Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Published work...about ZOMBIES

I've been a whirlwind of busy. I have a few clients for my social media/marketing consulting business, Seed Media Consulting. I am LOVING working from home.

How are you?

In other awesome news, my poem "The Lies Parents Tell" was published today on the website "Tales of the Zombie War." It's already gotten three really positive comments :-)

Go check it out!

Until next time...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Latest published work

Just a quick post to let you know that I had a piece of work accepted for Pagan Writers Presents Samhain, an anthology (the first of many!) from the new Pagan Writers Press.

My piece is an article about the Goddess Hecate, and contains an Innvocation I wrote for Her.

The anthology should be coming out in the week or so, and pre-orders are being accepted at

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fingers Crossed Once Again for "Interview With the Faerie"

The two or three of you who have been following my writing career (hi Mom!) know that I am particularly attached to a piece of my writing that has an identity crisis. Is it a poem? (Maybe.) Is it a short story? (Sort of.) Is it sellable? (???) It is Interview With the Faerie (Part I), a dark chronicle of the uneasy meeting between the King of Faerie and a human reporter "chosen" to be the first to interview the Fae Lord in over a century.

For some blasted reason, when the idea first came to me 3+ years ago, it initially came out as a poem. Then I set it aside for a while, until the rest of the story wrote itself.

When I was inspired to pick it back up--not sure where it was going to take me--it continued to spew forth as a poem. A poem with stanzas of six lines (mostly.) And when the Fae King speaks, some of his lines rhyme.

Hey, don't blame me. He's a Faerie. If He wants to speak in rhyme, He can.

So, the piece is 1300-ish words long, in stanzas (some of which rhyme) and it ends in a cliffhanger, because that's just how it ended. Thus, the (Part I) at the end. There will be at least one other part. I've tried to write it a few times, but it wouldn't come out.

Back to my original point...

I sold the piece last summer, and it was supposed to be published this past summer, but the magazine went under. This happens.

Then things got busy with back to school, family calamities, starting my new business, etc. So today, I picked a market and sent it off.

I really believe in this piece. The question is, who is going to take a chance on an overly long poem/sort of short story?

We shall see. (I hope.)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My 2011 Pi-Con Panel Schedule

I'm not currently listed on the published schedule due to lateness on my part, but here are the panels I'll be on at Pi-Con.

What is Pi-Con? You ask...

 From the website: "Pi-Con is a diverse collection of geeks. Our members are fans of books, movies, gaming, webcomics and print comics, tech and gadgetry, costuming, anime, and music. You'll find people who are into steampunk, space opera, vampires, ren faires, superheroes, and dozens of other genres in various combinations. This year we're proud to be expanding our offerings to include a strong science track (including a science guest of honor!) . We'll still be including all the best parts of previous Pi-Cons; you can discuss your favorite topics in panels and meetups, play tabletop games from our extensive library, see a show or two, and party until you can't stay awake anymore.

The convention is held annually in August, in the Springfield, MA area.
We pride ourselves on being open and welcoming of newcomers. If you're into any of the fandoms we celebrate, or even just into hanging out with a bunch of friendly geeks, we'd like to extend a warm invitation. Hope to see you there!"
So, you can see why I fit in ;-)

Once again this year I'll have my husband and fellow scifi and science geek in tow. I'm also psyched because my fabulous writer-friend, Trish Wooldridge, is this year's Guest of Awesome! I'll also get to see some of the New England members of Broad Universe. (And on that note, I am the new coordinator for the New England chapter so if you are a woman writing genre fiction or a man who supports such--or would like to host a discussion about women writing genre fiction please feel free to contact me.)

