xenologer: (happy!)
It was lovely.

Perhaps most important were the people.

I got to hang out with the next generation of Thalians who despite being quite young are some of the most well-grounded, thoughtful, and entertaining humans I know. The children of my friends are also my friends. What a funny age I am!

I also had some serious bonding time with someone I only sorta knew, but had always gotten good vibes from. It turns out that she wanted to go get bubble tea with me because she'd always wanted to try it.

I suggested that we eat at Noodles & Co. since she's sort of into raw food stuff, but when she realized that I would also dig Skyline for chili spaghetti, she expressed a profound love of Skyline and we ate there instead. Turns out she just likes the raw food thing and is not actually making a whole lifestyle out of it. Which, y'know, it's all good either way, but it was amusing to be all ready to adjust and then to find out that actually what she really wanted was the thing I'd chosen not to suggest out of consideration.

Life lesson, right?

Then bubble tea!

Then we talked about haters and relationships and parental generational shifts and baggage and went back to my place so that I could make her mix CDs and we drank tea and talked more. We may have a sleepover. We will probably watch Spice World. I am pretty jazzed about it.

I only got like three hours of sleep but that's okay because I have friends and sleep is for when I am not busy being pleasantly surprised by profound human connections. Like maybe in an hour or two. We'll see how long I can sustain articulate consciousness.

Happy, though! Yay.
xenologer: (bye bye)
So when women are like, "Hey don't sexually harass me," there are always people who say, "But I am so awkward/autistic that I cannot tell the difference between harassment and flirting BAWWWWW you are so ablist BAWWWWWWW."

No, awkwardness is no excuse.

Tell it, Captain Awkward.
If you alert someone to an unwelcome behavior, and the person keeps doing that thing and/or angrily arguing that they shouldn’t have to change anything, the problem is not Asperger’s. Even if they do have Asperger’s. People with Asperger’s can knowingly or unknowingly violate someone’s boundaries. They can also have their boundaries violated! A lot of people who are Very Worried About The Aspies do not themselves have Asperger’s and are using this as a straw man to derail the conversation away from their own behaviors. They’re also insulting people with Asperger’s by assuming that even close to a statistically significant portion of creepy behavior can be blamed on them. Who’s able-ist now?

I hate how people who sexually harass people and persist in ignoring boundaries hide behind (or are hidden behind by others) "social awkwardness" as though there were any degree of awkwardness that could recontextualize "no" to mean "yes." If you come to this comment thread to explain that Asperger's is why you shouldn't have to stop scaring the women you hit on, I hope every boundary-respecting Aspie on my friends list punches you in the mouth.

Also, all of the men I know who have persisted in sexually harassing women and then been sheltered by mutual friends have actually been entirely socially savvy... when it comes to situations and people they actually give a shit about.

For example, any harasser who has managed to surround himself with enablers who'll say "oh he's just awkward so he can't change" and targets who'll say "well there's no way to get him to stop so I'll just shut up and try not to make drama over it" is a harasser who is actually very very good at what he does, socially. He gets away with sexually harassing people precisely because he is not awkward.

What he is... is a man who doesn't believe that women are qualified to define and defend our own boundaries, and who has figured out what kinds of people to keep around him so that he doesn't EVER have to feel real pressure to adjust his behavior. And THAT is not the behavior of a man who's bad with social cues. He's just a man who is bad.

This rant can also be found at Dissent of a Woman. That's the linkable public version, mostly because there are people on my friends list who know some of the creepers I am talking about and their privacy may be a factor here, too.

Samhain.

Oct. 31st, 2011 03:14 am
xenologer: (unlikely weapon)
Ugh, I feel this.

Taking My Own Advice by T. Thorn Coyle.

It's time for winter. I need a rest.

Blessed Samhain, everybody. I'm going to start the year by trying to chill out, calm down, get some rest, and be some good to myself before I try being any good to others.

What's your new year's resolution?
xenologer: (vagina)
‎"A man sexually desiring a woman often has overtones of threat in our culture. From street harassment to horror films to PUAs, women learn that someone desiring you doesn't mean they're going to be nice to you."

This is one of the things that is hardest to explain to guys who get pissed that not every comment they make about a woman's appearance is met with the gratitude they feel they deserve for it. What a lot of guys fail to understand is that a lot of dangerous (not just unpleasant, but actually dangerous) interactions for women start out with a man letting her know that he's attracted to her.

It sucks for guys, I'm sure, to have to fight past that kind of apprehension, but a woman can either err on the side of excessive caution and maybe hurt a man's feelings or frustrate him, or she can err on the side of excessive trust and not just get hurt... but get blamed by it for the very same people who would have told her another day not to assume all men are dangerous.

