jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Please pray to whatever you worship, that justice will be done. For all of the gender, sexual, religious, and ethnic minorities whose lives are policed by the majority's cruelty, and ended through violence, deprivation, and despair.

After you are finished praying, please find those who are endangered and hurting, and help them. Not by erasing what makes them endangered, but by making it safe for them to be themselves.

My going on living, today, is a political act. Just like it has been every day, for the past few years. I shouldn't have to face the opposition that makes it political. I should just be able to take it for granted.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Content note: Discusses religion and religious intolerance.

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Where by "we" I meant the people on the exmormon Reddit, who are largely atheists of the anti-theist variety.

Content note for strong language, and talking about theophobia.

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Via the Geek Feminism blog, git has a serious bug.

For those reading this who aren't technically-inclined, git (named after Linus Torvalds) is like an ongoing archive of savegames for your programming, except that it also has features that let multiple people work on it at once. It's fiendishly hard to use and easy to break, and those qualities by themselves help to create a culture of complacent experts and frustrated novices. I personally feel that the time savings at the top are erased by the loss of contributions from people who are discouraged from ever learning it.

But besides that, everything you write in git is tied to your name. And it won't let you change it retroactively:
If you change the author, it’s treated as an entirely new commit. Anyone who has grabbed a copy of your original commit and made subsequent changes on top of it finds themselves orphaned from the history of the project. To use a crude analogy, it’s like you rip the trunk of a tree out, while the branches are magically left hanging in the air, connected to nothing and isolated.
This is an example of cismale privilege at work, where by "privilege" I mean "you guys don't have to worry about this." Most guys don't change their names when they get married, and most cisgender people don't think about changing their names, or what it'd be like to need to for safety- or identity-related reasons. Cisguys comprise most of the experts who wrote git and who use it on a day-to-day basis, so this apparently never came up.

The result: People are excluded from Free Software projects without anyone making a conscious decision to exclude them.

That point is extremely important to keep in mind. My intent doesn't matter when it comes to behaviours that exclude other people, any more than it matters when it comes to writing executable code. Blaming the people my actions exclude, or who point out that my actions exclude someone else, is no more productive than blaming the compiler. Instead, I need to educate myself by listening to marginalized others, and by going out of my way to include them. It's only fair, since they didn't choose to be marginalized. It's also the only way I'll know what I and my projects are missing.

(As on the Geek Feminism blog, comments will be moderated for 'splaining or other forms of derailing.)

Also, about

I appear to have been blocked from posting notices to If I had to guess, I would say it was because of the most recent notices I posted (which contain some strong language).

The Terms of Service don't contain any rules against swearing, or even cursing at itself, which I did after becoming frustrated with my inability to block trolls on it. I wasn't warned or given notice, and an email I sent to received no response, so I don't know exactly what kind of speech the site admins will ban people for. But while I don't have the spoons to check on it myself, I'm pretty sure that the trolls who believe that I don't have a right to my identity or spirituality (one of whom also swore at me) weren't banned and never will be.

I've looked into Google+ as an alternative, but found its restrictions on pseudonyms and identities problematic. I am currently considering setting up a personal site as a Tumblr style linkblog. If I do, I will probably syndicate its content on Twitter and Google+, and here on Dreamwidth and Planet GNOME as applicable.
jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
It's because many atheists seem to hold the belief that if a god actually existed, they'd worship him. And I say "him" because they tend to mean the Abrahamic god by that, and he's popularly considered male by people who subscribe to this kind of fundamentalist thinking.

I don't know how many believe this way or to what extent it goes, and I know there are many atheists who get that (for instance) the Old Testament god is a jerk. But it seems to be an unspoken assumption for some that "If God, then obey;" that the question of whether or not the Abrahamic god exists would somehow change the moral dimension of whether or not his teachings should be followed.

I don't feel that this is a justifiable position to take. I feel that the people who hold it do so because it's the position taken by many fundamentalist believers in Abrahamic religions, and because they either assume those positions are held by all theists or they haven't examined their own leftover beliefs from before their conversion to atheism.

I feel that the latter (having leftover beliefs) happens very often, and is the underlying reason why lifestyle atheism is fundie religion 2.0. Because they're so similar to fundamentalist religionists, in so many ways. They're obsessed with what's "right" as opposed to what's healthy or humane, they teach very specific beliefs about god and the afterlife, and they insist that anyone who disagrees is morally suspect or dangerous. They also tend to be really misogynist. Not all of them do the above, but the ones who do aren't marginalized or excluded from the community for so doing, and in fact anyone who speaks up for tolerance tends to be seen as not a real atheist.

I don't think there's a word right now, for a person who accepts the existence of deities but chooses not to worship them for whatever reason. I personally feel that "atheist" is the best word for this, and that "theophobe" and "anti-theist" are the best words to use to describe today's lifestyle atheists. Because their actions suggest a visceral fear of and hatred for people who have religious belief and/or spiritual practices, and a desire for us to cease to exist around them.

