I have co-edited a new anthology with Jonathan M.S. Pearce, a publisher, philosopher, and blogger from England. You can check him out on his blog The Tippling Philosopher over at the Skeptic Ink Network (SIN).
The anthology, Beyond an Absence of Faith, collects the personal ‘deconversion’ stories of ex-religious believers. A deconversion story of the irreligious is the equivalent of the religious ‘testimony’ of faith. Just as with a ‘testimony’ which is a personal account of how one came to God or found faith, the deconversion story is the opposite account of how one lost faith and realized all the God-business just wasn’t for them.
What I like most about the book is that it’s not an attack on religion. It’s not a philosophical piece trying to deconstruct religion. It’s much more a reflective piece looking back on individual experiences collecting the personal stories from people from all walks of life who went from living a life steeped in religion to a life without it.
Some of the stories are harrowing, as we have people literally escaping cults, we have stories of mysticism and spiritual pilgrimages across India, we have stories of pastors turning away from nearly 30 years of preaching because they couldn’t live with what they came to see as a great big lie any longer.
Perhaps my favorite story is by a Muslim girl, a teenager, whose parents have pre-arranged her marriage to a man she’s never met and who refuses to answer her Facebook messages to get acquainted. And amid this confusing time in her life, she personally decides she no longer believes, and takes off her head scarf. The weight of this action is no trivial matter, and the rift it causes in her family and friends is no laughing matter either, and I can honestly say that her story is a real tear-jerker.
It looks like this book will hit the presses this week or next and be just in time for the first couple weeks of May. Keep a look out for it and I’ll keep you all posted!