Monday, March 11, 2013

The National Atheist Party Political Convention

On Saturday, March 9th at 9:00am the National Atheist Party hosted NAPcon2013 their first annual event consisting of a Convention, a Fundraising luncheon, and an After Party at the South San Francisco Convention center.

Darwin began formulating his theory of evolution by natural selection in 1837, but did not publish Origin of Species until 1859. He was determined to build a formidable mass of documentation supporting his theory and to solve major stumbling blocks. It's been slightly longer than a year of me actually referring to myself as an atheist, but I've decided to follow suit. I've dug my heels in and have been immersed in study, research, and contemplation while continuing to play Christian around my family. I'm deep in the closet and avoiding the ramifications of coming out to my parents and grandparents. Like Darwin, I know that I will not be satisfied with myself unless and until I can answer all questions that could be, might be, or have already been posed to me.

As such, while swimming in this mire of confusion, it was sure nice to finally get to a meet a few of prominent honored speakers and activists: Atheist video blogger and evolutionary activist Aron Ra, the victorious defender of Separation of Church and State Jessica Ahlquist, Keynote Speaker, journalist and radio personality Jamila Bey, and others.

Now, I am intimately familiar with the discussions over the last several months on the Internet about the name/idea of having an "atheist" political party, including this discussion about changing the name. Unsurprisingly, I heard this topic being bounced around at the convention as well, and in a future post, might add some additional thoughts. Until then…


~ SoACTing

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Soft Pretzels and Blended White Mochas

This New Year's eve, I skiped a big, blow-out party, opted out of a frenzy, and started the year with my little brother! Okay - he's not that little! He's taller than I, but he's nearly a decade younger (and almost ready to get his drivers license - SCARY!).

With just hours to go before ushering in 2013, when many people began embarking on an annual tradition - making New Year's resolutions - my brother and I began making homemade soft pretzels and blended white mochas! While some were pondering what kind of changes they would be making in the new year, my brother and I were figuring out how many of our pretzels were going to be plain, with salt,or with cinnamon sugar. And don't forget the butter; lots and LOTS of butter!

Instead of planing ways to shed a few pounds, we waited for our yeast to activate and then added cup after cup of flour.

Instead of stressing about reducing stress, our dough balls began to take shape and we dumped them on the floured counter and began kneading wa - fold in half, push the dough into itself, give it a quarter turn, add more flour if needed; repeat - again, and again, and again!

Instead of savoring that supposed 'last drop of alcohol', we covered our kneaded dough and set it next to the fireplace to rise before racing to AM/PM to grab a bag of ice to mak a much-more-affordable blended white mocha to get addicted to for the year (so we could have a premeditated New Year's resolution at the endof 2013)!

And finally, while vowing to find a newer, better job or seeking higher education may or may not give us a leg up in the future, living in the here and now, spending precious time with family and friends, and making memories that will last a lifetime is too good to pass up - especially when it includes dough ball fights (!!!), warm, homemade pretzels, blended white mochas and sparkling apple cider in front of a crackling fireplace when it's 15 degrees outside under a full moon. I couldn't have asked for a better way to reign in the new year!


~ SoACTing posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, January 27, 2013

I Survived the Apocalypse and Holiday Hours

Hello Internet and SoACTing fans (which I'm sure at this point probably consists of two people, includng my Dear Lover)! But I digress...

I've survived the Mayan Apocalypse and braved the holiday hours. I'm still recovering from working the grueling hours of 4:30pm to 9:45am Monday through Saturday, which, now that I think about it, was probably easier then the prophesied polar shift, biological disaster, nuclear war, or zombie virus attack. And here I sit.....typing.....alive, as far as I can tell. Cheers to another year and the beginning of another trip 'round the sun on this ever-spinning blue marble of gas.

While I haven't been able to post, I haven't been doing nothing (double negative = I have been doing something), either. In fact, a few notable subjects have been plaguing my mind that I've been furiously writing blog posts about without being able to put some finishing touches on.

I can't wait to get back to a blogging routine and I'm looking forward to posting about:

- New Years
- Atheism
- Sexuality
- Gender

And as I hinted in my last post, I'll be continuing my series on My Conversion and My Fall From Grace.

Until then, see you in the Blogosphere!


~ SoACTing
posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Conversion and My Fall From Grace

My Conversion and My Fall from Grace Introduction

It’s been a long time coming as I’ve been mulling over my de-conversion story; ever since my last post to be exact! I’ve been rigorously trying to deconstruct and reconstruct my faith; trying to figure out where it all began and where it all ended.

