Saturday, February 27, 2010

Media Circus

Um, is it me or did the world just kinda flip its lid? Every other email calls me a whore* or a hero. An ABC News team was here a couple days ago, and the piece should air on tomorrow night's news (2/28/2010). I've done interviews, plural. A guy from the St. Pete Times talked to me for over an hour yesterday, and I'll be the lead in a larger piece on the TMI question regarding social media. (If you don't wanna read it, don't read it. Just like the rest of the internet. Why is this so hard to grasp?)

I don't think it's right to call me a hero. I think there was a lot more naivety than heroism in my initial decision to tweet this. It wasn't even that conscious of a choice - I tweet everything. I write about everything. The rewards of honesty, in terms of a personal sense of "wholeness", can't be adequately described. No one can hurt me because, everything they know is something I chose to reveal about myself. No matter what they do with that (including writing a so-far 7 post long series decrying me as an evil mentally disturbed skank, ala Jill Staneck, she in desperate need of a good lay) it's not... real.

Once I realized that taking the advice of a bunch of middle-aged unhappy divorced women (ahem, "family") on whether or not I should get married at 23 was a really stupid thing to do, I started to consider the source of feedback more seriously. There are some people in this world who's good opinion I desire - they are my son, my boyfriend, my friends (Christian, atheist, Muslim, Wiccan or Satanist). Even there, my two closest girlfriends are both somewhat troubled by my decision to abort - one because she is pregnant herself right now, and has decided to give her life a complete makeover to prepare for a child she never planned on having; the other because she is an orphan, and has always craved family. I can't fault either of them for their discomfort with my decision, and both have remained supportive to me personally, if perhaps a little distant right now.

This entire reaction has been so out-of-proportion and insane. I've written about illegal drug use, sex, spousal abuse, child abuse, crazy cult stories, personal foibles and failings, and most of all, I've talked smack about Baby Jesus. Yet the reaction was minimal. People might tell me I was misunderstanding the Bible, or else that I was going to hell, but no one suggested I should be physically hurt for my views.

Maybe coming out as an atheist, and longer ago as bisexual, set me up for false expectations. I didn't see this as being more controversial. I know several pro-choice Christians, and I assumed more people were pro-choice than atheist, for example. Abortions are really common, right? And a first trimester abortion, to save the life of the mother, that's supposed to be the kind that every reasonable person supports, right?

Wrong. Apparently I'm a murderer, a killer, a Nazi, Hitler (also, from another "prolife" advocate, I'm apparently a "dirty jew"[stet].) I've been told I made my choice when I "opened my legs", "dint giv him the brown hole[stet]" or "have dude cum on youre ugly face". People threatened my son, insulted him, called me a child abuser and told me I don't love my kid. (One threatened to call child services, under the mistaken impression, one supposes, that abortion is illegal, or child abuse.)

When people say I'm a hero for talking about this, I think they assume I knew what I was getting into. I didn't. Maybe it's because I only really started watching the news during the presidential campaign, and since the election ended, I've only watched sporadically, but I didn't expect this. I knew some people would call me a baby killer, sure. But for the first two days, before I put up my Abortion YouTube video**, I didn't think I was talking to anybody I didn't always talk to.

The media attention has been somewhat overwhelming. I'm just doing something women do everyday. Abortions aren't rare, and when they're legal, they're safe. Maybe it's because I'd spent the days leading up to my clinic visit reading, but I honestly didn't realize that *no one* talks about their abortions. It's been pretty baffling to me, considering how many illegal things people can and do talk about every day.

I've been compared to an antebellum slave owner, a Nazi soldier, a pedophile, and a god. All because I said, "Hey, I don't wanna be pregnant anymore. I'm gonna have a (legal) abortion."

Maybe I'm naive or maybe I just can't tap into black-and-white thinking anymore like I used to. I still can't completely get my head around why people flipped their lids like this. The media are acting like what makes this story interesting is the setting, Twitter. They're missing the point. If women talked about their abortions - on TV and in books and in women's magazines and with each other, and with our significant others and friends and children - then tweeting one wouldn't be a big deal. When people say, "You shouldn't tweet about an abortion" I can't help but feel what they really mean is, "You shouldn't talk about abortion."

* Well, actually they usually write it WHORE!!
** Since I posted this video 5 days ago, it's had over 49,000 views. What is going on with the world? 1/3 American women have abortions.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Brief Update

Planned Parenthood Keeps Families HealthyImage by clockworknate via Flickr

I'm doing fine so far. I took the first pill at Planned Parenthood yesterday (with the oldest doctor I've ever seen. He must have been well into his 60s - we need more younger doctors training in this!) I can start the next pills at home (swallow 2 and let 2 dissolve in my cheeks for half an hour) as early as 3:30 pm today and as late as 3:30 pm tomorrow. I'll be doing it once Kid is in bed.

Here are a whole bunch of abortion stories, both medical (chemical) and surgical.

I'll be posting more about my story, and the other people in the clinic (with permission & changed names) later this weekend or early next week. One young couple's story was.. impressive? Horrible.

He's from Honduras, but goes to university here in Florida. She's from Guatemala. They met over winter break and fell in love (so adorable together in the waiting room.) She had to let him know by Facebook message that she was pregnant. Abortion is 100% illegal in both Honduras and Guatemala because they are Catholic countries. She tried to buy RU486 by bribing a doctor. Whatever he gave her, it wasn't what she asked for. She made herself violently sick taking all these pills, and still two weeks later hadn't bleed and still felt pregnant.

