Bits and Pieces

Assorted bits and pieces of news that I’ve been meaning to blog about:

ftbcon2_banner

FtBConscience 2, the online Freethought Blogs conference, is happening this weekend! You can watch sessions live and even participate by sending in questions and being part of the chat rooms, and you can also watch sessions later, as they’re all being recorded. Here’s the schedule as it stands now. Speakers and panelists include Dale McGowan, Jamila Bey, Rebecca Hensler, Debbie Goddard, Amy Davis Roth, Ania Bula, Anne Sauer, Dan Fincke, Heina Dadabhoy, Elyse Anders, Popehat, Chana Messinger, Julia Galef, Paul Fidalgo, Vyckie D. Garrison, and many more, plus of course many many many FtB bloggers. Should be awesome!

The Godless Perverts Story Hour, with blasphemously sexy performances from Juba Kalamka, Dana Fredsti, Virgie Tovar, Simon Sheppard, Kate Sirls, ad hosts David Fitzgerald and me, is going to be livestreamed as part of the FtBConscience 2 conference on Saturday, February 1 at 7:00 pm Pacific time ***SHARP*** (9:00 pm Central time). The Godless Perverts Story Hour is an evening about how to have good sex without having any gods, goddesses, spirits, or their earthly representatives hanging over your shoulder and telling you that you’re doing it wrong. We’ll be bringing you depictions, explorations, and celebrations of godless sexualities, as well as critical, mocking, and blasphemous views of sex and religion. The evening’s entertainment will have a range of voices — sexy and serious, passionate and funny, and all of the above — talking about how our sexualities can not only exist, but even thrive, without the supernatural. We’ll have performances for about an hour and a half, and will then do a half hour Q&A with all the performers. If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, come see it in person — Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission Street, San Francisco (near Civic Center BART). $10-20 sliding scale donation; no-one turned away for lack of funds; benefit for the Center for Sex and Culture.

Seth Andrews at The Thinking Atheist podcast has done a show about the Bill Nye/ Ken Ham debate, Bill Nye and the Creationist Guy, discussing the question of whether this debate is a good idea with several atheist thinkers — including me, as well as Matt Dillahunty, Dr. Richard Carrier, David Silverman, Ed Hensley and AronRa. Check it out!

Alex Gabriel on the Godlessness In Theory blog has written a very thoughtful and good review of my upcoming book, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why. (Scheduled for publication in mid-April, in all formats — print, ebook, and audiobook.) The review has an interesting analysis of the comparisons that get made between coming out atheist and coming out queer, and Alex has smart and perceptive things to say, as he so often does.

A Better Life: 100 Atheists Speak Out on Joy & Meaning in a World Without God, the gorgeous and long-awaited coffee table book with photos and stories of atheists in our natural habitats, is now out and available for sale. Great pictures of A.C. Grayling, Jamila Bey, Rebecca Goldstein and Steven Pinker, Cara Santa Maria, Daniel Dennett, plus of course me and Ingrid, and many more. It’s a great accomplishment: we’ve been enjoying the heck out of it, we’ve have been discovering all sorts of cool atheists we didn’t know, and finding out all sorts of interesting things about atheists we do.

And in News of the Weird: About a week ago, I was on Facebook going on about how I had a long layover at O’Hare Airport and wanted to get my nails done, but the airport information guy told me — wrongly, as I discovered too late — that there was no nail salon in O’Hare. I was hyper-dramatically griping about how this was the worst tragedy anyone had ever experienced in all of human history and how future generations would mark it as an international day of mourning and how someone should write a ballad… and someone did. The Day that Information Guy Told Greta She Could Not Get Her Nails Did, by Dana Logsdon. (To the tune of “Ode to Billie Joe.”)

This is one of the oddest things that’s happened to me in a while. And I already lead a somewhat odd life. Thanks, Dana!

Brief Blog Semi-Break

So I was traveling for a few days, and then I was sick for a few days, and now I have two magazine deadlines in the next week, plus the final proofreading on Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why has to be done by February 3. So I probably won’t be blogging much for the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, here is a cute picture of our cats.

All three cats snuggling

See you soon!

Greta Speaking in Pittsburgh, PA and Campbell, CA!

I’ve added some dates to my upcoming speaking schedule! I’ll be speaking in Pittsburgh, PA at Carnegie Mellon on Monday, February 10, on the topic of Atheism and Sexuality. And I’ll be speaking in Campbell, CA on Wednesday, April 30, on the topic of Coming Out Atheist.