Sorry for repeating myself.
jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
That's the subject of an essay published by the church that I used to belong to. It draws a distinction between between hostile "questioning" and respectful "asking questions." The former is done when the jury is out, so to speak, on whether or not someone else has the right to say something, while the latter assumes good faith on their part and avoids making assumptions.

On the face of it, this seems like a surprisingly progressive topic for them to tackle, if you know anything about this church. Then you read the essay, as well as some other stuff that they publish, and two things become clear.

Trigger warning for theophobia, religious supremacism, sexual predation, and my personally venting frustration at wilfully obtuse and hostile people who want me to cease to exist.

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jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
Trigger warning: Theophobia and religious supremism.

There's a train of thought that goes something like this:

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Ana Mardoll wrote a great piece on this. She discusses it both firsthand, as a Wiccan, and as someone who's seen the Quileute tribe exploited in the Twilight franchise and thought this was Not Okay. And she uses some very good stories and examples, both to point out what is Not Okay and to raise questions about what, exactly, is Not Okay about "cultural appropriation."

I think those questions need to be asked. What's bad about cultural appropriation, after all? Is it that one person is being silenced, or is it that another person is finding their voice and is saying things they aren't allowed to?

Trigger warning for discussion of privilege, oppression, racism, transphobia, religious supremism, and genocide.

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I wanted to write something about them, after reading something that someone else wrote. I wanted to make it snarky and a bit light-hearted. But I couldn't. It was too painful to write about.

I just want to say that I'm not sure it's ever appropriate to respond to someone telling you about how much pain they're in with "You think you've got it bad? Shut up and listen to me."

Here's why.

(Trigger warning for abuse and negation.)

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jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
Because I keep running into people I want to tell this to.
Every day that I read religious blogs, I see comments and posts by atheists that I think they would find offensive if they were aimed at them by religious conservatives.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying you don't have the right to be upset about how you've been treated. I've blasphemed my parents' religion all over the place, in profound and insightful ways and in more juvenile ones as well. I think the world needs more blasphemy. There are a lot of awful and inhumane teachings, that are ruining real people's lives and that not nearly enough people are challenging.

The thing is, atheists aren't in this alone. It's not a battle of "freethinkers versus religion." It's a battle of "oppressive conservative religion versus minority belief systems." Most atheists, Buddhists, druids, Wiccans, or neopagans wouldn't outlaw competing belief systems if they somehow got to be in charge. The petty tyrants who run conservative Christianity and Islam would.

So I realize it seems ironic to say this to atheists, but this is bigger than who's right about unprovable metaphysical stuff. Quakers, Unitarians, UCCers, people in the belief systems I just mentioned; few of them are your enemies, and all of them can be your allies.

You're not the only ones who are being oppressed, or who've had to face angry parents and family members who think you've been led astray by the devil. You're not the only ones who've read lists of logical fallacies, and applied them to the church you grew up in. And the fact that you feel you came to the "right" conclusions regarding God and the afterlife doesn't make you better than liberal believers. It just makes you a religious supremacist, the same as your conservative enemies.

If you don't like that idea, then here's some advice for you.

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jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
Today on the bus, the driver asked me and [personal profile] rev_yurodivy (again) if we were married yet. Then she asked when we'd be married, and then she told us that if we weren't married we'd go to Hell. I let her know I wasn't particularly concerned where I ended up, as we left, using that exact language and feeling shaken, unsafe, and annoyed with her.

On the ride going back she was driving again, and she treated us to a fifteen-minute yelling rant about Jesus and Hell and salvation. I think the Book of Revelation was somewhere in there as well. She doesn't seem to be angry with us, but she seems very passionate about her beliefs and about making everyone else believe the same way.

I asked for her name so that I can call the town to complain about it. I'm going to let them know that I don't want to get her in trouble or anything, since she's gone out of her way to help us with some things, but that I don't appreciate being asked invasive questions or yelled at.

On the plus side, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and I almost feel sorry for her. She was making a fool of herself, and I couldn't keep from giggling nervously during her rant.

On the down side, I think a big part of the reason I'm not as put out as I thought I would be is because I was presenting as male, and that comes with a lot of privilege. If I'd been presenting as female and it'd been a male driver, I probably would have been scared of being physically harmed. As it is, the biggest reason I didn't speak up was because I was afraid of being dropped off at the curb and denied rides in the future or something. We have to ride the bus for miles to get to the grocery store we prefer, and we need the drivers' help to load and unload our cart. I'm afraid of doing or saying something that causes them to decide not to.

I'm open to suggestions for what I should do, or how I should handle it in the future. Yuro and I are planning to move to another, more progressive town, but it'll be a few months down the road.
jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
I was the first member of my family who was born into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also known as the Mormon church. In 2010, I formally resigned of my own accord without being excommunicated.

If you're not very familiar with the Mormon church, it has a lot in common with most Christian churches. There are significant cultural differences, and they use different terminology, but most of that won't be interesting to someone who's outside of Mormon or Christian culture. If you are, here are the three biggest things you need to know about it:
  1. It's the McDonald's of churches.