So they had to fly her to the US to get a surgical abortion. Just think about that for a minute, and think of how lucky they are that he goes to school here and that they were able to come up with the money for first the bad doctor and the bad drugs, and then for a plane ticket and a $480 abortion in the States. It absolutely horrifies me and I just looked at him straight in the eye as he was telling me this, while his girlfriend was being vacumed in the other room, and I said, "I want to find the Pope and go personally kick him in the nads."

She's 19. They are both college students, and they live on different continents. They get to decide that's not a good time to be parents, and since she doesn't *like* children, or ever want any, I think it's a good choice for them to make.

More later. Love you all. Oh, by the way, I was only 4 weeks. Which means the firs test I took that said "No" was when I was only 1 week. I'm glad I caught this so early.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Those of you who follow me on Twitter or who I've emailed or called already know, but for the rest of you: My birth control failed, and I am pregnant. I have been in physical pain for days, and I think a certain amount of the emotional distress (read: suicidal depression & panic attacks) I've been under has been caused by hormone fluxes and my body being taken over. I can't *afford* to have all nutritional resources diverted elsewhere, and I'm not ready to be the mom of two kids.

Hell, I'll never be ready for that. I decided about ten minutes after my son was born that he was the only one in the world for me. As it became clear he had special needs, this decision cemented. I honestly believe that being an only child will be the best thing for HIM, in no small part because I feel at least somewhat capable of being a good mom to him, but not of being a good mom (certainly not a great mom) to two special needs children.

There's a list of reasons from personal (I don't want two special needs kids, sorry), to financial (remember how I already lived in a car with one kid? Imagine doing that with no car and two kids. I know I already have!), and health (I don't wanna die.) But you know what? "I don't want to be pregnant" is a *good enough* reason to get an abortion! Really & truly. "I don't want to give you a kidney" is a good enough reason not to be forced into an organ donation that would save another person's life. This is not different, and shouldn't treated as such.

This isn't a secret and this isn't something I'm ashamed of. I'm getting an abortion. It's the right move for me and for my family. And honestly, I can't wait to get it over with and get back to being the writer, speaker, activist, silly, fun, girlfriend, mom I'd like to be, instead of the pissed off incubator I currently am. This is not a child; this is a squatter which could potentially become a child. Or kill me. Maybe even both. None of those are outcomes I'm frankly interested in.

This may sound... cold? At the moment, it's hard to care what anyone else thinks. I know this is the right thing to do in this circumstance, and I won't be regretting this later. I love my son & I'm glad I have him. When I was pregnant before, I *felt* like I was carrying a baby, the little boy I had always wanted. Right now I feel like I have a tapeworm or some kind of horrible infection. Maybe the hormones aren't working right yet or maybe I'm practical.

Whatever last minute doubts I may have had were squashed by spending yesterday in a crowded room (church auditorium, actually) with 600 special needs children, during my son's school field trip. Holy crap, am I glad I'm getting an abortion!

And, just in case it needs to be stated more clearly, you guys know I'm glib but that doesn't mean I don't till feel this stuff. Put on a happy face, right? I'm not giddy about it or anything, but I'm not going to get emotionally manipulated into feeling bad that in the case of Me vs. It, I choose me.

And in case you needed to have it more thoroughly explained to you, this is what I am not willing to go through again. (And not a single pro-life man would either. They just don't have the *ovaries* for that kind of pain.)

p.s. At 6 weeks, a fetus has an eye spot, but no eye. It has the first cells which will become the heart, but no heart. It has no brain or even the beginnings of a brain. It does, however, have a tail. Tell me, is this a person? Does that 2% uniquely human DNA really make a difference in this? Also, please note the size of the scale in this picture (from Am I really going to sacrifice my health and life, my sanity and my body for a cluster of cells (with human DNA, and the potential to grow into human life) about the size of a pinto bean? Answer: No.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

First Love

We were finally back in Florida for good, and the weather was just starting to warm up enough to go swimming. The clubhouse at Giggy's trailer park threw a pizza party for the teenagers, with pizza and sodas and the usual leather-skinned crotchety, chain-smoking pool monitors. I had met a few kids the summers earlier, but I didn't know most of the other teenagers. One of my grandmother's followers, Mary had just moved down to the trailer park with her two kids, and the older one was a girl between my age and my sister Esther's.

She was the tallest girl I had ever met, at maybe 5'10", with sheets of long, uncut blonde hair. The first time I had met her a week or two earlier in Giggy's living room, she'd been wearing a prairie dress and Birkenstocks, with a lace kerchief on top of her head. She looked *Amish* and Gig wanted me to introduce her to other kids I didn't even know very well myself. I got to the pool in my new black underwire two-piece suit, and groaned when I saw her in a long green one piece, her lilly white skin contrasting sharply with the green. Within an hour, I'd overheard at least two people call her "the jolly green giant." Still, I had been new plenty of times myself, so I went over and treaded water with her for the first half hour or so. I got up and made the rounds, introducing myself to people.

I would just walk up to someone and stick out my hand, "Hi, I'm Angie. I'm new. How are you?" and within another half hour I felt I'd met enough people, I could spend a little more time playing wallflower with the Amish girl. "You've only been here an hour and you've met more people than I've met all week," she said in something like suspicion mixed with awe. I shrugged.

