Which Books Will Not Be Written By Me? April 1, 2008

Which Books Will Not Be Written By Me?

Since the eBay book came out, there’s been talk with the publishers of what possible options there were for a second book.

It wouldn’t really be a follow-up (in other words, I Resold My Soul on eBay is *not* happening), but it would continue the idea of the atheist and Christian worlds intertwining.

I don’t think it’s going to happen.

Not right now.

Not because there weren’t ideas, though.

In fact, there were a number of rejected proposals. Some were just ideas. Some went as far along in the process as they could go before being passed over.

Time for a game.

Let’s see if you can figure out which ideas were actually pitched but later rejected:

  1. A book that features a conversation between myself and a conservative/fundamentalist Christian (such as Lee Strobel, author of The Case for Faith and other books).
  2. A book that discusses various aspects of religion/atheism with celebrities in the Christian world like Francis Collins, Stephen Baldwin, and (possibly) Ann Coulter.
  3. A book in which I document the world of a street preacher. I would try to be a proselytizer. I would set up shop in a public city and keep track of how many people took the time to talk to me. I would try to win people over for Christ… before revealing my ulterior motive. Can anyone preach? Will anyone actually listen to me?
  4. A book in which I am given control of an old, unattended church and attempt to preach secular messages to a wide audience. Can I attain a following? Are people as interested in a secular message as they are in a Biblical one? Is it possible to raise money for an endeavor like this?
  5. A book about how it’s not the Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells of the world who turn people off to Christianity. It’s your neighbors, co-workers, and friends who take care of that by acting hypocritical, being intolerant, or putting faith above friendship.
  6. A book in which I discuss the intimate details of my weekly dates with 52 different Christian women. Will they storm out of the restaurant when they find out I’m an atheist? Are they really as virtuous as they might claim to be? Does abstinence-only sex education work in practice?!
  7. A book in which I end up volunteering with Campus Crusade for Christ (with their approval) and finding out how different it is from my world of the Secular Student Alliance. What lessons can atheists learn from their Christian counterparts on campus? Why are there so many different Christian groups on any one campus? Why are so many students turned off by what CCC does?
  8. A book in which I live for ten weeks with a home-schooling, Christian family of ten. Mom is a lawyer who stays at home with the kids. Dad is a Creationist professor who teaches evolution (because he must) at a secular college. Is home-schooling brainwashing these kids? Can the kids learn to think critically about what they learn? Can they live with an atheist (and vice-versa)?
  9. A book that documents my experience at several different Christian Bible camps. What happens when an atheist gets to speak to the children each morning? Which aspects of camp would appeal to secular camp-goers? What really goes on behind those cabins at night when the coast seems clear…?
  10. A book in which I bone up on my Bible knowledge and try to lead a team from a local church to the Bible Bowl championships. Do atheists know more about the Bible than Christians? How will teams feel if they lose to an atheist? Is there trash talking at an event like this?

Need a hint: Five are real (ultimately rejected) proposals. Five are fake.

Good luck!


Update: Here’s the list of real (but rejected) proposals with a bit of backstory behind them:

1 — This idea didn’t appeal to me as much as others did because we’ve seen this type of book before. Not to mention I’m not as well-educated on matters of theology and biology as other atheists. There are some Christians I’d like to do this with, but I think in those cases we’d end up agreeing on far more issues than now, and there would be little tension.

2 — I really did like this idea since it would focus more on the practical aspects of religion (When is it ok to pray? Can you date someone of another faith?) instead of theology. But ultimately, the powers-that-be felt the names we had in mind wouldn’t draw in the big sales and there was no guarantee anything “revealing” would be said by them. Not unless certain people (e.g. Ann Coulter) were included on the list… and those additions weren’t very appealing.

5 — I still think this is an interesting concept. But it’s easy to argue Christians wouldn’t want to read what an atheist has to say about this topic.

6 — Hehehe. This is my favorite. What was the objection to this? Not the concept itself, but rather that the publishers didn’t think there would be much drama. In their minds, the girls would say “You’re an atheist? Interesting. Let’s talk” instead of running away screaming that I was Satan. And that wouldn’t be nearly as interesting.

