If you want to throttle your relatives when they talk about politics or religion, if you throw your shoes at the TV set when the news (or a commercial) comes on, if you would rather vote on a barstool than in a voting booth in the coming election, if every church service you attend feels like a funeral for a friend, or if you would like to get that capitalistic latest-greatest-ring-thing out of your nose, then this is a book for you.
Burning Religion: navigating the impossible space between religion and secular society is a multi-genre book covering elements of philosophy, theology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, history, autobiography, poetry, and Carnivalesque tall tales in a thesis suggesting that making peace between disparate worldviews is not possible in any lasting way through typical moderate or third-way approaches. So called "radical" approaches are not radical enough. Finding lasting peace requires something wild. Burning Religion suggests that the wildness of the Carnival just might hold the key we are looking for.
The Christians were yelling at the Witches, the Witches were yelling back. The atheists were mocking them both, and the whole city, even the city government had had enough. This was Salem, MA 16 years ago. It still breaks out each year when Bullhorn toting visitors come to town, but now, locals who disagree with one another on most issues are actually working together as friends. How can that be?!
Salem is just a microcosm of the polarizing issues facing our world. Religious people don't get along with atheists. They don't even get along with themselves. Conservative and Liberal political positions yell at each other without listening. The tension has become strained enough to establish an angry distance between us and our neighbors. It establishes an impossibly unnavigable distance between us and our own families.
Burning Religion is a quirky Carnivalesque adventure. One moment, you will enter my strange world through the stories of being a Christian pastor in Salem, MA (Witch City USA). Then, you are entertainingly pulled through the philosophical theories of a one-legged Russian philosopher. Sandwiched between personal stories, historical vignettes, theology and philosophy are a set of absurd tall tales designed to walk your emotions alongside your intellect, complete with occasional forays into what just might include fart humor combined with Chaos theory.
After 30 years working with people very different than myself, and developing peaceful and mutually beneficial relationships with them - after 30 years creating spaces for angry groups of people to peacefully dialogue, I have laid out this first part of what will become an ongoing philosophical work describing a theory behind peacemaking. This first book highlights the ongoing inability of religion and secular society to navigate mutually beneficial relationships with a radical Other, and offers an inside-out approach as the solution.
The interactivity comes in with an ability to talk-back and dialogue about the issues at the website BurningReligion.com, or through my Facebook and Twitter Pages, because part of our social polarization problem is the lack of discussion and honest listening. This is a book I hope you can talk back to.
Parts of this book are the funniest thing I've read since Douglas Adams, but then I would say that, because I'm the kind of guy who laughs at his own jokes. But I think you will laugh on occasion too. I also hope to make you cry. Throughout it all, I hope to make you think, but most importantly, I hope to turn your world upside-down and open up a world of new adventure to you.
For three years, I have been studying and writing, and studying more and rewriting, staring blankly at the screen, making a second or third pot of tea, tormenting my friends with my studies, and typing like someone who wants to develop carpal tunnel syndrome. Now, I am nearly finished with the book project, and am planning to release this as an interactive linkable eBook on Amazon Kindle. But yes! you can get a hard copy too, but you will have to figure out how click the links on the hard copy. More information is available at www.BurningReligion.com
Risks and challenges
Getting the last few parts written, and edited cleanly in the coming month and a half is a challenge, but it shouldn't be too large a problem, because I am nearly there now.
Getting the ebook format edited with the interactive links will also be a challenge, but since I kinda know what I'm doing, this should work out just fine.
Preparing BurningReligion.com, my Facebook and Twitter pages for interactive dialogue concerning issues in the book is another hurdle to jump, but these are also things I have done before. So, I should be able to get this accomplished in non-hippie-time manner.
I've been at this for three years, sometimes taking breaks from everyday life to work 10-12 hours a day to get this thing done. I have read an unbelievable number of pages of history, philosophy, literary theory, psychology, anthropology, and Grotesque medieval Carnival literature to get my head wrapped around the multi-disciplinary nature of this book. I am not about to give up now! The finish line is just in front of me.
I have a couple people lined up to do the art. I need to have the cover completed, which will use one of the Burning Man Temple pictures from my good friend Kevin Rolly, and I am talking with cartoonists to do a cartoon inside the book as an illustration. Or course, these are some of the costs of self-publishing.
I have had a couple publishers show interest in this book, but have decided to publish this in digital format first. My dream of creating an interactive ebook laced with these Carnivalesque tall tales is perhaps best suited to releasing as a self-published piece first. Furthermore, some of the material in the book has specific popular and public interest now, and does not want to wait for the slow schedule of the publishers.
Help me bring this to life. Whether, you are Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Neo-Pagan, agnostic/atheist, or one of the growing number of "nones" and "dones' I believe you will find this book to be a refreshing approach to the space between religion and secular society.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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