Dennett and LaScola’s new book on nonbelieving clergy

CORRECTION:  I’ve heard from Linda LaScola, who asked me to correct one error: the book below did not come out of the Clergy Project, but vice versa. I’m putting up her email (which she also put as a comment below), so that you can get the facts:

By the way, the study did not come out of the Clergy Project; it’s more like the Clergy Project (TCP) came out of the study. Most of the clergy interviewed in the book contacted us about the study before TCP existed. As we explain in the beginning of the book, the first members of TCP came from a list that Dan Dennett and I compiled for the study and a list of former non-believing clergy that Dan Barker, co-president of FFRF, had been compiling for many years. There are 30 current or former clergy in the D&L study and there are now over 500 members of TCP! While Dan Dennett and I are among the founders of TCP, we are restricted from the private website, which is reserved for conversation among current and former non-believing clergy. Dan and I do not qualify. Dan Barker, a former evangelical pastor, does qualify and I’m told is active on the private site.

Linda also notes that “there will be a book all about the clergy project, written its members, coming out sometime in 2014. “
_________

I hadn’t realized that Dan Dennett and Linda LaScola’s (D&L’s) book has been out, at least in electronic form, for a month, but if I didn’t know it perhaps you didn’t either. At any rate, it’s one of the first publications (and the first book) to come out of D&L’s Clergy Project, whose aim was to identify unbelieving clergy, help them transition (if they wished) to leaving the church, give them a community of like-minded pastors and to study the reasons why someone can preach what they don’t practice.

The book is Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind. It’s $9.99 on Amazon U.S. (Kindle version only for now). It’s 243 pages long, and you can read Richard Dawkins’s Foreword and Dennett and LaScola’s Introduction free here.

It has a lovely cover:

Picture 3

And here’s the table of contents; the book is clearly a combination of sociological analysis and personal testimony, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

Picture 1

The UK version, which has been out only four days, is £6.43; reader Michael, who brought this to my attention, notes that “on the UK  site it can be borrowed for free as a Kindle if one is an Amazon Prime member;  Amazon Prime is advantageous if you use Amazon a LOT, otherwise forget “free” lending.”

21 Comments

  1. Richard Olson
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    sub

  2. Posted December 1, 2013 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Annoyingly for me, you can’t borrow the book unless you have an actual Kindle device. I read Kindle books on an ASUS tablet so I’m out of luck.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      There are a couple of workarounds although they may not apply in your case for this particular book, but worth knowing perhaps for the future:-

      1] BORROW OR LEND VIA LENDLE BOOK CLUB
      You can lend/borrow Kindle books for free within the Lendle community. No Kindle required. There are other [free & subscription] ebook clubs, but I don’t know how reputable they are.

      2] LEND YOUR PURCHASED BOOK TO A FRIEND VIA AMAZAON.COM
      Doesn’t work in the UK Amazon, but it does work on .com [& maybe it's restricted to readers with a U.S. address] You can lend an ELIGIBLE** Kindle book to another reader for up to 14 days. The borrower does not need to own a Kindle device and can read the book after downloading a free Kindle reading app.

      ** What constitutes an ELIGIBLE book isn’t clear, but see link for more info. I suspect eligibility is controlled by locale & publisher permissions.

      3] OVERDRIVE & CALIBRE
      Digital book ownership is a little weird. The ebook formats are a restrictive pain & Calibre helps with that. I believe that once I’ve bought the book, it’s fair for me to loan it out just like I can a physical book, e.g. I can obviously only loan the book to one person at a time & while it’s on loan & meanwhile I can’t read it myself…

    • Posted December 2, 2013 at 12:17 am | Permalink

      You can download Kindle for PC for free:

      http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1000426311

      or Kindle for Mac:

      http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1000464931

  3. gbjames
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    sub

  4. Posted December 1, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    An excerpt from the June / July 2012 issue of FFRF’s Freethought Today issue: “The Clergy Project (TCP) is an organization that provides a support community for nonbelieving (atheist and agnostic) clergy and former clergy from all religions and denominations around the world. The organization, started in March 2011, currently has more than 300 members and receives over 40 applications each month. Members go through an extensive screening process to ensure that prospective members are actually nonbelievers and are clergy or former clergy.

    Members are classified as either “active” (active clergy) or “alumni” (former clergy). The organization is not meant to proselytize or change the beliefs of active clergy, but to provide them with a support group as they attempt to trade their religious careers for secular careers.

    Many of us accumulate a great deal of debt attempting to retrain ourselves. Many work in minimum-wage jobs the rest of their lives. A great number lose their jobs and families. Some lose everything and are homeless now.

    Do we complain? No, I’ve never heard a single complaint from any member of TCP. In fact, most of us accept the consequences of our misguided religiosity without bitterness. We are content to have broken free in some manner or other.”

    For one, I am very happy to see this book out, too.

    I am thinking thus: ALL ( of the World’s “great” religions ) exist for one purpose only as ALL are of the credo, “Sexism: the Original Sin.”

    THAT one purpose: the control of and dominion over the female human being.

    It has been my thinking since 1990, and “the release” I felt at 42 years of age and my father at 70 years of age finally admitted to me that, after he was a lay minister, sang a lovely bass position in the choir and served nearly all of my childhood and adulthood to that year as the church’s money – manager, its treasurer … … , after all of that … … that since his age of ( at least ) 12 and a huge incident at his school, he had over all of that time been godLESS.