8 — This was a possibility. My editor and I even met with the family. They were unbelievably nice and really interesting people. Ultimately, I thought I’d have a hard time criticizing a family I would come to know very well. And if I couldn’t be honest and objective, this wouldn’t work. That’s not the entire story, but it’s the main reason this idea didn’t work.

[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

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  • Okay, I’m up for a challenge. Here’s my guess:

    Real but rejected: 1, 2, 4, 7, 9
    Fake: 3, 5, 6, 8, 10

    I’m only really sure about 1 and 7; and given the quality of some stuff that’s published these days, any of them might have been proposed by an over-eager publisher. When you do the reveal, Hemant, will you tell us which (if any) you proposed yourself? Please?

  • I’m guessing that 1, 2, 5, and 7 were real proposals. The rest seem more like proposals for reality shows! But then, one of the others must be real, unless Hemant is lying on April fools day.

  • Kevin L.

    My guesses:

    Real but rejected: 1, 2, 4, 7, and 9…

    …which leaves 3, 5, 6, 8, and 10 as the fakes.

    Those that I think are fakes seem a bit more confrontational than seems to be your style. If anything, I think I’d switch around 2 and 8.

  • grazatt

    I have no idea, when will you tell us?

  • Karen

    Okay, I’m going to say 3, 4, 5, 7 and 10 were proposed book ideas and the 1, 2, 6, 8 and 9 are the fakes.

    I’m figuring a publisher would want you to follow on doing something similar to what you did before. That would mean it has to be more interactive than conversing with an apologist or celebrity. Also, I think you’ve established yourself dealing with ordinary Christians rather than with big names.

    I don’t see you too keen on revealing “intimate details” about your dating life (to spare your parents if nothing else), and I can’t imagine any Bible camp that would let an atheist teach the kids every morning – heaven forbid! But the Campus Crusade idea would be a natural, as would the Bible bowl – though again, there’d be a question about how many parents would allow an atheist to coach the team…

  • Miko

    I could see 1, 4, 7, 9, 10. Switch 2 and 4, perhaps.

    2 seems implausible due to the imbalance between the two sides. 3 has the potential to be hilarious, but seems unlikely for that particular publisher. 5 wouldn’t sell a single copy. The logistics of 6 sound unmanageable. And 8, well seriously…

  • All fake?

  • You don’t need to write a book to have a conversation with me. I’d be glad to chat with you sometime. As a former atheist, I’d find it interesting! And am I really a “fundamentalist?” I sure don’t think of myself that way. I believe in the fundamentals of Christianity, but that word is loaded with a lot of other [negative] connotations. Anyway, all the best to you! Lee Strobel

  • I’m going with #1 and 6 being real. Probably 7 as well. If I have to choose two other real ones, I’ll go with 3 and 5.

  • Jen

    Who cares which are real? Here are the ones I want to read: 3,4, 6, 7, 8.

  • I’m gonna go with 1, 3, 6, 7, 10.

    6 was the toughest call – I can’t imagine it being done, but I can imagine Hemant proposing the idea. 😀

  • One interesting project (not listed) would be to partner with someone (and don white shirts) to pose as either Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses and go door-to-door and honestly try to spread the word of God as they would… and then write about your experiences. That might sell.

  • HM

    You don’t need to write a book to have a conversation with me. I’d be glad to chat with you sometime. As a former atheist, I’d find it interesting! And am I really a “fundamentalist?” I sure don’t think of myself that way. I believe in the fundamentals of Christianity, but that word is loaded with a lot of other [negative] connotations. Anyway, all the best to you! Lee Strobel

    Calling fake on this, but if it was real, it would be awesome. Lee? Is that youuu?

  • Hi, HM —

    That’s me.


  • grazatt

    come on Hemant, tell us the full story of #8! inquiring minds want to know

  • come on Hemant, tell us the full story of #8! inquiring minds want to know

    Haha… That really was it. Drove down to their house. Spent several hours with them. Very nice family. Really polite kids. I’m sure I would’ve grown close to all of them, and I knew I would have to criticize them (I mean, they do teach their children things like Creationism)… I think ultimately, I would’ve felt bad about it even though I would’ve been honest. It wasn’t worth doing the book at that expense.

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