Without further ado, the schedule:

timeslot Room panel

8/26/2011 8:00:00 PM Suffield Sex & Genre Literature (other panelists: Genevieve Iseult Eldredge (M), Trisha Wooldridge)

8/27/2011 12:00:00 PM Suffield Apocalypse: How? (George Claxton (M), Michael Whitehouse)

8/27/2011 4:00:00 PM Agawam Locally Grown Genre Works (Kate Kaynak (M), Ken Kingsgrave-Ernstein)

8/27/2011 5:00:00 PM Suffield Ask a Geek: Social Sciences (Kate Kate, Mike Whitehouse (M), Paul Estin)

8/27/2011 8:00:00 PM Main Tent Love and the Robosexual (George Claxton (M), Jennifer Pelland)

*** I may try to get on another panel or two, and should also be reading from my work if there is a Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading ***

Sunday, July 24, 2011

One Door Closes, Another One Opens

I was really bummed out two weeks ago when I received the news that my short story/poem "Interview With the Faerie, Part I"--slated to be published this month--was not going to be. The magazine is closing up shop. I was particularly dismayed because they held the piece for a year (and no, that is not unheard of in this biz.) Also, I LOVE this piece of work. In many ways, it defines me as a writer and is a good representation of what I write.

But to put this piece of news in greater context, I was coming off several poetry rejections (I'm clearly not sending to the right markets) and going through the change of leaving my job and re-defining myself. And dealing with the aftermath of Ari's back surgery. And such.

And then I was pleasantly surprised to hear that my short story Essie was accepted for publication by Luna Station Quarterly, a market I really dig. Their mission is to, "... is to display the vast and varied talents of female genre fiction writers."

So, look for Essie in their September issue. This will qualify as my first published short story! It is also one of my relatively few forays into pure scifi--I tend to write more fantasy and magickal realism.

Yesterday, I did re-tool "Interview" a bit and send it off to another market. I am now going to refer to it as a short story, which it really is. Even though it's written in stanzas like a poem and has some rhyming elements. It's over 1,700 words. So, fingers crossed on that.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Adjusting to a New Life & Random Musings

New Life Musings

Today I begin my second week without full-time, "in-the-office" employment. I've been incredibly busy and this new reality hasn't really sunk in yet. I'm sill under the pressure of kids' activities, Ari not being up to speed, and leftovers for work. And painting the darn kitchen, which thankfully is coming along.

Here's a view of the finished part.

Tomorrow is Summer Solstice, which amazes me. The weather has been suck in the Northeast and it feels like it's just begun to get nice. Tomorrow is also the kids' last day of school. Hopefully we will find a way to celebrate the solstice.

I had hoping that by now we'd have more of a hang-outside area. Having a spouse out of commission has made me realize how much each person contributes to running a household/family. (Honestly, kudos to you single Moms and Dads--I don't know how you do it.) The grill is still under the house and it's too heavy for me to take out. Although I'm now an expert lawn-mower the trimmer is still packed away and if memory serves I don't have a lot of stamina holding that up and using it for extended periods. My vegetable garden didn't get planted.

In my perfect vision of this summer, I'd have lovely little vegetable plantlings, an outdoor patio area, and a firepit. I'd be able to invite my friends over to celebrate the solstice.

Instead, I have hours of work to finish, a kitchen still in need of some paint, boxes of kitchen stuff still to put away, looming writing deadlines, and kids on my hands as of tomorrow.

But I have POTENTIAL. Theoretically--when things settle down a bit--I have more and more flexible time. My kids are older, and they are funny, and amuse the heck out of me when they're not annoying me by leaving utter chaos in their collective wake. And Ari is on the mend.

Realistically, I live in paradise. I love where I live. Everyday the chipmunks put on a show, and there are beautiful bird songs all around.

Writing Update

In writing news, I received a poetry rejection recently, the novel is still "in progress" and my most active project is a short story for the upcoming unCONventional anthology. Also, my long poem "Interview With the Faerie, Part I" is supposed to be published this month in Abandoned Towers. I'm also thinking of going on a total poetry hiatus--that is not writing ANY poetry at all--for a year, and just concentrating on my other writing. I can't seem to find the markets for it (either that, or my poetry really sucks) and I'm getting discouraged.

Off to food shop--YAY I don't have to fight the crowds on Sunday any more!!

Early Summer Blessings to All!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Listen to me read from my novel-in-progress. You know you want to.

The May episode of the BroadPod--sponsored by Broad Universe--is up and I am reading some of my work. This episode is all about "mothers" and "mothering." Please have a listen, and tell me what you think!

Happy listening!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Big Step Forward With My Novel!

I must be brief here, because there is a lot going on in my life now, and not all of it is positive.