"You just gotta talk to people," I said, gesturing to the deck where most everyone was congregated around the pizza boxes and coolers, and that's when I saw him. He was short - my height - and thin, and since he didn't have a shirt on, I could see his chest and stomach muscles were beginning to define. But that's not what I noticed first - I saw his eyes. They were gorgeous, and pitch-black. I had never seen anything so beautiful and if there is such a thing as love at first sight, that was it.

I got out of the pool to grab a can of grape soda. As I walked back towards the pool, he turned around and stuck out his hand. "I'm Micah" he said. He was the only person that day to introduce himself to me first, and I was so glad he did. Gosh, he was cute! We started dating almost immediately after, in one of those experiences so seemless, I can hardly remember how exactly we went from meeting to dating.

He was a drummer, but he and a friend had also started a Youth Civic club in the trailer park, and they had petitioned the park management until they'd been able to get us a basketball court. We would go out there and shoot hoops with his friends, or else hang out at the pool. I decided to throw a Makeout Party, because there never seemed to be enough time for those matters. I invited my rather slutty friend Christy to be my cousin Jason's date, and the no-longer-at-all-Amish girl and her surfer boyfriend, and of course, Micah.

The night came and I was so excited. It was before I was allowed to wear makeup, and I didn't want my grandmother to notice anything different before she went to bed, so I used baby paper and Vaseline to do myself up, and sprayed some of the little sample bottle of perfume I found in the back of the drawer. The trailer had a big screened-in porch, almost the full width and length of the trailer, and Gig had several wicker loveseats with pillows out there. It was a beautiful night, and her trailer was on the edge of a greenbelt of protected land, so it felt private in the dark on the porch.

Jason was staying the night already. Chrissy & __ & Charles arrived, and after awhile the two couples began making out. Where was Micah? I had told them midnight, because all of our parents would be asleep then, and I figured everyone could get out clean that way. But Micah didn't come. I was crushed. Didn't he *want* to make out with me? After everyone left, and Jason went inside, I couldn't sleep. I threw on my shoes and slipped out the door and walked across the park towards his trailer.

I stood outside and knocked on his bedroom window. His cousin opened it. "What?" he muttered angrily through the screen.

"Get Micah. It's important." I waited. Micah came to the window. He told me that he hadn't been able to get out, that first his mom had been awake and then his stepdad. We said goodbye and I love you, and I walked home.

The next morning, Micah and his stepdad John came over. I was standing at the top of the three steps from the porch to the trailer, and Gig was in front of me on the porch. John stood filling the screen doorway, with Micah half-hidden behind him. He told me grandmother that some floozy whore had shown up at his house last night, banging on his windows. He said he thought I was an intruder and it would've been in his rights to shoot me, and that if he ever saw me hanging around "his son" again, he would.

I was grounded the rest of the summer - confined to my room, and at my mom's house, where I had no friends. I was allowed to leave my room twice a day to use the bathroom and get food and juice from the fridge, but there was no going outside, no talking on the phone, and no watching TV. I made mixed tapes - dozens of them. I sat hunched over my radio waiting to press the record button when a good song came on.

By the time I made it out of my room and back to the trailer park, Chrissy and the others were telling me he had been planning on breaking up with me anyway. "Oh. Well, yeah, I was gonna break up with him, too" I lied, heartbroken.

There is a part 2 to this story, and it's both sweeter and sadder. Another six months later we reuinted, found out we'd both been saving face and neither really wanted to break up with the other. We carried on a clandestine, secret relationship for a couple of intense months. Then one night, his mom had had enough or his brother had, and her boyfriend became unconscious somehow, with the three of them in it and gone. He disappeared one day 13 years ago and I never saw or heard from him again.

And this is why I love the internet. Not only did it help me learn my grandmother was a cult leader - and meet all of you. I found him on Facebook. :D We spent about two hours this morning talking and catching up. So, expect more episodes from the trailer years in upcoming weeks on the blog :D

*Yes, I just have a blank for her name. Because I keep meaning to ask her if I can use her real name, or if she has a first choice for psuedonym. I try to give anyone who hasn't started a cult or killed their kid the option of a different name in the book.

She ended up being one of my best friends I've ever had, someone I could tell anything to. She and my sister were, if anything, closer and my sister's best friend in college reminded me of her a lot. She definitely came into herself and got out of the prairie garb and is absolutely gorgeous and a really fun person to boot. (I just feel bad writing my judgmental child thoughts down about someone I find so neat-o now!)
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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Messin' with Mormons 10

Wow, Anteaters, since May 2009 when I started ATAT we've gone through 9 Mormon missionary chats. Today, I used the name Paul, but otherwise gave my answers truthfully from my own history. Since I posed as a man, I was listened to extensively, and three separate missionaries across a span of two hours chatted with me. Here we go!
Braden: Hello!
How are you?

Me: Hi Braden. I'm doing fine. You?

Braden: I'm doing well, thanks!
Where are you chatting from today?

Me: Florida. Are you in Utah?

Braden: I am right now
But I'm from Idaho

Me: Neat. I wanted to ask you a few questions about LDS and the Church.

Braden: Perfect

Me: How early are children taught about the faith, and what form does this take?

Braden: I've been praying for as long as I can remember
Ah, therefore it is an entirely reliable means of knowing truths. (This will come up again, soon.)
Braden: What do you mean by form?

