouchable.

[00:39:43] I'd also like to take a brief aside to say that I have known most of these good old boys my entire life. And I know that when they're speaking with my father, it's almost anything but godly conversation going on. Sometimes it gets downright disgusting. Most often it's pure gossip. And I found out the hard way that more than a bit of it was about me, despite having asked my father to keep me out of all conversation with anyone at church.

[00:40:16] After all this, due to a myriad of reasons, I distanced myself from my father. I knew through the grapevine that he was still deeply enmeshed with his job and thus the church. And only more so when he married his second wife and took on her family as his own, his own children becoming an afterthought.

[00:40:39] As to events that happened after taking space from my dad, I can only speak to what I've been told, and let my own past experiences inform the information. My sibling is now the only one speaking with my dad. My dad rarely contacts them. And thankfully, he hasn't contacted me since 2021. And I suppose... that's what has led me to speak out. Seen the blatant hypocrisy in my former church community and my own family has simply been too much for me. The last straw.

[00:41:18] I have always been a lover of justice and fairness. I'm a decade into therapy, with fairly positive results, so I know life cannot always be either. But I try to strive to incorporate both into my life as much as possible. I strive to be a cycle breaker. I want to stand for truth, and call out what is wrong when I see it instead of hiding it under the rug. I'm so tired of tolerating the blatantly wrong or ignoring its existence. We need to shine a light on what is wrong, so that it doesn't grow. To bring fairness and truth to the table, when everyone else seems to be ignoring the ever-growing issues.

[00:42:06] Then again, what do I know? I'm just a lowly ex-Adventist heathen.

Closing Thoughts

[00:42:13] Santiago: I want to give a very big thank you to Verity for sharing her story. I can only imagine some of the things that she experienced in boarding school, and then later on in these interactions with her father. And Verity, if you happen to listen to this, I just want to say I'm looking forward to more of your writing. I'll absolutely be honored to share more of it on the website, and at some point on the show.

[00:42:41] Again, I just want to thank everyone who has shared their story. Even though we all come from different places and backgrounds, experiences, and our deconstruction journeys are all different, these stories help bring us together. They're a reminder that we're not alone. And it can get better. Please remember that. And if you know someone who would benefit from hearing this, please share the project with them.

[00:43:09] You can find these stories and more on the website at hell.bio/stories. Again, if you have a story to share, please see the show notes for instructions or send a DM on Instagram. It can be text, it can be voice, whatever you feel comfortable with. And again, just want to thank you for listening. Everyone listening, you all are the reason why this project exists. To share your voices. To let people know they're not alone and to bring us closer together. So thank you for listening.

[00:43:42] I know there are a lot of things going on right now, globally, locally, that are tearing people apart. Tearing families apart. There are many innocent people that are dying. And one thing that has been weighing on me for a while now, is the atrocities that are occurring in Gaza and the West Bank. And in other places, there are atrocities occurring in the DRC and in so many other places.

[00:44:17] I'm struggling to find the words to describe all of the things I've read, the images, the video I've seen with my own eyes, the stories I've heard. And I probably don't need to, because I'm sure many of you have seen those things as well. If you've been thinking about these things as well, I just want to encourage you and let you know you're not alone, even if it may feel that way in your community.

[00:44:44] For me personally, deconstruction has included deconstructing other aspects of the worldview I was raised with. Questioning previously held assumptions. And I genuinely hope that for everyone listening, everyone in this community, that we can have an immense amount of empathy for all our fellow human beings. And especially for those that are most marginalized amongst us. With all of that said, I hope you're all well. Free Palestine. ​

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