February 25, 2007

Book Preview: A 21st Century Rationalist in Medieval America

Have you ever thought about someday turning your blog or other material you have written into a book? Wouldn't it be nice to have a model of exactly how to do this in the most effective way possible? Good news! Just such a model will be published soon in the form of A 21st Century Rationalist in Medieval America: Essays on Religion, Science, Morality, and the Bush Administration by John Bice. The book has a May 2007 publication date, but John was nice enough to send me a preview copy. In this post, I will explain exactly why you need to get your hands on this book as soon as it is available.

Unless you just started reading atheist-oriented material on the web, you have probably encountered Bice's writings before. He is a freelance writer, currently employed by Michigan State University, where he writes regular columns from a godless perspective for The State News. I have long enjoyed his columns and was thrilled to hear that he was working on a collection of his writings.

A 21st Century Rationalist is quite different from many of the atheist-oriented books you have read, both in style and in purpose. Stylistically, it offers a collection of Bice's outstanding essays on religion and politics, many of which are expanded versions of columns which originally appeared in The State News. The essays are grouped into chapters on topics such as "Weird Beliefs," "Evolution & Creationism," and "Iraq War, Media, & Patriotism," but they are presented as brief essays (often no more than 5 pages in length).

But the real departure from other atheist-oriented books lies in Bice's purpose - writing for a mainstream audience which is expected to be predominately Christian. Remember, most of these essays originally appears as newspaper columns in a widely read mainstream newspaper. This gives Bice's book a much more accessible yet still unapologetically godless tone than many of the alternatives.

A 21st Century Rationalist is easily one of the most enjoyable, thought-provoking, and quotable books I have read in years. Bice's courage in spreading the godless meme through his writings is inspiring, and he has given us a model to emulate. Make room on your bookshelf for this one.

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