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:
- 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).
- A book that discusses various aspects of religion/atheism with celebrities in the Christian world like Francis Collins, Stephen Baldwin, and (possibly) Ann Coulter.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
- 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?!
- 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?
- 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)?
- 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…?
- 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.
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.