ABOUT THE BOOK: This project is NOT part of the Awkward Moments Children’s Bible series, but an entirely new book – a memoir of sorts, using over one hundred common conversations with “fans” to reflect on this thing we call “faith” – both culturally and personally. It is a mixture of silly, serious, sad, & sometimes scary! (Lightly illustrated in black and white – 320 pages – $19.99 – July 2017)
Rather than penning a self-indulgent introduction for this book, I figured it would make more sense to stick with the theme of doing as little extra work as possible and just share the conversation that forced the project to come to life in the first place. It wasn’t my idea and I had no interest in doing the project at all. That is, until I found myself inspired by a seemingly unlikely (and persistent) fan with a story of his own.
“Hey Horus! You should put all of the funny hate mail you get from Christians into a book of its own! They’re hilarious and you have a very unique way of handling truly arrogant people. You’re a master debater!”
– Andrew, Texas
HG: Wow, thanks for the compliments, Andrew! (Though, please never use the term “master debater in public again, because… Ew.) I’m sorry, but I really can’t imagine why anybody would want to read through a series of random snarky conversations between strangers beating their chests. I wouldn’t want to read that much of my own ramblings. I mean, again – thanks for the support! But, it just doesn’t make sense to me. 😉
I’d buy it in a heartbeat! Aside from David Sedaris, I think your rebuttals are the funniest things I’ve ever read. It could be like that Letters From A Nut book from Seinfeld.
HG: You take that back right now! David Sedaris is a saint! (I’m not familiar with Seinfeld’s book.) Honestly, I’ve thought about it a bit since your email last week but I just don’t know. I’m certainly flattered by your all-too-kind vote of confidence, but I just don’t think people would really care what a grumpy washed-up ex-ministry leader has to say about anything. Not to mention, there’s a lot of foul language [from others] in many of the emails and I don’t want to disrespect anyone’s privacy. Plus, it would never sell!
Are you kidding me? You already have like 100k fans on the Awkward Bible page!!! You could put together a book that was the right mix of snark and sincerity and I think that your obvious desire to really get engaged and help people would be inspiring to many readers. You can always just blackout people’s names and I think Christians are more used to foul language than you think.
HG: You are cracking me up, Andrew. Here’s the deal – I’m just not interested in putting a book out there that could ever be seen as some sort of a mean spirited attack on Christians – there’s already plenty of that angry atheist diatribes out there and I do my best to avoid that sort of tone as much as possible. It’s one thing to highlight a specific online conversation every once in awhile within the context of a particular thread or current news cycle. It’s another thing to put them all in a book. It just seems like bullying, in poor taste.
I see what you are saying, but – it doesn’t have to be an “angry” book. Seriously, almost all of the comments I see you making in response to the haters are truly kind, compassionate and heartfelt. I don’t think anybody would think poorly of you for putting somebody in their place for threatening your family or praying for you to burn in hell. On the same note, I think you bring a very different voice to the secular community that is needed right now. There is so much nastiness and arrogance out there, we don’t need another caustic and polarizing asshat. At the same time, we don’t need another academic Bible book. Your experience on both sides of faith give you a very balanced perspective to talk about Christian culture for what it is. Just write the book!
HG: Geez, man – buy me a drink before you try to get in my pants! Seriously, while very flattered, I just don’t know. I love you man, but I think I’ll pass. 😉
[1 month later] Hey Horus! Did you write the book yet? Seriously, dude – that post you shared today with Rebecca is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. Kind and caring but not condescending, witty and challenging, but not demeaning. WRITE THE DANG BOOK ALREADY!!!
HG: Jesus! Fine, yes, I’ll do it, but only if I can dedicate it to (blame it on) you!
HG: Absolutely – you’re the pain in my a** who is making me write the thing!
That would be awesome! But please only use my first name. I don’t want my co-workers to get the wrong idea.
HG: What’s the “wrong idea?” What kind of co-workers?
I’ve more or less lost my faith but I’m still a youth pastor of a pretty big church in the area. Many folks around here wouldn’t take kindly to a member of clergy even talking to you, let alone encouraging an apostate to challenge their faith. It would get ugly fast. It’s a crazy world, man.
HG: Ugh! Encouraging Biblical literacy and critical thinking are the “wrong idea” where you’re from? The “crazy world” where you have to be afraid to even be honest about your own personal beliefs? Aren’t you conflicted about preaching think you might no longer believe? Doesn’t it get to you?
Sure it kills me. But with a degree in divinity and no resume outside working in churches for the last 15 years with a family to support I don’t have a lot of other options. I also couldn’t help but notice that you write under a pen name, Horus. So… Ha!
HG: Touché, Andrew – a crazy world, indeed. Have you checked out The Clergy Project? It’s a sizable confidential network of pastors (and ex-pastors) just like yourself – those who have left their personal faith behind but find themselves still engaged in ministry. In short, you are definitely not alone.
I’m actually already a member of TCP. It’s a great group filled with a lot of good people but a lot are still struggling to make sense of it all. WRITE THE BOOK!
So, there you have it. If you hate this book, it’s all Andrew’s fault and he can be reached at the First Baptist Church of [redacted].
I originally thought this book would be easy to quickly assemble by sifting through old conversations, grabbing a few of the funniest, saddest, smartest, and scariest emails in order to give oddball fans like Andrew what they wanted. In the end, it wasn’t so simple.
Looking back, I found that I often answer 25-50 emails from fans and frienemies on any given day. This presented me with a basic problem of the sheer volume of conversations that accumulated since launching the AMCB project a couple of years ago. While there are many conversations that could have filled the quota of silly, stupid, or scary, the vast majority of messages I receive are quite sincere – filled with a genuine desire to discuss faith and culture. Sure, some folks wrote without any interest in having an honest dialogue. But most just seemed happy to have an open ear out there in the digital void, away from the presumptions and politics of family, friends, and community. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how important this book might be for some readers who don’t have an outlet or community where they felt “safe” to share ideas, questions, and concerns about religion freely.
At this point I have no idea if this book will end up being what he was hoping for, but now more than ever – it is dedicated it to my brother from another mother, Andrew.
THANK YOU so much your interest, patience, and support of this project! It’s been a long and somewhat difficult road, but I’ve grown to be pretty excited about this little project!