So I got this comment the other day from emptyknight, responding to a post about my book Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why:
Just got the book on Kindle this weekend, and I’m enjoying it so far! (Not that I was surprised). What did surprise me was getting a Facebook message from a distant relation, a second cousin by marriage whom I’ve never met, who was reading your book and saw my name and story and recognized me. He told me that finding this connection and reading my story, among the many others, has been very helpful to him as he tries to figure out how to come out of the atheist closet. Hopefully he’ll discover if I can survive our family as an atheist, so can he.
I don’t comment very often, but your blog was the first atheism/social justice/etc blog I found when I started looking, and I always love to read your work. I wanted you to have this story about how you are helping at least one reader, because anyone who does all the great things you do deserves some positive reinforcement.
And then, just a few hours later, I got this comment, from mistertwo:
I’m about a quarter of the way through, and I ran across a familiar surname with a backstory that couldn’t have been a coincidence. It turns out that one of the people whose story you share is my wife’s cousin’s son. A quick Facebook search confirmed this to my satisfaction, so I sent a private message to him, to which he replied briefly. He hasn’t read the book yet and didn’t know whether his story had made it in.
In any case, I’m sure I’ve seen him in the past, probably when he was just a little kid, but finding him in your book was very encouraging to me as I wouldn’t have even known otherwise that there was another atheist in the family. Now I have someone else to talk to.
A big part of your point in the book is that coming out can encourage other people, and this proves that to be the case. And it’s a direct result of my reading the book, so there are double points for encouragement.
I’m assuming that this is the same story, from both angles, and that these two commenters are talking about each other. (If not, that would be an amazing coincidence!) In any case, it’s making me deeply, deeply happy. This is exactly the sort of thing that so often happens when atheists come out of the closet — and it’s exactly the sort of thing I was hoping would happen as a result of people reading this book. I’m delighted to see it — and so soon after the book came out! Thanks so much to both emptyknight and mistertwo for taking the time to write — and congratulations on finding each other.