When I was in 1st grade, my mom decided she wanted my siblings and me to not be led into the destructive lifestyle that she engaged in throughout her teenage years. One way to help curve this forgone conclusion was to have us participate in an AWANA program at a local church (that just so happened to be the same place where she went to Christian school growing up). I was thoroughly indoctrinated participated in AWANA’s for the next six years, memorizing all 66 books of the Bible and several hundred Bible verses along with it. I was awe stricken in my young, naïve, impressionable state of the idea of serving a mission. At the same time, I was coming to a fuller understanding of what it meant to have my own testimony. I was taught that my testimony essentially had to contain a few details such as:

What my life was like before Christ.
How I found Jesus.
How Jesus changed my life.

I plan to do a Christian testimony post in the distant future, but for now, a cliché moment-of-brokenness testimony will suffice:

“I used to be so unhappy. I stayed out all night; I talked back to my mother. Since coming to [church] and accepting Jesus as my Savior, I’ve changed. My mom and I are like best friends now!” ††

But as any Christian would tell you, there’s much more to it then that! There’s hearing and believing God’s will, acknowledging sin, being sorry for sins, repenting, being baptized, praying, changing one’s conduct, being obedient, etc.†††

De-conversions, perhaps DOUBLY so, aren’t simple either. As far as I know, there’s no readily available resource that explains how to become an atheist or tells a prospective de-convert what they should except from the process. There’s not a unified, hierarchal body to help along the way. There’s no instruction manual. It’s a long, arduous journey that goes beyond merely hearing factual arguments for atheism and simply being convinced.

In attempting to wade through my de-conversion, discarding beliefs that no longer fit while trying to figure what *I DO* actually believe and why, I find myself swimming in a mire of confusion while trying to articulate both past and current perspectives on Christianity. My thinking, searching, writing, stopping, taking a break, deleting, reminiscing, etc. have brought to the forefront welcome questions, but also memories accompanied with a lot of overwhelming emotions – sometimes on the verge of tears, other times in fits of laughter.

I have been casually sneaking religion in to conversations with my siblings and asking a lot of questions of my unsuspecting mother in the last few months – questions that fill in some of the empty gaps. I had to ask her about certain things that I had either forgotten, or those strange mysteries that I had always wondered about but never dared ask. Like: When I got baptized with my brother and sister sitting beside me and all of us on my dads lap, why do I so vividly recall the baptismal font appearing like an oversized casket???

Thankfully the years have not passed so far as to make me forget many of the names, places, and details of fellow church members who watched as myself and three of my siblings got our blessings in front of the congregation, or who laid their hands and prayed over me at a church sleepover when I banged my face on the side of the pool. I’m lucky my memories haven’t yet begun to slip away.

The record of my youth is vivid and robust. There is so much to recount! As such, my de-conversion posts will not necessarily focus as much on arguments per se††††. Instead I’ll be focusing on my story – my conversion and my fall from grace. This is mainly for my benefit; drudging through the sometimes toxic sludge of religion has been, at times, overwhelmingly interesting and depressingly necessary. It’s been scary but liberating.

It’s to help make sense of the massive change for myself. It didn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t happen in any neat, logical order, but it has happened, and my series of posts is a poor attempt at an explanation before, during, and after the event. I’ll be reliving all those suppressed memories – the good and the bad – bringing forth the many details that are so hard to clearly articulate.

Generally when I write I always have an end in sight. I start somewhere in the middle, and simultaneously work my way to the beginning and end; fleshing out the details as I go. Titles are always the last thing I add. But my de-conversion story? I can’t pinpoint when it actually began. While it’s been less than a year since I actually stopped calling myself a Christian, I can see seeds of doubt that had been planted prior to my adolescence. What I once referred to as my spiritual quest for fulfillment has now become a journey – one that has not ended upon my fall from grace but will continue for the rest of my life.

Is there really a beginning, middle, and end? For when I get to the end, isn’t that just a new beginning? I quickly realized it just won’t work that way. I’m doing the terrifying – typing my way through uncharted waters with nothing but a scant outline and pre-written gibberish. I hope to make it comprehensive and concise, but being that I’m still working through many of the emotions of leaving my faith, I expect at times it may be incoherent.

My aim is to write with honesty and brevity while providing the details that led to my conversion and my fall from grace – my path to ATHEISM and beyond! While I hope to provide some sort of logical progression – both being in-depth and at the same time avoiding the sense of clutter and babbling that plagues me – after I click ‘Publish’ all that remains is the reminder that I’ve reached the end of this post, but the beginning of the long road to finish my de-conversion story and beyond.