Here are the details of all my upcoming speaking events for the next few months, I’ll be speaking in North Carolina, South Carolina, Houston, San Francisco, Pittsburgh PA Columbia MO, Ames IA, St. Peter MN, Salt Lake City, Campbell CA, and Manteca CA. If you’re in any of these places, I hope to see you there!

CITY: Asheville, NC
DATE: Saturday, January 18
TIME: 10:00 AM
LOCATION: Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe, 55 Haywood St, Asheville, NC
HOSTS/SPONSORS: WNC Humanists
TOPIC: Why Are You Atheists So Angry?
SUMMARY: The atheist movement is often accused of being driven by anger. What are so many atheists so angry about? Is this anger legitimate? And can anger be an effective force behind a movement for social change?
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://www.wnchumanists.org/28.html (Website)
http://www.meetup.com/WNC-Humanists/events/144744672/ (Meetup)

CITY: Charlotte, NC
DATE: Saturday January 18
TIME: 5:00 pm
LOCATION: Cone Center Room 341, University of North Carolina, Charlotte campus
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Charlotte Atheists and Agnostics
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why
SUMMARY: Coming out is the most powerful political act atheists can take. But coming out can be difficult and risky. What are some specific, practical, nuts-and-bolts strategies we can use: to come out of the closet, to support each other in coming out, and to make the atheist community a safer place to come out into? What can atheists learn about coming out from the LGBT community and their decades of coming-out experience — and what can we learn from the important differences between coming out atheist and coming out queer?
COST: Free (other than possible campus parking) and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://charlotteatheists.org/8-start-the-new-year-with-greta-christina

CITY: Charleston, SC
DATE: Sunday January 19
TIME: 4:00 pm
LOCATION: Gage Hall, 4 Archdale Street, Charleston, SC
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry
TOPIC: Resistance Is Not Futile: Is Arguing About Religion Worth It?
SUMMARY: Many atheists think that trying to persuade people out of religion never works, and simply alienates people. But debating believers about their beliefs can be effective — in changing people’s minds about religion, as well as in achieving other goals of the atheist community. When does it makes sense to debate about religion? How should we go about it? And what should our expectations be for what these debates can accomplish?
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://lowcountryhumanists.org/eventview.php?idno=351 (Website)
https://www.facebook.com/events/557760070983095/ (Facebook event)

CITY: Houston, TX (Creating Change)
DATE: Friday, January 31 (conference is January 29 – February 2)
TIME: 3:00 – 4:30pm
LOCATION: Hilton of the Americas, Houston, TX
HOSTS/SPONSORS: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
TOPIC: Panel discussion: Ways the LGBT and Secular Movements Can Work Together – and Why They Should! With Samuel Jackson, James Croft, and Marsha Botzer.
COST: $0 – $350 ($395 at the door)
EVENT URL: http://www.creatingchange.org/

CITY: San Francisco, CA (Godless Perverts Story Hour)
DATE: Saturday, February 1
TIME: 7:00 SHARP (This event is being livestreamed as part of the Freethought Blogs Con online conference, so it will need to start on time)
LOCATION: Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission Street, San Francisco (near Civic Center BART)
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Godless Perverts
OTHER READERS/ PERFORMERS: Juba Kalamka, Dana Fredsti, Virgie Tovar, Simon Sheppard, Kate Sirls, and hosts David Fitzgerald and myself
EVENT SUMMARY: The Godless Perverts Story Hour is an evening about how to have good sex without having any gods, goddesses, spirits, or their earthly representatives hanging over your shoulder and telling you that you’re doing it wrong. We’ll be bringing you depictions, explorations, and celebrations of godless sexualities, as well as critical, mocking, and blasphemous views of sex and religion. The evening’s entertainment will have a range of voices — sexy and serious, passionate and funny, and all of the above — talking about how our sexualities can not only exist, but even thrive, without the supernatural.
COST: $10-20 sliding scale donation; no-one turned away for lack of funds; benefit for the Center for Sex and Culture.
SPECIAL NOTE: This event is being livestreamed as part of the Freethought Blogs Con online conference.
EVENT URL: http://www.godlessperverts.com/ai1ec_event/godless-perverts-story-hour/?instance_id=79

CITY: Pittsburgh, PA (Carnegie Mellon)
DATE: Monday, February 10
TIME: 4:40 PM
LOCATION: Giant Eagle Auditorium, Baker Hall A51, Carnegie Mellon University
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Atheists, Humanists, Agnostics of Carnegie Mellon
TOPIC: Atheism and Sexuality7
SUMMARY: The sexual morality of traditional religion tends to be based, not on solid ethical principles, but on a set of taboos about what kinds of sex God does and doesn’t want people to have. And while the sex-positive community offers a more thoughtful view of sexual morality, it still often frames sexuality as positive by seeing it as a spiritual experience. What are some atheist alternatives to these views? How can atheists view sexual ethics without a belief in God? And how can atheists view sexual transcendence without a belief in the supernatural?