Me: I guess, how are kids taught - through songs or stories, or a Kids Book of Mormon & Kids Bible?

Braden: All of the above
Haha! Indoctrination is such a trip.
Me: :) and kids are baptized at 7, right?

Braden: Age 8 actually

Me: That's when I was baptized as a kid :)
we went to a non-denomination church though, not LDS
Do you do baby dedications before children are old enough for baptism?

Braden: We do baby blessings
That's where the child is given a name and a blessing in church

Me: Is that name unique from their given name on their birth certificate?
My mom and her sisters all have two middle names - one on their birth certificate, and one from Catholic confirmation.
Braden: No, it's the same name

Me: Okay just within the church
Do many Mormon families homeschool, or is public schooling big? I haven't heard of any Mormon grade schools. Are there any?

Braden: Not that I know of
I went to public school

Me: Okay. Did you go to Bible camp as a kid, too?

Braden: I did not

Me: Are most of your friends also Mormon?

Braden: A lot of them are, yes

Me: Okay. What would you say is the best thing about growing up Mormon?

Braden: For me it was always knowing where I came from and that God loves me and that I'm His child... that knowledge means more to me than anything else
"more to me than anything else" - This is why people fight so hard to hold onto nonsense. It's incredibly personally *important* nonsense.
Me: I guess I would say that I had that as a child, even though I wasn't Mormon.

Braden: There are a lot that don't
I also aways knew that God answered my prayers and I haven't had a prayer go unanswered
Great! Let's go find some amputees who could really use the help.
Me: Wow - never one prayer?

Braden: Not that I can remember. (Cause you don't count the misses, only the hits)

Me: I think I'd be praying to win the lottery if my prayers had that kind of success rate! Haha
What kinds of prayers have been answered?

Braden: haha
Unanswered doesn't mean that I got what I wanted... I just always felt God's presence and felt Him guide me
When I was praying for God to heal my hip so I could walk, I wasn't looking to feel a presence. when countless Christians over the centuries have prayed over a lifeless body for the kind of resurrection that seemed to be happening all the time in the New Testament, they almost certainly do not consider a failure for that body to reanimate as an answered prayer. Of course, if all that an answer means is a feeling...
Braden: A lot of things, if the Book of Mormon is true, whether or not I should go on a msision for the church... decisions like that

Me: Oh okay. You mean, "God answers every prayer one of three ways: Yes, no or wait"
How did you decide to go on a mission?

Braden: Yeah like that
I prayed a lot to know if this is God's true church and to ask if He wanted me to tell the world tha

Me: I've heard a few different Mormons talk about the verses in Nephi where it basically says, if you pray and ask me if the Book of Mormon is true, you'll know that it is
Did you have that experience?

Braden: That's exactly what I had
It wasn't an immediate answer, it came after about a week and a half of praying day and night to know if it was true

Me: Wow. What would you have done if you never heard an answer, or felt like the answer was No?

Braden: I don't know... I always knew that I'd get an answer

Me: What if it had been No?

Braden: Then I would have kept searching
Notice that whether or not god is real is not even part of this exercise. No, you just ask god to confirm that the faith you've been indoctrinated into is correct.
Me: Do you feel that the Bible is as true as the BOM?

Braden: I know that it's true but I don't feel or believe that it is perfect
The Bible, I mean
I love how he *knows* that the Bible is true, but only feels and believe it is imperfect.
Me: which parts do you think are imperfect?

Braden: I don't know that we can say, this section or that part is imperfect (we can) but there are some doctrines that aren't as clear as they should be
Which is why there are so many different beliefs today
The Bible is imperfect and unclear, which is why we have so many different Christianities today. You know, I think I agree here 100%
Me: Which doctrines do you think are unclear?

Braden: The nature of the Godhead is one, baptism is another

Me: How so? I haven't heard the Mormon perspective on these doctrines before

Braden: We believe that God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate beings and that they continue to give revelation today
We also believe and know that baptism must be done by immersion and by one who holds authority from God that is given by the laying on of hands

Me: You believe and know this about baptism. How do you know it?

Braden: Again, through study and prayer

Me: Is there anyway for an outside person to see that Mormons have the true revelation, not other faiths?

Braden: Through study and prayer
God is the only one who can give that answer

Me: Well yes, but my Muslim friends have studied and prayed and come to a different conclusion. Hindus have studied and prayed & come to a different conclusion. Many atheists have studied & prayed & come to a different conclusion.
How can I know which of you is right, if god won't speak to me when I study and pray?

Braden: What do you personally believe now?

Me: I don't believe in any gods, because I can't see the actions or evidence of any.

Braden: I like something that C.S. Lewis once said

Me: If there are any gods though, I would like to know. Yes, I have read Lewis - all of his works. I enjoyed the Screwtape Letters when I was a teenager, and Mere Christianity has some nice-sounding arguments till you think them through.
the Chronicles of Narnia were lots of fun

Braden: He said something to the effect of, "I believe in God the same way I believe in the sun, not because I can see it, but that because of it I can see everything around me."
*blink, blink*
Me: But you can see the sun.

Braden: Hey Paul, I have to be going, let me transfer you to my friend David

Me: Ok

Braden has transferred you to David.

David: Hello. How are you?

Me: Hi David. I'm well, how are you?

