Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion is due for release by Amacom Books in roughly two weeks. No one seems to know exactly when. Annoyed by the imprecision? Welcome to my world.
The official release is April 30, but I’ve been told to expect the book to go public about three weeks after I get the author copies. Author copies arrived on March 19, which means the first major book on parenting without religion will go before the merciless public eye on April 9…ish.
Because of the nature of the book, strange and/or wonderful things are likely to happen, which is the reason I’ve started a blog. I’m a bit conflicted about blogging at all. At the heart of my own philosophy is the knowledge that I’m a cosmic flash-in-the-pan, a trousered baboon with admittedly better thumbs. Really grasping my cosmic insignificance should make it impossible for me to think the details of my daily life merit a widespread readership. It should also make grandiloquent phrases like “at the heart of my own philosophy” impossible to say with a straight face, not to mention words like “grandiloquent.”
Which is why this is not a blog about me. It’s about the release of an unusual book, and all the unusual things that are likely to happen in its wake, as well as the general topic of secular parenting. With occasional references to me and my lovely secular family. I’ll try to make it informal, honest, and less guarded than I am in some other venues. Occasional strong language, some nudity.
If I was going to do a blog at all, I really should have started a year ago when the project began to take off. I could have recorded the moment I asked my agent, Dr. Uwe (purse your lips: OOO-veh) Stender, to set aside, for the moment, my humorous philosophical death-obsessed travel narrative Northing at Midlife (a really good book, frankly, in which publishers are so far foolishly disinterested) and try instead to sell the concept of a much-needed book on parenting without religion.
I’d tried to find a publisher myself for such a thing in 2003 when I was the Family Issues editor at the Atheist Alliance. But publishers were unmoved.
I bring that out in people.
So I approached Agent Uwe with the idea of an anthology: 20-30 essays by big names and small on parenting without religion. He liked it, especially the “big names” part. I began floating invitations to some of the stars of freethought, like Julia Sweeney, Dan Barker, Margaret Downey, and several others. Some agreed immediately. A few others hemmed and hawed, not sure if they just might be too busy. It began to stall. I needed a kickstart.
With the kind assistance of Margaret Downey, I approached Richard Dawkins (slowly, not making eye contact, so as not to startle him) and began gently picking tiny insects out of his fur.
Richard liked the sound of the project and gave permission for us to use a wonderful letter he wrote for his daughter Juliet when she was ten. And once Richard Dawkins was with us, why, the funniest thing happened: every one of the hemming and hawing contributors pulled a muscle jumping on board.
Two weeks later we had a publisher. Two weeks after that we had fully 25 contributors writing essays on mixed marriage parenting, moral development, the wonder of science, questioning, values and virtues, meaning and purpose, secular ceremonies and holidays, dealing with death, and much more.
Between now and the release, I’ll tell a few of the stories of the past year. Once the book is released, I’m sure the present will overtake the past. I’ll take the laptop along on my mini-tours and keep the blog up-to-date as best I can. Drop questions and comments as they pop up, and be sure to visit the PBB Discussion Forum to meet the rest of the gang.