Over the years I’ve read countless anthologies and oral histories. During that time, while reading those kind of books not once had I read anything by a person I knew personally. That is, until now. And when it happened it was a complete surprise.
Early one evening after work I once again found myself at the public library rummaging through the shelves of newly acquired books. Just before I decided to leave I thought I’d take one more pass through the shelves and when I did I spotted a copy of Women Beyond Belief: Discovering Life Without Religion. Since I have a soft spot for stuff written by women who’ve left their faith communities I happily grabbed it.
A few days later while reading the autobiographical pieces collected in Women Beyond Believe I began noticing more and more of the contributors happened to live in my current hometown of Portland, Oregon. Finding that a bit odd, I looked at the editor’s info as presented in the book. Not only is Karen Garst a fellow Portlander, but so are also most or close to all the women featured in her collection. You can imagine my surprise when I learned one of those women I know from several Meet-Ups I’ve attended over the last couple of years. Small world, aint it?
The roughly two dozen women who’ve contributed to this book are former believers representing a broad spectrum of Judeo-Christian religions. Be it Catholic, Mormon, Jewish or Protestant all of these women for a variety of reasons left their respective faiths. Each one of their stories makes for worthwhile reading.
I’m glad Garst put together this fine collection because frankly, there’s a need for books like hers. While there’s no shortage of books written by avowed atheists, a lot of them are written by men. With a few notable exceptions like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Betty Bogaard and Candace R. M. Gorham it tends to be a male-dominated field. Perhaps with the successful publication of Women Beyond Belief we’ll see more books written by women of non-faith.