And yes, I have had to explain this to men before. They were not pleasant conversations. If the problem with a guy's perspective is that he doesn't care what it's like to not be a guy, it's hard to get him to think about... what it's like to not be a guy.
xenologer: (objection!)
There's something I understand better now than I used to back when I was self-identifying as a theist. I, too, was really upset that atheists were so prejudiced and bigoted and just pigeonholed any religious people they knew and assumed that if you aren't an atheist, you're an enemy. Or something.

I understand marginalization and privilege a little better now, though. Only some of it is from beginning to identify as an atheist. A lot of it's stuff I've heard from LGBT people and people of color and feminists and just... y'know, people who have experience with this stuff. Here's what I've learned about generalizing about the members (or affiliates) of organizations that hate me (or you, or someone else, or whoever).

It's hard sometimes, when someone walks up wearing the badge and uniform of one's oppressors, to assume that they don't want to be associated with the other people wearing it. It's hard for me (for example) to see someone who self-identifies as Catholic and not see an ally of the homophobia, misogyny, and just general callousness that characterizes that organization. They may not personally hate women or gays or child rape victims, but they're comfortable affiliating with an organization that plainly does, and I have to wonder at that rate whether they're true allies.

Sadly, that type of Christianity is still setting the tone in a lot of the country. While I'm supportive of the efforts of other Christians to clean up their image, I no longer feel like I should suffer at the hands of the Christian cultural system and simultaneously do their PR for them. When more Christians are like Quakers, I'll talk about them like more of them are Quakers.

I get that it's got to suck having people running around acting a fool who are using teachings from the same book as you are to do some terrible things to innocent people. It always sucks to feel like someone else has enough control over your reputation to screw with it by being bigots and just generally showing their whole ass to the world.

That's the thing, though, about continuing to wear the badge and uniform of a group that--for a lot of people--has done them nothing but personal and very tangible harm. Depending on how badly they've been hurt and for how long and how much hope they have left, they might just assume that you're an ally to the people who hurt them. They're not assuming this because they're bigoted, or bullies, or intolerant. They're assuming it because they're tired of giving chances to people who put on that uniform and then getting kicked in the face for it. So... they stop taking the risk.

I'm not quite there yet, but I've seen people get there, and it's hard for me to begrudge them. It's not hate. It's hurt, and it's weariness, and they're right. They should never have had to always be the one giving out chance after chance after chance to people who didn't take it. It's hard exhausting work, and the people I know who've given up on trying to find common ground with Christians? That's why.

So this is why I've stopped saying, "Not all straight/cis/white/etc. people are like that! Please only talk about your painful experiences in a way that protects my feelings!" and it's why I think it'd be great if Christians did, too.

edit: Originally posted at http://xenologer.dreamwidth.org/350821.html, where there is excellent discussion happening.
xenologer: (objection!)
There's something I understand better now than I used to back when I was self-identifying as a theist. I, too, was really upset that atheists were so prejudiced and bigoted and just pigeonholed any religious people they knew and assumed that if you aren't an atheist, you're an enemy. Or something.

I understand marginalization and privilege a little better now, though. Only some of it is from beginning to identify as an atheist. A lot of it's stuff I've heard from LGBT people and people of color and feminists and just... y'know, people who have experience with this stuff. Here's what I've learned about generalizing about the members (or affiliates) of organizations that hate me (or you, or someone else, or whoever).

It's hard sometimes, when someone walks up wearing the badge and uniform of one's oppressors, to assume that they don't want to be associated with the other people wearing it. It's hard for me (for example) to see someone who self-identifies as Catholic and not see an ally of the homophobia, misogyny, and just general callousness that characterizes that organization. They may not personally hate women or gays or child rape victims, but they're comfortable affiliating with an organization that plainly does, and I have to wonder at that rate whether they're true allies.

Sadly, that type of Christianity is still setting the tone in a lot of the country. While I'm supportive of the efforts of other Christians to clean up their image, I no longer feel like I should suffer at the hands of the Christian cultural system and simultaneously do their PR for them. When more Christians are like Quakers, I'll talk about them like more of them are Quakers.

I get that it's got to suck having people running around acting a fool who are using teachings from the same book as you are to do some terrible things to innocent people. It always sucks to feel like someone else has enough control over your reputation to screw with it by being bigots and just generally showing their whole ass to the world.

That's the thing, though, about continuing to wear the badge and uniform of a group that--for a lot of people--has done them nothing but personal and very tangible harm. Depending on how badly they've been hurt and for how long and how much hope they have left, they might just assume that you're an ally to the people who hurt them. They're not assuming this because they're bigoted, or bullies, or intolerant. They're assuming it because they're tired of giving chances to people who put on that uniform and then getting kicked in the face for it. So... they stop taking the risk.