Some GOOD NEWS! Today I had a great breakthrough with figuring out the Cosmology for my novel-in-progress, Ownership of the Gods. It's a complicated cosmology that figures in Gods and Goddess from across time and (Earth) culture, and must also make sense in the here and now.

I'm tweaking a chapter that I will record for the upcoming Broad Universe podcast, and I realized I really needed to have that Cosmology fixed. So I took pen to paper and did it! I love it--it accomplished everything I want it to, including:

* being multi-cultural
* being pan-religion
* challenging some commonly held assumptions about religion
* turning on their head some commonly held beliefs about where religious ideas "come from," and how they relate to us in the here-and-now

I am just super-excited! (I swear-sketching this out was seriously the most fun I've had in several weeks!) I'll add a note and link to the podcast from my blog here when it is released.

Be well, all.


Monday, April 18, 2011

"Don't You Mean God's Husband?"

Below is the content of and link to a fantastic opinion piece that really struch a chord with me. I put it up on my Facebook page, where it received no attention whatsoever (too heavy?) so I thought I'd repost it on my blog.

Link to post by Star Foster:

Jason Pitzl-Waters wrote about the recent God’s Wife controversy over at On Faith. As a dude he nailed it, and I suggest you open it in a new tab and read it through before you go further into my rant. Leave a comment and tell him you appreciate what he wrote.

I’ve been avoiding this drama because it cuts too close to the bone. It makes my head begin to buzz like angry honey bees. It makes me clench my fist and grind my teeth. Y’all know I ain’t the Goddessy type. I have no patience for Dianics, for uber-feminists or for anyone to expect me to wax eloquent about the magic of my “wombspace” because that just ain’t me. That does not mean I am not deeply connected to the Goddesses, to the feminine Divine. It’s a connection that has no voice, it’s too deep, rooted in my mitochondria, in my bones and in my very breath. There are no words to describe, only aching sound. I wish I could give it words, but there is no way to convey it to another. My inability to analyze and share this drives me crazy.

Yet other women can express it, and express it well. None so well as the Hebrew women in the book of Jeremiah (I’m stealing the translation Jason used):

“We will not listen to the things you’ve said to us in the name of YHWH. On the contrary, we will certainly do all that we’ve vowed. We will make offerings to the Queen of Heaven, and pour libations to her as we used to do – we and our ancestors, our kings and princes in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem – because then we had plenty of bread and we were satisfied, and suffered no misfortune. But since we ceased making offerings to the Queen of Heaven and pouring libations to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by sword and famine. And when we make offerings to the Queen of Heaven and pour libations to her, is it without our husbands’ approval that we make cakes in her likeness and pour libations to her?”
– Jeremiah 44:15-19, translation by Graham Harvey, from the Hebrew text of the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, excerpted from “The Paganism Reader.”

There is anger in these words, hot and quick. Can you blame them? Thousands of years later they still speak of Asherah as God’s Wife, by a nameless title denoting her sexual position in relation to him. No one calls El or Yahweh Asherah’s Husband. No one calls him consort, concubine, helpmeet or other term placing him in a subservient role. No one apologizes for Her, explains away Her moods, Her harsh words.

As a teenager I would lie awake at night praying to Yahweh and Jesus with every fiber of my being. I was desperate for God’s love, to be an expression of Divine Grace. I wanted to be God’s Comb, making the tangled straight and smooth. Imagine me, a young girl staring at the ceiling and sobbing out her prayers, because every word of Yahweh tells her she is less, she is incomplete, she is subservient and second-class.

Everything involving discussing gender is so politicized and charged, but for a second forget the rhetoric and imagine God tells you that you are second class. Actually consider that for a moment, that state of being. That you were created to alleviate man’s loneliness and meet his needs. That your God is telling you to “lie back and think of England.” Yeah, that’s extreme but when you’re a bright budding young woman who sees all the women of the Bible (excluding Deborah and Miriam) tainted by sexuality, who reads Saint Paul insist she be silent and considers how Yahweh never even considered creating woman until Adam started to whine, you tend to see things in an extreme light. I spent hours crying and begging for forgiveness for being a woman, just like he made me.

