My fellow Freethought Blogger, Hank Fox, put a book out earlier in the year called, “Red Neck, Blue Collar Atheist.” To be sure, there are many of us on the Freethought Blog network who’ve written books. This one is kinda different, though. If I had to use one word to describe it, I would choose “refreshing.”
Hank is, by far, not without intellect. I’ve been reading his blog since he came on board, and have never been disappointed. Hank, however, writes from the perspective of a Texas Cowboy, having spent his life working outside of academia. His list of occupations include carpenter, truck driver and, yes, working with horses and mules. He’s even dabbled in bull riding.
Not Your Typical Atheist…?
Well, that’s not really accurate. Contrary to what many believe, most atheists do not have PhD’s and high-paying positions at prestigious universities. Many of us are every day people with every day concerns. We complain about car repairs, broken-down appliances, the cost of living and not having enough month left at the end of the money. Many of us find humor in the mundane, wisdom in the regular and enjoy the simpler things in life. I am one of these people, and Hank’s book seemed to have been written just for me.
Packed into twenty-five chapters is the wisdom of a lifetime and proves you do not have to be a great thinker to think great things. The foreword begins not with a treatise on astrophysics, molecular biology or archaeology. It starts with, “My dog died,” and flows into life in the Eastern Sierra’s of California, dealing with grief, loss and time it takes to understand the impact of life on mere humanity. It ends with a realization of enlightenment, then contentment and the lightness of no longer being afraid to live without the shackles of religion hindering ones self.
Not everyone is good at using metaphor. In fact, some people totally suck at it. Hank is not one of those people. A lifetime of experiences, some of them quite unique, has given him perspective on a myriad of issues, and it is from within those experiences he paints his portraits and weaves his cloths in way that touches every one of us. This is one of my favorite styles or writing. We all have experiences in our lives that shape us as we grow older, and many of those experiences came during our younger years.
The exact circumstances might not be the same, but we’ve all got stories to tell about how it was “back in the day,” and when you strip away the geography, local traditions and customs, we all have many things that we remember along the same lines. Hank may not be a great scholar or world-renowned philosopher, but he’s one hell of a story-teller. I am willing to bet that if he got up on a stage and began regaling an audience, he’d end up in pretty high demand. He kinda reminds me a little of Jerry Clower.
I own a lot of books. So many that I have a separate bookshelf that houses my favorites, and ones that I refer to regularly. Hank’s book is on this shelf, and with chapters like “Sundae Worship,” “The Parable of the M&M’s,” “Sucking Up to the Virgin Mary,” “In The Nation of Pants,” and “Hello, Mr. Death,” there’s always something I glean from within these pages that make me smile and cause me to reflect on my own life’s experiences.
That’s what an author is supposed to do. When you can read a book and not only understand the author, but see a reflection of yourself, that author has succeeded where many writers fail. Hank identifies with so many of us, regardless of where we are intellectually, financially or any other “ally” you can think of.
For All Seasons…
I strongly recommend you buy this book and read it from cover to cover. Hank Fox is a man for all seasons, and this book is a tome for all seasons. I reason that every one will take something away from his words, his wisdom and his wit.