A few weeks ago a bought a book from the same publisher that’s working on my poetry book. It’s called Atheist Voices of Minnesota. It’s an anthology of personal stories.
The book sounded interesting and I was curious, but when I read it, it felt like something I really needed — you know what I mean? I don’t believe in fate or anything like that, but it was like I bought the book at just the right time.
The first thing I thought was that Minnesota is in the Midwest, so they’re probably conservative like Ohio, right? Maybe not so much.
The net proceeds from the sale of the book go to the nonprofit organization, Minnesota Atheists. This organization is mentioned in a few of the stories. This motivated me to search for atheist groups in Ohio, and I actually found a few. Albeit, not as organized as the group in Minnesota, but at least I know they are out there and I can get involved. I didn’t see any nonprofit organizations like Minnesota Atheists, but I found a Meet Up group and Facebook page. That’s something.
I was also surprised that the people that contributed to the book didn’t discuss family resistance to coming out as much as I thought they would. That also gave me some hope. I’ve always considered myself very fortunate that most of my family knows I’m an atheist and I haven’t been disowned or anything. It doesn’t come up much. I don’t think this would be true for many atheists in this area.
I also found these personal stories motivating, especially considering my current projects. I am working on a book that is a series of essays on being an atheist with a mental illness as well as a book on secular parenting that is a collection of letters to my daughter. Obviously, these projects are both really personal to me, so reading authentic and candid stories from the lives of other atheists is incredibly inspiring.
One particular story is about a person overcoming alcoholism, and they mention the religious aspects of AA. I wrote about the 12 Steps last week on my blog. I totally get that. I have schizoaffective disorder and have also noticed spiritual aspects of different recovery programs. This is one reason why I feel the essays I’m writing about mental illness are important.
And one huge highlight — our own PZ Myers contributed his story to the book!