September 9th, 2007

Books!

A good read ...

As those who have been following along in my regular journal know, we are currently faced with the prospect of moving from Chicago and off to the wilds of the "mountain north-west". One of my (many) concerns out that way is running into a far more "religiously polarized" environment than I have ever had to deal with (being that I have, with the exception of my college years, only lived in downtown Chicago and New York City). Aside from researching UU groups in the various cities we're considering, I recently got a bunch of "humanist" books for my daughters, and Dale McGowan's Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion for me.

As those of you have followed my reading over the past couple of years will know, it's rare that I read anything that hasn't been sitting around for a while, so this, which was just published earlier this year, is quite "fresh". The book is a collection of essays around 9 general topic areas, from personal stories, how to "frame" religion and science, and the on to the basic stuff like holidays, death, and community. Dale McGowan is the editor and contributed four out of the forty pieces here, as well as each section's introduction and the various "additional resources" info. Now, I frequently have issues with "collections" like this, due to the unavoidable shift in writing style piece-to-piece, but because of the the thematic consistency it holds together better than many books of this type, although there are certainly contributors that you would prefer not to get into a long read with!

I wonder if McGowan had set out to have some "celebrity" flash to this, or if that was his publisher's idea, as, frankly, I felt that inclusion of Julia Sweeny, Penn Jillette, and Richard Dawkins, while being on-theme, were simply there to splash their names on the cover (all three are in the "Personal Reflections" section at the start of the book, so don't have an "essential" role for any given "subject" portion of the book, and all three pieces are, I believe, available elsewhere). Of course, Penn Jillette perhaps has the most "like me" stance in the book, here's a sweet bit from his all-too-brief contribution:

We don't have any friends who are into any kind of faith-based hooey, so our kids will just think that "damn it" follows "god" like "Hubbard" (or something) follows "mother".
Heh, heh, heh ... no, we didn't start out to ensure The Girls swore like longshoremen either.

Anyway, Parenting Beyond Belief is a very good book if you are looking for some way to insulate your kids from whatever Religious Insanity you might be having to deal with. As noted, it is very up-to-date, so the "additional resources" sections are just rife with good links and book recommendations on which to follow up.

Being that this a new book, you're not likely to get any break on the price ... but Amazon has it at 1/3rd off of cover, which makes it pretty reasonable, and it is no doubt available at your friendly neighborhood brick-and-mortar book monger as well. If you have kids and are creeped out by the Religion Zombies, this is a great book to pick up!


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