It was the winter of 2012. All the talk among ex-JWs was about the Candace Conti lawsuit, recent “new light” about the “faithful and discreet slave” and, of course, the “Become Jehovah’s Friend” DVD featuring a certain ill-fated dumpster-bound warrior wizard named Sparlock.
It was with all these things happening that I began work on a new book, with the working title of Unquestionable Faith. It would blend Watchtower’s history and teachings with the story of my awakening, and document everything I have learned from objectively researching the religion of my childhood. I anticipated finishing it in just a few months, some time in 2013.
A great deal has happened since then, both in my own life and in the religion. In a way I am glad I was unable to finish the book in 2013, because it would be half the book it is now.
In addition to writing about very recent Watchtower developments (such as the Australian Royal Commission, and the launch of JW Broadcasting videos) I have been able to bring my own story to a degree of finality that would not have been possible in 2013 – before the birth of my daughter, and before I officially parted ways with the organization.
Not only is the content of the book different than it would have been – it also has a new title: The Reluctant Apostate. Actually, I think of this as not a new title but the original title. As a 20-year-old riddled with doubts about my faith, I vaguely recall once fantasizing about writing a book that would be called “The Reluctant Apostate.”
Now that I am out of the religion, I feel there is a certain poetry to turning that fantasy from my youth into a reality. Besides, ALL apostates are reluctant, at least to begin with – especially when threatened with family estrangement for pursuing their doubts to the fullest extent.
The Reluctant Apostate is now so tantalizingly close to completion (less than 50 pages left to write) that I recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to cover the costs of self-publishing. To promote the campaign, I made the following video that gives a preview of the opening pages from the book…
Within two-and-a-half-hours of the campaign going online, the $1,470 I was asking for was received. As of now, with 10 days to go until the campaign ends, it is 826% funded ($12,136).* 175 copies have been ordered from backers in countries as diverse as South Africa, Germany, Belgium, Australia, Norway, Romania, Singapore and Thailand.
The support I have received has been frankly astonishing, with lots of people sharing links to the Indiegogo campaign on social media. Two bloggers, Misha Verollet and Hemant Mehta, have been kind enough to post articles promoting the book. The latter, who many know as the “Friendly Atheist,” has kindly agreed to supply the foreword for the finished book. For those not familiar with Hemant’s work, below you can see a video in which he explains the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses for those not raised in the religion.
By way of thanking everyone for their incredible support for the campaign, I wanted to give a few more sneak previews of what the finished book will look like. Below are some screen grabs from the Introduction and Chapter One. As you can see, a beautiful book is emerging thanks to the skill and dedication of my book designer, Arthur Weber (an ex-JW from Romania).
I’m beyond excited to see The Reluctant Apostate finally nearing completion after so much time and effort has been put in. I am especially touched by the support of those who are working so hard behind the scenes to make it happen.
Scarcely a day goes by without Arthur asking me some question about how I want the book to look as he works on the file. His enthusiasm to make it a success is tangible.
And at almost any time, day or night, I can log on and see that someone from my eight-person editing team (which includes Arthur, Covert Fade, and John and Jane Redwood) is leaving comments on the manuscript for suggested improvements to the text.
When I factor in the 235 who are so far backing the project financially, I am humbled at how many believe in me and are determined to see the book get printed.
As much as I enjoy making videos and writing blog articles, sometimes there is nothing like a book for helping guide someone through such a complex, nuanced subject – especially one as sensitive as this: a religion in which so many have so much invested emotionally.
I want to express my sincerest thanks to everyone who is helping turn my dream into a reality. I am hopeful that, once released, this book will make a big difference in many people’s lives, and be a valuable resource for helping Witnesses young and old break free from their indoctrination.
Once again, thank you!
* Though the Indiegogo campaign is scheduled to end on September 27, 2016 11:59pm PDT, I have the option of continuing to take orders for advance copies thereafter. I am working hard to get The Reluctant Apostate available on Amazon by the beginning of December 2016 in Kindle and paperback (I plan to start mailing out advance copies in November), but to make sure I don’t disappoint anyone, I have promised to get the book released for January 2017. Eventually, I hope to also have an audiobook version available, and a number have already approached me kindly expressing an interest in assisting with translations into other languages.