The Patheos Atheist Channel is Not the Enemy

In the wake of Ed Brayton leaving Freethought Blogs for the Patheos Atheist channel, some people are apparently targeting the entire channel as terrible. This is both unnecessary and inaccurate. Yes, there are some jerks at Patheos Atheist. There are also excellent atheist bloggers there. Many of them are serious social justice advocates. Excellent bloggers at Patheos Atheist include (please note that this is not ane exhaustive list):

Sincere Kirabo, Notes from an Apostate
Alix Jules, The Graffiti Wall
Adam Lee, Daylight Atheism
James Croft, Temple of the Future
Libby Anne, Love Joy Feminism
Kylie Sturgess, Token Skeptic

And of course, Ed Brayton, Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

This isn’t war, people. It’s not even a football rivalry or Coke vs. Pepsi. There is plenty of room in the atheist blogosphere for more than one blog network.

Here’s a link to the Patheos Atheist channel. Ignore the jerks, and check it out.


Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

Sad News: Ed Brayton is Leaving Freethought Blogs

Sad news: Ed Brayton, blogger at Dispatches from the Culture Wars and the creator of Freethought Blogs, is leaving the network. He’ll now be blogging at the Patheos Atheism channel. He’s turned over control of the Freethought Blogs network to the FTB executive committee.

So why am I leaving? Also omnipresent since the start of FTB, as I’m sure you well know, has been controversy. The bloggers here have often gone on crusades and launched battles, most of them necessary and justified. But along with that has come a great deal of drama and stress. I’ve endured several threats of lawsuits against me as the owner of the network over the words and actions of others. I’ve had continual demands that I do something about this or that blogger, that I throw them off the network or censor them. I’ve been caught in the crossfire of a great many fights, continually taking shrapnel in battles that I wasn’t even involved in.

I believe it has to some degree impeded my ability to engage in important activist projects by making some people reluctant to work with me because of all that controversy. That frequent stress has also begun to affect my health. I have two autoimmune disorders that are triggered by stress and I have come to the conclusion that it would be better for my health, both physical and mental, to get out of the crucible and be responsible only for myself and my own words and actions.

Here is his full announcement, explaining his decision in more detail.

I will miss him hugely, but I 100% support his decision to take care of his health and well-being, and wish him all the best. As many people have heard me say, sometimes holding up a four-foot-long banner with the words in big block letters: Self-care is not selfish. I’ll be following him at his Patheos blog, and hope to have many years of happy and fruitful work with him in other arenas.


Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

Godless Perverts Social Club is Finally in Oakland! Thursday, August 20!

Greetings-from-Oakland-postcard-700x400

Godless Perverts Social Club is expanding to Oakland!

Godless Perverts are very excited to announce the expansion of our empire, which is now stretching its tendrils into the East Bay! We’re having our very first Oakland Godless Perverts Social Club on Thursday, August 20, 7-9 pm, at Telegraph Beer Garden. Telegraph is located at 2318 Telegraph Ave., between 23rd St & 24th Streets: it’s about a ten-minute walk from the 19th Street Oakland BART station, and is close to several bus lines.

We’ll be meeting in the back room behind the bar, so we’ll have a separate, somewhat private-ish space to talk about sex and blasphemy and whatnot. Telegraph has lots of food options, mostly in the sandwich/ sausage/ burger family, and including many vegetarian and vegan options. They have a wide selection of beers, and they also have soft drinks for those who don’t drink alcohol. (It is a bar, which means you need to be at least 21 to attend.) Admission is free, but we ask that you buy food and/or drink if you can.

All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) are welcome. 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! We’ll meet on the third Thursday of every month in Oakland: we’ll also still meet in San Francisco at Wicked Grounds, on the first Tuesday of every month.

Godless Perverts presents and promotes a positive view of sexuality without religion, by and for sex-positive atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other non-believers, through performance events, panel discussions, social gatherings, media productions, and other appropriate outlets. Our events and media productions present depictions, explorations, and celebrations of godless sexualities — including positive, traumatic, and complex experiences — focusing on the intersections of sexuality with atheism, materialism, skepticism, and science, as well as critical, questioning, mocking, or blasphemous views of sex and religion.

Godless Perverts is committed to feminism, diversity, inclusivity, and social justice. We seek to create safe and welcoming environments for all non-believers and believing allies who are respectful of the mission, and are committed to taking positive action to achieve this. Please let the moderators or other people in charge of any event know if you encounter harassment, racism, misogyny, transphobia, or other problems at our events.

