Greetings and Question about the American Atheist Convention 2013
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01-03-2013, 07:47 PM
Greetings and Question about the American Atheist Convention 2013
Hello all,

This is my first post on this website. I have been listening to The Thinking Atheist Podcast for over a year now. Seth Andrews' work has been inspiring, motivating, and a place to go when no one else seems to understand what it's like to have a fundamental background.

In short, I grew up in a Christian Fundamentalist home. My parents were preparing for the end times and believed that we would enduring Tribulations. They pulled my siblings and I out of school and moved us to the mountains. This was after we had spent a good deal of time in LA helping a small group of new Christians start a church and a greeting card company, Outreach. Roy Lessin was one of those founders who also taught how to spank children. The youngest child hit in our group was 5 months old. I, on the other hand, was 6 months old.

I've written about my experiences with Roy Lessin [url= http://cdugan0.tripod.com/RoyLessinOpenLetter.html]here[/url] in an open letter as both therapy and as a way to help educate others about the effects of corporal punishment. I have also attached my story which I originally wrote for the Ex Christian
website. It is too long to post here and unimportant to my question, so I've added it as an attachment
instead.

Author and journalist, Janet Heimlich read my letter and asked me to interview for her book: Breaking Their Will--Shedding Light on Religiously Motivated Child Maltreatment.

To understand why I said yes to Janet, you have to know that I found very little support when I was healing from religious abuse. I found lots of information on child abuse, but that's not exactly what happened to me. I still have nightmares about being forced to submit to horrible beatings--all ritualistic; all in the name of God. I made a promise that if anyone every asked me to speak about my experiences and it appeared to be helpful in preventing at least one child from experiencing what I did, I would say yes. So I did. I told Janet yes.

Since the release of her book, Janet and I have become friends and started projects together.

When Janet asked me to speak in public about my story, I just said yes again. I spoke in LA with Janet in April of 2012 to Atheist United. Since then I've struggled with my Agnostic title. I've never worried about coming out because I'm already a black sheep in my family.

Janet asked me to speak with her at the American Atheist Convention 2013. I figured that I'd find the courage later. Besides my speaking time is very short.

My plea or question is this: I had no idea how big this would be. Would someone who has attended past conventions please tell me what this convention is like? Being in LA with the Atheist United was a wonderful experience. It was a small group. I just felt at home--accepted.

I've been listening to Seth Andrews and others to get a better sense of the group that will be attending the American Atheist Convention 2013.

Thanks in advance for anyone who can help me with giving me details this BIG event.

BB


Attached File(s)
.docx  Coming Home.docx (Size: 20.12 KB / Downloads: 15)
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15-03-2013, 03:53 PM
 
RE: Greetings and Question about the American Atheist Convention 2013
I'm about as in the dark as you are, but welcome to the forum anyway!! Smile
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15-03-2013, 04:50 PM
RE: Greetings and Question about the American Atheist Convention 2013
(15-03-2013 03:53 PM)That Icelandic Wrote:  I'm about as in the dark as you are, but welcome to the forum anyway!! Smile
Well, thank you very much for your warm welcome. I got worried that I'd over stated my question and scared everyone away.

Keeping children safe from well-intentioned (this is what I assume of Religious motivations) abuse is paramount to me. I will do my best to support Janet and speak of my experiences.

BB
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15-03-2013, 04:56 PM (This post was last modified: 16-03-2013 09:25 AM by DLJ.)
RE: Greetings and Question about the American Atheist Convention 2013
(01-03-2013 07:47 PM)09Athena Wrote:  ...
My plea or question is this: I had no idea how big this would be. Would someone who has attended past conventions please tell me what this convention is like? Being in LA with the Atheist United was a wonderful experience. It was a small group. I just felt at home--accepted.

I've been listening to Seth Andrews and others to get a better sense of the group that will be attending the American Atheist Convention 2013.

Thanks in advance for anyone who can help me with giving me details this BIG event.

BB

Hi, BB, welcome aboard.

That's an excellent intro piece, thank you.

I might be able to help a little as I do loads of public speaking but I must confess I have never been to an atheist convention... they do not exist where I live.

The trick when presenting is... Know Your Audience.

This is crucial when for example you are presenting an idea or a business case. You need to know what mood everyone is in, their pet projects, their pet hates, what they had for breakfast.

With a small group, you can kick off with a get-to-know-each-other session.
At a conference, you can't do this but there are some things you do know...
The vast majority of the audience will be on your side; they have been where you are. You can relax.
(But what would you do / say if you were heckled by an interloper?).

When speaking at a conference, you will not be able to see the audience, except maybe the first couple of rows (which are usually empty 'cause people (except the organisers) don't like sitting too close to the stage) and this is a good thing.
The lights will be pointing at you (in your eyes, sometimes) so you won't be distracted by what is happening in the shadows.
Fix your gaze at an imaginary person somewhere in the middle of the auditorium and occasionally change that focal point (left, centre, right).