CITY: Columbia, MO (SashaCon)
DATE: March 15-16
LOCATION: 319 Jesse Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO
HOSTS/SPONSORS: MU SASHA (Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists & Agnostics) and Kansas City Atheist Coalition
TOPIC: Coming Out: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other Do It, And Why?
SUMMARY: Coming out is the most powerful political act atheists can take. But coming out can be difficult and risky. What are some specific, practical, nuts-and-bolts strategies we can use: to come out of the closet, to support each other in coming out, and to make the atheist community a safer place to come out into? What can atheists learn about coming out from the LGBT community and their decades of coming-out experience — and what can we learn from the important differences between coming out atheist and coming out queer?
OTHER SPEAKERS: Maryam Namazie, Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, Hemant Mehta, Matt Dillahunty, Dave Muscato, Mary Muscato, Libby Cowgill, Mark Flinn, and Napoleon Chagnon
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://sashacon.com/

CITY: Ames, Iowa (Iowa State University)
DATE: Wednesday, April 9
TIME: TBA
LOCATION: TBA
HOSTS/SPONSORS: ISU Atheist & Agnostic Society (ISUAAS)
TOPIC: TBA

CITY: St Peter, MN (Gustavus Adolphus College)
DATE: Thursday, April 10
TIME: 7:00 pm
LOCATION: Wallenberg Auditorium, Nobel Hall, Gustavus Adolphus College
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Gustavus Secular Student Alliance
TOPIC: Why Are You Atheists So Angry?
SUMMARY: See above

CITY: Salt Lake City, UT (American Atheists Convention)
DATE: April 17-20
LOCATION: Hilton Salt Lake City Center
HOSTS/SPONSORS: American Atheists
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other Do It, And Why?
SUMMARY: See above
COST: $40 – 329
EVENT URL: http://www.atheists.org/convention2014

CITY: Campbell, CA
DATE: Wednesday, April 30
TIME: 7:00 PM
LOCATION: San Jose Woman’s Club, 75 South 11th Street, San Jose, CA
HOSTS/SPONSORS: San Jose Atheists
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other Do It, And Why?
SUMMARY: See above
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://www.meetup.com/Atheist-Community-of-San-Jose/events/161081902/

CITY: Manteca, CA
DATE: Wednesday, May 21
TIME: 8:00 PM to 9:30 PM
LOCATION: Manteca Library, 320 W Center St, Manteca, CA
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Stockton Area Atheists and Freethinkers
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other Do It, And Why?
SUMMARY: See above
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://www.meetup.com/Stockton-Atheist/events/157329202/

Would You Have Sex with a Robot?

woman in bed with robotAds for the computer love story Her are everywhere, and it makes me wonder about the ethics of sex robots. Would I ever have sex with one? Or would I find it ooky and gross — in a moral sense, but also aesthetically and erotically? Here’s what I decided.

I certainly don’t have any objections to using sex toys. I don’t have moral objections, or aesthetic/ erotic ones. I think sex toys are awesome, and I use them enthusiastically. And a sex robot would essentially be a sex toy. Unless it had consciousness, from a moral perspective I don’t see how using a robot for sex would be any different than using a vibrator for sex.

But I’m finding the idea ooky.

I think a sex robot would be different from a vibrator, in important ways.

*****

Thus begins my latest piece for io9, Would You Have Sex with a Robot? To find out more about my thoughts on the ethics, aesthetics, and… em, robotics, I guess, of having sex with robots, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!

_______

UPDATE: In this case, definitely read the comments. It’s a great conversation. Lots of ideas and angles I hadn’t thought of.

Secular Meditation: “If you can’t meditate for twenty minutes a day…”

clock in hand“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” -Zen proverb

Almost as soon as I started meditating, I started hearing this proverb. It pops into my mind now and then: usually when I’m struggling with (or simply looking at) how to find time to practice every day, in a life that’s both overly packed and highly irregular.

Part of me gets it. And part of me thinks it’s totally classist, elitist, tone-deaf bullshit.