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. And of course, you can always visit our Website to find out what we’re up to, godlessperverts.com. Hope to see you soon!


Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

#mencallmethings: “mentally compromised,” “should be removed from society,” “it”

Content note: misogyny, ableism

Jerk on my blog, in response to my year-old post on The Amazing Atheist:

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 10.52.01 PM

The author of this article is an uneducated and mentally compromised, it should be removed from society and made into an example of how not to live.

#mencallmethings

I see. So in an effort to persuade people that The Amazing Atheist isn’t really sexist or misogynist and we should give him a chance to explain himself, this person goes onto a feminist’s blog and tells her that she’s mentally compromised and should be removed from society. Also, he (the online handle doesn’t give clues about gender, but the email address did, so I’m assuming the commenter is male) literally dehumanizes me, referring to me as “it.”

I’m reminded once again of Lewis’s Law: “Comments on any article about feminism justify feminism.”

And I’d like to point out: That post came out over a year ago. I’m reminded of the sexist atheistbros who are still — STILL — dredging up wildly distorted versions of Elevatorgate and arguing with them. It’s funny — almost — in the light of how often feminists get accused of hanging on to old injuries and dredging up old muck.

[Read more…]

Godless Perverts Social Club Meets Tuesday, August 4!

godless perverts social club august 4

The next Godless Perverts Social Club is Tuesday, August 4!

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. All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) are welcome.

So please join us at Wicked Grounds, the kink cafe and boutique at 289 8th Street at Folsom in San Francisco (near Civic Center BART). We meet on the first Tuesday and the third Thursday of every month. 7-9 pm. Admission is free, but we ask that you buy food and/or drink at the cafe if you can: they have beverages, light snacks, full meals, and milkshakes made of literal awesome sauce. [Read more…]

More Atheist Leaders Who Aren’t Dawkins or Harris: Monette Richards

In June, I wrote a piece for AlterNet, titled 8 Awesome Atheist Leaders Who Aren’t Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris. The gist: When a media outlet decides that atheism is important, they all too often turn to Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris. Then, when Dawkins or Harris puts their foot in their mouth about race or gender — again — the reporter cries out, “Atheism needs better leadership! Why doesn’t atheism have better leaders?” Atheism does have better leaders — so I profiled eight of them, to bring just a small fragment of the range and variety of atheist leadership to more people’s attention.

At the end of that piece, I wrote, “And these eight are the tip of the iceberg… I could write a new profile of a different atheist leader every week, and still be at it ten years from now.”

So I decided: Why not do that?

I don’t know if I’ll do it for ten years. But for at least a while, once a week I’ll be profiling and interviewing a different leader in organized atheism.

This week’s profile: Monette Richards.

GC: Tell me briefly what your organization does and what you do for them. (If you’re in a leadership position with more than one atheist organization, feel free to tell me about more than one.)

Monette Richards photo by Amy Davis RothMR: I currently hold dual citizenship in the secular movement. My first home is on the Board of Secular Woman. Our goal is to amplify the voices of secular women and, basically, find ways to make the secular movement more friendly and welcoming to them. I do all the backend IT work and whatever else I can do to help: tabling and speaking at conferences, membership fulfilment, whatever we need at the moment.

I am also the President of our local chapter, Center For Inquiry – Northeast Ohio. While wearing this particular hat, I am working hard to build a community that is welcoming, accepting and able to support its members. Everyone needs a community that has their back whether they find themselves facing a violation of their First Amendment rights or without reliable day care.

Tell me about a specific project or projects your organization is working on.

Secular Woman, along with C.A.S.H. and Minnesota Atheists, are sponsoring Secular Women Work, an activist conference. Our secular movement is widespread, loosely connected and is made up, as movements are, primarily of volunteers. Many of us spend so much of our volunteered time learning how to navigate the particular activist corners we occupy. This is a perpetual reinvention of the wheel. We will be bringing as many of those skills together as we can, so we can all learn from each other and become a much more effective movement. Then nothing, nothing will be able to stop us from taking over the world!

CFI – NEOhio, on the other hand, is working with Senator Skindell on Ohio SB50, a Secular Celebrant bill. In Ohio, only individuals ordained through a church, along with a few elected officials, can solemnize marriages. This puts our community at a disadvantage when it comes to being able to have the ceremonies we want to have, where we want to have them. The bill is currently stuck in committee, If you live in Ohio, call the head of the committee, Senator Bill Coley (614-466-8072) and tell him to get this bill moving! Then call your Senator and tell them to support the bill. Then come to our next Lobby Day and tell them both in person!

