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Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical,…
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Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion (2007)

by Dale McGowan (Editor)

Other authors: Norm R. Allen (Contributor), Donald B. Ardell (Contributor), Dan Barker (Contributor), August E. Brunsman (Contributor), Ed Buckner (Contributor)30 more, Matthew Cherry (Contributor), Shannon Cherry (Contributor), Amanda Chesworth (Contributor), Richard Dawkins (Contributor), Margaret Downey (Contributor), Anne Nicol Gaylor (Contributor), Annie Laurie Gaylor (Contributor), Kendyl Gibbons (Contributor), Edgar Harburg (Contributor), James Herrick (Contributor), Amy Hilden (Contributor), Noell Hyman (Contributor), Penn Jillette (Contributor), Robert E. Kay (Contributor), Bobbie Kirkhart (Contributor), David Koepsell (Contributor), Stephen Law (Contributor), Kristan Lawson (Contributor), Gareth B. Matthews (Contributor), Jean Mercer (Contributor), Amanda K. Metskas (Contributor), Roberta Nelson (Contributor), Emily Rosa (Contributor), Michael Shermer (Foreword), Julia Sweeney (Contributor), Sam Tallo (Cover designer), Stu Tanquist (Contributor), Mark Twain (Contributor), Pete Wernick (Contributor), Jane Wynne Willson (Contributor)

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
many of these essays are excellent, although only a few are particularly well written. there are a large handful that i wish were longer, because most of these are interesting and thought provoking. i didn't love every essay, but found most really useful and providing good perspective. not to mention all of the resources (other books, websites, organizations, and names of people i hadn't known much/anything about) that are listed at the end of every chapter. along with a healthy explanation of why religious literacy is important, so good resources for that, too. (i needed to hear it framed this way, i think.) along the same lines, i had never heard the term freethinker before, but like the idea of this, although i don't find it mutually exclusive to use with the identification of atheist. this doesn't need to even be read as a parenting book, i don't think. i come away from this book with hope and renewed fascination with so many of the things (mostly related to science) that i used to find so intriguing when i was younger. this one is a keeper and one that i plan to refer back to again and again. in fact, this was a library book and i'm going to go buy the second edition right now, and see what new essays and resources have been added as soon as the bookstore gets it to me. (now that i've gone through the second edition - really, i've almost read the entire book again because so many of the essays (more than half) are new, plus other changes: this is much more a parenting book. most of the new essays are specifically parenting essays and replace essays that weren't. it's not that this isn't valuable, i just like some of the more universal ones. but really, a lot of the parenting stuff can be extrapolated, and the newer essays are often stronger. there are also a few more essays by the editor, dale mcgowan, and i really like what he had to say as well as how he said it, so i was glad to find more of his work in here. the resources section has more and more recent publications, so i appreciate that being updated. in general, i think most of the best information from the first edition was preserved, and better stuff added, and it's been made more into a parenting book rather than peripheral being a parenting book. still not perfect, but really strong. and it's going to prove to be really important to me personally, i know.)

the words of julia sweeney on going to catholic church so reflected my own experience of going to synagogue: "...my mind had this pesky habit of actually listening to the words being said at Mass. I would inevitably leave angry, or bemused and distant like an anthropologist, but certainly not connected."

and then so did the end of this excerpt of bertrand russell's: "Throughout the long period of religious doubt I had been rendered very unhappy by the gradual loss of belief, but when the process was completed I found to my surprise that I was quite glad to be done with the whole subject."

loved this concept from penn jillette's essay: "If every trace of any single religion were wiped out and nothing was passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it out again. Without hype, Lot's salt-heap would never be thought of again. Without science, the Earth still goes around the sun and someday someone will find a way to prove that again. Science is so important because it's a way to truth, but the truth doesn't depend on it. Reality exists outside of humans, religion does not."