    Everything from the doctrine that's officially taught to the floor plans of the meetinghouses is "correlated," or standardized and whitewashed. You can walk into any Mormon church or temple and have basically the same experience as in any other. There are artifacts of an uncorrelated past, like older books and issues of church magazines, as well as the odd stained glass window or architectural marvel. These are few and far between, though, and are becoming harder to find.
  2. It's God's one true church.

    No one who doesn't accept this fact, and become baptized into the Mormon church and participate in its temple ordinances, is allowed to go to heaven. God doesn't consider other baptisms and church memberships valid. He lets kids in for free, and anyone who has died without hearing about Mormonism can talk to the missionaries in "Spirit Prison" before the final judgment. But in the end you have to be Mormonized, give 10 percent of your income to the church, and do whatever its leaders ask of you.
  3. It makes heavy use of information asymmetry.

    8-year-old kids, and people who only heard about the church last month, are invited to make covenants like baptism before they know hardly anything about it. They aren't told, for instance, that early church leaders had dozens of wives and were extremely racist, or that black people weren't allowed to hold the priesthood until 1978. You're generally not introduced to its sacred temple rituals until you're about to leave on your mission or get married, and you aren't told what you'll be doing or promising inside the temple beforehand. Ideally, you don't hear anything that could damage your "testimony" until you've already made a huge social commitment, like by marrying a church member.
The Internet kind of makes swiss cheese of that last one, which is why Mormon baptisms are way down in the first world. Anyway, there are three reasons most people have for leaving the Mormon church or becoming "inactive."
  1. They were hurt or abused by a member or leader.

    Local ecclesiastical leaders are untrained as therapists or counselors. They're still given authority by God to tell you what to do, though, as well as to ask your kids of all genders about their sex lives one-on-one behind closed doors. Because of this, the Mormon church is rife with abuses of power, plus it has a tendency to attract jerks. The official line is that "the church is true but the people aren't" (they've apparently never heard of "by their fruits shall ye know them," Jesus' criterion for judging a prophet), and that members who leave because of things like this "were offended" and hold petty grudges.
  2. The Mormon lifestyle wasn't for them.

    Mormonism is a very upper-middle class American church, where wealth and connections to church leaders are seen as signs of virtuous living. Young people are guilted for everything sex-related, unmarried adults are treated like kids, women are expected to stay at home and raise kids, and GSRMs (gender, sexual, and romantic minorities) are expected to stay as the gender they were assigned at birth and either have a single heterosexual marriage or remain celibate and never express affection for or romantic interest in anyone. Basically, it leaves out a lot of people, and makes them feel despairing and hopeless. But if they leave because of this, it's officially because they were disgusting and "wanted to sin".
  3. They found out the church isn't true.

    Mormonism stakes everything on its being God's one true church. So when someone reads information that's damaging to its truth claims -- like about how Joseph Smith completely made up the translations of the hieroglyphs in the Book of Abraham, or how there's zero archaeological or DNA evidence for the Book of Mormon civilizations -- that kills their belief in the church. Officially, they were "prideful" and "intellectual" (which is a bad word inside the church), and let their learning get in the way of their faith.
Note that in each case, the official explanation consists of projection. Mormons are offended that anyone would want to leave their church, for any reason. The ones who stay are usually the ones for whom the Mormon lifestyle works, and who live it (to whatever degree) because they want to. And the Mormon church is extremely proud of its and its members' "worldly" accomplishments, like their education and affluence. It's only when that education leads them to ask the wrong questions that they become prideful intellectuals.

So why did I leave, and why am I still writing about it?

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jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
That's how a Mormon disdainfully summarized the message at the end of the Book of Mormon musical, which was made by nonmembers and which he considered vulgar and disrespectful. He was trying to portray this message as obviously inferior to his beliefs, and not worth listening to. But the more I think about it, the more I think he really nailed the way I feel a person should live.

Especially the "dumb" part.

I've seen that criticism thrown at my beliefs, and the beliefs of those I respect, by atheists and true believers alike. I think that it's one of those words that is meant to be an objective critique, but what it really does is say "This thing triggers my personal incredulity response." Or "I can't imagine a world where this has any value."

"Dumb" means the same thing as "improper." It means something that makes you uncomfortable, and that you don't like but you don't want to face the reason why. That if you ever did, it'd be in the form of an elaborate rationalization that misses the point and erases someone's feelings and experiences -- possibly your own.

I think it could easily be a virtue -- sort of like Steve Jobs' admonition to "Stay hungry. Stay foolish."

So do what you want, no matter how dumb others think it is, and be a good person.
jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
That's the premise of Julian Baggini's article in the Guardian, which talks about things like how depressing it is to realize bad deeds go unpunished.

An exmormon on Reddit suggests that "Atheism is about facing up to that." It doesn't seem to occur to him that if being an atheist makes life seem bleak, then maybe you shouldn't be an atheist.

Trigger warning for discussion of homophobia and theophobia.

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jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
Trigger warning for homophobia and theophobia. Do you like this new word? I made it myself.

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