How Dogmatic Perfectionism Nearly Killed Me — My Latest for Ravishly

When I was a Christian, one of my favorite books was The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. He was a former Franciscan priest who struggled with alcoholism for most of his life. Through his struggles he came to believe that God’s grace was big enough for a ragamuffin like him, and that he didn’t have to do anything to earn God’s love. Because of this amazing grace, he was finally able to be okay with his own imperfection.

“To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story,” he wrote, “the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means.”

While I am no longer a Christian — mostly because I read all the parts of the Bible Manning didn’t mention — I still love the idea of embracing my inner ragamuffin. Like Manning, I’m a walking paradox. I love and I hate. I’m peaceful and I’m violent. I’m honest and I’m hypocritical. I fight for liberation and I perpetuate systems of oppression. It’s just now, at 34 years old, that I’m beginning to be okay with it. As the old song goes, “I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger.”

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Bi Any Means Podcast #133: Atheism and Asexuality with Emily Karp

My guest for today is Emily Karp. She was one of the co-hosts of the Recovering from Religion Podcast, and currently blogs about asexuality and fandom at luvtheheaven.wordpress.com. She’ll be co-presenting a workshop at this year’s Creating Change conference about asexuality, so I’ve got her on the show to talk about ace visibility in both the atheist community and the LGBTQ community.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #132: The Iranian Protests with Kaveh Mousavi

Returning to the show today is Iranian atheist blogger Kaveh Mousavi to talk about last week’s Iranian protests. As you’ll hear in this interview, Mousavi is a bit more skeptical of the effectiveness of the protests than Armin Navabi was last week on The Thinking Atheist. Consider my conversation with Mousavi as a companion piece to Seth Andrews’ conversation with Navabi. Hopefully between these two interviews, listeners will have a better understanding of the political situation in Iran.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #131: Top 10 Favorite Episodes of 2017

Today on the show I’m counting down my top ten favorite episodes of 2017. It’s a similar structure to last year’s best of 2016 episode, but because Spreaker doesn’t list most downloaded episodes in numerical order anymore and I’m too lazy to do the math myself, I decided to just list my personal favorite episodes from this past year instead. That way I can highlight episodes that didn’t get a lot of downloads.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #127: Youth Activism with Madison Kimrey

My guest for today is sixteen-year-old activist Madison Kimrey. According to Wikipedia, “Madison Kimrey is a political activist from Burlington, North Carolina. Her focuses include youth involvement in politics, the humane treatment of animals, and women’s rights. She has also been involved with petitions, including a petition to meet with North Carolina governor Pat McCrory. She spoke at a Moral Mondays event in North Carolina, and at the ‘We are Woman’ rally in Washington DC. Kimrey’s first encounter with activism was in Jacksonville, when a same-sex couple had to pay extra for a family membership at the ‘Hands-On Children’s Museum’ because the museum argued they weren’t ‘really a family.’ After she returned to North Carolina, Kimrey started to notice Pat McCrory and started going to “Moral Monday” protests. Kimrey is also the author of the blog ‘Functional Human Being,’ which contains a collection of political writings, opinions, personal insights and occasional accompanying music video.” And today I’ve got her on the show to talk about her activism.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #125: Friendsgiving with Marissa McCool and Jessica Xiao

Today’s a special Friendsgiving episode with two friends of mine, Marissa McCool and Jessica Xiao. Instead of awkward dinner conversations with your racist uncle, this conversation is going to be about some things that have been on my mind lately about social justice activism, such as self-care, perfectionism, and radical vulnerability.