David: I'm doing well

Me: I was just asking Braden how someone could tell that LDS is the right church if they cannot hear from any gods?

David: It is necessary to receive personal revealtion in order to learn that the church is true for ourselves
We need to study and pray

Me: Yes, well as I was telling Braden - I have studied, and prayed. A lot.
I've asked people of all different faiths. If your god is the real one, surely you must have something that all the false or pretend gods don't. What is it?

David: This is the only church with priesthood authority

Me: Do you have any way that someone outside LDS could tell that your priesthood authority was real and really from god? How do you nkow it isn't just a group of men, or how would I know that?

Daivd: You can't really prove spiritual things. It requires faith. There is however convincing evidence with the Book of Mormon that this authority was restored

Me: wait, so it's just faith? but then there's no reason to think you're the ones who are right is there?

David: There are many reasons.
One of those being the organization of the church
David: The church is led by a prophet and 12 apostles who receive revelation from God

Me: Why is that a better sign of it being true than a descent through a priestly line, like in Shiite Islam or ancient Judaism?
or than a Pope w/cardinals?

David: Because salvation only comes through Christ
that means we need to follow His teachings
And this is how He established His church when He was here on the earth

Me: How can someone know that is true? I've read some of the Koran & the Bhagavad Gita & BOM. How do you know which is true?
Christ started the church of latter-day saints?

David: The church is a restoration of Christ's church
You can know through prayer
Prayer is the key to finding answers

Only God knows what is best and what is true
Well then on what criteria do you evaluate god to be best or telling the truth?
Me: But David, I have prayed. I don't hear anything but my own thoughts.
I've asked you and Braden to please tell me how someone can know if LDS is true, when I cannot rely on personal revelation through prayer. Is this possible?

David: What answer are you expecting when you pray?

Me: Anything. Something that I can tell isn't just my own thoughts.
If gods are real, shouldn't we be able to tell?

David: No. You can't prove spiritual things. Can you prove that God lives? Can you prove that Christ died for our sins?
Of course I can't prove those things - because they're ridiculous.
David: The fact that we are here on this earth is evidence of God

Me: No, it's only evidence for us.
If that's evidence, aren't the vast expanses of uninhabited space evidence against god?

David: Why?

Me: well, why would us being here be evidence for a god?

David: He created us and this earth

Me: What makes you say that? (Twenty minute pause. I finished rotating crops on Farmville.)

David: You are seeking for proof which you won't find
Christ warned against sign seekers

Me: All I asked is why you think that. Now you're telling me "Christ warned" about people like me? That seems rude, David. (That's right, I got the high road bitches!)
It's just I want to have true beliefs, and not false ones.
How many of the Proverbs are spenting praising wisdom and the seeking of wisdom?

David: I told you why I think that, it's because I have studied and prayed about it
The scriptures and living prophets teach us these things

Me: Okay but for someone like me who doesn't not hear from any god or gods, since personal revealtion seems to be whaat so many religious people rely on, can I just conclude no gods wanna talk to me?

David: No. I think it just takes some time to learn to better recognize the answers you receive to prayer
Why assum the breakdown in communication is on my end? I'm not the one claiming to be omnipotent!
Me:Well maybe you could help me with that. When you're praying, how do you know if what you hear is from god or the devil or just your own thoughts?

David: That's a good question
In the Book of Mormon it talks about the way to judge

Me: What does it say?

David. Let me find the passage... (link)
After reading that, how do you think you can know when your answer comes from God?

Me: David, it seems to say that anything that agrees with christ is from god. But it doesn't say how you know that Christ is from god
It seems to just be "If your thoughts agree w/what you already believe & what this book says, then you should believe they're from god"

David: Not really. If it leads you to do good, to help others, to be inspired or enlightened, to be happy, that comes from God
All good things come from God
I actually need to go now

Me: Well, I do lots of good for others. I consider myself a very moral & ethical person. I just don't believe in god, because I can't tell your claims apart from the Muslims or the Hindus. They all rest on faith & the words written in some book, that claims it's the word of god

David: Would you like me to transfer you to someone else who can continue to help you?

Me: Do you think they will be able to?

David: As you apply gospel principles in your life and see the blessings that come from living those principles you can know that it is true
I think so

Me: What do you mean by "gospel principles"

David: All the teachings or things you learn from church
Not just everything in the Bible, but apparently everything you learn from church! Hmmmm, what about all the things I learned at church that contradicted the other things I learned at other churches? Oh dear!
David: I really need to go now though
It's been great talking with you

Me: You too David

David has transferred you to Casey.

Casey: Hello how are you today?

Me: Hi Casey, I'm well. How are you?

Casey: I am also doing well thanks.
With what may I help you today?
(English not his first language perhaps? In that case, I'll leave off any teasing about grammar.)

Me: I want to know how someone can tell which, if any, religion is true if they don't hear god

Casey: that can be hard because that is the way that we can know. However God has promised that he will answer all those who believe and have faith in him.

Me: well, how can you believe or have faith in something that you don't even know exists?

Casey: I think that is the very essence of faith. It is trusting that what we can't see does exist.

Me: But I think even people with faith have a reason FOR their faith, right? I mean, there's a reason you have faith in the Mormon god and not Hindu gods. What's that reason?

Casey: As I read the scriptures I have come to realize that the prophets have always taught that there is only one true god. I have exercised faith in him and been blessed because of that.
As we live by faith and allow those beliefs to guide our lives God blesses us and we see evidence in the form of belssings from God that our faith is not in vain. But the miracles and the blessings are preceded by faith.