Alienation? Hardly. It’s rejection, spiritual slavery and then being asked to be cheerful about it. No sir, no thanks and I do not want another. I’ll tell you where to stick your alienation. I will not bend to an abusive God who needs excuses made for him, like a violent boyfriend. Oh, he only says I’m sinful when his beer has gone warm. Oh, he only rejects me on the days I don’t have testicles, so it’s all my fault. Really. He doesn’t really mean it when he calls me the origin of death. He loves me. Really. He does…

I’m not a Wiccan because I place the Goddess at the pinnacle of Divine perfection. I am not Wiccan because of the Great Rite, the union of the God and Goddess symbolically re-enacted, because of chalice and blade. No, I am Wiccan because of the Sword of Power. I rarely hear people talk about this, and it may not be relevant to every Wiccan trad. At Beltane and Samhain, the sword of power passes between the God and Goddess. Each time I catch my breath, lest the priest or priestess be moved by a power-hungry impulse. Yet, each time the representative of Divinity receiving the power insists they cannot wield it alone, and asks for their partner help. That is a theology that I can stake my soul on, that encompasses us all. We cannot do this alone. We have to help each other if we’re going to make it.

I don’t lie awake worrying about whether the Gods love me because I have a vagina or lack a Y chromosome. I don’t believe I was created to be inferior. However, I do think I was created second. Would you like to hear my UPG-modified Origin of Woman story? Too bad, I’ll tell you anyway:

Zeus had created man, Prometheus “stole” fire from Hephaestus and Hephaestus had gifted them with a few of his arts. Yet all was not well and things were not running smoothly. Man showed disturbing promise yet seemed limited. Zeus had never intended man to have fire, to be able to create like Hephaestus creates, to be so like the Gods.Yet, was that such a bad thing, that Zeus should create a race that is like the Gods in cunning and creativity? So Zeus and Hephaestus came up with a plan that mankind should be as balanced as Godkind. Hephaestus created Pandora, the all-gifted first woman. She was not created to be subservient, to be less. She was showered with all imaginable gifts from both Goddesses and Gods and she was given a jar.

Now Hephaestus kept his hands clean as much as he could. He got into enough trouble with the Gods as it was and the Goddesses might not be pleased with woman, made in their image and a mirror of their fierce cunning and bright beauty. So just as Prometheus “stole” Hephaestus’ fire to give to man, so Hephaestus “warned” Pandora against opening the jar. Yet Hephaestus had made her, molded her calves, ears and heart with his own two hands, created her from his love and appreciation for the Goddesses of Olympus. He knew how to speak to her and knew she was bright, intelligent and wise. I can imagine him saying the words while miming that she should look inside. You see inside this jar was all the darkness man had stored up, all that was making him slow, his thinking constipated, his work rough and unfinished. For man was bound by darkness, primal apes wielding tools, but as yet not truly human. They lacked a Divine spark.

So there he left her, with the jar before her. Pandora carefully tilted the lid back, and out flies fear, insecurity, self-conciousness, fear, doubt, worry and all those dark things that paralyze us. Out flew the dark dumbness of the animal and leaving man’s mind free and open. She let them go, set them free and unburdened the soul of man. Then in the bottom of the jar she sees something bright, something that lights up her lovely face and she quickly closes the lid and seals it shut. She held onto precious hope.

So every man and woman living today is her descendant, and each of us have the ability to let go of the darkness. Each of us carry hope within. Men are not better than women, nor are women better then men. Man didn’t ask for woman but stood proudly on his own. Woman was not created to serve man, but to be the catalyst through which they are both transformed, which still happens through the process of birth, where the male and female combine within woman to become a human child. Those early men were not perfect, though skilled, hardy and clever. Pandora herself was an impossible creature, unlikeable in her perfection, created in the image of the larger-than-life Goddesses. No, the ones worth emulating are their descendants, a perfect blend of the two, our very selves. Together they created a full spectrum of humanity to emulate the diversity found in heaven. Pandora and her many partners gave birth to men, women, straight, gay, bisexual, transgendered, shy, gregarious, analytical, tender-hearted, tall, short and every other kind of human you can imagine. Pandora was a Divine virus set loose among our ancestors, an evolutionary mutation of vast consequence. She is that mitochondrial Eve who lives symbiotically in our DNA, male and female, giving us the ability to let go, move forward and never lose hope.