I'm not quite there yet, but I've seen people get there, and it's hard for me to begrudge them. It's not hate. It's hurt, and it's weariness, and they're right. They should never have had to always be the one giving out chance after chance after chance to people who didn't take it. It's hard exhausting work, and the people I know who've given up on trying to find common ground with Christians? That's why.

So this is why I've stopped saying, "Not all straight/cis/white/etc. people are like that! Please only talk about your painful experiences in a way that protects my feelings!" and it's why I think it'd be great if Christians did, too.

edit: Originally posted at http://xenologer.dreamwidth.org/350821.html, where there is excellent discussion happening.
xenologer: (objection!)
There's something I understand better now than I used to back when I was self-identifying as a theist. I, too, was really upset that atheists were so prejudiced and bigoted and just pigeonholed any religious people they knew and assumed that if you aren't an atheist, you're an enemy. Or something.

I understand marginalization and privilege a little better now, though. Only some of it is from beginning to identify as an atheist. A lot of it's stuff I've heard from LGBT people and people of color and feminists and just... y'know, people who have experience with this stuff. Here's what I've learned about generalizing about the members (or affiliates) of organizations that hate me (or you, or someone else, or whoever).

It's hard sometimes, when someone walks up wearing the badge and uniform of one's oppressors, to assume that they don't want to be associated with the other people wearing it. It's hard for me (for example) to see someone who self-identifies as Catholic and not see an ally of the homophobia, misogyny, and just general callousness that characterizes that organization. They may not personally hate women or gays or child rape victims, but they're comfortable affiliating with an organization that plainly does, and I have to wonder at that rate whether they're true allies.

Sadly, that type of Christianity is still setting the tone in a lot of the country. While I'm supportive of the efforts of other Christians to clean up their image, I no longer feel like I should suffer at the hands of the Christian cultural system and simultaneously do their PR for them. When more Christians are like Quakers, I'll talk about them like more of them are Quakers.

I get that it's got to suck having people running around acting a fool who are using teachings from the same book as you are to do some terrible things to innocent people. It always sucks to feel like someone else has enough control over your reputation to screw with it by being bigots and just generally showing their whole ass to the world.

That's the thing, though, about continuing to wear the badge and uniform of a group that--for a lot of people--has done them nothing but personal and very tangible harm. Depending on how badly they've been hurt and for how long and how much hope they have left, they might just assume that you're an ally to the people who hurt them. They're not assuming this because they're bigoted, or bullies, or intolerant. They're assuming it because they're tired of giving chances to people who put on that uniform and then getting kicked in the face for it. So... they stop taking the risk.

I'm not quite there yet, but I've seen people get there, and it's hard for me to begrudge them. It's not hate. It's hurt, and it's weariness, and they're right. They should never have had to always be the one giving out chance after chance after chance to people who didn't take it. It's hard exhausting work, and the people I know who've given up on trying to find common ground with Christians? That's why.

So this is why I've stopped saying, "Not all straight/cis/white/etc. people are like that! Please only talk about your painful experiences in a way that protects my feelings!" and it's why I think it'd be great if Christians did, too.

edit: Originally posted at http://xenologer.dreamwidth.org/350821.html, where there is excellent discussion happening.
xenologer: (objection!)
There's something I understand better now than I used to back when I was self-identifying as a theist. I, too, was really upset that atheists were so prejudiced and bigoted and just pigeonholed any religious people they knew and assumed that if you aren't an atheist, you're an enemy. Or something.

I understand marginalization and privilege a little better now, though. Only some of it is from beginning to identify as an atheist. A lot of it's stuff I've heard from LGBT people and people of color and feminists and just... y'know, people who have experience with this stuff. Here's what I've learned about generalizing about the members (or affiliates) of organizations that hate me (or you, or someone else, or whoever).

It's hard sometimes, when someone walks up wearing the badge and uniform of one's oppressors, to assume that they don't want to be associated with the other people wearing it. It's hard for me (for example) to see someone who self-identifies as Catholic and not see an ally of the homophobia, misogyny, and just general callousness that characterizes that organization. They may not personally hate women or gays or child rape victims, but they're comfortable affiliating with an organization that plainly does, and I have to wonder at that rate whether they're true allies.

Sadly, that type of Christianity is still setting the tone in a lot of the country. While I'm supportive of the efforts of other Christians to clean up their image, I no longer feel like I should suffer at the hands of the Christian cultural system and simultaneously do their PR for them. When more Christians are like Quakers, I'll talk about them like more of them are Quakers.

I get that it's got to suck having people running around acting a fool who are using teachings from the same book as you are to do some terrible things to innocent people. It always sucks to feel like someone else has enough control over your reputation to screw with it by being bigots and just generally showing their whole ass to the world.