Me: When you say the prophets have always taught this, which prophets do you mean? I assume you don't include Bhuddha
What kind of blessings? I gather you don't mean money, since people of faith range from poverty to extreme wealth

Casey: I am referring to the prophets in the Bible. By blessings I refer to peace, Joy, Spiritual strength, the blessings of having the Holy Ghost with me to guide my decisions, etc.
Wouldn't wanna make your own decisions.
Me: Okay, but how do you know those prophets were really from god?
Well, I'm a nonbeliever but I feel peace, joy, and inner strength. I may not feel the HG but I am able to make good decisions.

Casey: I can see where you are coming from and you are right that non beleivers can feel peace and Joy
As long as a person is living a good life they can have those blessings
I believe however that as one consciously strives to follow the God that is taught about in the Bible that they will find even greater Joy and happiness than they have previously known.
(Yeah right!)
Or could know without God. *spittake!*

Me: Well, it doesn't sound like your god has too much to offer I dont' already have. Since I prefer to believe true things, & try to avoid things which are probably not true, I guess I'll stay an atheist.

Casey: We would love to help with whatever we can if you would like us to in the future.

Me: As soon as you find a more reliable evidence for god than personal revelation, please let me know!

Casey: Will do.

So then I made a video about it.

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Woman's Role in the Home pt. 4

Finally, we can put this misogyny behind us. The first post on this topic is here - use the Google search bar the bottom to find the others (or anything else you're looking for.)
E - Encourage Other Women. Again, in Titus 2:3-5, Paul speaks of the aged women’s responsibility to teach the young women. I just want to touch on this briefly because this can pertain to the woman’s role in the church as well as the home. I really believe that we as Christian ladies are lacking in this area and it is a burden on my heart.
The average Christian woman is not living up to the Biblical mandates given by Paul - check.
We need some Titus 2 women…women who will take the TIME to teach and encourage the young women and yes, it does take time. This teaching needs to start in the home as we train our daughters to be “Titus 2 young women”. And then, we need to be encouraging the young women in our church to pattern their lives according to the principles found in God’s Word.
Anybody else think this would make more sense if she'd told us what a Titus 2 woman was? Well, then I'll do it for her. From the NIV, Titus chapter 2, verses 3 thru 5:
3Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
Okay, "Don't be an addict" is pretty good advice for anybody, whatever their sex or gender (or age.) As for loving your children, well no one had to train me in that. I have certainly read up on and listened to the counsel of others in matters of teaching him, helping him, and caring for him, but no one had to teach me to love him. Likewise, no had to train me to love my friends, so it would appear my modern Western concept of "love" is not what's being referred to here. No, instead this is about subjection. Will this teaching the older women are doing help the younger women to live happy lives, to have healthy children, or to be fulfilled intellectually and emotionally? No. That isn't the purpose at all. The whole point is "so no one will malign the word of God" and since I know I'm not the only loud-mouthed atheist or non-Christian out here, I think this means "so that these women will not malign the word of God." Which of course, is the word Paul was writing at the time? Hmmm....

Well, let's see what other nuggets of wisdom Paul has to offer in his second letter to Titus.
9Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, 10and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.
Huh. Sounds awfully similar, now that I look at them back to back like this. Alright, let's finish up with Rachel.
I came across this poem the other day in a little publication called WOMEN IN THE HARVEST, and it is so fitting for what I’m speaking of. I’d like to share it in closing. The title of the poem is: SHOW ME THE WAY by Karen Groves

Show me the way, dear mother,
Teach me to obey;
Keep yourself modest, innocent and pure,
For I’m following your footsteps each day.
Show me the way to stay a child, long after I am grown
Teach me, mother, to keep my tongue,
To always watch and pray;
Some unkind word coming from my lips
Could hinder me from sharing God’s way.
Teach me to keep silent, the golden rule of the dysfunctional home.
Mother, could you show me
How my husband and children to love?
For one day God will bless me and
Another crown will be for you above.
For your worth is found in your hymen as a bride, in your womb as a wife, and in your seed as a senile old woman, right?
Help me to make good judgments, mother
So when I’m a keeper at home;
I will not make some awful mistake
Like many others we have known.
Awful mistakes like allowing children the opportunity to make friends with people outside our fanatical religious cults, or treating our daughters like "people."
Walk a little plainer, mother,
For one day I will be like you;
Working willingly for family and friends,
Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do?
No, your body is not an altar and your life was not made to be someone else's sacrifice. Trust me, it's better this way.

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Safety First

No one actually aid, "Don't talk to strangers" and frankly, that's not the best advice anyway. I mean, you talk to strangers in front of your kid all the time, and every year they meet new "strangers" at school - teachers and coaches and other students.

I remember one second grade day, my brother, sister, cousin and I were standing outside Riverhills Christian School, waiting for Giggy to pick us up. The Baby Ministry was in full swing in those days, and hadn't yet morphed into Home in Zion. A woman we didn't know showed up in a minivan and told us that Giggy had sent her, because Gig was attending a birth. I started to get into the van, when my brother David stopped me.