So let’s set the record straight: Yahweh is Asherah’s Husband, and he’s not the only one. She shared her bed with El first and has many lovers. She is Goddess, and to deny Her is to deny yourself. She is the Queen of Heaven: holy, loving and many Gods are equal to Her brilliance. We are the Children of the Gods, and they live in us, male, female and genderless. They do not reject or deny us. They do not strike us for being who they made us. They do not leave us sobbing in darkness struggling to dent our souls to please them. We are not Second Class, not Helpmeet, not Consort nor Concubine. We are Whole and Wholly Blessed.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Just in case you were stupid enough to think that women are "equal" to men...

... I'm here to kick you in the teeth.

Not that I fault you. I'm 40-something years old, and during my lifetime I have witnessed plenty of advances for women. I remember when there was not a girls' recreational basketball league in my Rhode Island town. So, as a primary-grade student who loved basketball and sports in general, I was one of two girls to play in the boys' league. And I was a starter.

A year later, the girls had their own league.

I also remember the girls being marginalized in gym class in elementary school. We were "just girls," after all.

Luckily, my parents gave me the message that I could do anything I wanted. Growing up in the 70s, my mother added to the message something I would not dream of having to say to my daughter today. After "You can do anything you want with your life" she added "even though you're a girl."

It was the 70s--and Title 9 was relatively fresh. So was the pill. And Roe v. Wade. I was riding high on a wave of girl power.

In junior high, much of that came crashing down. The empowerment I experienced as a youngster was replaced by the insecurity of adolescence. Popularity was everything. The size of a girl's bosom was directly proportional to how popular she was. I did not have a name for it then, but I learned my first lessons in "objectification." Overnight, girls were transformed into things. No longer whole people, they were judged by capricious and often arbitrary criteria: bosoms, whether or not they "put out" (which could raise or lower your popularity, depending), their overall appearance including hairstyle and clothes. Many girls were afraid to be too smart, too athletic, or too “different.”

Male teachers in the junior high gave special privileges to the more "womanly" appearing girls. The message was clear: Unless you appealed to a male, you were beyond notice.

But back to the point, this rant is really about how things have not changed for women all that much. Yes, we are better represented in boardrooms and legislatures. Today, there are more female than male college undergraduates.
But …

Our bodies continue to be battlegrounds. We have lost, rather than gained, control over our bodies and medical decisions over the past twenty years. (To be fair, men have lost some control also.) But tonight, as we wait for word of a government shutdown, one thing is clear: This standoff is NOT about the U.S. budget. It is NOT about securing our country’s financial future.

This is a standoff all about control. Control over women.

The Tea-Party soused Republican Congress is holding the United States hostage. They have decided to attach several riders to a budget that should be about THE BUDGET. But these riders overwhelmingly target women’s access to health care. And no, I’m not using the term “health care” as a euphemism for “abortion.” Because de-funding Planned Parenthood *is* about women’s health. Yes, Planned Parenthood provides abortion services. But overwhelmingly, it provides routine annual check-ups for women who otherwise wouldn’t have easy access to health care.

I am lucky to be covered by health insurance. I can see a doctor about virtually anything I need. All women should be so lucky. All AMERICANS should be so lucky. But this is not the case.

So, I implore the Republican-led congress to stop using my body as a battleground. You have absolutely no right to restrict my--any woman’s--access to health care. I frankly don’t give a shit if you “don’t agree” with abortion or think “God prohibits it.” I don’t care if your God tells you to worship trees, or to not wear the color blue. If you truly believe God is speaking to you, you have every right to believe that and I do not begrudge you that.

But why shouldn’t someone *else* wear blue? Maybe they truly, honestly, believe God or their pet gerbil is telling them green is the color to stay away from.

You may have noticed we live on a pretty big planet. And that people the world over have a variety of norms and beliefs. Clearly, humanity is wired for diversity. By cramming your view of how women “should behave” through the legislature, you are RESTRICTING people’s rights. This is clearly un-American.