Part of me gets it. If my life is so packed with activity that I can’t find even twenty minutes to just sit still, then that’s a sign that I need to start scaling back. It’s a sign that the balance between activity and stillness in my life has gone haywire. It’s a sign that I’m taking on too much, and that I need to start saying “No” more often to more people. What’s more, if I’m telling myself that I don’t have time to meditate that day, it’s often a sign that there’s something I’m trying to avoid: some emotion or memory or anxiety that I’m furiously shoving into a corner with all my frenetic activity and that I know is going to start rising up the minute I sit down and start quietly focusing my awareness on my breath. And of course, there’s the little matter of priorities. If I can find time to dick around on Facebook or watch reruns of “Modern Family,” I can find time to meditate. For me, a big part of the point of meditation is to wean my brain off of needing constant stimulation and activity and input — so it’s worth looking at how much of the busy-ness of my life is legitimate and valuable, and how much is just generating noise to feed my sensation-junkie brain and distract me from uncomfortable truths that might come up in the silence.

So yes. Part of me gets this proverb, and resonates with it strongly.

gas station at nightBut part of me finds this proverb intensely irritating. There are an awful lot of people for whom a busy, action-packed life isn’t a luxury or a privilege, or even a choice. If you’re too busy to meditate for twenty minutes a day because you’re working one job at Wal-Mart and another at the gas station and you’re trying to get your car repaired and your laundry done and your kids to school, and you think this meditation thing might bring a modicum of calm to your life but you seriously have no idea how you’re going to find twenty spare minutes in your day to do it… is it really going to help for some smug Zen jackalope to tell you that (a) there’s something wrong with you because you don’t have twenty minutes of downtime in your day, and (b) the cure for what’s wrong with you is to find an hour of downtime in your day? With the implication of (b) being to loop around to (a) — that the lack of downtime in your life means there’s something wrong with you?

Fuck. That. Noise.

And even for me, who doesn’t work at the gas station or Wal-Mart… sure, there are plenty of times when “I don’t have twenty minutes a day to meditate” is crap, but there are some times when it’s legitimate. When I was in the final stages of finishing my upcoming book (“Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why”), pretty much everything other than the book got shoved onto the back burner. There were days when I didn’t shower, days when I didn’t leave the house, days when I didn’t see or even speak to another human being other than Ingrid, days when I took five minutes to make breakfast and another five to make lunch and ate at my computer. I got to the gym once in two months. Every spare minute that I had went into the book. What’s more, I was very socially isolated and in need of human contact (see above re: days when I didn’t leave the house): if I had twenty minutes to spare, I wanted to fill it with conversation or touch, not the sound of my own breath. It was a weird paradox: my ability to set aside distractions and stay single-mindedly focused on the book was very much aided by my meditation practice, but there were days when the practice was, itself, a distraction. I did keep it up (a freaking miracle, IMO), but there were a few days when I skipped it, and other days when I just did it for a few minutes, or crammed it in during stretches of enforced downtime. (On a bus? In a doctor’s waiting room? A fine time to squeeze in some focused awareness!)

And I did not need some long-dead Zen monk with no clue about the publishing industry scolding me for doing my meditation wrong.

(I also have an intense allergic reaction to writing about meditation that scolds people for doing it wrong. There’s a reason that almost all of my writing on this topic has been in the first person. A topic for another post, perhaps.)

I think my reaction to this proverb is so strong because the rightness of it is so right — and the wrongness is so wrong. There’s an important kernel of truth in there, and it’s one that I need to accept if I’m going to continue with this practice. If I let myself blow this off because life is hard, I’ll miss out on all the ways that it makes my life better. But there’s also a cluelessness in there, an out-of-touchness with human reality, that I not only can’t accept but don’t want to.

Not sure how I’m going to resolve this. For right now, for myself: If I’m thinking that I can’t sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day because I’m too busy, I try to take an honest look at what “too busy” means. And if “too busy” means “I’ve taken a careful look at my priorities and values, and today, twenty minutes of meditation just isn’t on that list”… then I meditate for ten minutes. Or five. During my full court press to finish the book, I found that even a five-minute meditation helped a lot in quieting my mind and restoring my focus… and it definitely helped me keep meditation as a near-daily habit, which I’ve resumed more fully now that the book is complete. If, on the other hand, “too busy” means “I can’t meditate, I have to blog about the Pope/ get my travel schedule into my calendar/ get my nails done/ fix people’s opinions on Facebook”… then yeah, okay. If I can’t meditate for twenty minutes a day because of all that, then I need to find a way to meditate for twenty minutes a day.

