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ATHEIST IN CHURCH --
on Heaven and Other Mysteries
So, this atheist walks into a church ... and it's not the first line of a joke. Rather, it's a story of how research for a novel turns personal as a writer contemplates the God-believers around her.
Raised by a Christian mother and an agnostic father, Paula (Pjo) Riley long felt apathetic toward organized religion. Her research, however, takes her to Jewish, Foursquare, Catholic, Christian Science, and other worship services, exposing her to so many believers and seekers that she begins to wonder how it is that some people crave God and others don't. Maybe a person's religious beliefs are not just nurture, but the product of heredity plus the influences of culture and family. Maybe people couldn't change their worldview, or someone else's, if they tried.
Riley chronicles her visits to churches and synagogue, collects people's notions about heaven, and muses about religion as depicted in lectures, books, news accounts, and a documentary about God in America. All those years of benign indifference, examined at last, in an effort that eventually reshapes her views about believers and believing.
Available through book retailers and online. Also in e-book format.
Praise for this book:
“Ms. Riley is a keen observer of human behavior and she gets to the "what" of an issue like nobody I know. Instead of dwelling on why people believe as they do, in her book … she is content to explore what God belief looks like to believers. While intellectual giants like atheists Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins have spent years indulging in written warfare against believers, Ms. Riley has the self-confidence and sense of fairness to observe believers with the respect and dignity she demands from others. I am always relieved to come across open-minded and intelligent people among us who can be themselves and allow others to do the same … this author could teach us something about respect and tolerance—two things in very short supply these days.” K. Henrick
From Professor of Humanities William Tell Gifford:
"...Atheist in Church is amazing, original, sensitive, and brilliant...I'm sure many people will find this book as deeply meaningful and useful as I did."