Archive for March, 2012
Has Santorum totally lost it? Or… Is this what people really think?
I drove over to Planned Parenthood to deliver the money collected at the American Atheist Convention – almost $300. I stepped up to the window and placed the giant roll of money on the counter. I told them that I collected it at a convention and wanted to know if I could get a picture for my blog.
The lady at the counter called for her boss and said something like, “he’s here!” I did not tell anyone I was on my way there so I was quite shocked by the sudden rush of activity behind the bullet proof glass. They were very happy to see me and buzzed me through the thick security door. I was stunned and a little confused but I went in to deliver the donation. It appears that my previous donations have caused quite a stir. I have been bugging the protestors outside and then going in to give $10 per protestor. I tell the protestors that I am giving money because they are there.
Well, it appears that this has not only upset the fundies outside more than I could have ever imagined but the local staff loves it. They kept thanking me over and over and one lady almost started crying. They told their district manager what I was doing and some corporate types asked them to get my info if I come in again. They want to talk to me and may try to do it in other locations. WOW! Was I shocked. I will let you know if we ever have a meeting.
I gave them my contact info and took this picture. Note the giant roll of money! Thanks to all of the donors from the convention!
Beck works his board of insanity! I need a wall to hit my head against!
Post by Jim Newman
Yesterday I attended a Coming Out talk by Greta Christina and then later a Break Out session with Greta, Jamila Bey, and Indra Zuno on coming out as an atheist to the family and at work. I have a split personality in that I am a chameleon on the one hand and a contrarian on the other. That is, I like attention, like to blend, and yet have strong differing opinions, but recoil when people don’t agree, and I wish to agree to have friends or just continue discussion.
Perhaps, that is because I was teased for being first cross-eyed, then wall-eyed, as well as being smart, and looking like an eastern European Jew (thanks for the profiling). I was the polite bookish kid that brought stacks of books out of the library, sat in the front row (I needed glasses and needed to listen to get it), actually liked school and teachers, and didn’t do well in sports. I never did well in most college courses because I was distracted, or couldn’t puke back the crap the teacher was spewing. It was hard for me to brown nose, uhh consult, with teachers to see what they wanted as that was both embarrassing and an unfair advantage to other students–if it is so important why don’t professors schedule consultations with all of their students.
I later married an exfeminist separatist that wished to attend church and raise children with traditions and rituals though an atheist in philosophy–for community, family, and comfort. Her sole thriving point at my arguments was an article her uncle sent out saying Gays did not have to believe the bad parts of the Episcopal doctrine and could still attend church happily (I had insisted that no one could recite the Nicene creed if they were agnostic or atheist and not be a hypocrite etc)–attendance, as Queen Elizabeth noted, was all that was important. Coming out meant not saying Amen if you disagreed–just as Santorum didn’t clap when the assehole preacher spoke filth so bad even Santorum couldn’t agree.
The family I married into is more of a dynasty and I was in the womb of it being married to the eldest of the generation and choosing to live in its ancestral farm house (visualize vast old tidewater-style Plantation Mansion) of some 250 years. Her ancestor had been on the pulpit in Williamsburg, proTory, and mine had been in the second pew wanting independence.
We agreed, or it occurred through attrition, that our children wouldn’t go to church (I was in an asshole mood when they did, which created an aversion to it) but I could not (was not allowed to) openly discuss atheism with the children though it was obvious–had to go along with Xmas, Easter, etc. I went to conventions, wrote about it, occasionally wore a T-shirt, and refused church.
I was banned several times from writing emails to the family forum group. Most notably, the first time when I wrote an angry denunciation of certain family members’ refusal to call a Gay marriage a marriage but instead a celebration, and questioned whether to attend because they were Gay. My point was that it was a marriage and they had no right or humanity to crash their happiness. Finally, I insisted that I would write what I wanted and the family could censor me themselves but otherwise I had to say what was on my mind and they would soon learn to dismiss me as being whatever or not.
All of this is exacerbated by my painful awareness that my father and mother divorced because they could not reconcile their religious differences. My Jewish father met my Protestant mother in Switzerland. He was to become an atheist (she was a functional atheist) when they married. He vacationed home, Long Island, for four months, and came back resolved that she must become Jewish as his family required. She could not and so they divorced, after being married one month–mother, one month pregnant, with another younger illigitimate sister (how she was sent to Europe in the first place), struggling to prepare for a final recital for a piano pedagogy degree.