And if I can’t find a way to do that, then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to sit for an hour.

Charlotte, NC Added to Greta’s Speaking Tour!

The info for the Charlotte leg of my upcoming speaking tour of the Carolinas has just come in!

CITY: Charlotte, NC
DATE: Saturday January 18
TIME: 5:00 pm
LOCATION: Cone Center Room 341, University of North Carolina, Charlotte campus
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Charlotte Atheists and Agnostics
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why
SUMMARY: Coming out is the most powerful political act atheists can take. But coming out can be difficult and risky. What are some specific, practical, nuts-and-bolts strategies we can use: to come out of the closet, to support each other in coming out, and to make the atheist community a safer place to come out into? What can atheists learn about coming out from the LGBT community and their decades of coming-out experience — and what can we learn from the important differences between coming out atheist and coming out queer?
COST: Free (other than possible campus parking) and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://charlotteatheists.org/8-start-the-new-year-with-greta-christina

Here’s the rest of the details of my upcoming speaking events. In the next few months, I’ll be speaking in San Francisco, North Carolina, South Carolina, Houston, San Francisco Again, Columbia MO, St. Peter MN, Ames IA, Salt Lake City, and Manteca CA. If you’re in any of these places, I hope to see you there!

CITY: San Francisco, CA – Perverts Put Out
DATE: Saturday, January 11
TIME: Doors at 7:00, show at 8:00
LOCATION: Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission Street, San Francisco (near Civic Center BART)
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Perverts Put Out
OTHER READERS/ PERFORMERS: Sherilyn Connelly, Jen Cross, Juba Kalamka, Thomas Roche, Lori Selke, horehound stillpoint, and special musical guest Jon Ginoli of Pansy Division, plus hosts Dr. Carol Queen and Simon Sheppard
EVENT SUMMARY: Perverts Put Out!, San Francisco’s long-running pansexual performance series, has featured stellar line-ups of truly twisted, mega-talented artistes—even an occasional naked mayoral candidate—since way back in 1998. Hey, we’ve even been the subject of a Faux News exposé! This is the annual Hangover Edition: join a brilliant bunch of worse-for-wear performers as they get the New Year started with a bang…and maybe a whimper or two.
COST: $10-25 sliding scale
EVENT URL: http://www.simonsheppard.com/simonsheppard%27su.html

CITY: Asheville, NC
DATE: Saturday, January 18
TIME: 10:00 AM
LOCATION: Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe, 55 Haywood St, Asheville, NC
HOSTS/SPONSORS: WNC Humanists
TOPIC: TBA
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://www.wnchumanists.org/28.html (Website)
http://www.meetup.com/WNC-Humanists/events/144744672/ (Meetup)

CITY: Charleston, SC
DATE: Sunday January 19
TIME: 4:00 pm
LOCATION: Gage Hall, 4 Archdale Street, Charleston, SC
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry
TOPIC: Resistance Is Not Futile: Is Arguing About Religion Worth It?
SUMMARY: Many atheists think that trying to persuade people out of religion never works, and simply alienates people. But debating believers about their beliefs can be effective — in changing people’s minds about religion, as well as in achieving other goals of the atheist community. When does it makes sense to debate about religion? How should we go about it? And what should our expectations be for what these debates can accomplish?
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://lowcountryhumanists.org/eventview.php?idno=351 (Website)
https://www.facebook.com/events/557760070983095/ (Facebook event)

CITY: Houston, TX (Creating Change)
DATE: Friday, January 31 (conference is January 29 – February 2)
TIME: 3:00 – 4:30pm
LOCATION: Hilton of the Americas, Houston, TX
HOSTS/SPONSORS: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
TOPIC: Panel discussion: Ways the LGBT and Secular Movements Can Work Together – and Why They Should! With Samuel Jackson, James Croft, and Marsha Botzer.
COST: $0 – $350 ($395 at the door)
EVENT URL: http://www.creatingchange.org/