"Wait," he told the woman, "She didn't tell us about that. We'll just wait here." We ended up waiting another two hours. I couldn't believe how obstinate my brother was being, and wherever he had acquired the idea that you shouldn't just get in a car with a stranger who says they know your parents, it wasn't from home. After that day, my mom confirmed that yes, David had done the right thing by wanting confirmation. She promised that Gig would give the person a note next time Gig sent someone to get us (something my mom didn't like in the first place, as the whole point of living with Gig from her perspective, was that Gig would watch us while she was at university and work.)

Still, my molestation began within a few months of that day. I went to my friend Pam's house after school, looking to play with her. She was out with her mom and brother, at one of her brother's many occupational therapy sessions. He had some form of disability, I couldn't remember what it was called, that left him hunched and huddled, wheelchair or else bed bound, and incapable of speech. Pam's dad opened the door.

"You can come in and watch TV with me while you wait for her," he said.

My son will know not to accept an offer like that. I didn't.

I subscribe to the email newsletter. The group was founded by Irene van der Zande. From their site, she "was inspired to found Kidpower by a frightening incident in 1985. As she was leading a group of young kids on a field trip, a man charged towards them and threatened to take one of the children.

Irene put herself between the man and the children, including her own son and daughter, and shouted. With the help of bystanders, she forced the attacker to leave.
The children were unhurt and soon recovered - but Irene was shaken and determined to do something to help people, especially children, build the skills and confidence to take charge of their own safety."

These are the same people who published the Halloween safety tips I posted back in October (including "Write your cell phone number in Sharpie on your kid's arm in case you get separated.") In addition to providing child safety tips, they offer "people safety" classes for teens, women, men, and people in wheelchairs. This week, they've sent in this story from one of their workshop students, with accompanying tips.
Irene, I wanted to let you know that as I was leaving work on Tuesday night, using all the tips of walking with awareness and confidence, a man in a Mercedes slowed down and was driving alongside of me, staring and making me very uncomfortable.

At first, I didn't realize he was focused on me, but it got worse when he started calling to me, and then when I reached an intersection, and needed to cross the street (going straight), he was turning left. He pulled into the crosswalk and stopped, leering at me and blocking my path.

There were other cars around, but no other people on the sidewalk nearby, and I could see that if he wanted to jump out of his car and attack me, he would have a few elements in his favor because I was, in a sense, isolated, and because he was in a car, he had an advantage.

I kept my calm, even though I was worried that he might try and jump out of his car and abduct me.

I looked right at him, said calmly and clearly, "No, thanks" (the first thing that popped to mind in my panic), and walked WAY around his car to keep myself at a safer distance. I even thought through the situation and walked behind him so he couldn't lurch forward and easily clip me to knock me down. He peeled away, and I quickly stepped into a bar on that block to make sure he wasn't circling back.

Typically, when someone starts leering/catcalling at me (even a "normal-looking" guy in a really nice car), my gut reaction is to flip out at them, call the person names or insult them (and I thank my New Jersey heritage for the ability to rattle off swear words in a way that would peel the paint off a car, so it gets pretty ugly pretty fast when I switch it on).

I used to think that was the best way to feel like I've "put them in their place" for being so disrespectful. But thanks to our Fullpower workshop on best practices in "People Safety," I assessed the situation and did what I needed to do to calm down, rather than escalate, the situation, and definitely felt less shaken by the experience afterwards, knowing that I had done the safest thing to protect myself and prevent a dangerous situation. ...

This brave woman did a great job of protecting herself in a potentially very dangerous situation by staying focused moment by moment on what her safest choices would be. The skills we'd practiced that morning were simple, including:

  • Projecting an attitude of awareness, calm, and confidence

  • Paying attention and being strategic

  • Staying centered and assessing your choices

  • Moving out of reach

  • Disengaging without escalating by giving neutral answers and leaving

  • Changing your plan and moving away from danger and towards safety

  • Setting boundaries

  • Getting help

  • Physical self-defense

  • Think of how much suffering could be prevented if everyone knew how to use these simple skills!

    And really ladies, who among us hasn't responded to honks & catcalls upon occassion with a third finger salute? Hell, I used to carry a small airhorn so I could honk back. (I also used to go hitchhiking, the epitome of taking rides from strangers. I'm still not sure I've entirely figured that one out. Apparently cab drivers don't count as strangers, but semi-drivers do.)

    And here's the person I try to keep safe and keep myself safe for: the Cuteness Monster.

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    Wednesday, February 3, 2010


    It was around 6:30 in the morning, and we were sprawled about the room, giggling to ourselves. Heath lay on the couch, chewing on the keychain he'd steadily destroyed throughout the night, and Ron and Amber had flung themselves onto their bed. James and i had made a nest of cushions and pillows and blankets on the floor of Ron &

    natalie's fiber optic lightImage by radiospike photography via Flickr

    Amber's efficiency apartment. The light were all out save the fiber optic Christmas tree (or "Hannukah bush as Amber preferred) and we laughed for ten minutes or more at the idea of what a bunch of kids standing outside at their bus stop would think if they could see the five of us. James wrapped his arms around me, and began to nibble at my ears and neck.

    Electrical explosions were going off, just beneath my skin, and the soft stroking of his wet tongue along my neck made me think of fireworks. He was testing my resolve. It was early on the morning of January 2nd, and he was hoping to end my New Year's resolution to be celibate for all of 2000. He failed, but I thoroughly enjoyed his attempts to tempt me from my course. Never mind that I was coming down from my first dose of paper acid, in a room with three other people was not how I was going to go. I thought over the previous night.

