Book Review: Unorthodox

(Note: This review was solicited and is written in accordance with my policy for such reviews.) Summary: A memoir of escape from the overbearing, oppressive life of ultra-Orthodox Judaism, but the appalling details are somewhat clouded by doubts raised about the narrative's veracity. Like many other books that I've reviewed, Deborah Feldman's Unorthodox is an autobiography that tells the story of escape from a suffocating religious community. In her case, it's a story of escape from Satmar … [Read more...]

Book Review: An Unquenchable Thirst


Summary: The Roman Catholic equivalent of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's "Infidel". A luminous, extraordinary account of one woman who devoted her life to Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity, saw the organization from the inside out, and decided to walk away after twenty years of service as a faithful and obedient nun.The "deconversion memoir" is seemingly fast becoming the most common genre of atheist book. In just the last few years, I've read Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Infidel, William Lobdell's Losing … [Read more...]

The Grindstone of Persuasion

If you were a regular commenter on the old site, you've probably noticed a shift in the commenting community since Daylight Atheism came here to Big Think. The old site had a smaller, more homogeneous community, and as a result, there were a lot more "atheism 201" discussions - how we can organize and build a welcoming secular community, how we can overcome internal disagreement to unite in defense of our political rights, how we can phrase our arguments to be most convincing, and so on. But … [Read more...]

An Ex-Mormon Story

Editor's Note: After a holiday that's all about gratitude, it seemed appropriate to post this. Please welcome Jessa Jackson as she tells the story of how she went from Mormonism to atheism. We're thankful to have you, Jessa! —Adam Lee One thing I remember hearing repeatedly claimed about ex-Mormons is that they "never really knew the truth." The assumption being that if they knew the truth they never would have left. I want to be absolutely clear that I believed. My mother's family was … [Read more...]

Escaping Christian Patriarchy

Ophelia of Butterflies and Wheels has been writing some excellent posts lately about the abuse and oppression of women in Christian communities. One of them led me to an outstanding blog titled Love, Joy, Feminism. Its author, Libby Anne, grew up in an incredibly strict and fundamentalist Christian home that practiced a way of life she calls "Christian Patriarchy" (some might also refer to it as the Quiverfull movement). She and all her (twelve!) siblings were homeschooled, indoctrinated with … [Read more...]

Book Review: God, No!

(Author's Note: The following review was solicited and is written in accordance with this site's policy for such reviews.)Summary: Just what you'd expect from its author: outspoken, boisterous, crude, frequently vulgar, often hilarious. Unapologetically atheist, but more about Penn Jillette the person than about atheism per se.God, No! is written by Penn Jillette, the louder half of Penn & Teller who's well-known for his skeptical and libertarian views. He's also known for being … [Read more...]

Walking Away from the Watchtower

Last week, I posted a link to my review of Millions Now Living Will Never Die, the Watchtower's 1920 apocalyptic misfire, on Facebook. It got a comment from Vanessa Sampson, an ex-Jehovah's Witness who said that her own discovery of the Watchtower's fallibility was a major factor in her ultimately deciding to leave that religion and become an atheist.Vanessa gave me permission to use her name and to share her story, which I think is an outstanding example of the courage and intellectual … [Read more...]

From the Mailbag: Shedding the Burden of Suffering

Earlier this week, I got a lengthy letter whose author gave me permission to share it with you:Dear Ebonmusings:I gave a glimpse to your musing about the carrot and the stick - I didn't expect it to talk about morality, mainly because I realized that the latest part of my life as a christian was about pursuing a carrot and a stick.*Allow me to share my story. Sorry if it's a bit depressing, but I can assure you that I'm much better now (and much better than before, since I embraced … [Read more...]

Book Review: Losing My Religion

Summary: A hard-hitting and emotionally moving story of a religion reporter's deconversion, despite a few lingering blind spots.Losing My Religion is the autobiography of William Lobdell, the religion reporter turned atheist whom I wrote about in 2007. I briefly mentioned the outline of his story in my previous post, but this book is a much more in-depth account of how he found, and then ultimately lost, his faith. Despite some significant weaknesses, which I'll get to, it's a powerful, honest … [Read more...]

You Call That Religion?

This is a guest post by Leah of Unequally Yoked. Adam is on vacation.Spoiler Alert: the post below discusses the final number of the musical The Book of Mormon.The Associated Press, in a review titled "Zany Musical 'The Book of Mormon' Will Convert You" said despite the sacrilege you might expect from a show imagined by the creators of South Park, the production was ultimately "pro-religion."  Or, more precisely: Ultimately, believe it or not, this is a pro-religion musical, or at least a … [Read more...]