Parenting Beyond Belief in Newsweek Magazine July 9, 2007

Parenting Beyond Belief in Newsweek Magazine

Dale McGowan’s excellent book Parenting Beyond Belief is featured in the BeliefWatch section of this week’s Newsweek magazine (July 16th issue).

As usual, Newsweek finds it hard to discuss atheism in a positive light.

Nearly a third of Lisa Miller’s article is spent discussing how parenting books in general are a bunch of crap. There’s also a pointless column-filling jab at atheist-lit:

Parenting books are the most useless and irresistible kind of literature. Designed to prey on parents’ insecurities, they draw you in with expert claims and then disappoint with their know-it-all tone and their failure to solve even a single one of the profound struggles of family life. Same with atheism books: the authors are supersmart and their arguments engaging, but they don’t ultimately resolve doubt and you are left with the feeling of having failed to get with the program.

The rave review is coming up. Wait for it…

Here, then, is the last word in the useless and irresistible: a parenting book for atheists.

Let’s be clear on this. It’s not the “last word” in anything. Dale certainly wouldn’t say that. There will be more parenting books. And thanks to Dale, there will be more atheist parenting books. Parenting Beyond Belief is a “first word” if anything.

Miller calls the book a “compelling read,” but she tries to throw in another point of view that actually doesn’t exist in any significant number (perhaps to create a controversy where one doesn’t exist?):

The editor Dale McGowan has received some heat from hard-line atheists who say he’s too accommodating to organized religion. “I’ve had a few atheists look me in the eye and say, ‘Come on, when you’re dead, you’re gone. What’s the big deal?” But McGowan, father of three, prefers a gentler approach. “I don’t think the way to handle it is to say, ‘Suck it up and go to bed’.”

You’d be hard-pressed to find any atheist website/blog that criticizes the book. You won’t find much criticism on Amazon, where the book has consistently ranked in the 2,000-3,000 range (very impressive, especially for a book of this nature).

The article could have focused more on what was said in the book. Or why this book is a watershed event in parenting literature. Instead, it focuses more on the background on which the book is written rather than its contents.

Despite my rants, I would encourage you to rate this story five stars at the bottom of the page. A higher rating could lead to better placement on Newsweek’s website.

[tags]atheist, atheism, Dale McGowan, Parenting Beyond Belief, Newsweek, Lisa Miller, BeliefWatch, Amazon[/tags]

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  • I went this morning and added a comment to the story, in hopes that it would encourage more secular parents to check the book out. (although, I had just woken up when I wrote it, and upon re-reading, I didn’t make much sense!)

  • All true — but not to worry! The actual column was SO much better than the several nightmare versions I had imagined in the days since the interview that I couldn’t feel anything but giddy relief. The wincing moments (including the overblown ref to hardliners) are not likely to discourage our core audience from seeking the book out. Overall, I’m just thrilled.

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