    James was the only one I had known already. Ron & Amber were his friends, and Heath was one of theirs. No one else in the room had a car, and I had been willing to drive Ron to Sarasota, an hour away, to meet the guy who sold it, so my acid trip was free, once they gave me $5 for gas. When we got back to Cookie Cutter Cove Apartments* where he lived with his girlfriend in a one-room apartment, Ron snipped up the tiny slip of paper into little squares and divvied them up between us. Only after they were all in our mouths did we realize that James had been left out of the occassion. Not to worry, Ron was a pot dealer and there were forty-five pounds or so of weed in his closet - he pulled out an ounce and gifted it to James as an apology for the oversight. I smiled, thinking of how the other three had periodically referred to James as "sober guy," I kept pointing out, "He's not actually sober - just more sober than us" which always brought on a new fit of giggles from the room. The giggles! Why hadn't anybody told me how wonderfully giggly you could feel? At the beginning of the night, as the drugs kicked in, we had laughed for over an hour, over nothing, through tears. I wouldn't have been able to stop if I had wanted to, but why would I want to? This felt great.

    We had played with the lights and with textures and at my visual peak I had been "walking through the garden on the ceiling." I remember Ron had pulled the bush out of its stand, casting the color changing lights onto the walls and ceiling. I laid back on the couch and saw how the color played across the popcorn above me, which twisted and morphed and became a collage of leaves - every size and shape and color, big tropical ones, tiny oak leaves,palm fronds, and pine needles. I strolled through the garden in my mind, smiling at all the leaves in turn.

    At one point in the evening, it had all been too much for me. The tiny apartment grew stifling, the smoke from five people dragging down a cigarette every ten minutes was crazy thick, and I just needed a moment from all the weirdness - the assault of sights and sounds in the room, so I pushed through the curtain into the corner kitchenette and towards the front door announcing, "I'll be right back. I just need to go find the real world for a moment" - breathe some of the cool January night air outside, smoke a clove without having to give away four of them, maybe just listen to the night. From behind me a voice cackled, "There IS no real world - you're tripping!"

    Whoa. It was such a profound statement. My back against the wall, I slid down to the floor, thinking. After a minute or so, I became aware of the hum of the fridge, and after a few mintues more, I started to harmonize with the fridge. I wanted to commune with it, be one with it, sing with it. "Hmmmmm" I intoned, sitting on the floor, my face pressed to the fridge door and my arms hugged around it. Eventually, Heath came into the room to refill his glass of water from the tap, and he asked me what I was doing, and I rejoined the room.

    I drifted off to sleep that morning, as the rising sun peaked through the bent and broken blinds, and James made my nerves sing.

    Uh, drugs are bad kids. Really. This passage is necessary for the book though. I didn't just do drugs to rebel or make Baby Jesus cry - I was actually usually trying very hard not to get caught. The part they never seem to mention in after school specials or rehab is how much fun you can have. Would I do it now? No, probably not. If I was going to, it would certainly have to be planned (like, hotel room and sitter and carton of smokes planned) and frankly, I don't even have those kinds of friends anymore, and doing drugs was always an incredibly social experience for me. I got into XTC because I loved the "PLUR" (peace love unity respect) movement and wanted to be friends with the raver kids, not the other way around. Just be responsible people, okay?

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    Tuesday, February 2, 2010


    [golden pen]Image by rhino neal via Flickr

    Anteaters, the book *is* coming along. I went and looked at just how much this morning, and I'm encouraged once again that writing a book is a task I can accomplish. Especially now that we've settled into more of a routine.

    I am going to need to pull back on a few things. As fun as they are, I'm probably only going to do one more Messin' with Mormons for the next few months, and I'm going to put a hiatus on counter-apologetics, too. I'll finish up the "E" from woman's role in the home, but I don't know how soon I'll move onto any others.

    I think I needed the time to heal my head up a bit. I seem to be doing better now that I've gone back off the meds so fuck it. I'm not gonna kill myself trying to get a doctor to see me only to have to go on and then off meds again, due to a shitty insurance situation. (I got dropped from Medicaid for honestly reporting my unemployment earnings. Apparently in Florida, if your income is above $250/month, you do not qualify.)

    So in the spirit of getting back into the book, here's the prologue I wrote a while ago.

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    Monday, February 1, 2010

    Latest Videos Jan 2010

    I've organized the last month's videos that don't appear elsewhere on the blog here, in terms of videos about my cult vs videos about atheism or my life as an atheist or secular humanist. If you'd prefer to watch these in order of upload date, head on over to my YouTube channel and subscribe. (Actually, please go do that anyway, and maybe rate some videos while you're over there.)

    On Atheism

    Arguing against the assertion that atheism is "a belief in a nonbelief" (I kid you not)

    I take on some atheist parenting questions I get from viewers (a less discriminating bunch than my readers, when taken as a whole.)

    On My Cult

    My thoughts on the Word of Faith teachings and how well those work out in real life

    Anteaters, you already know how I became an atheist but if you'd like to hear the story with audio & facial expressions, this is the format for you.

    So today I wanted to talk about Giggy's cult & Attleboro. (Okay, technically this one wasn't from January but consider it an early promo.)

    Uh yeah, it was my birthday on the 28th so that's what these two videos reference.

    (You should still totally take me up on the Baptism Challenge!)

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