Atheist Voices of Minnesota edited by Bill Lehto
(Advance review copy provided by publisher.)
This book reminded me a lot of a website I can’t find.
I know that came out bad. Let me explain.
A few years ago, I discovered blogging, and with it, the atheist community on these here intertubes. During my delightful journey across the Atheist Blogroll, I came across a website that encouraged atheists to tell their story. The site allowed folks to post their story anonymously or not. Some of the personal essays were heart-wrenching, and most seared a path directly to my soul (yes, I have one…I think).
I had wanted to write my coming-out story, but I never did. I lost track of the site and now, of course, I can’t find it.
The reason I want to find the site is to offer you the link to tell your story after reading Atheist Voices of Minnesota, An Anthology of Personal Essays. Reading this collection by atheists from or living in Minnesota will inspire you to do the same. I know it has inspired me.
So what’s with this collection? How is it different from any of the countless of other collection of personal essays out there?
I think this anthology is unique for several reasons:
- The authors are atheists – based in Minnesota. I’m sorry, but I truly didn’t think there were any atheists living in the heartland. I figured if one was so unfortunate to have been born in one of those mid-northern states, they would run out to the coasts at the first opportunity. I jest, of course, but it is important to note that this collection of atheist essays comes from a state that is predominately Christian. Of course, in the United States, pretty much every state is predominately Christian. But you do have to admire an organization like the Minnesota Atheists for standing proud and making their voices heard when ARIS reports only 12% of the population of Minnesotan’s affiliate with no religion. That’s fairly high when considering states like Mississippi (5%), but not the hot bed of free-thinking in Vermont (34%).
- This collection aims to teach understanding of the diverse, and sometimes disparate, background and philosophy of atheists to all readers – not just atheists. And at the same time, it speaks deeply to those of us who are atheists and may not be as open about it as we should be. In the introduction by Greta Christina, she writes about the importance of atheists telling their story to inspire others to do so. This well-edited collection reaches out to a wide audience. To theists, not to change their way of thinking, but to help them understand our way of thinking and to remind them that yes, we are human. And to atheists, showing us a path to openness “to throw off the shackles of religious bigotry”.
- I want to stress the diversity of the stories found in this anthology. The collection has stories from folk of all backgrounds: gay, formerly religious, moms, dads, transgendered, and an alcoholic. Though it would have been nice to see a few essays from people of color, I was impressed with the varied background among the authors. Coming from a religious family, I was completely blown away by the stories of atheists that were born in an atheist household. The concept startled me. It allowed me a glimpse into a future when atheism might be on par with all the major religions of the world. Where one day, we might be considered normal.
Available now for pre-order from Amazon.com.
- Mississippi Atheists Blog to Close (msatheists.org)
- Should Atheists Shut Up and Stop Upsetting Christians? (queerlandia.com)
- What I would say to Atheists…. (pillscoffeeheresy.com)