"Cultural legends and myths are among our greatest inheritances from the past. They are real treasures, insights into the human condition, diminished not one whit by the fact that most were once thought true by the great majority of those who heard them. Persian, Greek, Roman, Sumerian, Norse, Celtic, and Egyptian mythologies passed into the category of recognized fiction, while the Abrahamic mythologies are still considered 'religions' by many. They too will most likely pass into recognized fiction, whether ten or ten thousand years from now, almost certainly to be replaced by new religions, most of which will borrow mythic archetypes from their predecessors...and on turns the great karmic wheel." - from one of dale mcgowan's chapter introductions

from the same intro: "To whet kids' appetites and introduce the pantheon of gods, read a few of the basic myths: Cronos swallowing his children, Zeus defeating the Titans and dividing the tripartite world, Icarus, Phaeton, and so on. Then begin interweaving Christian and Jewish mythologies, matched if you can with their classical parallels. Read the story of Danae and Perseus, in which a god impregnates a woman, who gives birth to a great hero; then read the divine insemination of Mary and birth of Christ story. Read the story of the infant boy who is abandoned in the wilderness to spare him from death, only to be found by a servant of the king who brings him to the palace to be raised as the king's child. It's the story of Moses - and the story of Oedipus. No denigration of the Judeo-Christian stories is necessary; kids simply see that myth is myth."

"Any comment on a religious subject should include 'I believe...' not just stating something as though it were true. Note the difference between 'God loves you' and 'I believe God loves you,' for example, or between 'There is no god' and 'I see no reason to believe in a god.'" - from pete wernick's essay

from another of mcgowan's chapter introductions, i love this point on how morality is actually something we mostly know on our own (as opposed to people who say we get it only from religious doctrine, and so can't know morality without the ten commandments): "Not actually knowing right from wrong is so rare that it is considered a mentally altered state and a legal defense in criminal cases."

i just loved being reminded of how incredible our world is, although i'm a little ashamed that i had allowed myself to become so complacent about it. again, from dale mcgowan, but this time from one of his essays: "Put a soccer ball i the middle of an open field to represent the sun. Walk twenty-six paces from the ball and drop a pea. That's Earth. An inch away from Earth, drop a good-sized breadcrumb for the moon, remembering that this inch is the furthest humans have been so far. Jupiter is a golf ball 110 paces further out, and Pluto's a tiny BB about half a mile from the soccer ball.
So how far would you have to walk before you can put down another soccer ball for Proxima Centauri, the very nearest star to our sun? Bring your good shoes - it's over 4,000 miles away at this scale, New York to Berlin. That's the nearest star. And there are about a trillion such stars in the Milky Way galaxy alone, and roughly a hundred billion such galaxies..."

from the same essay: "It's easy to get a child addicted to real wonders if you start early enough. Simply point them out - they are all around us - and include a few references to what was once thought to be true. Take thunder. Explain that a bolt of lightning rips through the air, zapping trillions of air molecules with energy hotter than the Sun. Those superheated molecules explode out of the way with a crack! Then the bolt is gone, and all those molecules smash into each other again as they fill in the emptiness it leaves behind. That's the long rumble - waves of air swirling and colliding like surf at the beach. ...
Then explain that people once thought it was a sound made by an angry god in the sky, and enjoy your child's face as she registers how much less interesting that is."

i know that it might just partially be the timing, with the inauguration of the 45th president just happening, so i'm feeling really emotional and maybe it's easier to manipulate me. but the end of this book, about community and identity, and even the last parenting essay...i don't know. it hit me viscerally. i'm feeling thankful for this book and for what it's reminded me exists in this world and in myself.

- people to read or read more of: bertrand russell, dawkins, tanguist, barker, jillette, gibbons, matthews, nelson, society for humanistic judaism,

- books to get/read for myself or as micah grows: alexander fox and the amazing mind reader by john c clayton; in the beginning: creation stories from around the world by virginia hamilton; darwin and evolution for kids - his life and ideas with 21 activities by kristan lawson; big bang-the story of the universe by heather couper; the humanistic anthology edited by margaret knight and james herrick; dan barker's kids books; i wonder by annaka harris; love, joy, feminism blog by libby anne; the book of the year: a brief history of our seasonal holidays by anthony aveni; secularseasons.org; evolution.berkeley.edu for kids through adults; sundayassembly.pdx.org; ( )
  elisa.saphier | Jan 19, 2017 |
A little uneven, but garners four stars for excellent resources. ( )
  bookofmoons | Sep 1, 2016 |
Not a bad collection of essays. I'll admit that it's a rough start. Julia Sweeney's essay is placed first and came off a bit grating.