CITY: San Francisco, CA (Godless Perverts Story Hour)
DATE: Saturday, February 1
TIME: 7:00 SHARP (This event is being livestreamed as part of the Freethought Blogs Con online conference, so it will need to start on time)
LOCATION: Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission Street, San Francisco (near Civic Center BART)
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Godless Perverts
OTHER READERS/ PERFORMERS: Juba Kalamka, Dana Fredsti, Virgie Tovar, Simon Sheppard, Kate Sirls, and hosts David Fitzgerald and myself
EVENT SUMMARY: The Godless Perverts Story Hour is an evening about how to have good sex without having any gods, goddesses, spirits, or their earthly representatives hanging over your shoulder and telling you that you’re doing it wrong. We’ll be bringing you depictions, explorations, and celebrations of godless sexualities, as well as critical, mocking, and blasphemous views of sex and religion. The evening’s entertainment will have a range of voices — sexy and serious, passionate and funny, and all of the above — talking about how our sexualities can not only exist, but even thrive, without the supernatural.
COST: $10-20 sliding scale donation; no-one turned away for lack of funds; benefit for the Center for Sex and Culture.
SPECIAL NOTE: This event is being livestreamed as part of the Freethought Blogs Con online conference.
EVENT URL: http://www.godlessperverts.com/ai1ec_event/godless-perverts-story-hour/?instance_id=79

CITY: Columbia, MO (SashaCon)
DATE: March 15-16
LOCATION: 319 Jesse Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO
HOSTS/SPONSORS: MU SASHA (Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists & Agnostics) and Kansas City Atheist Coalition
TOPIC: Coming Out: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other Do It, And Why?
SUMMARY: Coming out is the most powerful political act atheists can take. But coming out can be difficult and risky. What are some specific, practical, nuts-and-bolts strategies we can use: to come out of the closet, to support each other in coming out, and to make the atheist community a safer place to come out into? What can atheists learn about coming out from the LGBT community and their decades of coming-out experience — and what can we learn from the important differences between coming out atheist and coming out queer?
OTHER SPEAKERS: Maryam Namazie, Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, Hemant Mehta, Matt Dillahunty, Dave Muscato, Mary Muscato, Libby Cowgill, Mark Flinn, and Napoleon Chagnon
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://sashacon.com/

CITY: Ames, Iowa (Iowa State University)
DATE: Wednesday, April 9
TIME: TBA
LOCATION: TBA
HOSTS/SPONSORS: ISU Atheist & Agnostic Society (ISUAAS)
TOPIC: TBA

CITY: St Peter, MN (Gustavus Adolphus College)
DATE: Thursday, April 10
TIME: TBA
LOCATION: TBA
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Gustavus Secular Student Alliance
TOPIC: TBA

CITY: Salt Lake City, UT (American Atheists Convention)
DATE: April 17-20
LOCATION: Hilton Salt Lake City Center
HOSTS/SPONSORS: American Atheists
TOPIC: Coming Out: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other Do It, And Why?
SUMMARY: See above
COST: $40 – 329
EVENT URL: http://www.atheists.org/convention2014

CITY: Manteca, CA
DATE: Wednesday, May 21
TIME: 8:00 PM to 9:30 PM
LOCATION: Manteca Library, 320 W Center St, Manteca, CA
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Stockton Area Atheists and Freethinkers
TOPIC: TBA
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://www.meetup.com/Stockton-Atheist/events/157329202/

Greta Speaking in San Francisco, North Carolina, South Carolina, Houston, SF Again, Columbia MO, St. Peter MN, Ames IA, Salt Lake City, and Manteca CA!

I have a couple of speaking gigs coming up — one of them very soon! In the next few months, I’ll be speaking in San Francisco, North Carolina, South Carolina, Houston, San Francisco Again, Columbia MO, St. Peter MN, Ames IA, Salt Lake City, and Manteca CA. If you’re in any of these places, I hope to see you there!

CITY: San Francisco, CA – Perverts Put Out
DATE: Saturday, January 11
TIME: Doors at 7:00, show at 8:00
LOCATION: Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission Street, San Francisco (near Civic Center BART)
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Perverts Put Out
OTHER READERS/ PERFORMERS: Sherilyn Connelly, Jen Cross, Juba Kalamka, Thomas Roche, Lori Selke, horehound stillpoint, and special musical guest Jon Ginoli of Pansy Division, plus hosts Dr. Carol Queen and Simon Sheppard
EVENT SUMMARY: Perverts Put Out!, San Francisco’s long-running pansexual performance series, has featured stellar line-ups of truly twisted, mega-talented artistes—even an occasional naked mayoral candidate—since way back in 1998. Hey, we’ve even been the subject of a Faux News exposé! This is the annual Hangover Edition: join a brilliant bunch of worse-for-wear performers as they get the New Year started with a bang…and maybe a whimper or two.
COST: $10-25 sliding scale
EVENT URL: http://www.simonsheppard.com/simonsheppard%27su.html

