Speak Your Mind–Even If Your Voice Shakes

I find myself not knowing quite where to begin, as I don’t imagine everything here will be taken super well. But that’s kind of the problem and the point of the post.

We’ll start with some backstory: Some five years ago, my dad turned me on to the existence of Skepchick, and Teen Skepchick in particular since TS was looking for new bloggers and he figured that might be my jam. I wrote my first ever semi-professional piece, it was published on Teen Skepchick as a guest post, and a couple weeks later I was on the writing team. So began my involvement in the atheist community.

Being a writer on a sister site to something as major as Skepchick was a fantastic opportunity, and it set me on a course to developing an incredibly supportive network of friends and acquaintances made up of my peers. I’m still friends with a handful of my fellow TS bloggers today–actually I do a podcast with one of them.

I met more people at conventions, started writing for Queereka and then FTB (Freethought Blogs), sat on panels and even gave a talk, accruing new friends all the while. Until I found myself in the middle of an amazing, interconnected group of skeptics, atheists, feminists, and progressive thinkers. I’ve known many of these people for years, and have always appreciated how fortunate I am to be among people who accept me (including many of my fellow bloggers here at The Orbit).

As it happens, I also joined the Skepchick network riiiiight around the time Rebecca Watson uttered the phrase, “Guys, don’t do that,” and what had initially appeared to be a unified movement started to thoroughly implode. Continue reading “Speak Your Mind–Even If Your Voice Shakes”

Speak Your Mind–Even If Your Voice Shakes
{advertisement}

I’m Starting A Patreon!

Hello, all!

Today I’m announcing the launch of »my Patreon page.« Most of you probably know what that is, but if you don’t: it’s a way for creators to be paid for work they normally do for free, such as making YouTube videos and blogging, via monthly pledge donations.

My Patreon is mostly to support my YouTube endeavors; it’ll help me rebuild my aging computer and set up a proper recording space. (I’m using a fur-covered, torn green screen as a background. Save me. T_T) But! I’m also offering rewards on there that pertain to my writing, as a way to encourage me to use this platform more.

Even if I can’t come up with some super srs bsns for this blog, I want to give it more attention. I’ve had this idea to over-explain the lyrics to World of Warcraft parody songs for several years and I think I’d get a kick out of it, even if no one else does.

So, if you want to support my creative works and give me things to write about, check out my Patreon! If you don’t want to or can’t support it, I’d still be grateful for a share.

Hope you have an awesome day!

I’m Starting A Patreon!

CONvergence Panels!

LET THE EXCITEMENT COMMENCE.

CONvergence is coming up soon, here in just over a month, and the events schedule has been posted! Which means that I now know and can share with you which panels I’m going to be on!

DID I MENTION SOMETHING ABOUT EXCITEMENT??

*ahem* Anyway, the full schedule is available here, so you can check out all the amazing things that are going to be happening. There’s an art show, movie screenings, a pie contest, and signings. And, of course, panels!

I’m going to be on six(!) panels this year, so here’s my schedule for those who are interested: Continue reading “CONvergence Panels!”

CONvergence Panels!

Hey There, Internet!

Well hello there! Welcome to The Orbit, and a special hello to those of you visiting my blog in particular. ;]

For those of you who aren’t familiar with me [probably most people], allow me to introduce myself: I’m Luxander, a genderqueer trans dude, poly-pansexual flower, atheist, feminist, and YouTuber.

I started my blogging career on Blogger, as so many of us have, beginning some time in high school. That blog moved to WordPress at an unknown date. My semi-professional career started with Teen Skepchick back in 2012, followed by Queereka later that year. A couple of my pieces were crossposted to the main Skepchick blog during my tenure on that network. I stepped down from those positions due to depression in late 2013, and was invited by Zinnia Jones to co-blog with her at Freethought Blogs in early 2014.

Now, I get my own space on a super awesome network with some of the most spectacular people I could ever imagine calling my peers, colleagues, and friends! I feel so honored and privileged to be part of this project, and I hope you’re as excited about it as I am. Continue reading “Hey There, Internet!”

Hey There, Internet!

Help My Awesome Family! (Plz?)

10464169_10201853698937124_3923966816234564280_n
I generally try not to ask for favors for myself, but this isn’t for me, so today I’m going to use my extraordinarily limited platform to solicit help for my dad, step-mom, and two younger siblings.

My dad is presently unemployed, and my step-mom works part-time. Dad has fibromyalgia and other health issues which make it difficult to work. While my uncle is trying to hook him up with a job, Dad has aspirations to work at home making music (Soundcloud) and videos on his YouTube channel, DaveInABottle.

daveinabottle
(His name is Dave.)

Continue reading “Help My Awesome Family! (Plz?)”

Help My Awesome Family! (Plz?)

Religiosity Still ≠ Mental Illness

Sometimes it’s easier to talk than to write, so I did some talking in a video.

Picture 20

People within the atheist movement have a nasty tendency to refer to the behavior of the religious as “crazy” and “delusional.” Unfortunately, some people with respectable platforms willingly and knowingly propagate this type of misinformation and vehemently refuse to use more correct (NOT ableist) terminology. My first video on this subject was not exceedingly well-articulated, so I decided to tackle the issue again.

And I also decided to go ahead and transcribe it for you, in case I’m unclear or if you just don’t like watching videos for some reason!

Me: Hello, Internet people!

I decided to finally make a video following up the one where I was talking about religious fundamentalism and mental illness, and why they’re not the same thing and why you shouldn’t treat them as the same thing.