Other than that, there is a wealth of extra resources for secular parents.

Worth picking up and rifling through. ( )
  steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
After greatly enjoying books like Richard Dawkin's God Delusion, Carl Sagan's Demon-Haunted World, Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True, it comes as no surprise that I would absolutely love this one as well.

The author convinces beyond doubt that critical thinking kids are better than blind followers. I was fortunate enough to be raise by pretty free-thinking parents, but I do know of people of my age and others who did not have that advantage. This tells me that I've got to create an environment to allow our kids to feel free to ask any question (no matter how silly or how 'above and beyond their age') and that I've got to prepare myself to answer them to the best of my abilities.

Chapter on Death and Consolation is just amazing although feels like walking on the edge sometimes.

The section on "What your kids won't learn in School" - mentions a big list of all the great people who were freethinkers. That is pretty helpful while having general conversation with friends and kids.

Highly recommended to any parent (not just the non-religious ones). ( )
  nmarun | Mar 11, 2014 |
This book was not a page turner, but the information it contains is important enought to slog/skim(?) through the whole thing.

I'm often interested in religious debate and anecdotes from people who knew all they needed to know about God when they were six or ten or fifteen. Granted, I can't remember ever believing in God, but I do feel that I take time to consider the option and the facts and other people's feelings on the matter. I'm curious about how they got there, but the curiosity doesn't seem to be mutual.

This book helps to point out all that one goes through in a world where youth groups and church camps turn out believers that can't wrap their head around the fact that someone who is not living their life for God could also be moral and good.

I remember hopping in a guy's car in college to head off for our first date and on our way to the canyon we were hiking, he asked what religion I was. I explained that I wasn't religious and that I wasn't raised that way and he exclaimed, "BUT DO YOU STILL HAVE MORALS??!?!" I couldn't tell if he was asking because he wanted to get laid in the desert or if because he was worried that he might have been going hiking with a carefree murderer... I didn't put out, didn't kill him and never heard from him again.

( )
  TeenieLee | Apr 3, 2013 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McGowan, DaleEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Allen, Norm R.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ardell, Donald B.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barker, DanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brunsman, August E.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Buckner, EdContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cherry, MatthewContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cherry, ShannonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chesworth, AmandaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dawkins, RichardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Downey, MargaretContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gaylor, Anne NicolContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gaylor, Annie LaurieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gibbons, KendylContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Harburg, EdgarContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Herrick, JamesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hilden, AmyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hyman, NoellContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jillette, PennContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kay, Robert E.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kirkhart, BobbieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Koepsell, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Law, StephenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lawson, KristanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Matthews, Gareth B.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mercer, JeanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Metskas, Amanda K.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nelson, RobertaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rosa, EmilyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shermer, MichaelForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sweeney, JuliaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tallo, SamCover designersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tanquist, StuContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Twain, MarkContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wernick, PeteContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Willson, Jane WynneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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In the 1989 Ron Howard film Parenthood, the Keanu Reeves' character, Tod Higgins, a wild-eyed young man trying to find his way in life after being raised by a single mom, bemoans to his future mother-in-law that you need a license to drive, have a dog, or even to fish—but they'll let anyone be a father.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0814474268, Paperback)

Foreword by Michael Shermer, Ph.D. Contributors include Richard Dawkins, Penn Jillette, and Julia Sweeney. A large and growing number of parents are choosing to raise their kids without religion. In Parenting Beyond Belief, Dale McGowan celebrates the freedom that comes with raising kids without formal indoctrination and advises parents on the most effective way to raise freethinking children. With advice from educators, doctors, psychologists, and philosophers as well as wisdom from everyday parents, the book offers tips and insights on a variety of topics, from "mixed marriages" to coping with death and loss, and from morality and ethics to dealing with holidays. Sensitive and timely, Parenting Beyond Belief features reflections from such freethinkers as Mark Twain, Richard Dawkins, Bertrand Russell, and Dr. Don Ardell that will empower every parent to raise both caring and independent children without constraints.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:53 -0400)

In Parenting Beyond Belief, Dale McGowan celebrates the freedom that comes with raising kids without formal indoctrination and advises parents on the most effective way to raise freethinking children.

» see all 2 descriptions

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