Where would you like to see organized atheism go in the next 10 to 20 years?

I would absolutely love it if organized atheism was completely unnecessary within the next decade or so. Failing that, I fantasize that it has grown up and grown big enough to include so much more than First Amendment battles, that it has taken on the anti-choice movement head on and forced them back, that it has fully embraced BLM [Black Lives Matter], that it has grown so diverse that Secular Woman becomes completely irrelevant and redundant! Go Team!

What do you think are the main challenges facing organized atheism now?

Monette Richards at Ohio State HouseA narrow focus on the establishment clause has left our movement myopic and ill prepared to engage with many of the other issues facing us. This year alone, states have enacted 51 restrictions on reproductive health and our movement is still arguing over whether atheism means more than disbelief in gods. It is time to accept that our movement is about more than prayers before football games, more than Ten Commandment displays in courthouses, more than Bibles in classrooms. We need diversity, not just in our membership but in our goals as well.

Do you consider yourself a “new atheist”? Why or why not?

I honestly don’t know. I’m not familiar enough with the term. I googled. I read. I am undecided that it matters. I am an anti-theist in that I do think religion, eventually, should be made irrelevant. But, that doesn’t mean I’m forging a hardcore schedule of stopping grandma from thanking Jesus as the nice man who made her dinner possible or calling CPS on families who teach their children about hell.

Any questions you wish I’d asked, or anything else you’d like to add?

Something I feel necessary to say whenever I talk about me and my place in the movement. I have no college education. I am not especially smart. I have no wicked talents. I am not ambitious. I am nothing special. This is important to recognize because it can be anyone of us (but more correctly, all of us) working to make the secular movement a success. It doesn’t take a degree to be effective, but it does take getting involved.

(Black and white photo by Amy Davis Roth.)


Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

Some Thoughts on Depression and Solitude

So I’m having this conundrum.

woman alone in window seatOn the one hand: I love solitude. And I mean LOVE it. Long stretches of time to myself have always been a luxurious pleasure for me. Before I was with Ingrid, there were years where I spent Christmas Day alone every year — and it was one of the most delightful parts of the holiday season, an oasis of quiet solitude and self-indulgence in the middle of a social whirl. When Ingrid and I first got together and were contemplating whether to move in together, one of the issues we looked at was how I would get my much-needed time and space alone. (In fact, we didn’t move in together for seven years — not entirely for this reason, but partly.) And one of the biggest benefits of quitting my day job and becoming a full-time freelance writer was that it gave me long stretches of solitude.

In fact, I don’t just love time alone. I need it. I’m an introvert, and a big part of what that means is that I’m replenished and rejuvenated by time alone, and exhausted by time with others. It’s not that I don’t enjoy time with others — I do, very much. It’s just that I hit a wall with it. I enjoy it for a couple/few hours (more or fewer hours depending on the people and the situation), and then I get tired and need to go away and be alone for a while. (I believe the term for this is “social introvert.”) Solitude isn’t just a pleasure: it’s a necessity.

On the other hand:

Ever since this current stretch of depression, I’ve been paying attention to when I’m depressed and when I’m not. I’m paying attention to what gives me depressive symptoms, and what alleviates them, and what actually bolsters my mental health and makes me feel positively robust.

And I’m finding that when I have many days in a row where I spend many hours alone in the house without interacting with anyone but Ingrid and the cats, I tend to get depressed. When I get out of the house every day, and interact every day at least briefly with human beings who aren’t Ingrid, my mental health improves. This isn’t the entire picture, of course — my mental health also improves when I take my meds, go to therapy, get exercise, meditate — but it’s a big part of it.

I’m thinking about this because I’ve recently started a new mental health self-care routine. Instead of just generically promising myself that I’ll leave the house once a day to do some unspecified thing, I now have a specific routine. Every weekday, unless I have some particular other thing scheduled, I get to a cafe by 1:00 pm, and work on my laptop there. And I’ve found, just in the week that I’ve been doing this, with no other substantial change in my life, that my mental health has significantly improved. I’ve been having a rough patch with depression in the last few months — not terrible, but not great, and very stubborn — and just in this past week, I’ve become more alert, more energetic, more hopeful and optimistic, more engaged with the world. Heck, I’ve been positively bouncy at times — and I haven’t been bouncy in months.

Dammit to fucking hell. [Read more…]

Godless Perverts Social Club Meets Tuesday, August 4!

