Saturday, November 16, 2013

Have voice, will travel

I am tempted to always wear my SANE name tag
in case there is doubt regarding my sanity.
I'm not a seasoned traveler yet. But I'm not bland anymore.

In the last four weeks I've been to Connecticut, Texas and Massachusetts to share my story and speak out against religious medical neglect of children. It's been a trip not only in terms of flying & driving, but in the amazing variety of wonderful people I've met every single place I've been.

October 19 was the Secular Assembly for the North East's first annual conference (SANE) at the University of New Haven, CT.  Speakers included Jessica Alquist, David Silverman, Sikivu Hutchinson, Dennis Himes, Barry Kosmin, David Niose...and (ahem) me. It was the first time I've launched into a solo speaking gig, printing out directions (yes I got lost, but it wasn't Map quest's fault) & heading out in my Nissan pickup fondly known as the Final Frontier.

I was excited and optimistic even before the bald eagle flew across the highway in front of me. I love coincidences that look like Signs. 

November 8 was the Child-Friendly Faith Project's first annual conference CFF in Austin, Texas. I was part of a  survivors panel discussion which included Bethany Brittain, Jaime Romo  and Joel Engelman, moderated by Steve Hassan.

With Sam Brower

Other speakers included Sam Brower (who sat next to me at supper & described his investigative work that led to Warren Jeffs' capture and conviction) and Rita Swan: my hero, mentor and friend who has led me into this world where my voice is increasingly heard as one of the ones who got away. 

With Rita Swan of CHILD Inc. My hero!

I also met Linda Martin the night her story broke on surviving the horrors of the Followers of Christ church.   KATU  This woman's strength and determination are amazing. Keep an eye on this reporter & KATU's coverage. This will be as big as the Warren Jeffs case.

With Steve Hassan, survivor of the
Moonies. (At the start of our
survivor panel discussion, I think
 he should have raised his hand
and said, "For immunity! Survivors
ready? GO!" the TV show...)

I love my Sean Faircloth Fist of Emphasis

I admit I was a little...braced...about the Child-Friendly Faith conference: this is a mix of religious and secular activists seeking to protect children above all religious traditions. The conference's title was "Can Faith Be Made Child-friendly?"  (Before-hand, I honestly had my doubts as to whether we could even find common ground at the conference, let alone elsewhere.) I was wrong. This was another dynamic mix of the last group I'd have bet would inspire me, including a rabbi and a Baptist minister among others.

I did my part

With Austin Dacey in Austin Texas
Yes, there's a joke there somewhere. I think it was on me. Having been raised in an impractical and passively religious family, it was powerful to hear women and--especially--men form a verbal front line to protect kids. I was honored and humbled to be surprised.

Thirty-odd hours after I drove home from the airport (in the middle of the night) I was off to Massachusetts and the Greater Worcester Humanists. (It's pronounced Wuss-ta.) Worcester Another terrific group, a lot of great questions, and dinner with a childhood friend I hadn't seen since eighth grade when I stopped going to school because my leg was so painful. 

With a new friend in Worcester...and a childhood friend
I hadn't seen since before my bone disease. Love ya,
It's been a bungee-jump of faith in myself and human beings, something like those South Pacific islanders who tie vines to their ankles & throw themselves off towers.  Telling my story is like stripping down to raw emotion and showing scars more graphic than the one from 31 staples where my left leg was. But my story isn't any more important than anyone's. And when I tell it, we can recognize this common history aand connect with each other.  

And this week? I'm speaking Thursday night, November 21, 2013 to the New York City Atheists. It happens to be the eve of the day that I call the last (possibly best) day of my childhood.  NYC Atheists I can't wait.

So remember: The lint roller is your friend. The grande margarita you order in Austin will be the size of a goldfish bowl. And only agree to let a flight attendant check your carry-on when they pry it from your cold dead fingers.

Greater Worcester Humanists, Massachusetts. (They are greater!)

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