Name: Lisa Anne Auerbach.
Where I live: Los Angeles, Calif.
Where and when I was born: Born in 1967 in Ann Arbor, Mich., and grew up outside of Chicago.
Family: I live with my husband, Louis, and our two delicious cats, Daisy and Clyde, who were born in our front yard last summer.
Occupation: Pomona College assistant professor of art, artist and writer.
How I got where I am today: Curiosity has always been very helpful.
Where I’m headed: On this clammy day in L.A., I’m headed to the kitchen to make some fresh coffee.
Person in history I admire and why: I have been using many of Barbara G. Walker’s knitting books for years, but it was only recently that I discovered that she was also the author of several books about feminism and mythology, as well as being a contributor to Freethought Today.
As a knitter, I’m completely floored and impressed by her exacting patterns and the way she can break down a design into a series of abbreviations. As an atheist, I’m intrigued by her take on the godless rituals that have been co-opted by contemporary religions.
A quotation I like: “Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.” (Jean Meslier/Denis Diderot)
These are a few of my favorite things: Daisy and Clyde, the Museum of Jurassic Technology, red cardigans, espresso in bed with the newspaper, “The Wicker Man,” kale, chocolate, Slayer, walking through unfamiliar cities, bicycling late at night through empty streets, Cronenberg films, snow, church-burning black metal bands, cloven-toed shoes, darkrooms, baking bread, Norwegian sweaters, seeing something new, the light in Los Angeles the day after a rainstorm, fried food and kittens.
These are not: “Have a blessed day,” perfume on planes, loud video installations in quiet museums, right-wing hypocrisy, potpourri, worrying about digital data, Prius drivers who are rude to cyclists, meat addicts, paper toilet seat covers, excuses, dogs that chase bikes, Revelations, tax breaks for churches, Mormon missionaries driving instead of biking, pleated pants, people trimming their nails on public buses, stuff that breaks and can’t be fixed.
How long I’ve been a freethinker: My mother says I came home from Saturday school at age 5 and said I didn’t believe in god and I wasn’t going back. That was the end of my so-called religious education. I was later that kid in Girl Scouts who would argue about the god inclusion in the Scout motto and refuse to say those two silly words in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Why I’m a freethinker: I can’t imagine the alternative, though I have often thought that blind faith must bring with it a lot of comfort, as well as a lot of excused dastardly behavior. It’s my understanding that you can be a really despicable human — a serial killer or Halliburton CEO — and if you accept JC into your heart, you’ll still go to heaven. So if you’ve got religion, what’s the point of being civil?
Best way I promote freethought: I joined the Freedom From Religion Foundation after being incensed by the Jesus prayers at neighborhood meetings here in L.A. and reading about FFRF’s legal efforts to separate church and state. Pooling resources with other freethinkers toward litigation is necessary, but for me it’s just as important to be outspoken about my atheism in day-to-day situations.
I was so disappointed to hear about a survey last year that found that atheists are the most distrusted group in America. People don’t want atheists to marry their children, nor do they want them running the country. Perhaps this kind of misunderstanding stems from the fact that atheists don’t often speak up, so the ones that people hear about are the freaky ones.
I’m on an “out and proud” kick. I made a sweater last year that says “ATHEIST” on the front and “KEEP YOUR CHURCH OFF MY STATE” on the back. It’s been in museum shows since March, but I got it back in December and I’m looking forward to wearing it everywhere.