Comments

  1. says

    #2 — Handwriting looks the same to me… maybe the letter was started at finished in two separate sessions. Maybe she got rushed to finish it up near the end…

  2. A Masked Avenger says

    Why does the handwriting suddenly change after the first paragraph?

    It doesn’t. It’s a bit sloppy (albeit better than mine), and sloppy handwriting is less consistent than trained handwriting. Gone are the days when kids are forced to write copperplate in school.

  3. lesherb says

    It’s probably just me. I thought it looked distinctly different.

    I am happy to see that this young girl has resisted the chains of ignorance!

  4. carlie says

    lesherb – the lines starting with “I was reading” through the one starting with “jokes” are a blend of the first and second styles – looks to me like a change in speed and possibly of the angle the paper was at on the desk. And my first thought was that the girl is writing it during class, and had to write the second half more cramped as the first half was hidden under a book and she didn’t want the teacher to notice what she was doing. ;)

  5. carlie says

    Plus, it’s mainly the first sentence that is the most different – she may have been trying to write that one with the most emphasis, and that may have been something she thought out ahead of time.

  6. says

    Hooray for Indiana!
    Er, wait. This isn’t really a “hooray for Indiana” moment.
    Very few moments are.
    Anyway, this really shows the state of technology here in Indiana: a mailed letter instead of an email.

  7. redwood says

    When I was 15 I was attending a Southern Baptist church three times a week and singing in its youth choir in Lebanon, MO (see Jerry Coyne’s WhyEvolutionIsTrue to understand the significance of that). I would have loved having a book like The Happy Athiest to read. Instead I was just in a daze, waiting, waiting. It wasn’t until I went away to college that I started realizing there was a different world out there, one that I liked a lot better. IND Girl–you are so much more mature than I was at that age. Hang in there until you can go away (emphasis on “away”) to university. You’ll find the world you fit in there.

  8. ledasmom says

    My thought was that she was trying for her best and clearest writing, but it’s hard to keep that up for long. Reminds me of my younger days and writing essays out by hand, and you could only have a couple of corrections – otherwise, rewrite the whole thing. I would guess she’s done a lot of writing stuff by hand for school – note the attempt to stay within the margins, and though I’m not an expert it looks to me like the book title is written differently, a hand version of italics, and I wonder if she was taught to do that instead of underlining. Good spelling.
    What an exceedingly cool letter to get, and good for her for writing it.

  9. moarscienceplz says

    On the chance that 15yo IN girl is reading this, I’d like to say good for you for writing that letter. (And ignore the hyper-skepticism of some people.) There are a lot of people who feel and think the way you do, so don’t be too upset that your current neighbors aren’t like that. Keep your curiosity about the universe active, never be afraid to say what is right and true, but always keep in mind that you might be wrong about particular things, so listen carefully to those who don’t agree with you.
    Welcome to the future!

  10. says

    @9: “this really shows the state of technology here in Indiana: a mailed letter instead of an email”

    Not necessarily true. Perhaps in her restricted circumstances she is not allowed free computer access at home or in school, or her accounts are monitored, etc. by parents or others and she might suffer consequences if her correspondence were known. Perhaps the safest, most secure way she had to communicate with Dr Myers was via postal mail.

  11. kalkin says

    *sigh* Indiana. Islands of blue in a sea of read. At least they make good beer here.

  12. ButchKitties says

    Kalkin, ain’t that the truth.

    To the young letter writer, I’d advise that you do what so many of our best minds do: GTFO as soon as you can. You can try moving from wherever you are to one of the blue dots, but really… the beer isn’t worth it. The really good breweries ship their wares out to other states anyway. (Just come back and visit us for Dark Lord Day.)

  13. hexidecima says

    Excellent letter, young Hoosier. You’ll get out of there, don’t worry. Keep reading and keep thinking for yourself.

  14. unclefrogy says

    the letter makes realize how lucky I have been to lived my whole life in California, even if I grew up in a restrictive environment as to what was acceptable to think or do I did not have to leave the country to change.
    uncle frogy

  15. David Marjanović says

    Why does the handwriting suddenly change after the first paragraph?

    It changes again, by the same amount, before the last line of the second paragraph. Clearly, the first paragraph is an attempt (a successful one) to write slowly and clearly, and the rest was written faster and faster.

    And yes, The Happy Atheist is slanted.

  16. carlie says

    When I was 15 I was attending a Southern Baptist church three times a week and singing in its youth choir in Lebanon, MO

    Same here, less than three hours away. *fistbump*

    (although at the time I bought it hook, line, and sinker)

  17. Leslee says

    I grew up in Sturgis, MI which is (literally) within walking distance of the Indiana border. I hope the poor girl isn’t living in Shipshewana, because that would mean she is surrounded by conservatives, cows, and Amish folk. (Although, to be fair, the fresh strawberries are quite good.)