Take note: I will not let you use my body as a battleground. I will not stand by as you re-interpret history and re-write the meaning of the Constitution you claim to uphold. I will not let you marginalize me. I will not allow you to limit the choices my daughter will have when she is older. I will not have you remake this incredible, bewildering, ever-changing and occasionally frustrating country into YOUR twisted vision of a presumed God-given utopia.

You sit on a precipice, and history will judge you for your actions. Your ancestors will inherit what you sow today. I implore you to do the right thing.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Well, Now I've Done It

In a rare "moment of clarity"--yes, I'm aware that for me these don't happen too often--I realized I had to leave my job.

I was returning from travel in Washington, D.C. where we had finished holding an annual meeting. I happened to have a huge part in the planning of it this year, so it was particularly anxiety-producing. All I could see was what went "wrong." Even if the wrongs were transparent to everyone else. But I digress.

So, it was really stressful and a lot of hard work. All of this was happening while concurrently at work I was in various stages of proposal development, trying to build a robust social media strategy and presence, and coordinating a whole bunch of this and that. And by "coordinating" I mean shivving a bunch of really smart and busy people to do X, Y, and Z by such-and-such a date. Herding cats, really. Oh and I didn't mention the content I needed to find time to write. There's more, but you get the idea.

I work at a nonprofit, ultimately funded by the Feds. Over the past three years, my take-home pay has gone down as my on-paper hours have been cut. My level of responsibility has gone up, and I've been doing a job at a level or so more than where I'm at for about two years. And then getting 75% of that, even though I'm often working full-time.

But all that wasn't what really did it. My kids need more parental time and attention due to a few factors I don't really want to go into here. It has been very, very difficult for my husband and I to juggle our hectic and pressure-filled jobs while being able to meet our kids' needs.

He, however gets paid about 3X more than I do.

So I was driving home from the airport, and put in a call home to let my husband know I was on my way. It was roughly 6pm. When he answered, he sounded exhausted. It was Friday, his day to work from home and be there for the kids when they got off the bus. Even though they get home at 3:30, he still has work to do until 5 or 6 or whenever his work for the day is done.

"I'm sorry we won't be here when you get home," he said, "but the kids are starving, and I have absolutely no bandwidth to cook for them. We're going to Friendly's."

I assured him it was OK. I was going to go home, grab a glass a wine, and soak in my tub anyway.

We said goodbye. But something was nagging at me. I thought about how when I travel (several times a year, more than he does) how much slack he picks up. And how much he does, generally. And all the things that my kids have been needing from me, as well as things I don't have the time or energy to be properly "on top of." And how his job has often taken back-seat to mine, even though, salary-wise, he is really the breadwinner.

It suddenly became clear: I cannot do this anymore. It is just not worth it.

If my compensation was better, I probably would have held out longer. More money buys things like tutors and relaxing vacations. But I wasn't making enough for these benefits anyway.

So, I gave my notice and I'll be working until June when the kids get out of school. I know that this will be hard. My kids can be a handful. I don't relish the thought of being on a tight budget.

But my family is so worth it. And that's ultimately what matters most.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

You say "Groundhog Day," I say "Imbolc"

In the U.S., today is popularly known as Groundhog Day.* I've always enjoyed this day--not just because it's the day before my birthday (can you believe I'm gonna be 39 AGAIN??) but also because this is the time of year in the Northern Hemisphere where you really notice the growing light.

Our Celtic ancestors throughout Europe recognized this day as the half-way point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. The name "Imbolc" comes from the Gaelic "Oimelc," meaning "ewe's milk." This is because ewes were nursing their recently-born babies, and was considered a first sign of spring. When Christianity took hold in Ireland, Imbolc was transformed into Saint Brigid's Feast Day. Some Christians celebrate February 2nd as "Candlemas," the Feast of Purification of the Virgin Mary.

Romans celebrated Lupercalia at this time of year. Egyptians celebrated the Feast of Nut.

As someone who follows the Earth-based Wheel of the Year, I take many lessons from this celebration. Purification is one theme--some begin spring cleaning on this day. I see this day as a celebration of the Mother-Daughter bond, a la a feminist version of The Myth of Persephone. This is also a good day--if you are an artist--to celebrate your craft.