I want to start this off with a PSA: If you don’t have a mental illness and if you aren’t a professional within the field of psychology or some very closely related field, you should not be making statements about whether or not something is crazy or whether something is delusional or whether somebody is afflicted by a mental illness. Because there’s no way for you to know that and you’re not a professional and you should not be making judgment statements based on things that you’re clearly not very well informed about.

So, in my last video, I was really talking about choice–that’s the kind of big difference, for me, between being a religious person and being a person with a mental illness–is that you choose to engage in religious activities and not in having a mental illness. I do agree somewhat with some of the comments on that: that that’s a little bit of an oversimplification of the issue.

There are parts of the world where you don’t really have a choice about whether or not you adhere to a religion because you can be put to death or put in jail for having those beliefs [or not], but in the United States pretty much the biggest ramification is: social outcast. You can lose members of your family, which is a big enough ramification for some people and a big enough consequence that they don’t do it–they don’t defect from their religion at all, they don’t name it when they have doubts. That’s a legitimate concern and it’s unfortunate, but doesn’t really take away from the fact that the internet now exists and you can have access to information aside from what you were taught.

It’s also been pointed out to me that if you’re indoctrinated as a child, you have significantly less opportunity to branch out and change the way that you think because of the fact that your psychology is so malleable when you’re a child. You can be changed enough that you’re not capable of making a choice to get away from your religion later on in life.

Some people also pointed out that being exposed to this as a child can cause you to develop mental illness (I think somebody said). Which I would grant to an extent, because like I said, when you’re a child you’re very malleable and if you’re being engaged in any kind of brainwashy-cultish sort of stuff (some religion, Christianity, sort of borders on that), it can cause you to develop a higher propensity for getting a mental illness later on in your life or having those kind of symptoms.

But that’s true of other things when you’re a child as well. If you’re abused in a secular sense, if you’re a victim of physical abuse when you’re a child, that can also increase your chances for developing depression and those kind of symptoms when you’re older. But by itself that’s not the case.. (Well you know whatever. I don’t know what I’m saying. I’ve tried to do this like 6 or 7, 8, 9 times and it keeps fucking up, so i’m just kind of saying stuff….)

Anyway! The mental illness rate among religious people is actually a little bit lower than it is among the general populace. So, those two things aren’t mutually inclusive by any means. Religious people are not mentally ill and mentally ill people aren’t religious, necessarily. Probably the reason that the rate is a little bit lower among religious populations is that there’s that community sort of benefit; that psychological benefit to having people in a like-minded group around you to provide support and to bolster your beliefs and help you when you’re starving and things like that. So, for those reasons (probably) the rate of mental illness is actually a little bit lower among Christians in the United States than it is among the general populace in the United States. So that’s something to chew on if you have a tendency to call religious people delusional.

Having a wrong idea is not delusional. and I wanted to go ahead and read from the DSM on this because the dictionary definition of “delusional” is probably a little bit more broad and can encompass some religious beliefs, but I want to just go ahead and read this bit:

[Paraphrasing]: ‘Delusions are fixed beliefs that are not amenable to change in light of conflicting evidence. They’re deemed bizarre if they’re clearly implausible and not understandable to same-culture peers and do not derive from ordinary life experiences. The distinction between a delusion and a strongly held idea is sometimes difficult to make and depends, in part, on the degree of conviction with which the belief is held despite clear or reasonable contradictory evidence regarding its veracity.’

So the reason that believing in god–especially in the United States–is not considered “delusional” is that it’s really common and it’s a very easily acceptable belief. You’re actually considered crazy if you DON’T believe in god in the United States. I’ve been called crazy for not believing in god. So, it’s more socially acceptable here and because of that fact, it can’t qualify as delusional because there are too many factors reinforcing your participation in that particular belief for it to be an outlier, such as delusions are kind of required to be.

An interesting example of this that I found in October is: a man in India sacrificed his 8-month-old child to a goddess for some reason or another, and a lot of people in the United States were calling that “crazy” and “delusional” behavior. If it’s considered socially normal (not “normal”–I’m not saying that people in India think that killing infants is normal, please don’t say that I’m saying that) but if it’s more culturally accepted by your religion, especially, that you can sacrifice an 8-month-old child and get any kind of positive benefit from it; if that’s a culturally accepted idea then it can’t qualify as delusional. Because the idea in India of what’s right and what’s wrong is different than the idea in america of what’s right and what’s wrong. And they would say I’m crazy for wearing pants, for example. (I am wearing pants.)

The cultural context is actually a pretty big factor in determining what qualifies as crazy behavior, so it’s not even strictly definitional from one place to another.

The biggest thing though–the biggest reason that you shouldn’t call religious people “delusional,” aside from the fact that you’re probably wrong: is that you’re throwing all of us under the bus; all of us who actually live with mental illness. (I have depression and anxiety to a lesser extent.) I’m not in the same category as a religious fundamentalist–or, I’m not in the same category as a person who chooses to have their child circumcised because of their religious beliefs. And it’s really not fair in any way, shape, or form to put normal (“Normal”) people with mental illness in the same category as people who make a decision to participate in a religious ritual, whether or not they were raised in it or whether they chose it as an adult–if they were “born again.”

It’s really just ableist and you’re probably not a professional, and you probably can’t speak to the issue if you’re making those kind of conflations. It’s a false equivalence: they’re not the same thing. Stop calling them the same thing if you’re not somebody who actually knows what they’re talking about. That’s pretty much all I had to add on the subject and I’ll see you guys later!

——————————————————————

Sorry that I kind of jump around while I’m talking. I have ADD and haven’t been taking the meds this week because it makes it practically impossible for me to eat a reasonable amount of food throughout the day. x.x Makes it difficult to complete a train of thought in a way that makes sense. Happy to clarify in the comments if you have questions!

Religiosity Still ≠ Mental Illness