That's the thing, though, about continuing to wear the badge and uniform of a group that--for a lot of people--has done them nothing but personal and very tangible harm. Depending on how badly they've been hurt and for how long and how much hope they have left, they might just assume that you're an ally to the people who hurt them. They're not assuming this because they're bigoted, or bullies, or intolerant. They're assuming it because they're tired of giving chances to people who put on that uniform and then getting kicked in the face for it. So... they stop taking the risk.

I'm not quite there yet, but I've seen people get there, and it's hard for me to begrudge them. It's not hate. It's hurt, and it's weariness, and they're right. They should never have had to always be the one giving out chance after chance after chance to people who didn't take it. It's hard exhausting work, and the people I know who've given up on trying to find common ground with Christians? That's why.

So this is why I've stopped saying, "Not all straight/cis/white/etc. people are like that! Please only talk about your painful experiences in a way that protects my feelings!" and it's why I think it'd be great if Christians did, too.

Agora

Jul. 3rd, 2011 06:29 pm
xenologer: (Default)
Just watched Agora, a movie that I heard about from the entries about it at The Wild Hunt.

I can't speak too confidently about the historical Hypatia (nor do I particularly expect this movie to do so, because it probably doesn't). Near as I can tell from totally cursory Googling on the subject, not only was Hypatia's religious affiliation not relevant to the circumstances of her death, but she herself was barely relevant. She could have been anybody sufficiently important to Orestes. He had pissed off Cyril (who was kind of a big deal at the time) and Hypatia happened to be an appealing target for a revenge killing.

So... I wanted to say first off that I'm not really inclined to believe anybody who says, "Hypatia was killed by nasty misogynist anti-intellectual Christians because she was an educated and independent Pagan!" or anybody who says, "Hypatia was killed by nasty misogynist anti-intellectual Christians because she was an educated and independent atheist!" Near as I can tell, she was killed for being there.

There's my take on the historical Hypatia. People who have actually spent some study on her will know more about her than I do, though, so if they post in the comments and say I'm wrong, y'all should probably listen to them instead of me. I just wanted to touch on the actual real person we are talking about here so that I could talk separately about Hypatia The Character In The Movie Agora.

Cut for that. )
xenologer: (always shine)
Reading Bridging the Chasm Between Two Cultures was an interesting experience for me. I found it on axelrod's Dreamwidth journal. It's about the gulf between the culture of New Agers and the culture of skeptics, and how those cultures create ways of communicating which do not meet in the middle at all.
In all the din, people in my culture hear what they deem to be hyper-intellectual and emotionally charged attacks upon their cherished beliefs, while people in your culture hear what they deem to be wishful thinking, scientific illiteracy, and emotionally charged salvos in defense of mere delusions.

This is of course a tragedy, but after reading through the skeptical literature for the last three years, I feel that this tragedy may be avoidable.


On the one hand, I felt at first like her point might be that skeptics like James Randi actually fuel a backlash against critically-evaluating cherished and fun metaphysical beliefs like Uri Geller's spoonbending. I sort of... tilted my head and got ready for the Tone Argument, the one that says "nobody is listening to you because you're an angry unlikeable asshole, and angry unlikeable assholes deserve to be ignored no matter what the merit of what they're saying. New Agers won't listen until you're not an asshole."

It didn't come. So here are a few sections from this very thoughtful article. I know it's long, but I read it, and anybody who's had conversations as either a skeptic or a believer should read it. In fact, anybody who has refused to have those conversations for any reason should definitely read it. I know that I've chopped it up into odd quoted sections and put it out of order, but this is at least partly so that when you get to the parts I've quoted you'll say, "Ah. There's that paragraph," and you'll have a chance to read it a second time like (in most cases) I did.

I've been studying the conflict between the skeptical community and the metaphysical/new age community for a few decades now, and I think I've finally discovered the central issue that makes communication so difficult. It is not merely, as many surmise, a conflict between fact-based viewpoints and faith-based viewpoints. Nor is it simply a conflict between rationality and credulity. No, it’s a full-on clash of cultures that makes real communication improbable at best.


Something the skeptics in the audience should note:
I couldn't find myself in the skeptical lexicon. I couldn't identify myself with the uncaring hucksters, the wildly miseducated snake-oil peddlers, the self-righteous psychics, the big-haired evangelists, or the megalomaniacal eastern fakirs. I couldn't identify my work or myself with the scam-based work or the unstable personalities so roundly trashed by the skeptical culture, because I was never in the field to scam anyone—and neither were any of my friends or colleagues.

I worked in the field because I have a deep and abiding concern for people, and an honest wish to be helpful in my own culture. Access to clearheaded and carefully presented skeptical material would have helped me (and others like me) at every step of the way—but I couldn't access any of that information because I simply couldn't identify with it.