Testimony – my own personal story of my born-again experience and subsequent relationship with Jesus and of what God had done in my life (it’s used prominently when witnessing to others)

†† For those that didn’t catch this, this is a quote from Prayers for Bobby, the 2009 Gay film based on a true story. The quote begins at about 19:30 (or 4:50 if it’s broke into six parts like it is on my phone).

††† I was taught these were expressions of an inward profession of my faith in Jesus to save.

†††† There are plenty of good posts already on the arguments against faith and its resultant claims (resurrection, fall, existence of God, etc.).


~ SoACTing

Saturday, August 25, 2012

My Painfully Evolving Sexual Identity Rooted in My Girlfriends Changing Gender - My Transition: Part 3

Part 1 covers the beginning of my lesbian relationship with my then, girlfriend. I also wrote about her announcement that she felt like a male on the inside; and the very beginning of his transition.
In Part 2 I wrote of his transition and my acceptance of it.

To reiterate what I said at the end of my last post:

His transition was one that took no time at all before I could accept it, mine on the other hand, well, left me on an emotional roller coaster, in a mental quandary, and in a perpetual state riddled with uncertainty.

As I mentioned before, I had already gone through the painful and devastating process of coming out lesbian to my family. Denial isn't just a river in Egypt. And, thankfully, my sexuality was a complete non-factor when it came to my friends.

But what happens when, three years in to a same-sex relationship, your partner "comes out" as transgender?? I felt like I was losing something I'd already fought for (insert link!!!) - and been through hell and back (insert link!!!) - in order to obtain. It was as if my identity - like grains of sand - were slipping through my fingers. While AJ was addressing his gender, I was forced to question my sexual identity.

The idea of it redefining my own sexual orientation left me petrified. Since I identified as lesbian and my partner was coming out as male, did that mean that I was straight? Does my sexual identity depend on how my now boyfriend defines himself? Could I continue considering myself a lesbian, cisgender female, in a relationship with a pre-op transgender male? Or was I now a gay leaning, bisexual (but only in this specific case with AJ), cisgender female, in a straight relationship to a pre-op transgender male, who was born with a birth defect that gave him the wrong anatomical parts?? (Boy that was a mouthful- no pun intended!!) Or was I something else entirely??

What if he had surgery? Would that "officially" make me straight? I was confused. But at the same time, I knew the love I had for him was one I couldn’t deny.

With AJ transitioning female-to-male, and no sexual reassignment surgery anywhere in the near future (if at all)*, if he and I stayed together**, how would I tell my parents. More importantly, what would I tell them? If I presented him as the same person they had grown accustomed to hear about (often as a passing remark) - it would mean people questioning my sexual identity. How then would I define our relationship? How would someone react to the idea that the person I was dating was once my girlfriend and is now my boyfriend? Was I bisexual? The thought of someone asking me "Why don't you just date a real man?" still turns my stomach!

AJ and I had been lovers and we were both open as lesbians. What would happen when I started referring to my lover as AJ? Were people going to be asking: "What, are you straight now? Who's AJ?" How many times would I have to explain, "Yes, I'm still a lesbian, but AJ is in the process of transitioning." AJ would, of course, be presenting himself as a man. By association, I would be losing my sense of self that I had finally worked up enough courage to be out with. I felt as if I was losing my identity as a lesbian.

Presenting him as a completely different person would have it's own trials and heartaches as well. How would I retell our history? Would I be omitting any references to him once being a female, and substitute male pronouns instead? Was I now actually a straight person in a heterosexual relationship?

And what of the danger? What if I slipped up? I knew the statistics concerning violence against the transgendered community well enough to know of the panic I sensed in his voice when deciding on something as simple and trivial as which bathroom to use.

There were too many questions and so few answers.

It was a process. It took time. I wanted, searched, and yearned for answers right then and right there. Do to the fact that AJ and I separated, I never had to truly adjust to a different role, a different person, or a different relationship.

After reading this brief glimpse of transgendered life from the perspective of a person in a same-sex relationship whose partner "comes out" transgendered, I suppose some may wonder why I would be so willing to continue life with this partner. The answer is simple - because I loved the new him as much as I loved the old her!



~ SoACTing
* Female-to-male sexual reassignment surgeries are rarely attempted
** AJ and I ultimately end up severing our relationship