Godless-Perverts-Sinners-Welcome-banner

The next Godless Perverts Social Club is Tuesday, August 4!

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. All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) are welcome.

So please join us at Wicked Grounds, the kink cafe and boutique at 289 8th Street at Folsom in San Francisco (near Civic Center BART). We meet on the first Tuesday and the third Thursday of every month. 7-9 pm. Admission is free, but we ask that you buy food and/or drink at the cafe if you can: they have beverages, light snacks, full meals, and milkshakes made of literal awesome sauce. [Read more…]

What Are Your Favorite Physical Sensations?

hand printOn Facebook the other day, someone posted the question, “What are your favorite physical sensations?” I liked the game, swiped it for my own Facebook page, and thought I’d post it here as well. Reading other people’s responses has been making me happy, and is reminding me of some of my own that I missed. Plus it feels all humanist and shit. The joys of the body in the here and now, and all that.

A few of my own answers that leap immediately to mind: Sinking into a just-hot-enough bath. Being in a bath and scrubbing my skin with scented salt-and-oil scrub I made myself. Stroking my own skin after a bath. The first sip of a cup of coffee made exactly the way I like it. Biting into a perfectly ripe nectarine. The feel of a light warm breeze on my skin (I don’t get that NEARLY enough, in San Francisco it’s usually chilly enough that when I’m outside I want long sleeves). Wrapping a soft soft blanket around me, and settling into another soft soft blanket behind me. Stroking a cat’s fur. Muscle soreness after a good workout (especially a weight workout). The scent of slow-roasting tomato sauce. The feel and scent of freshly-done laundry. The view of our backyard from our back room. Ingrid’s hair between my fingers. So many food things I can’t even say them all here, but a lot of it is first tastes: first taste of chocolate melting on my tongue, first taste of toasted cheese on good bread, first bite into a gooey pastry thing with some sort of cream, first taste of a ridiculously well-crafted cocktail made with bourbon. Walking: pretty much anywhere, but especially in my neighborhood and my city, and also especially in a strange city. The sight of good street art.

(I’m going to stay away from sexual ones, because I’ve become more private about that stuff lately.)

What are yours? (I’m going to ask people to stay away from sexual ones in this space, since sometimes that can be a little TMI with strangers.)


Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

“Why is the left hijacking atheism to pass an agenda?” A Fun New Atheist Game

dice and figuresLet’s play a game!

Backstory for the game: A few days ago, I posted a piece here, Eight Atheist Leaders Who Aren’t Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris, in which I interviewed eight leaders of atheist organizations, and expressed my frustration with lazy media outlets who decide to examine the burgeoning atheist movement by profiling Dawkins or Harris and calling it a day. (This is frustrating for many reasons: Dawkins and Harris regularly say horribly racist and sexist things, to these media outlets and elsewhere — and even if that weren’t so, it’s an extremely narrow and blinkered view of organized atheism.)

The other day, I got this comment in response:

Why is the left hijacking atheism to pass an agenda? Shame on you.

[insert sounds of uncontrollable laughter]

For those who didn’t read the piece and thus don’t understand why this is funny: The leaders I profiled head up the following organizations: Grief Beyond Belief, Center for Inquiry, Secular Student Alliance, Foundation Beyond Belief, Camp Quest, Ex-Muslims of North America, Black Nonbelievers, and Recovering From Religion. With one or two possible exceptions, these are some of the most mainstream, most uncontroversial groups in organized atheism. Most of them are community and support organizations — actually, all of them are community and support organizations, although CFI does a lot of other stuff too. I am baffled by the notion that these organizations somehow constitute a leftist hijacking of atheism. (Or I would be baffled, if I thought this person had read the piece past the first paragraph.)

So I want to turn this into a game! To play, answer any or all of these questions:

1) Why IS the left hijacking atheism to pass an agenda?

2) What exactly, is the evil leftist agenda being promoted by these particular organizations? Remember that atheism itself cannot be the evil leftist agenda — your answer must be applicable not only for an atheist, but for an atheist who supports the idea of organized atheism enough to not want “atheism” to be “hijacked.”

3) If these organizations constitute a leftist hijacking of the One True Atheist Agenda — what is that true agenda, and which organizations do represent it?

Answers can be funny, absurdist, imaginative, logical-conclusion-y, or even serious attempts to understand why someone would see these organizations in this way. Extra points (in the point system I make up in my head and probably won’t bother to share with anyone else) for answers that manage to be all of these. If you like, you can find some dice and a game board, and move pieces around in a manner you find pleasing.

Your time starts — now!


Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.