Something the New Agers in the audience should note:
One of the biggest falsehoods I've encountered is that skeptics can't tolerate mystery, while New Age people can. This is completely wrong, because it is actually the people in my culture who can't handle mystery—not even a tiny bit of it. Everything in my New Age culture comes complete with an answer, a reason, and a source. Every action, emotion, health symptom, dream, accident, birth, death, or idea here has a direct link to the influence of the stars, chi, past lives, ancestors, energy fields, interdimensional beings, enneagrams, devas, fairies, spirit guides, angels, aliens, karma, God, or the Goddess.

We love to say that we embrace mystery in the New Age culture, but that’s a cultural conceit and it’s utterly wrong.

This one I was saving for last, because it hurt a little to read.
I've discovered in just the few (less than ten) conversations I've had with faith-based people that skeptical information is absolutely threatening and unwanted. What I didn't understand until recently is that when you start questioning these beliefs, there’s a domino effect that eventually smacks into your whole house of cards—and nothing remains standing. Opening the questioning process is a very dangerous thing, and people in my culture seem to understand that on a subconscious level. In response to their extreme discomfort, I've become completely silent around believers—which is hard, because they make up most of my friends, family, and correspondents.

This one hit close to home for me. I actually physically winced away from my screen as I read it the first time, because it hurts.

It's very isolating to be the one who can't stop herself from applying intellectual rigor where it's not supposed to, because when you make people uncomfortable like that, it feels sometimes like nobody wants you around. I've wrestled with this one a lot. Sometimes I come out on the side of, "Just don't say anything, because everybody already knows what your opinion probably is and if they wanted to hear it, they'd ask. But nobody is asking, because they don't like the way you think and can only be friends with you if they can pretend you don't think like that." Sometimes I come out on the side of, "Goddamn it why is everybody allowed to give their opinion but me! Screw it, I'm saying something like everybody else gets to do. If they don't want to hear from me, then they should stop acting like I'm allowed in the conversation."

I still wrestle with it, though. I don't know what the answer is. Sometimes I just want to crawl all the way into a culture where people like me who "over-intellectualize" the questions we find are considered okay, and useful, and maybe even desirable. Sometimes I'm afraid I'll miss the people I'll leave behind who used to love me, back before they realized that I'm the enemy.

I think that last quote is why I posted it. It's an apology for the fact that I can't unthink the things I've thought, and for the fact that it means I don't feel wanted anymore. Sometimes I want to slip away quietly so that I don't destroy anybody else's house of cards like I destroyed mine, but sometimes I just want to wreck it all because I know that in the long run that the tricky balance between reason and faith isn't sustainable anyway, and I hate feeling something so stupid: hurt that I've been kicked off the sinking ship.

I guess what I'm saying is that skeptics aren't angry all the time. Skeptics don't hate New Agers all the time or even very much of the time, honestly. We understand what New Agers are getting out of their culture, because a lot of us used to be there. Some of us even miss it. We just can't have it anymore. We can't unthink what we've thought, and we can't pretend we didn't see what we saw. We stared into the void of suspended assumptions, and it stared back, and now we're... not like you. And we know you can tell. Sometimes that hurts.

I didn't mean to make this about me. But... the article really resonated with me, and I didn't expect it to do that. As a skeptic, but more importantly as a social scientist, I am saddened by my inability to bridge this gap. I feel, as an anthropologist and a crowd-pleaser class clown, that I should be doing better. I should be the one who can be anywhere, who can fit in with anybody, who can figure out what everybody wants from her and give it to them no matter how complex and unexpected the demands may be.

I'm not doing it. I'm failing.

It's unsettling, and disappointing, and hasn't ever happened before to me. No wonder believers are afraid to ask certain questions; they're afraid they'll turn out like me. Maybe they should be. Sometimes it kind of sucks.

Hm.

Aug. 21st, 2010 03:16 am
xenologer: (transhumanism)
Got a thought brewing in my head about whether people can really believe things because of their usefulness, either for emotional health or as a goad to moral behavior.

After all, if someone states that they would believe something whether it were true or not, then what exactly are we meaning by "belief?" What they're saying is, "I don't really believe this is true, but I believe it anyway."

This is incomprehensible to me. In fact, the whole "atheism isn't so scary" thing for me wasn't a matter of losing my faith. It wasn't a matter of ceasing to believe in certain things. It was the realization that I'd never truly believed them to begin with, and had just been pretending to because I liked the idea of certain explanations, or I thought maybe it'd be good if more people behaved as though they believed it.

