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"It Makes My Soul Happy" (Kimberly Mebane)

Updated: Mar 18

What is intersectionality? Throughout this series, we talk a lot about the intersectionality of our identities. Sue Cardenas-Soto of the Trevor Project writes that intersectionality is "the way in which individuals are empowered and oppressed by the intricate ways in which parts of their identities connect."

Kimberly Mebane (she/her), who holds a bachelor of science in public health, joins the conversation today. Kim is the Program Coordinator at NAMI KDK, a Marine Corps veteran, and a Northern Illinois University alum. She comes to this conversation as an atheist with experience in numerous religious traditions. Kim also brings her lived experience with the diagnoses of bipolar depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and attention deficit disorder.

As we begin, Kim and I discuss some reservations about "interfaith." She recalls that when I initially asked her to participate in this project, she wasn't sure she was the right fit for a conversation about "faith." I share my experience attending the Interfaith Leadership Summit as an undergraduate student leader, training and learning alongside atheist and agnostic leaders. You can learn more about what interfaith means here.

Kim grew up attending Baptist church services until the age of 12, at which point she could and did choose not to attend any longer (Baptists make up a branch of Protestant Christianity). Kim says she mainly remembers being bored and uncomfortable in fancy clothes.

Kim also recalls feeling that "prayer solves everything, which made me drift away, even as a kid." Kim reflects that since God is not helping or answering everyone's prayers, God must not care for everyone.

Things seemed to change for Kim as she explored witchcraft, which for her took the form of Wicca. She experienced Wicca as less about a higher power and more about being "empowered to make changes in my own life." She went on to discover Buddhism, which for Kim, was similarly not about the divine but about having agency within herself and a spiritual practice of chanting.