Mythinformation Conference II

Membership Spotlight on...Ex-Jehovah's Witness, Daniel Wiebe

Wiebe and Walter Reed, aka Killah Priest at the Mythinformation II VIP After-Party. 

Daniel Wiebe has been making up for lost time.

“I think I have learned more in the last two years than I did in the previous thirty-six,” he says.

Wiebe grew up an only child in a Jehovah’s Witness family in Wisconsin. His education was filtered through the church. He now can read about philosophy and the sciences.

“I was raised with a religious education that was largely based on deconstructing the beliefs of other religions,” says Wiebe. “It’s incredibly liberating to be able to continue that process now in seeing where the beliefs I grew up with came from.”

Wiebe and David Fitzgerald at Mythinformation II VIP After-Party, Oct 2015

He says he was indoctrinated to believe Jehovah’s Witnesses was “the one and only organization that had God’s approval.”

Wiebe was baptized at 16 years old.

“It was always understood that leaving the religion after my baptism would mean leaving God, my family, and my entire social circle,” says Wiebe.

At 24, he began having doubts about his beliefs. Over the next decade he says he experienced a “growing existential panic.” He exited the religion in September 2014 knowing his beliefs were a lie.

“It was like waking up from a dream, and as the dream ended all the relationships I had in that dream ended as well,” says the now 38-year-old.

Sam Harris was helpful in his deconversion by pointing out the absurdity of religion.  Today, he is reading more scholarly literature.

“I’m like a sponge soaking up information related to comparative religious studies,” he says.

The first Mythinformation Conference brought Wiebe and his wife, Emily, to Mythicist Milwaukee.

“I looked at Emily and said, ‘These are my people,;” he says. “Becoming a member was the next logical step.”

Wiebe says the Mythinformation Conferences and Buzzed Belief debates are important to educating society.

“I am proud to support it,” he says.

Want to enjoy member benefits such as the many Member-Only parties?? Become a member.

 

Killah Priest Speaks

Speaks to the Red Goddess  by Megan Ivanyos

Killah Priest is a master swordsman with words. He slices and dissects, rearranges and rebuilds them. His skill is so stealth it takes another master to keep up.

Those other masters are Wu-Tang Clan, who hit the scene in the 1990s. Killah Priest, birth name Walter Reed, is an associate of the group of rappers who collaborate. The members overlap in style and topics. Killah attributes their success to them working together as a team. Member Gza had the idea of swinging a sword. "The Tang is when [the sword] hits. Tang! That’s what Wu Tang is," says Reed.

Reed grew up in 1970s Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, New York City. He was surrounded by Muslims, Jews and "corny church folk." He and his friends were kids “checking out everything else, questioning ourselves, thinking outside the box," says Reed.

Reed’s face is like a shining Buddha. His tattoos fade into his dark skin. He wears beads around his neck and on top of his head sits a crisp, red Wu-Tang Clan baseball cap. Reed’s Brooklyn accent doesn’t hit you immediately, but it emerges as a mix of NYC, hip hop, and light laughter. He was part of the Five-Percent nation, which held a belief in yourself as god, meaning we all are capable of the divine to be the best possible self.

During this time, young Reed would learn about ancient religions and world history. “It was like a computer on paper," says Reed, "New York has so much information because there’s lots of cultures there from everywhere.”

He and his friends read about pagan scriptures and foreign cultures and fantasy. “The stories are good. It takes us somewhere, takes our minds somewhere and we need that for the hood, for the ghettos and inner city, because it’s madness out there," Reed says.

Reed’s appetite to learn grew as his research intensified on ancient religions and the lifestyles of the early Israelite, Babylonian and Canaanite history.

When the music took off, Wu-Tang traveled internationally. Each artist had an individual music deal. Reed wanted to do more than just perform the shows. He wanted to go out and see the places he read about when he was young. The other Wu-Tang members weren't interested in joining him. “To actually go there and see that it was real, that is a beautiful place. It’s humbling," says Reed.

For his solo shows, Reed booked flights a couple days before them so he could explore different countries, including west and east Europe. Promoters connected him with a local who knew a lot about the area. Rome was the only destination where he used a tour guide. His arrival there opened up another world to him.

“I thought I’d seen it all, until I went there," says Reed, "And I was humbled like ‘oh shit, this is really big.’ Marbles in the street. It’s like statues in the street of a kingdom that’s waaay," Reed says beginning to laugh gesturing the deep past.

"‘Cause that was the old world, Europe. That’s where we (Americans) all were and then, until we moved over here became the New Hampshire, New York," says Reed laughing again.

Killah’s lyrics are riddled with metaphors using ancient and modern religions, empires, and concepts. Not the typical subject matters found in rap songs. “They didn’t know how to market me," says Killah.

His music has been described as conscious rap. "I think it’s just real rap.” Killah says. Music can “free slave minds from the bounds of religion," says Reed.

References to planets, aliens and science are also regularly featured. On his latest release, "Planet of the Gods," Killah samples Carl Sagan from the classic series Cosmos. The soothing sound of Sagan’s voice fits effortlessly into the music. Reed has a connection to the sky and beyond. He asks you to imagine taking a trip through the mind. “There’s always room to grow within the mind," says Reed.

Killah equates sharing knowledge and connecting with other people to sharing energy.

"Because we have minds, we here ... This is life. This is a gift," says Reed.

Reed speaks passionately in a progressive style of speak and thoughts. It is easy to get tangled in his words and be taken on the ride. “Leaders want us to close down so they can control us, but you can’t control that which was and that which was is 'we'. There’s nothing new under the sun, so if you look at outside of the box is where you will reside," says Reed.

He sits up straighter to explain.

“So religion locks you in. You can always wake up from that," says Reed

The sword swings. Wuuuu. He connects his index fingers and pulls them tightly together.

“A lock is only something that can unlock. A lock, if it’s bolted, it’s not a lock. What makes it a lock is to open it up," says Reed.

The blade hits my mind. Tang!

Photo: S. Fracek

 

What it Means to be a Black Nonbeliever w/ Mandisa Thomas

Mandisa Thomas on the Mythicist Milwaukee Show

Mandisa Thomas is the founder and current president of Black Nonbelievers Inc. Black Nonbelievers Inc. is a non-profit fellowship of nonbelievers headquartered in the Atlanta area that is dedicated to providing an informative, caring, festive and family friendly environment. Black Nonbelievers Inc. strives to connect with African Americans who are living free of religion and irrational beliefs, and might otherwise be shunned by family and friends. Instead of accepting dogma, they seek to determine truth and morality through reason and evidence.

Mandisa shares with us her vision for Black Nonbelievers Inc. and the many projects that she and her organization are working on. She explains how she became involved in the secular community and why it is an important initiative. We talk about why it is important for athletes, entertainers, and others with influence to come out and support secular values.

Mandisa with be speaking in Milwaukee on September 27, 2015 at the Mythinformation Conference II. Get your tickets today to meet her in person! 

Listen to the interview here ----------->