Neither of these things were the same as really putting any stock in it, though, which is one reason I resisted having certain kinds of discussions about them. I knew that when push came to shove, I just didn't have faith. When push came to shove, I really did only believe things that had some truth-value behind them (though there were other things that I thought were "nice" beliefs, but this isn't the same as believing them). When push came to shove, I knew I'd end up an atheist eventually, when I was ready.

However, I wasn't ready. So... I avoided the shove, and toddled happily along pretending that I believed certain things because I liked the psychological taste and feel of them.

But I didn't believe the things I "believed in." People who really believe the things they believe seem to be a far rarer animal, and I wonder what the world would look like if all the people who didn't actually put stock in the familiar rituals and ideas that they perpetuate simply... stopped.

I think that sometimes religious systems couldn't survive without these functional non-believers. If everybody actually whole-heartedly believed what they were told--rather than simply seeing it as useful or pleasing--then there'd be nobody willing to change anything. From that perspective, would it really be such a good thing if the non-believers were more comfortable being non-believers? Would it really be such a good thing if people who didn't believe stopped finding reasons to keep pretending they did, both to themselves and others?

In the end, I think that those things which can be destroyed by the truth deserve to be, even if they're pretty, or warm, or would serve as an enticement to do good were they actually believed by anybody to be literally factually true.

I wouldn't ask somebody who's gay to pretend to themselves and others that they're straight so that they'll make better sleeper agents to create change within homophobic institutions. Should non-believers also be told that they should continue going through the motions of religious faith, just because their friendly attitude toward atheists makes those reason-phobic organizations less of a threat to the ones who're openly atheist?

I think that'd be a rather nasty thing to ask, don't you? Merely expressing the hope that some people will be less true to themselves because it increases their value to some larger movement pretty much makes the speaker an asshole. If religions can't survive without people pretending to believe, then fuck them. Let's all stop playing stupid games and be who the hell we are.

Hm.

Aug. 21st, 2010 03:16 am
xenologer: (transhumanism)
Got a thought brewing in my head about whether people can really believe things because of their usefulness, either for emotional health or as a goad to moral behavior.

After all, if someone states that they would believe something whether it were true or not, then what exactly are we meaning by "belief?" What they're saying is, "I don't really believe this is true, but I believe it anyway."

This is incomprehensible to me. In fact, the whole "atheism isn't so scary" thing for me wasn't a matter of losing my faith. It wasn't a matter of ceasing to believe in certain things. It was the realization that I'd never truly believed them to begin with, and had just been pretending to because I liked the idea of certain explanations, or I thought maybe it'd be good if more people behaved as though they believed it.

Neither of these things were the same as really putting any stock in it, though, which is one reason I resisted having certain kinds of discussions about them. I knew that when push came to shove, I just didn't have faith. When push came to shove, I really did only believe things that had some truth-value behind them (though there were other things that I thought were "nice" beliefs, but this isn't the same as believing them). When push came to shove, I knew I'd end up an atheist eventually, when I was ready.

However, I wasn't ready. So... I avoided the shove, and toddled happily along pretending that I believed certain things because I liked the psychological taste and feel of them.

But I didn't believe the things I "believed in." People who really believe the things they believe seem to be a far rarer animal, and I wonder what the world would look like if all the people who didn't actually put stock in the familiar rituals and ideas that they perpetuate simply... stopped.

I think that sometimes religious systems couldn't survive without these functional non-believers. If everybody actually whole-heartedly believed what they were told--rather than simply seeing it as useful or pleasing--then there'd be nobody willing to change anything. From that perspective, would it really be such a good thing if the non-believers were more comfortable being non-believers? Would it really be such a good thing if people who didn't believe stopped finding reasons to keep pretending they did, both to themselves and others?

In the end, I think that those things which can be destroyed by the truth deserve to be, even if they're pretty, or warm, or would serve as an enticement to do good were they actually believed by anybody to be literally factually true.

I wouldn't ask somebody who's gay to pretend to themselves and others that they're straight so that they'll make better sleeper agents to create change within homophobic institutions. Should non-believers also be told that they should continue going through the motions of religious faith, just because their friendly attitude toward atheists makes those reason-phobic organizations less of a threat to the ones who're openly atheist?

I think that'd be a rather nasty thing to ask, don't you? Merely expressing the hope that some people will be less true to themselves because it increases their value to some larger movement pretty much makes the speaker an asshole. If religions can't survive without people pretending to believe, then fuck them. Let's all stop playing stupid games and be who the hell we are.

Hm.

Aug. 21st, 2010 03:16 am
xenologer: (transhumanism)
Got a thought brewing in my head about whether people can really believe things because of their usefulness, either for emotional health or as a goad to moral behavior.

After all, if someone states that they would believe something whether it were true or not, then what exactly are we meaning by "belief?" What they're saying is, "I don't really believe this is true, but I believe it anyway."

