A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to do something really cool: record an audiobook for I Sold My Soul on eBay. I know: it’s five years after the fact… but whatever
I went to a sound studio on two separate occasions to recite the whole thing from start to finish. It marked the first time since before the book came out in 2007 that I actually read through the whole thing.
It was a weird experience.
There’s so much of what I wrote then — before I started writing this blog — that I would never write now because my opinions have changed (hardened?) so much. There were also a lot of good/bad memories pouring back that I hadn’t given a second thought to for so long. I’d forgotten some of those churches I visited, for better and for worse. And I couldn’t believe how much happened in those churches that I was letting slide — things I would be calling them out on if it happened today.
But I read it just as I wrote it and I hope you’ll like it when it comes out — which will be soon, I hope.
(Also, my idea of reading the whole thing in an Indian accent was nixed. Your loss, people. Your loss.)
I bring this all up because there was one passage in particular that stood out to me, especially in light of all the recent blogosphere discussion about feminism and racial diversity and all the new organizations/conferences aimed at bringing more women and minorities into our movement.
Here’s what I wrote in the book in a section about how Christians could impress atheists like me:
You want to reach out to people like me? Then show me the churches where men and women lead on an equal basis, and where I can see a rainbow of people in the crowd instead of a sea of whiteness or, in another neighborhood, a sea of blackness. If you say racial and ethnic segregation in churches comes about because of differing preferences regarding the style of worship, then change the style to one that welcomes everybody. I’d love to see Christian faith leading to openness and equality, respect for people no matter their gender or skin color or language or culture. Think about this: atheist gatherings are often a mixture of everyone in society. The people represent different ethnicities, ages, sexual identities, and races. Does it surprise you that secular people are leading the way in accepting others, no matter their individual differences?
I’m proud that two of the leading national atheist organizations (American Atheists and Atheist Alliance International) are headed by women. Our meetings bring together men and women from all different races. You would never see separate sessions held for men and women. We’re all equal in atheism, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in most churches. I can only wonder why.
Wow. Either I was blind to the lack of diversity in my own world or we’ve started to segregate ourselves in an attempt to become more accepting of everyone. I’m guessing it’s more of the former.