Freethought Today · Vol. 28 No. 8 October 2011

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Meet a Staffer: Eleanor

Name: Eleanor Wroblewski.
Where and when I was born: Dec. 12, 1989, in White Plains, N.Y. I grew up in Madison, Wis., where we moved when I was 3 and I’ve hardly left since!
Family: This summer I lived with my parents and my younger brother, all religious to some degree. My dad goes to Sufi “Universal Worship,” my mom sometimes sings in the choir at her favorite Episcopal church, and my brother sort of believes in going to church without regularly attending.
I’m close to my extended family, especially on my mom’s side, where despite various levels of ambivalence and “unchurchedness,” I don’t know of any other “out” freethinkers.
Education: I spent my freshman year of college at Tulane University in New Orleans, where I studied Spanish and political science, then came home because I thought I wanted to teach high school physics. Well, it turns out you have to learn all the boring physics to teach the interesting stuff to children, so that didn’t last.
Now, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I’m majoring in textile and apparel design. That should get me my bachelor’s in only six years total or so, assuming I don’t get distracted again.
What I want to do when I grow up: I really enjoy weaving: I took it as an elective and ended up changing my major so I could keep doing it. Hand-producing textiles is a tricky field to break into though, so I probably can’t just weave all day.
I’d like to create and exhibit textile art pieces and create wearables and useful items for sale or on commission, but I’m also thinking about writing for magazines like Piecework, Handwoven or Craftzine.com, designing handknitting patterns for sale and getting an MFA with an eye on a university teaching position.
For inspiration, I often draw from history and reinterpret old techniques or motifs, but I do occasionally reference popular culture. I once wove a scarf based on the cover of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Even for class assignments, I like to create items that I (or someone else) will use. The overall “look” of my pieces has been described (by a professor and classmates) as “funky rustic.”
I spend a lot of time thinking about: The physical conception of the self, who made the things around me and how, how to more fully reject Judeo-Christian morality and become a true post-theist, my own connection with women of the past, Harry Potter, hedonism and Doctor Who.
My religious upbringing was: (Theologically) liberal Episcopalian. High church but gay-friendly is an easy way to describe it. I still occasionally go for holidays I spend with my parents, but I haven’t been since Christmas. I skipped Easter by spending the night at my boyfriend’s (atheist) parents’ house. And since my mom switched churches, I don’t even have a chance to catch up with my old youth group friends after the service.
My doubts about religion started: When I read Philip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass in fifth grade and became entranced by the idea, “What if someone just made it all up?” For a while I decided that it didn’t matter, but I started reading Steven Pinker because I was interested in language, and Richard Dawkins because I was interested in evolution (this was back in 2004 or so, before The God Delusion had come out). Reading these books helped me critique religion as damaging, not just as untrue.
Around the same time, I was reading a lot of fantasy novels that used Christian mythology just like any other (thank you, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman), and took a confirmation class that was heavy on ecclesiastical history (e.g., “How they made it all up”). I refused to get confirmed and have never looked back.
How I came to work at FFRF: Sabrina Gaylor and I have been friends since middle school. In May 2009, when I was just starting to get desperate in my job search, she let me know that a student worker position was available here. I’ve been here practically ever since!
What I do here: Last summer I worked as Annie Laurie Gaylor’s assistant, which is a jack-of-all-trades job. I moderated Facebook, sent out mass emails and did a lot of public relations work. Once my classes started this fall, I returned to doing basic clerical work, my original position.
I also moonlighted for a few months writing Freethought of the Day for our website. There’s nothing quite like spending an afternoon researching quotes and bios for my favorite freethinking celebrities, like Joss Whedon and Tim Minchin, as well as learning about more obscure figures in our freethinking history.
What I like best about it: I really enjoy sending thousands of our Facebook fans to vote in polls on state/church or religion questions on local news websites, “so that freethinkers have a voice.”
Something funny that’s happened at work: I always laugh at the Crank Mail, especially when they use gender-specific words to “insult” all of us. (I use “scare quotes” because it’s mostly just not factual to call us all, e.g., “homos.”)
Things I like: Knitting, good television, biking around Madison, my friends, World of Warcraft, making something from nothing and achieving well-defined goals.
Things I smite: Ignorant people, Facebook trolls, one-way streets.

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