I’m releasing this a few hours earlier than usual for three reasons. First, in case anyone’s traveling for the holiday you can listen to this on the ride. Second, if you’re surrounded by shitty relatives, you can listen to this to drown out their bullshit. And third, by the time I usually release new episodes, 4 pm Eastern, I’ll probably be in the midst of a food coma, so better take care of it now while I’m still coherent.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #123: Inter-tradition Dialogue with Alex Moreschi

My guest for today is Rev. Alex Moreschi. He’s an ordained Episcopalian minister who currently works in hospice care, and is a co-host of the No Religion Required podcast. One of his biggest passions is reaching across the proverbial aisle to people of different faiths…and no faith at all…to work together for common goals, and today we’re going to talk about that.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #122: The Satanic Temple with Lucien Greaves

My guest for today is Lucien Greaves of the Satanic Temple. Founded in 2013, the Satanic Temple’s mission is “to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will.” They run several campaigns including the Satanic Temple Veterans Memorial, the After School Satan Club, and the Protect Children Project among others. So today I’ll be chatting with Lucien about everything they do.

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Beyond the “Atheist Movement”

Happy Halloween!

Sorry I haven’t been blogging much lately here. Money’s tight, so I’m focusing more on paying freelance writing gigs. But I do want to mention something that’s been on my mind lately.

Today’s episode of The Thinking Atheist podcast is about whether or not the “atheist movement” is dying. I haven’t had the chance to listen to it yet, but because I’m part of the Outrage Brigade, I’m gonna tell everybody what I think without hearing what others have to say first.

(Just kidding, Seth.)

But seriously, the pessimist in me thinks the movement is on its last legs. From Elevatorgate to MythCon, it seems like the whole scene’s been on a gradual decline. Maybe it was always like that, but it’s only nowadays that everyone’s showing their true colors. Either way, sometimes I wonder if all the alarmist “The Atheist Movement is Dead, and the Alt-Right Killed It” articles were right all along.

On the other hand, the optimist in me thinks the movement is stronger than ever. In the wake of MythCon, several prominent atheists have spoken out against Sargon of Akkad’s hateful rhetoric, including David Silverman, who promised not to invite any shitlords at next year’s American Atheist con. So maybe we’re finally getting serious about trolls and shitlords? Who knows.

Then there’s the realist in me that, I think, has the perfect middle ground: to go beyond the atheist movement.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not divorcing myself from the atheist movement. Through blogging and podcasting, I’ve met so many amazing activists like Callie Wright, Marissa McCool, Sincere Kirabo, Jessica Xiao, and others that I don’t just consider to be my friends, but also my family. I’ve also met a lot of amazing fans that message me to thank me for doing what I do. In fact, a few months ago a young transman reached out to me and Callie during a crisis. I wouldn’t have been able to be there for him without being part of the atheist podcast community, so I can’t leave now.

What I mean is doing activism outside of the atheist community as well as inside it.  Fighting religious dogma in our society is still important to me, but so is fighting racism, sexism, and anti-queer bigotry. I can only do so much within the atheist movement silo, which is why I write for social justice websites like Ravishly and The Establishment. I want to build a bridge between secularism and social justice.

Which is why I’ve already made a New Year’s Resolution: to extend my activism. I hope to do a workshop with members of the LGBTQ Humanist Alliance about secular humanism at next year’s Creating Change conference (hopefully we’ll hear back from them tomorrow), and I want to schedule talks in my hometown about LGBTQ rights. I’m also pitching workshop ideas to a few atheist conferences about LGBTQ rights and social justice, and getting more of my feminist freelance writer friends on my Bi Any Means podcast.

Basically at this point in my life, it’s no longer about rubbing shoulders with the big names in the atheist movement. Sure, it’s nice to hug Hemant Mehta and smoke cigarettes with Yvette d’Entremont at PASTAHcon, and have Lucien Greaves tell me he loved my “WTF is Genderqueer?” talk from this year’s AHA conference, but that’s not my top priority. What means the most to me is when someone emails me thanking me for my recent article about gender dysphoria and non-binary people, or when someone reaches out to me to talk about trying to figure out their gender identity, or somebody saying, “Thanks for explaining this whole transgender stuff in a way I can understand.” That, to me, makes the most impact, not brownie points from the big names.

Plus, in the age of Trump, the last thing I need is to be part of a self-congratulating circle-jerk while people are scared about losing their jobs, their homes, and even their very lives. While I’m forever grateful for the platform the atheist community has given me, now it’s time for me to do something good with it.

So here’s the going beyond the atheist movement and getting shit done in 2018!