I will be celebrating by lighting a candle and meditating on my writing. I hope to gain insights on how to handle the fact that I don't actually have all that much time to write, because of the way my life is right now. I will also meditate on how to be both a better daughter and a better mother.

Happy early spring!

* It's also my friend Kathy's birthday :-)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Finding 'god' on an Airplane (Part deux)

The story continues

Her story was heartbreaking in many respects. As I really listened, focusing closely on the rest of her face, I noticed the signs of someone who has felt disappointment; someone who has lived unhealthily.

To make the telling of this story easier, I will refer to the woman on the plane as "Jane." *

Born Catholic, Jane never really felt connected to her religion. It simply did not impact her in any substantive way. Her parents were both alcoholics. Jane's mother was also a victim of incest, an experience that was horrifying and deeply scarring and which led to her subsequent alcoholism. However, Jane's mother tried to be a good mother once she had her own children, and Jane recalled some positive and loving moments during her childhood.

Jane did not say all that much, in retrospect, about her own adolescence. But by the time she was a young adult she was drinking alcohol and had became a drug user also. As I recall she hinted that she sold her body also during those dark times. At some point, her own mother "found god" and "straightened her life out," something that for years had no appreciable effect on Jane at all. She was deeply distracted by her own self-centered, destructive life, and thought her mother was "weird."

One day, as Jane relates it, she woke up deeply distraught, depressed, and ready to end her own life. She felt as though there was nothing left to live for, and did not believe that there was anything that she could do to improve her life. "In that moment," she told me, "I decided to call out to God** as a last resort--not really believing He even existed. So I got down on my knees and prayed, 'God, I don't know if you're real or not or if you can even hear me, but if you're there please, please help me.' And seconds later I felt filled with what I can only describe as love; and I felt hope and I realized that God was real and that He did answer my prayers and that He loved me. With His help, I knew I could change my life." She said from that moment on she never touched another drop of alcohol or drugs; that she "cleaned herself up." She began going to a "Bible Church" and learned all about how Jesus loved her and all people, especially sinners. About how He gave his life for all of us. About how we are nothing without Him.

I must tell you that Jane's face was infused with joy and perhaps gratitude as she told me all this. I have absolutely no doubt that she believes she found (her) Truth.

Eventually I asked her a few questions. I offered that I was "not Christian" but did elaborate further; nor did she ask. I asked her what she believes happens to people like me who do not believe as she does. "Jesus loves those of you especially." she replied. She then quoted a Bible passage (which unfortunately I don't remember) but was something to the effect of 'it's never too late--as long as a person accepts Jesus on their deathbed.' She mentioned the End Times. I asked her what would happen to people who did not "believe," or those who are of other religions and may not ever have been exposed to Christianity. She explained that according to the Book of Revelation, truly only those people who are "believers" will live forever in the glory of Christ. All others will spend eternity in misery with Satan, undergoing unspeakable tortures.

At roughly this point in our conversation, I could tell she was worried about me--about my soul. I could practically hear her thinking, she seems like a nice woman with a husband and children... and that she truly did not want me to go to Hell and suffer unbelievable torture for eternity. But she did not say this aloud.

Within her retelling of Revelation, she mentioned that (and I am paraphrasing here, because I can't remember exactly how she said it) that several signs of the Apocalypse were upon us, and that " eighteen months when Obamacare forces us to get implants under our skin, True Believers will reject it, otherwise we will not be allowed into God's Heavenly Kingdom."


I honestly don't know how I held it together at this point, but I did. I asked for clarification: Yes--I heard her correctly.

And that's where my tolerance hit the wall.

Up until this point, it was an interesting conversation. If someone believes that God--or god, or an ancestor, or Goddess, or a tree, or James Dean's ghost--saved them from whatever earthly hell they'd been residing in, it is not my place to assume they are right or wrong. I wholeheartedly believe that as a species we are programmed to make sense of the world--or not make sense of it--in a whole slew of creative and differing ways. I don't care what the heck anyone else believes is "God;" nor do I care if someone is an atheist or agnostic. As long as you are not raining on my parade, go and believe anything you wish.