What struck me at Greta’s talk was her differentiation between coming out gay and coming out atheist. Likewise, I thought, for minorities insisting on their rights. Gays, blacks, hispanics, etc are looking for inclusion and equal consideration–acceptance, fairness, and justice. Atheists are insisting they are right and theists are wrong.
I said, atheists are telling theists they are wrong, not just politically but openly. My sister knows me for being the open one who insists that people have the right to be themselves no matter how twisted because of liberty, freedom, and egalitarianism. That while I am not Republican I believe in democracy and not fascism, getting along, tolerating others, and diversity. Not namby pamby American postmodern multiculturalism or moral relativity bullshit but rather tolerance of difference and change through discussion, except for basic rights for which we must fight.
Greta spoke of a continuum of coming out and the difficulty of arguing but nevertheless it resonated that atheists have to be “in your face.” Coming out atheist doesn’t mean, accept me as a human equal to you. Coming out atheist means, your theist or supernatural world view is wrong and needs to be changed as I have changed mine. I cannot accept your theism as equal to my atheism. Indeed, as an atheist, I cannot tolerate a president that would speak in tongues for advice on whether to go to war. I cannot tolerate a politician that believes the world is 6,000 years old and Noah built an ark. I cannot tolerate a president who believes a woman has fewer rights than a man because of any particular text. I cannot accept that religion is a topic that is hands off.
I decided I had not really Come Out Atheist and I needed to go to the Break Out session. More that I had a split relationship with my loving wife who did not want to come out openly, though I would hazard, most people suspected it and more importantly most of her liberal family followed “belief in belief as value.”
Jamila is very open and in your face. I am not sure how that helps those who are hesitating to come out though it is inspiring that one can be so brash. It also means she could not live in certain areas or she would be harmed literally–in Texas they hang uppity niggers, as they used to say, and for which many still wish. But I love her brash personality, my alter ego.
What struck me was that most of the people there were there for work reasons. Their very livelihood is dependent on not coming out or coming out in bits and pieces. Greta’s advice about a continuum finally resonated with me. The very practical advice to track performance in writing before coming out and then appealing to the threat of lawsuit or to the waste of work time expended on threats to their coming out.
Indra Zuno, who brilliantly gave her entire talk in Spanish at the Reason Rally, noted the need to have alternative work before coming out. She spoke of her own experience of virtually landing a job until she thoughtlessly friended (Facebook) her future boss who then discovered her atheism and shut her down. Indra, a popular Spanish TV actress, was essentially black listed in Los Angeles from acting in Spanish TV. Luckily, she has a court translator position. Seek a soft landing.
Greta fielded several other stories and then spoke to asking for solutions. The room seemed to be filled with people who had already come out to some degree. One participant noted this and moaned her basic need to explain how she was from work Monday for this conference and not lose her job. A role play scenario was set up and within it was a cover up, a near lie, followed by the advice to seek superiors, doctors in her case, for remediation when it is apparent she is an atheist.
What struck me was the true fear of losing jobs, not being able to support families, and losing economic mobility, perhaps, permanently. I realized I had ignored this in myself until now. I too can not “wear your flair” as Jamila recommended to me when I asked how out should we be out. I am a sole proprietor construction worker and farmer now and I am dependent on finding and pleasing customers–the vast majority of whom are religious. Luckily, I am in a borderline area and I have several means of support. But it is clear that I risk ostracism by wearing my flair. I have worn an Evolve cap to soccer and noted that few wear anything but Sports type flair. It is bad taste to wear logo t-shirts even.
For two years my spouse tried to ban me from wearing a t-shirt that says “Hell Sucks Because it’s Hot.” Our friends, if they aren’t religious, are fairy lovers, homeopathy lovers, paranormal lovers, or multiculturalists that might not attend physical church in hybrid fashion but would not consider being critical. Building fairy houses and Sacred Sister gatherings are routine. New Age syncretism.
When I mention examples like Jessica Alquist, the response is not how great, but why didn’t she move to avoid discomfort and conflict. My family would move before standing up for rights against persecution.
I am at a loss. I cannot see how I can leave this biosphere called the Bower, a 250 year old 350 acre farm with woods, creeks, hills–a park where we own the view (10% as it is family owned by 14 mostly nonresidential members) with horses, pigs, chickens, and peace but I wonder at how I can reconcile my coming out with the need to get along. The family is getting used to me, and the community is changing but it is after attending these conventions that I see I would be so much more personally comfortable-happy if I could wear my flair without having to wonder if I dare.
And then I feel the guilt of being chicken shit compared to the bravery of pastors that leave and the enormous courage of those like Taslima Nasrin, banned from her country with multiple fatwas.
Jim Newman, bright and well