CITY: Asheville, NC
DATE: Saturday, January 18
TIME: 10:00 AM
LOCATION: Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe, 55 Haywood St, Asheville, NC
HOSTS/SPONSORS: WNC Humanists
TOPIC: TBA
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://www.wnchumanists.org/28.html (Website)
http://www.meetup.com/WNC-Humanists/events/144744672/ (Meetup)

CITY: Charleston, SC
DATE: Sunday January 19
TIME: 4:00 pm
LOCATION: Gage Hall, 4 Archdale Street, Charleston, SC
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry
TOPIC: Resistance Is Not Futile: Is Arguing About Religion Worth It?
SUMMARY: Many atheists think that trying to persuade people out of religion never works, and simply alienates people. But debating believers about their beliefs can be effective — in changing people’s minds about religion, as well as in achieving other goals of the atheist community. When does it makes sense to debate about religion? How should we go about it? And what should our expectations be for what these debates can accomplish?
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://lowcountryhumanists.org/eventview.php?idno=351 (Website)
https://www.facebook.com/events/557760070983095/ (Facebook event)

CITY: Houston, TX (Creating Change)
DATE: Friday, January 31 (conference is January 29 – February 2)
TIME: 3:00 – 4:30pm
LOCATION: Hilton of the Americas, Houston, TX
HOSTS/SPONSORS: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
TOPIC: Panel discussion: Ways the LGBT and Secular Movements Can Work Together – and Why They Should! With Samuel Jackson, James Croft, and Marsha Botzer.
COST: $0 – $350 ($395 at the door)
EVENT URL: http://www.creatingchange.org/

CITY: San Francisco, CA (Godless Perverts Story Hour)
DATE: Saturday, February 1
TIME: 7:00 SHARP (This event is being livestreamed as part of the Freethought Blogs Con online conference, so it will need to start on time)
LOCATION: Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission Street, San Francisco (near Civic Center BART)
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Godless Perverts
OTHER READERS/ PERFORMERS: Juba Kalamka, Dana Fredsti, Virgie Tovar, Simon Sheppard, Kate Sirls, and hosts David Fitzgerald and myself
EVENT SUMMARY: The Godless Perverts Story Hour is an evening about how to have good sex without having any gods, goddesses, spirits, or their earthly representatives hanging over your shoulder and telling you that you’re doing it wrong. We’ll be bringing you depictions, explorations, and celebrations of godless sexualities, as well as critical, mocking, and blasphemous views of sex and religion. The evening’s entertainment will have a range of voices — sexy and serious, passionate and funny, and all of the above — talking about how our sexualities can not only exist, but even thrive, without the supernatural.
COST: $10-20 sliding scale donation; no-one turned away for lack of funds; benefit for the Center for Sex and Culture.
SPECIAL NOTE: This event is being livestreamed as part of the Freethought Blogs Con online conference.
EVENT URL: http://www.godlessperverts.com/ai1ec_event/godless-perverts-story-hour/?instance_id=79

CITY: Columbia, MO (SashaCon)
DATE: March 15-16
LOCATION: 319 Jesse Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO
HOSTS/SPONSORS: MU SASHA (Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists & Agnostics) and Kansas City Atheist Coalition
TOPIC: Coming Out: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other Do It, And Why?
SUMMARY: Coming out is the most powerful political act atheists can take. But coming out can be difficult and risky. What are some specific, practical, nuts-and-bolts strategies we can use: to come out of the closet, to support each other in coming out, and to make the atheist community a safer place to come out into? What can atheists learn about coming out from the LGBT community and their decades of coming-out experience — and what can we learn from the important differences between coming out atheist and coming out queer?
OTHER SPEAKERS: Maryam Namazie, Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, Hemant Mehta, Matt Dillahunty, Dave Muscato, Mary Muscato, Libby Cowgill, Mark Flinn, and Napoleon Chagnon
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://sashacon.com/

CITY: Ames, Iowa (Iowa State University)
DATE: Wednesday, April 9
TIME: TBA
LOCATION: TBA
HOSTS/SPONSORS: ISU Atheist & Agnostic Society (ISUAAS)
TOPIC: TBA

CITY: St Peter, MN (Gustavus Adolphus College)
DATE: Thursday, April 10
TIME: TBA
LOCATION: TBA
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Gustavus Secular Student Alliance
TOPIC: TBA

CITY: Salt Lake City, UT (American Atheists Convention)
DATE: April 17-20
LOCATION: Hilton Salt Lake City Center
HOSTS/SPONSORS: American Atheists
TOPIC: Coming Out: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other Do It, And Why?
SUMMARY: See above
COST: $40 – 329
EVENT URL: http://www.atheists.org/convention2014

CITY: Manteca, CA
DATE: Wednesday, May 21
TIME: 8:00 PM to 9:30 PM
LOCATION: Manteca Library, 320 W Center St, Manteca, CA
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Stockton Area Atheists and Freethinkers
TOPIC: TBA
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://www.meetup.com/Stockton-Atheist/events/157329202/

Godless Perverts Social Club Jan. 7 — and Godless Perverts Story Hour Feb. 1!