Find out what kind of microphone you will be using. If static (e.g. attached to the podium) you will feel a little more protected but don't hide behind it. If mobile (mouth-piece or handheld) you have freedom to move around. Don't move too often i.e. don't pace... plant your feet, talk, move, plant, talk, move etc.

The structure of your talk depends on what outcomes you are trying to achieve.
Without knowing this, but guessing, I recommend a couple of options...
SPIN (Situation, Problem, Implications, Next Steps)... this is useful for getting a message across when you have some sort of 'call to action' at the end i.e. you are asking your audience to do something.
If you are simply relaying your story (we call this the 'case study' approach) it's best to go for the Tell 'em, Tell 'em, Tell 'em, technique i.e.
Tell them what you are going to tell them (intro/agenda),
Tell them (content)
Tell them what you told them (summary)
Timing-wise, the above should be split approx. 10%, 85%, 5%.
Leave time for saying "thanks for listening", applause (if you're lucky) and questions/answers at the end.
Make a note of who you are handing over to (master of ceremonies) e.g. "if there are no more questions, I'll hand you back to my friend blah blah..."

Content... stay within your comfort zone. Think about 'peak/end'; this is the idea that are really good holiday (for example) is not as memorable as a boring holiday that had one or two really awesome bits and a magical ending.
If you are relaying your story... you mentioned "horrible beatings"... that could be the 'gasp' moment that everyone will remember and that can be balanced at the end with a message of 'hope'.

Voice... vary your tone, raise/lower your volume, increase/decrease your pace. The most effective moments can be the pauses (i.e. if you think the audience is not listening... stop talking for 5 seconds).

Humour etc. If you not a natural comic, don't try jokes. Instead use what works for you.. pathos, irony, sarcasm etc. Practice your speech with a friend who will be honest enough to give you an objective opinion on how you are coming across.

I've gotta check out of my room now. Lemme know if you need more and I'll respond later.

And if all else fails, do some tricks with water/wine or loaves/fishes.

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15-03-2013, 05:42 PM
RE: Greetings and Question about the American Atheist Convention 2013
(15-03-2013 04:56 PM)DLJ Wrote:  Thank you very much, DLJ. Your suggestions and descriptions were very helpful. I teach classes for corporations--I actually design them. For some reason, talking about my personal story seems much more challenging. I love the ideas you offered about body language, content, and what I'll most likely see from the stage. Also your reassuring tone in your message. Smile

The gasp part is hard. Telling my story isn't hard for me from my emotional standpoint. I've had years of counseling. But I do worry that those hearing it are...well...traumatized. I'll need, as you said, on a positive note.

After listening to Seth's callers talk about their experiences, I have to assume I'm not the only one with strange religious abuse stories. Appreciate your reminder on that too.

I was asked at my previous talk about my religious views today. That was a hard one for me because I'm more agnostic meaning I don't know. Not that I don't know if there is a god like I don't know what to eat for dinner. The "Don't Know" of what lays beyond our universe since of I don't know. When I die, I expect I'll return to the nothingness I began with or I won't. I've never died before so I don't know. I refuse to live my life worrying about these facts. I am constantly amazed with new discoveries in science. Maybe we'll know more in the future or we won't. But there are so many more important things to occupy one's mind. Doesn't this line of thinking make me more Agnostic than Atheist?
(01-03-2013 07:47 PM)09Athena Wrote:  ...
My plea or question is this: I had no idea how big this would be. Would someone who has attended past conventions please tell me what this convention is like? Being in LA with the Atheist United was a wonderful experience. It was a small group. I just felt at home--accepted.

I've been listening to Seth Andrews and others to get a better sense of the group that will be attending the American Atheist Convention 2013.

Thanks in advance for anyone who can help me with giving me details this BIG event.

BB

Hi, BB, welcome aboard.

That's an excellent intro piece, thank you.

I might be able to help a little as a do loads of public speaking but I must confess I have never been to an atheist convention... they do not exist where I live.

The trick when presenting is... Know Your Audience.

This is crucial when for example you are presenting an idea or a business case. You need to know what mood everyone is in, their pet projects, their pet hates, what they had for breakfast.

With a small group, you can kick off with a get-to-know-each-other session.
At a conference, you can't do this but there are some things you do know...
The vast majority of the audience will be on your side; they have been where you are. You can relax.
(But what would you do / say if you were heckled by an interloper?).

When speaking at a conference, you will not be able to see the audience, except maybe the first couple of rows (which are usually empty 'cause people (except the organisers) don't like sitting too close to the stage) and this is a good thing.
The lights will be pointing at you (in your eyes, sometimes) so you won't be distracted by what is happening in the shadows.
Fix your gaze at an imaginary person somewhere in the middle of the auditorium and occasionally change that focal point (left, centre, right).

Find out what kind of microphone you will be using. If static (e.g. attached to the podium) you will feel a little more protected but don't hide behind it. If mobile (mouth-piece or handheld) you have freedom to move around. Don't move too often i.e. don't pace... plant your feet, talk, move, plant, talk, move etc.

