Ask Richard: Advice from an Atheist July 3, 2009

Ask Richard: Advice from an Atheist

The other day, at the end of his post about Billy Graham’s advice column on the “ rise of atheism,” Hemant made this remark:

We need a syndicated atheist advice columnist. I nominate Richard Wade. Any reader who checks out his comments on this site knows what I’m talking about.

At first I just laughed. Hemant’s kidding, right? An advice columnist? An agony aunt? But then my imagination started running. I love reading this blog and interacting with people here every day. I really can’t stay away. I comment about the posts or other’s comments far more often than I post my own articles. I much more prefer to respond to the issues that others bring up, and I especially like the “people” issues, such as atheist-Christian marriages, the problems of coming out as an atheist to loved ones, or the feelings of grief sometimes felt early in an atheist’s emancipation from god belief.

So I thought, okay, why not? I’m a retired marriage and family counselor, I’ve counseled tens of thousands of people, I’ve heard and seen things that would shock most people into tears and retching at the same time, and I’ve survived many more days of life than most of the readers who frequent this site. So maybe I can help someone, and with the input of others, we can help each other and have fun doing it.

So we’re launching a special section, “Ask Richard: Advice from an atheist”.

Anyone, atheist or not, can anonymously send in a detailed description of some life problem that is vexing and perplexing you (No, I can’t help you get your browser to work right), and I’ll respond with as much respect, compassion and clarity as I humanly can. Including pertinent details such as your age, sex, financial situation, etc. will help me be more precise and less “iffy.” The problems need not always be atheist-oriented, and my responses might not always be strictly an “atheist” response per se, whatever that is. My viewpoint grows from a lifetime of skepticism, rationalism and a pragmatic attitude that life should be faced with equal measures of courage and humor.

Although I’ve been known to joke around often, I’ll be taking your questions seriously, so I ask you to not submit frivolous or contrived questions that don’t represent a real situation that you’re facing. I’ll respond to those privately via your email address, but I won’t publish them if I think they’re B.S.

Unless you clearly state otherwise, your identity will be kept strictly confidential. Give yourself a pseudonym that is related to the problem you’ve presented, like those you see on newspaper advice columns.

There will be a comments section after each posting for readers to agree or disagree with my advice, but much more importantly, to offer their own ideas and experience on the topic.

You can send your questions to AskRichard

I think many of us can enjoy and benefit from this.


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • What an interesting idea. Advice to problems that don’t involve recourse to faith. SarahH has offered some advice on eating disorders in the Serious Stuff in the forum that would be great for extending the idea.

  • I’m glad this is happening. It can be a really good resource for the large community of people that read this site whether they post comments or not.

  • I agree. It sounds like a great idea. I’ve done responses to Billy Graham’s advice in my own blog a few times just for kicks (which I’m going to do again now that I’ve read his atheism thing). A blog that offers sound advice without advocating for a religion at the same time would be worth reading.

  • Alex

    This is a wonderful idea.

  • Kiera

    Hooray! I love this idea!

  • ATL-Apostate

    Would post a question, but i’m having trouble getting my browser to work. Any advice on that, Richard?

  • Richard might want to write Molly Matsumura for a little advice on how to run an atheist advice column. She ran something similar called “Sweet Reason” for the Humanist Network. She also published a guideline for giving rational advice. It’s well worth reading.

  • Matthew T.

    This is going to be great! I always enjoy reading Richard’s responses to posts and comments…

  • Can you not have a form mail set up like Hemant has rather than email? I often blog in my break at work but feel uncomfortable using a work account to send email out. A form mail would get around that and let me see the beautifully crafted response when I get home from a hard day of work. 😉

  • Catpurrnicus

    An excellent idea!

    My question is: How do I get my humans to brush my hair?

  • OK from now on as of 4July2010 as the sands run through my hour glass I will begin reading Richard’s advice column.I will learn something .Who said an old dog can’t learn.
    I should have taken the advice from long ago to check out Richard’s column.I will see you there!!!!

  • mike

    i am an athiest and a vegetarian the only thing i can do is protect myself from the carnivorius predators and be nice to my pet. do you have any good on how to be polite in a seemingly predatory environment like this one might be. thkyu mike

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