    Daddy APOLOGIZED TO ME for this lie and for perpetuating it in to my and my three siblings’ lived ! THAT … … was stunning !

    I believe this is t.r.u.e. of almost all “believing” / accommodationist / “attending” … … MEN.

    Men .truly. do NOT — and never did — believe. They have “used” religion to .specifically. keep control of and dominion over girls and women. ( Most especially, over our maiden-ness. Or over their punishment of us — when we are according to their “laws” … … no longer maidens. )

    Everywhere. Every religion.

    Blue

    • gbjames
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      Only women believe in gods? Somehow that doesn’t quite makes sense.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

      I think you’ve over-egged the pudding there Blue. A large part of religion is to do with social, political AND sexual dominance. And indeed I can’t think of a major religion [or minor at the moment] where females are equal to men, but I don’t think this is the sole reason these religions exist.

    • pacopicopiedra
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

      Blue, once again, the bizarre punctuation is n.o.t. HELPing…

    • Marella
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

      You forgot MONEY. Religion in the end is all about money. It’s about persuading you to hand your hard earned cash over for no tangible return, to people who have done nothing of value for you or anyone else. Priesthood is the biggest con ever.

    • Posted December 2, 2013 at 12:23 am | Permalink

      I have known men, and a few priests, who were genuine believers. Also, how do monks, isolated and recluse in their monasteries, use religion to specifically keep control of and dominion over girls and women?

  5. Linda LaScola
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    Hi, Jerry –

    Thanks for blogging about our new book – available on Kindle just since Wednesday, Nov 26th in both the US and the UK. The print edition should be out in about a week.

    By the way, the study did not come out of the Clergy Project; it’s more like the Clergy Project (TCP) came out of the study. Most of the clergy interviewed in the book contacted us about the study before TCP existed. As we explain in the beginning of the book, the first members of TCP came from a list that Dan Dennett and I compiled for the study and a list of former non-believing clergy that Dan Barker, co-president of FFRF, had been compiling for many years. There are 30 current or former clergy in the D&L study and there are now over 500 members of TCP! While Dan Dennett and I are among the founders of TCP, we are restricted from the private website, which is reserved for conversation among current and former non-believing clergy. Dan and I do not qualify. Dan Barker, a former evangelical pastor, does qualify and I’m told is active on the private site.

    • Posted December 2, 2013 at 7:53 am | Permalink

      Linda,

      Thanks for all the hard and oh-so-important work you and Dan have done on this subject.

      I believe I recommended a certain clergy member be contacted for the Project. I hope to, some day, have my suspicions confirmed by learning that he or she has successfully transitioned to a more honorable profession.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • Uncle Ebeneezer
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 8:59 am | Permalink

        Yes, just want to echo what Ben said. I’ve only gotten to reading the intro so far (I’ll get the physical book when released) but it looks like you guys did some great work with you doing much of the heavy lifting with regards to the interviews. Thanks for being as scientific as possible with all the concern for possible biases. And of course anything that gets Dan writing again is worthy of thanks (he has such a lovely and engaging style of prose.) Can’t wait to read the whole thing!

  6. Marc Ambler
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 12:46 am | Permalink

    Oh come on. People drawing a salary from an organisation while working for the other side would be called by different names in other fields. Traitor, fifth columnist, spy, industrial espionage are a few terms that come to mind. Instead, because they are working against Christian faith, they are portrayed as some kind of noble martyrs for the cause. Common sense and normal ethics would dictate that if you are in wholesale disagreement with the organisation for whom you work; you resign. Oh yes, I forgot, random mutations over time provides basis for neither common sense nor ethics.

    • gbjames
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 5:57 am | Permalink

      Come on, yourself. It is not correct to say that they are portrayed as “noble martyrs for the cause”. They are portrayed for what they are, human beings caught in traps.

    • JohnnieCanuck
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 6:32 am | Permalink

      Boy did you go off the rails.

      Those actively employed are doing nothing to harm their employers. They go through the motions and feel guilty. Probably they don’t do so much fire and brimstone and hate the Others but rather emphasis love, hope and charity, but that’s not traitorous.

      Yes they are fleecing the flocks, which isn’t admirable but that’s in the job description.

      Industrial espionage? What, you think the Atheist Pope is getting reports from them and is maneuvering his infantry accordingly? Ha!

      Wait, I got it. It’s the Devil Himself they are reporting to.

    • Larry Gay
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      You distort reality: “People drawing a salary from an organization while working for the other side . . .”. Clergy losing their faith are not working for the other side. They are simply, often gradually, losing their faith and meanwhile continue to do the jobs they are used to doing: comforting the sick and lonely, feeding the poor, sheltering the homeless, and giving uplifting messages to the flock on Sundays. Meanwhile they are trying to figure out how to find some other job so they can continue to support their families. By no means should they be compared to traitors or spies.

      • Richard Olson
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 10:14 am | Permalink

        I did not mind stealing this from someone writing elsewhere: ‘I never lost my faith, nor did I abandon my faith. One day I simply realized that I have no faith.”

        • Larry Gay
          Posted December 2, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

          Still a gradual process probably. Most such pastors do not have analytical minds like a Steve Pinker or a Jerry Coyne. When it comes to a decision, it takes time for the subconscious mind to thrash things out, maybe years. But eventually a decision seeps up into consciousness.

  7. Posted December 9, 2013 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on insecular and commented:
    I really have to read this book but I keep putting it off.


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