  18. citizenjoe says

    I was born in Indiana, and lived in Indiana off and on until I graduated from medical school, and then I got the heck out. I visited my family there off and on, but as they died off, my visits got fewer. I’ll probably go back when Indiana grows mountains, gets oceanfront, or goes progressive. Whichever comes third.

  19. greg hilliard says

    OK, now I’ve got to get the book. Oh, wait, it’s Father’s Day on Sunday! I finally have an idea I can give the kids. (Yes, I’m one of those “I don’t need anything” dads.)

  20. plainenglish says

    Hey, IN letter-writer, Just read Megan Hustad’s memoir of her life in a missionary family and beyond… It’s called More Than Conquerors. Bet you would love it. You sound to me like a questioning person, one with an exciting interest in things…. all the best to you…

  21. Mobius says

    Ah, it warms the heart.

    And if she thinks Indiana is bad, she shouldn’t even consider moving to Oklahoma.

  22. Mobius says

    @redwood, @carlie

    Yup. Been there, done that.

    I was raised in Seminole, Oklahoma going to the Southern Baptist Church every time the doors opened…which was at least three times a week. Oh how much of my youth was wasted.

    I started having serious doubts at about the age of 14 or 15, sliding away from belief. It wasn’t really complete until I was about 18, and even then for years I had some respect for religion even though I no longer believed. It took a long time to flush all the brainwashing of my youth from my system.

  23. jeanettegarcia says

    What a nice letter to receive from one so young and enlightened. It took me about forty years to come to the same conclusions about religion, not Rebulicans, I was always a liberal Democrate. Thankfully, I live in a fairly progressive city in the northwest. I did have a rather funny, actually kind of frightening experience with PZs book the ‘Happy Atheist,’ that I had laying out on a table for all to see. My Fuller brush man, yes they still exist, who is also a rabid born again Christian, saw the book and nearly had an epileptic fit when he spotted it. His eyes bulged out, he turned red, and he started trembling. I got scared when he asked me where I got ‘that’ book. Hubby was not home so I quickly told him that I like to know what all sides think about religion. He started sputtering some god nonsense about the second coming and the chosen few. I was glad to see him out the door and have not ordered anything since. I honestly did not know what he would do if I had told him I was an athiest.

  24. Ichthyic says

    Perhaps in her restricted circumstances she is not allowed free computer access at home or in school, or her accounts are monitored, etc. by parents or others and she might suffer consequences if her correspondence were known. Perhaps the safest, most secure way she had to communicate with Dr Myers was via postal mail.

    actually, it could be she thought a personal handwritten letter was a better way to express her thanks.

    It definitely has more of an impact on me when someone sends me a letter instead of an email or text.

  25. bortedwards says

    Congratulations all round!

    And PZ, I assume you will do her the honor of writing back, by hand (if she included an address).
    I remember receiving a signed birthday card and note from Sir David Attenborough (my GF at the time sent a blank card and my address to him and asked if he could send it on) and it made my year. In my case I know it’s just another piece of fan mail to the already converted, but this girl (although also a convert by the sounds) will need all the support she can get.

  26. evodevo says

    Thanks for writing this book, PZ. When I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, there wasn’t ANYTHING to read, even if I had known how to look for it. Small towns are by nature places where you conform or die. Got out as fast as I could. When I got to college, it was so much easier to search. Didn’t have the Intertubes, or Dawkins, or Hutchins, or anything like that then, though.
    Good luck to Indiana Girl -

  27. Glenn Graham says

    When I saw this post earlier today I couldn’t stop humming a tune by Paul Kelly and Archie Roach, “From little things big things grow”. Awesome letter!

  28. says

    Way to go! That is definitely the best kind of review, knowing you helped open up a young mind. Hang in there young lady, you’re only a few short years away from freedom! :-)

  29. nich says

    redwood@10:

    When I was 15 I was attending a Southern Baptist church three times a week and singing in its youth choir in Lebanon, MO

    Good ol’ Lebanon. I attended training at Fort Leonard Wood and a church in Lebanon bussed us in for a day long proselytizing session. I remember being allowed to walk between the church, a convenience store and a bowling alley for a few hours in the morning before being stuffed into a pew and told to give my heart to Jesus all afternoon.

  30. madscientist says

    Was that Purdue or Fort Wayne? Maybe South Bend …

    A good buddy of mine feels the same way and she’s a good deal older. She’s got her work cut out for her.