The structure of your talk depends on what outcomes you are trying to achieve.
Without knowing this, but guessing, I recommend a couple of options...
SPIN (Situation, Problem, Implications, Next Steps)... this is useful for getting a message across when you have some sort of 'call to action' at the end i.e. you are asking your audience to do something.
If you are simply relaying your story (we call this the 'case study' approach) it's best to go for the Tell 'em, Tell 'em, Tell 'em, technique i.e.
Tell them what you are going to tell them (intro/agenda),
Tell them (content)
Tell them what you told them (summary)
Timing-wise, the above should be split approx. 10%, 85%, 5%.
Leave time for saying "thanks for listening", applause (if your lucky) and questions/answers at the end.
Make a note of who you are handing over to (master of ceremonies) e.g. "if there are no more questions, I'll hand you back to my friend blah blah..."

Content... stay within your comfort zone. Think about 'peak/end'; this is the idea that are really good holiday (for example) is not as memorable as a boring holiday that had one or two really awesome bits and a magical ending.
If you are relaying your story... you mentioned "horrible beatings"... that could be the 'gasp' moment that everyone will remember and that can be balanced at the end with a message of 'hope'.

Voice... vary your tone, raise/lower your volume, increase/decrease your pace. The most effective moments can be the pauses (i.e. if you think the audience is not listening... stop talking for 5 seconds).

Humour etc. If you not a natural comic, don't try jokes. Instead use what works for you.. pathos, irony, sarcasm etc. Practice your speech with a friend who will be honest enough to give you an objective opinion on how you are coming across.

I've gotta check out of my room now. Lemme know if you need more and I'll respond later.

And if all else fails, do some tricks with water/wine or loaves/fishes.

Thumbsup
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15-03-2013, 06:02 PM
RE: Greetings and Question about the American Atheist Convention 2013
(15-03-2013 05:42 PM)09Athena Wrote:  ...
What lays beyond our universe? I don't know. <pause>
When I die, <pause> I expect I'll return to the nothingness from which I came... or I won't.
I've never died before so I don't know.
I refuse to live my life worrying about these facts. <pause and smile>
I am constantly amazed by the new discoveries of science. <pause>
Maybe we'll know more in the future or maybe we won't.
But there are so many more important things to occupy one's mind.
We each find our own reason for living, experiencing the joys that our futures can hold for us, our purpose in life, our own value in being.
Thank you for allowing me to be a moment in your lives and I hope you will enjoy the rest of the conference.
...

The above (edited slightly) seems like a really good ending for your talk.

(15-03-2013 05:42 PM)09Athena Wrote:  ...
Doesn't this line of thinking make me more Agnostic than Atheist?
...

Some would call themselves Agnostics-Atheists i.e. they can't 'know' for certain but they have come to the realisation that they do not 'believe' in gods / have no need for them / live their lives without them.

The label does not really matter, it's how you live your life that counts.

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15-03-2013, 06:39 PM
RE: Greetings and Question about the American Atheist Convention 2013
(15-03-2013 06:02 PM)DLJ Wrote:  Cool. I'll relax my concern about labels. Life is so much better for me without faith. Be safe in your travels!

BB


(15-03-2013 05:42 PM)09Athena Wrote:  ...
What lays beyond our universe? I don't know. <pause>
When I die, <pause> I expect I'll return to the nothingness from which I came... or I won't.
I've never died before so I don't know.
I refuse to live my life worrying about these facts. <pause and smile>
I am constantly amazed by the new discoveries of science. <pause>
Maybe we'll know more in the future or maybe we won't.
But there are so many more important things to occupy one's mind.
We each find our own reason for living, experiencing the joys that our futures can hold for us, our purpose in life, our own value in being.
Thank you for allowing me to be a moment in your lives and I hope you will enjoy the rest of the conference.
...

The above (edited slightly) seems like a really good ending for your talk.

(15-03-2013 05:42 PM)09Athena Wrote:  ...
Doesn't this line of thinking make me more Agnostic than Atheist?
...

Some would call themselves Agnostics-Atheists i.e. they can't 'know' for certain but they have come to the realisation that they do not 'believe' in gods / have no need for them / live their lives without them.

The label does not really matter, it's how you live your life that counts.
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16-03-2013, 09:34 AM
RE: Greetings and Question about the American Atheist Convention 2013
Thanks.
Home now safely. Smile


(15-03-2013 05:42 PM)09Athena Wrote:  ...
I teach classes for corporations--I actually design them.
...

Me too. What field?

We're always looking to expand our portfolio.... wanna talk business?

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16-03-2013, 11:01 AM
RE: Greetings and Question about the American Atheist Convention 2013
I'm so sorry to hear that you suffered such a traumatic childhood. It takes an incredible amount of courage to confront one's abusers, as you have done and for that, you are to be commended. What you're doing is the single most important activism that anyone can do for the welfare of children and thus, the betterment of humanity.

Please let us know when your speech is done and if there is a video or audio recording of it, I would love to share it with others. I will also share the information you've already provided. There is truly nothing more important than this message.

The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names. - Chinese Proverb
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