But, this person actually believed that our President and his "obamacare" was 1) a sign of the apocalyspe and 2) that Americans were going to be forced to get an implant under their skin--and that this implant equated to Satan's sign. And therefore, any true Christian would be unable to get this "implant."

(As an aside, the closest reference I could find to anything that may resemble her argument in Revelation is this: If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. (Revelation 14:9,10.) Being the Researcher I am, I found that the Internet is indeed full of doomsayers making this same arument in various ways. See for example here and here. Is Verichip a sign of the End Times? No more so than Elvis was in the 50's. Or the Teletubbies were.)

And My Point Is?...

I could go on, about how stories warning of the ill effects of verichips make great science fiction. Which they do. Humans + Forced electronic implants + Mind control = Dystopian gold. But this same story is being told in churches. As though it is Truth, and not thinly veiled racism, fear of terrorism, and good old-fashioned fear mongering. In churches--in places where people should be teaching about love and tolerance.

But I said these posts would be more about what I learned from this experience, and how it gets to the heart of why I write. So here you go...

1) I believe people "find" certain religions to "save them" because they have been badly damaged. Due to poor self-esteem, they think they need "saving;" and because they are damaged they don't believe they have the inner strength to better themselves in other (non-religious) ways.

2) To the point above--clearly, humans are easily damaged. The preponderance of religions that force shame, seclusion, fear, abstinence, etc. is, I think, a product of damaged humans' longings for "betterment."

3) These religions and the social systems that support them then become the "damagers," warping peoples' views of things such as nature, male-female relationships, etc.

I don't think all religion is bad--I consider myself a religious person and also do not count myself among the atheists. But bad religion is bad. If a religion:

* tells you you are innately sinful/unclean/unworthy,
* teaches that humans have dominion over all of creation,
* demands that giving up your very life is the ultimate gift to your deity,
* demands that you must wear uncomfortable or punishing clothing,
* demands that you must suspend reason, do not have the freedom to make sense of the world as you wish, or treat the "other" as lesser than yourself,

...then question whether this Deity/religion truly has your best interests at heart.

I don't pretend to know into the hearts and minds of all people. I don't know the intricacies of what people have experienced in their lives, or what they need to go on from day to day. But I fear for all of us when so many of us are making decisions on how to live, what to believe, and how to treat others based on a faulty perception of what "god" wants of us.

So I write in hopes that I can offer alternative viewpoints to people who have not been exposed to them. I strive to create understanding of human diversity. I do this in a science fiction context, because it is often much easier to tell a contemporary story by dressing it in fantastical clothing.

Jane and I parted on good terms. I believe that she hoped that she had found a convert in me--that she had given me a glimpse of the one "True God" and that I would find my way to him and thus save my immortal soul.

But what I could not tell Jane was that I could never serve a god who demands that we believe Obamacare=the devil. Or that teaches the world was created in six days. Or that tells his followers that they are the chosen ones, and that all others are doomed for their disbelief.

I won't serve a god who tells me to fly airplanes into buildings. I won't listen to a god who says being gay is abhorrent, or that my very body is sinful and must be covered at all times.

I implore the religious among you to be tolerant. I do not presume to tell you not to believe--that is your right. But I ask that you consider the fact that spirituality and religion can coexist with tolerance, love, and reason.

* I never did get Jane's real name.
** I use God with a capital here in deference to Jane's experience.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Update: I am alive

I just spent a blissful two weeks without substantive work. I also did not write a blasted thing. I did not tweet for two weeks; and only checked email and posted to Facebook sporadically.

I just needed to relax, as much as is possible over the holidays.

Now as I re-emerge, I have Arisia right around the corner--yikes! I still have a ton of reading I want to do for that. (My tentative schedule is at:

Also, several work deadlines are staring me down the barrel of a rifle. And I really need need to chug out some more novel content.

Oh, and I have "Part Deux" of "Finding God..." in Draft here in this blog. It's been sitting there for over two weeks. I'll post it soon. Really.

In other news, the Hunger Games series absolutely rocks. Kudos to Suzanne Collins. Read it if you haven't done so yet.

Also waiting for The Wise Man's Fear from Pat Rothfuss. And I'm beginning to tap my foot.

Happy New Year All...

Love, Me