Karma can be a Bitch

Some years ago I bought a Kindle book that I was less than happy with. It was, from a literary standpoint, well written. But the opinions expressed by the author were difficult for me to digest. It was an off grid survival book enriched with lots of Bible quotes.

I know I can sometimes get carried away by my own prejudice. Add a little anger to that cocktail and things quickly get out of hand. And in this case I felt like I had spent my money on something that was far less than my expectations. Angered, I clicked on out to Amazon and gave the book a pretty horrible review.

Worse, I argued with some of the author’s fan base about the book. The nerd rage was tossed around pretty thick for a while, and ultimately, I walked away from the experience felling both dissatisfied with my book purchase, but also somewhat deplorable. Just one more regrettable moment in my life to scratch at. It was not a productive debate, it never could have been. I’m an atheist, the author in question is a man of faith. We’ll never see eye to eye on this one issue. And, for each of us, our world is at least shaped in part by these closely held paradigms.

So, right now, I’m standing on the very edge of that same self-publication cliff. Jeffrey Witty and I had a brief conversation regarding his final treatment for the cover art for “The Big Red Buckle” and I know that we’re just days away from completing the copy-edited draft that will go to print and ebook.

I’m looking over the rim and the pucker-factor is creeping up my spine. Its a pretty scary prospect to put something like this out there on your own. You start to wonder if you did everything you could to make it as good as it could be. Maybe there’s some mystic right you have forgotten to chant over your manuscript or perhaps you have simply missed every third misspelled word in your text. I wonder about getting readers. I’m trying to generate interest. Either way, you worry. Or at least I do.

And then, after having a brief conversation with the author of the ebook you disrespected publicly years ago, you realize that you are the dude that did the wrong. You realize this, even as he send out a tweet to his fans that your book will soon be available.

I took down the review, I did not and probably never will like that book, but he has written other books that I have enjoyed., but writing in anger was not the right thing to do.

In an effort to make amends for my own nastiness and perhaps repair my karma just a little I’m reposting the following for Michael Bunker. I’ll note too, that Michael Bunker is selling signed copies of his work on his web site as well. These are all on my reading list.

You are definitely going to want to be on my email list for the next giveaway, which celebrates the release of OSAGE TWO DIAMONDS in just 8 days. Between now and then I will be giving away 7 full sets of the original 4 volume WICK books, signed with the original WICK covers! These will be impossible to get once the new covers are all uploaded and into the system. So if you aren’t on my email list, get on there and stay on there by clicking on this link: http://eepurl.com/enJeQ

If you just want to buy the four books signed by me and bypass the giveaway, just send $40 (this is the lower 48 contiguous United States price*) to: M. Bunker 1251 CR 132, Santa Anna, Texas 76878 and I’ll make sure to get you one out pronto. Great collectors item for gifts! PLEASE EMAIL ME at mbunker@michaelbunker.com if you want to order this set signed and I’ll make sure to get ahead of the curve in getting these sent out to you, especially if you want them for gifts.

*outside of the lower 48, please email me at mbunker@michaelbunker.com for additional shipping price.

Hearts and Minds

A recent article and a collection of subsequent posts by PZ Myers, author of “The Happy Atheist“, have made it to the forefront of my mind for consideration of late.  I’ve been forming a new opinion about my life as an atheist, which as per PZ’s Washington Post article “An atheist’s guide to the good life“, is thankfully devoid of much intrusion these days.  I stopped tolerating dogmatically inspired patronizing sympathy for my lack of faith a long time ago and I’m pretty sure that while I have my faults I’m not so much of an amoral monster as some would choose to characterize atheists in the light of their mutually exclusive modes of living.

PZ posted something on Facebook today which got me to thinking, a blog post entitled “It’s good to be annoying the Christians again“.  It is sort of a summary of what happened (mostly on his Twitter feed) after his piece in WP was published.  The whole chain of events can be summarized like this:

  1. PZ publishes an article on the Post
  2. Fundamentalist trolls, respond en mass to opinions they have obviously either ignored or not understood
  3. PZ posts a broad response to fundamentalist trolls, but also, in part to his atheist audience who like it or not are sometimes subject to this kind of persecution both online and in their daily lives
  4. Matt thinks long and hard about all this

And in that summary lies the key to my mental discontent.  Persecution is hostility and ill-treatment, esp. because of race or political or religious beliefs.  And our contemporary society has a lot of this, perhaps as much as humanity has ever had; despite our rules for tolerating one another we’re still keen on fighting some sort of messy, trumped up battle over our opinions.

PZ is correct, in fact, could no be more correct, that some of the reasons he’s so happy as an atheist is that he’s is no longer subject to an arbitrary system rules of behavior thunk up strangers, both culturally and intellectually, thousands of years in our species past.  But, and this here is a bigger one, this is the way he enjoys living his life, more often than not cast out into the public forum as an example that might work for you too.

As an atheist I can understand the compulsion to reach out to my ill-informed brothers and sisters in humanity and point out to them how ridiculous their lifestyle appear to me.  I could (and hell, I have in the past) expressed my patronizing sympathy to others who chose a different path than the one I know is right for me, but frankly I’m no longer interested in playing the “Hearts and Minds” game that so many religious folks feel compelled to engage in.  From my narrow and simplistic POV I want nothing more than to just live my life.

And here in lies the trap contained in the liberty an atheist might expect.  An armistice is only possible when all parties come to the table and agree to disagree.  A struggle for the hearts and minds of a population will invariably violate that agreement, and always in a somewhat underhanded, and manipulative manner.  This means that not only is any future armistice less likely, but the foundation of trust that must be present in the first place will be irrevocably eroded.

I know that there are some “hearts and minds” atheists out there, and for their somewhat thankless work I’m somewhat thankful.  I know that there are faithful out there more interested in tolerance and maintaining a armistice that can only be stood up through careful consideration of all desires and requirements.  For these, I am perhaps, even more thankful.  This situation is optimal for me, I don’t want to fight with anyone about what I can and cannot do because of their belief system and I’m willing to concede you your freedom as long as you are willing to grant me mine.

Finally, I think that there is a seed of a novel in here somewhere, OSC you’re welcome to pick my pocket here so I can bump up my rating of “Ender’s Game” in response to your personal growth as both an author and a person.