This last year has had its ups and downs for me and I’ve gone through quite a bit. I traveled to multiple different countries throughout the Western Pacific and the Middle East. Rock Beyond Belief secured a promise from the Marines to cease religious proselytization violations. I made new friends and severed some old relationships. And now I’m back in the United States of America.
Here’s a list of some stuff that’s gone on in the last year:
- I traveled to 7 different countries and ate some awesome and awful food
- I started an ‘Atheists and Freethinkers Group’ aboard the USS Green Bay
- I shot lots of guns
- I got to clean up the mess the Navy Seals made when they got to do cool stuff and I didn’t
- I walked A LOT… foot patrols suck and if you’ve done it, you know!
- I became an expert at busting rust
- I went without internet for months at a time
- I thought Arnold had died because the internet was down when he published his book
^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^
My platoon sergeant played a horrible prank on us. We were very upset over the loss of the Arnie and even more so when we found out it was a bad joke.
- Had a sudden rush where I completely remembered all the Arabic I had forgotten over the years. We got lost walking through the Saudi desert on a patrol at night and the worrying made me suddenly fluent in Arabic again…that was interesting.
- I got to help secure a binding promise from the Marines to stop throwing sectarian concerts.
- And “Oh Yeah!”….
I’m a combat seamstress!
All in All
It was still a miserable deployment. Prior to deploying I was given a choice to make. I had to stop any association with Rock Beyond Belief or I could continue with my activism efforts but I would be dropped from the deployment.
I distinctly remember the day when I was handed this order. We were on ship for part of the workup last August and I was pulled into the Captain’s office. All the officers were in there as I sat down and he told me I had to make this choice. I was told before we left the ship I had to inform him what I would do. It’s not as bad as it all seems when it came to them putting me in that position, however.
All but one of my officers were devout believers but they are not the warped twisted fundamentalists that are trying to subvert the military with Christian dominionism. My officers actually had to fight their higher-ups to keep me in the unit. I was supposed to be dropped immediately but I am fortunate to have had good people (yes!–> good people of faith) in my corner. That other one officer…he’s a fellow atheist – he was really supportive of my activist efforts.
The decision seemed glaringly obvious to me. I had to deploy with my Marines. I was extremely upset that I was put in that position. As a matter of fact it was quite the opposite of what the Army attempted to do with Justin for the first Rock Beyond Belief. As soon as he began his efforts they MADE him deploy in an attempt to stop him. Since that didn’t work I’m guessing a lesson was passed on from one branch to another with me…
It’s been thoroughly upsetting to have not been involved in the activist community. So much has happened in the last year that I am still catching up on.
I have kept up a regular quarterly column in the American Atheists Magazine. I was only ordered not to be active with Rock Beyond Belief. I can read between the lines!
I also could not have blogged had I been allowed to though. The internet aboard ship worked about as well as Michael Behe’s irreducible complexity hypothesis. Well, okay…it worked better than that. But it was pretty damn slow!!!
I’m gearing up
I wrote a blog a few weeks ago and I suppose it was just a tease for those of you that enjoy reading what I have to say. I’ve got more goals that will be accomplished and I’m going to lay them out over the next few weeks. I just got back from the deployment and I’m spending time with the wife and dogs so once I get some quality family time in I’ll get this blog active again.