This is incomprehensible to me. In fact, the whole "atheism isn't so scary" thing for me wasn't a matter of losing my faith. It wasn't a matter of ceasing to believe in certain things. It was the realization that I'd never truly believed them to begin with, and had just been pretending to because I liked the idea of certain explanations, or I thought maybe it'd be good if more people behaved as though they believed it.

Neither of these things were the same as really putting any stock in it, though, which is one reason I resisted having certain kinds of discussions about them. I knew that when push came to shove, I just didn't have faith. When push came to shove, I really did only believe things that had some truth-value behind them (though there were other things that I thought were "nice" beliefs, but this isn't the same as believing them). When push came to shove, I knew I'd end up an atheist eventually, when I was ready.

However, I wasn't ready. So... I avoided the shove, and toddled happily along pretending that I believed certain things because I liked the psychological taste and feel of them.

But I didn't believe the things I "believed in." People who really believe the things they believe seem to be a far rarer animal, and I wonder what the world would look like if all the people who didn't actually put stock in the familiar rituals and ideas that they perpetuate simply... stopped.

I think that sometimes religious systems couldn't survive without these functional non-believers. If everybody actually whole-heartedly believed what they were told--rather than simply seeing it as useful or pleasing--then there'd be nobody willing to change anything. From that perspective, would it really be such a good thing if the non-believers were more comfortable being non-believers? Would it really be such a good thing if people who didn't believe stopped finding reasons to keep pretending they did, both to themselves and others?

In the end, I think that those things which can be destroyed by the truth deserve to be, even if they're pretty, or warm, or would serve as an enticement to do good were they actually believed by anybody to be literally factually true.

I wouldn't ask somebody who's gay to pretend to themselves and others that they're straight so that they'll make better sleeper agents to create change within homophobic institutions. Should non-believers also be told that they should continue going through the motions of religious faith, just because their friendly attitude toward atheists makes those reason-phobic organizations less of a threat to the ones who're openly atheist?

I think that'd be a rather nasty thing to ask, don't you? Merely expressing the hope that some people will be less true to themselves because it increases their value to some larger movement pretty much makes the speaker an asshole. If religions can't survive without people pretending to believe, then fuck them. Let's all stop playing stupid games and be who the hell we are.
xenologer: (everybody's aunt)
This is from [livejournal.com profile] daisymaeevans, and I appreciated the fact that she posted it. I know there are a couple of people on my LJ who deserve to read it, too, so I'm passing it on. If you know someone who deserves this nice surprise, give it to them.

I don’t care if people think you’re fat.

If you are kind, generous and quick to forgive I don’t care what your scale says.

If you can create a dress, a song, a quilt, a scarf, a cake or a story I don’t care what size you wear.

If you can discuss current events, science, history, art and literature with knowledge and passion I don’t care how much ice cream you ate.

If you are a loyal friend who is always there for me when I need you and is not afraid to lean on me when you need me then I will put my arms around however much of you there is and never let go.

I don’t care what you look like. The important things always outweigh anything else.




So you go have a good day, and remember this.

Thalians!

May. 15th, 2010 09:18 pm
xenologer: (ravenclaws)
Our email list is kind of wacky right now, so I'm posting this on LJ just to make sure people get the note.

We discussed at the IC that we're not really doing the big expansion thing right now, but we do have names from PPD of people who were interested. Having someplace to link to those with an email on our list is awesome, because it means we can put ourselves out there to exactly the degree we're comfortable. Means people can get to know us, without us having to disclose anything important until we're sure they aren't a psycho.

The board I created is at http://thaliaclan.yuku.com/, and if you want to post there, you can log in with all manner of things. I believe you can even 'port your login over from Facebook, but that is probably needlessly complicated and I've never cared enough to figure out how. Easiest way to get yourself started is to go to http://www.yuku.com/ and make a profile/account/login. It's a big board network, so if something you really want to be called is taken for whatever reason, I can make things happen so that you can have the screenname you want.

Once you have an account and post, you'll be given access to a private section of the board that only Thalians will be given access to. That'll give us our little private sandbox just in case somebody actually is a psycho, while leaving a board open for people to hang out and whatever.

Anyway. Lemme know if there are problems.

Thalians!

May. 15th, 2010 09:18 pm
xenologer: (ravenclaws)
Our email list is kind of wacky right now, so I'm posting this on LJ just to make sure people get the note.

We discussed at the IC that we're not really doing the big expansion thing right now, but we do have names from PPD of people who were interested. Having someplace to link to those with an email on our list is awesome, because it means we can put ourselves out there to exactly the degree we're comfortable. Means people can get to know us, without us having to disclose anything important until we're sure they aren't a psycho.

