Reading Time: 4 minutes

What’ll it be tonight? It’s been an impressive 24 hours. Maybe I should tell y’all about the book climbing into the top 0.1% on Amazon — pretty good for a book without an audience — or the quintupling of traffic to the website. Or maybe I should blog about the secular Tin Foil Hatter who has launched a classic and baseless MSTT attack on one of the book’s contributors, saying s/he discredits the project because said contributor once knew someone who stood next to someone who thought an unrigorous thought. Get a hobby.

Then there’s the flurry of frantic emails from the publisher (very good folks, by the way), fretting because I claimed on the PBB website that Unitarians are “majority nontheistic” while the UUA website claims it’s only 19 percent. YIKES! You have to change that, you didn’t send the study guide to the UUs already, did you?? (In fact, the UUA says 19 percent are atheists and 46 percent are humanists. 19+46 = 65% = majority.) Once again we get our undies in a bunch over nothing much. (And a good thing, too, since they seem not to have noticed I said the same thing in the book…)

Forget all that. I’d rather tell you about Delaney:


This is my five -year-old Delaney, a.k.a. Linky, and I love her so much it hurts.

Linky came to me at my usual station (hunched over the laptop) and threw her arms around me. “I’m so proud of your book, Daddy.”

Oh, for meltin’ out loud. “Aren’t you a sweetie! Thanks, butterbutt.”

“I wrote a book too.” And she showed me The Bigist Pumkin Anybode Saw — nine stapled pages of instant classic. I read it aloud, oohed and aahed, told her I was even prouder of hers.

“Thanks, she said. “And I’m gonna take your book and my book to show to my class tomorrow.”


Instead of an ellipsis, the proper response of any good father would have been “Of course, my precious little Blossom Bottom! I’m so glad you’re so proud!” But…well, there are complications. Stuff to dance around. You know, grown up things to consider…

I’ll cut to the chase. Here’s a picture of her preschool:

st pats

Okay, I couldn’t get a picture of her actual school, but you get the idea. She goes to preschool at our local Lutheran church. Why? Because the program is the best pre-K in town, the teachers are wonderful, and she gets a basic low-key introduction to religious literacy without a hint of damnation. All of my kids have gone there, then into public schools. Please direct all MSTT concerns to your local proctologist at his place of employment.

During my ellipsis (if you’ll forgive a presumptious and ultimately shameful comparison), I flashed on the most heartbreaking passage in Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail:

When you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people…then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.


My little girl is proud of my work, and there’s nothing at all wrong with my work or her pride in it — yet I know that the potential exists for bigotry and ignorance in the next layer to set “ominous clouds” in my own daughter’s “little mental sky” when she flashes a secular parenting book in a church school classroom. It isn’t right, it isn’t just, but there it is. I looked at her beaming face and knew that she was aware only of what made sense, not of the nonsense that demands to be danced around.

After what was actually only a second or two, I decided to opt for parenting “as if”: Act as if the world were sane and reasonable, and see if it just might rise to the invitation.

I gave her a tight hug. “Well if you aren’t the best! Of course you can do that. I’m just so flattered for my book to be there with yours.” And we set my book and her book in her plastic bucket for show and tell.

I picked her up from school the next day and she ran out, elated. This is good, because that’s what she always does. “Hey, how was show and tell?” I asked.


“What did you say about the books?”

“I said, ‘My daddy wrote a book, and it’s about raising great children without religion.’ My teacher was so surprised!”

“Oh, uh…oh yeah? How was she surprised?”

“She didn’t know it was already out. She said is was really great.”

Now see? Once again I gave the next layer too little credit. “What about The Bigist Pumkin?

She smiled. “They said that one was great too. Did you bring a snack?”

And so, thanks to some slow, aching progress over the centuries, instead of preparing for a mob with pitchforks, we were dealing with the fact that, once again, I forgot to bring her snack.
link and me

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Dale McGowan is chief content officer of OnlySky, author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies, and founder of Foundation Beyond Belief (now GO Humanity). He holds a...