Godless Perverts Banner

The Godless Perverts have some fun stuff coming up! Our “hanging out and schmoozing over coffee and food” Social Club is this Tuesday, and our next Story Hour, the “readings/ performances/ entertainment” branch of the Godless Perverts empire, is coming up on February 1.

Tuesday, January 7, is the next Godless Perverts Social Club — the casual, hanging-out social arm of the Godless Perverts empire. Join us every first Tuesday of every month at Wicked Grounds, San Francisco’s renowned BDSM-themed coffee house, for an evening of conversation and socializing. Community is one of the reasons we started Godless Perverts. There are few enough places to land when you decide that you’re an atheist; far fewer if you’re also LGBT, queer, kinky, poly, trans, or are just interested in sexuality. And the sex-positive/ alt-sex/ whatever- you- want- to- call- it community isn’t always the most welcoming place for non-believers. So please join us on the first Tuesday of every month for an evening of conversation and socializing. All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) are welcome.

Wicked Grounds is at 289 8th Street in San Francisco, just three blocks from the Civic Center BART station. There’s no admission, but we ask that you buy food and drink at the counter, or make a donation to the venue. Wicked Grounds has yummy food and drink options ranging from full dinners to coffee and tea, with lots of snacks and baked goods and other light nosh in between, and some of the best milkshakes in the city.

And save the date for February! On Saturday, February 1, the Godless Perverts Story Hour returns to San Francisco — livestreamed as part of the Freethought Blogs Con online conference! This reading/ performance event will feature Juba Kalamka, Dana Fredsti, Virgie Tovar, Simon Sheppard, Kate Sirls, and hosts David Fitzgerald and me me me! The format’s going to be a little different from our usual story hours — we just have a two-hour time slot for the online conference, so we’ll have seven performers in a row… followed by a Q&A with all seven, taking questions from both the online and the live audiences. It’ll be at the Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission St. in San Francisco (near Civic Center BART). Festivities start at 7:00 pm ***SHARP*** (again, this is being livestreamed as part of the online conference, so none of this “we’ll wait for stragglers to come in and actually start at 7:10″ nonsense, if you’re not there by 7:00, you’ll miss the start of the show). $10-20 sliding scale donation; no-one turned away for lack of funds; benefit for the Center for Sex and Culture.

If you want to be notified about all our Godless Perverts events, sign up for our email mailing list, or follow us on Twitter at @GodlessPerverts. You can also sign up for the Bay Area Atheists/ Agnostics/ Humanists/ Freethinkers/ Skeptics Meetup page, and be notified of all sorts of godless Bay Area events — including the Godless Perverts. You can even RSVP on the Meetup page for the next Social Club, if you like to RSVP to things. Hope to see you there!

“Coming Out Atheist” Is Done!

It is finished.

Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why is done. I just sent the typesetter-ready version to the publisher.

It’ll need one more round of proofreading before it goes to press. And I’ll need to start on publicity and promotion pretty much right away. (To some extent, work on a book is never “done.”) But the actual writing of the book — including the overwhelming majority of copy editing and proofing and other cleanup work — is finished.

I’m feeling deeply weird right now: intensely satisfied, not quite believing it, a bit at a loss. Definitely feeling a certain amount of “What now?” But deeply, deeply satisfied. And extremely happy with how it turned out.

I’d also like to point out that my deadline for getting the book to the publisher was January 2nd, and I sent it to them at 11pm on January 1st. Do I get a lollipop for finishing a day ahead of schedule? I think I get a lollipop. Maybe tomorrow I will find myself a ridiculous, high-end, overpriced foodie lollipop. With yuzu and bitters and cardamom.

I’m planning to spend the next couple/ few days resting, goofing off, getting massages, and starting to pick up loose threads of my life that I’ve been dropping over the last several weeks. I’ll be back to something resembling normal life (whatever that means for me) in a few days. And yes, that includes blogging. There are about 78,904 blog posts that I’ve been wanting to write in the last several weeks: starting next week, I’ll start writing a few of them. Thanks to everyone for your patience with my weird moods and inattention. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.