The board I created is at http://thaliaclan.yuku.com/, and if you want to post there, you can log in with all manner of things. I believe you can even 'port your login over from Facebook, but that is probably needlessly complicated and I've never cared enough to figure out how. Easiest way to get yourself started is to go to http://www.yuku.com/ and make a profile/account/login. It's a big board network, so if something you really want to be called is taken for whatever reason, I can make things happen so that you can have the screenname you want.

Once you have an account and post, you'll be given access to a private section of the board that only Thalians will be given access to. That'll give us our little private sandbox just in case somebody actually is a psycho, while leaving a board open for people to hang out and whatever.

Anyway. Lemme know if there are problems.

Thalians!

May. 15th, 2010 09:18 pm
xenologer: (ravenclaws)
Our email list is kind of wacky right now, so I'm posting this on LJ just to make sure people get the note.

We discussed at the IC that we're not really doing the big expansion thing right now, but we do have names from PPD of people who were interested. Having someplace to link to those with an email on our list is awesome, because it means we can put ourselves out there to exactly the degree we're comfortable. Means people can get to know us, without us having to disclose anything important until we're sure they aren't a psycho.

The board I created is at http://thaliaclan.yuku.com/, and if you want to post there, you can log in with all manner of things. I believe you can even 'port your login over from Facebook, but that is probably needlessly complicated and I've never cared enough to figure out how. Easiest way to get yourself started is to go to http://www.yuku.com/ and make a profile/account/login. It's a big board network, so if something you really want to be called is taken for whatever reason, I can make things happen so that you can have the screenname you want.

Once you have an account and post, you'll be given access to a private section of the board that only Thalians will be given access to. That'll give us our little private sandbox just in case somebody actually is a psycho, while leaving a board open for people to hang out and whatever.

Anyway. Lemme know if there are problems.

Foodings.

Mar. 17th, 2010 11:21 am
xenologer: (cocky Kamina)
So I was spazzing in this entry about what I'm gonna feed people for my handfasting. Thanks to the people who have suggested things, because I think I had my head locked into this track where we had to feed everybody a meal, and it was making me crazy. Thank you for giving me other options and helping me get my head on straight.

[livejournal.com profile] archmage_brian to the rescue!

"Let's just serve edamame, brie and boursin cheeses with crackers, and peanut butter gelato. That way we can make sure everyone has at least one food they're afraid to eat."



I love Brian. I'm so glad I'm with him. Obviously we can't actually do the peanut butter gelato because we have someone who can't even be in a room with peanuts without having an allergic reaction, but y'know. The principle is perfectly fucking sound. Wouldn't be our handfasting without weird munchies.
xenologer: (snail cuddle)
Look what we have!



Handfasting hasn't happened yet, and we won't be doing any of the legal end of things for quite some time (changing of names mainly, since we aren't signing a marriage contract as long as the laws are discriminatory), but we have our indestructible engagement rings. Look at them!

Dancing

Jan. 25th, 2010 10:37 am
xenologer: (mask)
When I dance, I dance for myself. Even when I go to Navratri and the garba dancing pulls me in with the larger group, I'm there for me.

But the reasons I don't dance are all about other people.

I like to dance in ritual, but the group I practice ritual with has a lot of people who are not physically able to dance. They're wounded, or they're too large, or they're too tired, or they're too old. So I sit still. I don't want to remind them. I don't want their disappointment or dejection projected onto me and made mine so that I become all that they can't do instead of being me. It doesn't express what I want it to, so I just... sit still until my legs fall asleep. If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all, you know?

When I'm not with them, sometimes there are drum circles or dance floors or other places where I can go to move to feel like I have music in my veins instead of blood. And that feels good. For a while. But often some stranger (generally a man, but not always a man) decides this is a display for their benefit and suddenly I have a woman's arm around my shoulders or a man's hands on my hips, pulling me closer to him.

Rather than shove them away and scream at them for halting my motion and chaining it to theirs, I just stop dancing.

But you know? Just because you can see me, and just because you're close enough to touch me, doesn't mean my dance has anything to do with you. It isn't yours, and neither am I.

Still. As long as dancing means attracting the very people who make me feel less free... how can I feel free to dance?

Maybe this is just part of being a woman. Everything you do, everything you are, even the things which are supposed to be just for you... someone can always come along and take it, and never think twice about what it means and what they've done. After all, it's only natural, and you wouldn't be dancing like that if you weren't extending an invitation, right? If you weren't offering.

Whyever that happens, it does. I can't forget about what people are thinking of me and of themselves, and just dance like I want to. I hate feeling like public property, like everybody's blank slate, like everything I do is an opportunity for other people to project their assumptions and disappointments and desires onto me and make them part of my life.

I love being a woman because of what it means to me, but I hate being a woman because of what it means to everyone else.

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