Sunday, May 06, 2007

Thoughts on "I Sold My Soul on eBay"

Just finished up reading Hemant Mehta's (aka The Friendly Atheist) book "I Sold My Soul on eBay" and figured I would make a few comments about it.

First, I was not very impressed with the forward. I thought it seemed to directed towards the "Christian" majority especially when ending with "Because prophets can come from the most unexpected places, can't they?". Of course at the same time I suppose that was the point of the book, but still after reading the whole book; this seems to be in conflict with Hemant's own recommendations later on in regards to not ostracising others :). I understand it is just a forward and heck it's not even a full 2 pages, but for me it did seem to set the wrong kind of mood to start off the book.

The next thing I was slightly disappointed about was the fact there was absolutely no description about the alter calls? Hemmant, you mean out of all those churches you had nothing to say about the those very awkward situations? Have churches stopped this practice at the end of the preaching? In my experience with church service this is a very common practice, one that in my opinion would at least deserved a bit more information on how different churches handled it. There was only one reference I found, but it was more informal than what I've seen in other churches. The alter calls I'm talking about involve the preacher asking everyone to close their eyes with soft music playing and typically share some type of intimate thought to set the mood asking people to raise their hand if their not saved then offering them a chance to be saved or come forward to be led to salvation.

I know that's probably a bit nit picky, but other than that it was a very enjoyable read. Hemant has a great story to tell, and I enjoyed every page. After finishing the book my first thought was I wonder how many churches in my area would be open to the idea of an open dialog similar to what Hemant had with Pastor Tim. My next thought was should I send copies of "I Sold My Soul on eBay" to the local churches? :) . Then I started searching for atheist groups near me. There does appear to be 2 in the Tallahassee area (CFI Community of Tallahassee, and The Union of Freethinking Students). I might try to attend one of them, but that's still a day trip for me. It's about an hour 1/2 drive one way. Doesn't sound like much but 3 hours just in drive time adds up. If anyone knows of atheist groups or atheists/agnostics/freethinkers around Apalachicola, Eastpoint, Carrabelle, or Port Saint George Florida please post me a comment! or drop me an email to

Seriously, I think Hemant did a great job. With each evaluation of the various churches he attended I was taken back to my younger years and could identify with everything he said. Many of the same questions he raised where thoughts I had when I was involved with Christianity. It was funny to listen to some of the sermons overviews... It was like hearing voices from the past. Since the Bible never changes, neither do many of the sermons.


Mike Clawson said...

Robert, regarding altar calls, what kind of Christianity did you grow up in and where do you live now? Perhaps they're more common in your context but in my experience very few churches these days do them anymore. Mainly just pentecostal churches and some fundamentalist Baptists. I'd be surprised if any of the churches Hemant visited were the kind that did alter calls.

Robert said...

Mainly Pentecostal, The Assemblies of God ect... My wife's family are Southern Baptists. I live in a very rural area of north Florida and grew up in the Tampa area. I freely admit that I have not visited very many churches.. and those that I have tend to be on the fundy side hehe.. I guess I was just surprised that Hemant did not get a chance to review those types of services.

Mike Clawson said...

Yeah, you come from the perfect setting to experience alter calls fairly frequently. But they're a little more rare outside of the deep South and outside of fundy churches. As far as I can tell, Hemant didn't go to any truly fundamentalist churches. Several conservative evangelical ones, but that's not the same thing.