Zindler's Book Blog
Memoir Two of Confessions of a Born-Again Atheist: The Implausible Lives of a Godless Guy is entitled “Life on the Farm.” It contains my earliest eidetic memories—color “snapshots” of two views of my first birthday party. Really! It contains memories of Adolf Hitler screaming for Lebensraum(living space) on the beehive radio set up in the dining room of the farm house in which I was reared “in the beginning…”
There are many funny episodes, such as “Great-Grandma’s Tunnel Theory of Radio,” “Barnstorming,” “Fun on the Farm” leading into “The Steam Cannon,” “Wenzl and the Skunk,” “Leach-Ranching,” “Vernie, the Little Professor,” and “Of Pigs and Peach Brandy” and “Revenuers!” There also are heart-searing episodes such as “The Tomato Dump” and the environmentally sobering “Plum Trees in a Silent Spring.” Most of the memoir is neither funny nor tragic, of course; hopefully, it’s just, well, interesting.
Altogether, “Life on the Farm” paints a warts-and-all-portrait of the world into which I was born, the Plato’s Cave from which I would emerge unprepared into the blinding light of the real world—a three-dimensional world of color far different from the two-dimensional shadow world of my religious childhood.
I hope even city-dwellers will find interesting the many descriptions of old-fashioned farming techniques and Austrian practices employed on my grandfather’s farm—in a world just barely electrified, a world before indoor plumbing, refrigeration, and television. A world before the Internet where news was obtained from newspapers, the radio, and newsreels shown before features at the local movie theaters. Oh, yes. It was a world before supermarkets were common; a world in which we grew and harvested much of our own food; a world in which we raised our own animals to be butchered, cooked, and eaten.
(Although the early episodes in “Life on the Farm” took place during World War II, descriptions of life during “the great war” have been reserved for Memoir 21: America at War.)
Memoir Three, “The Electrocution of my Father,” tells the psychiatrically significant story of how, when I was eleven years old, my thirty-three-year-old father Elmer Zindler was killed in an electrical accident as he was directing the construction of a gas station outside Coloma, Michigan—a village not far from my home-town Benton Harbor. It happened a day after we had had a quarrel and I had shouted at him, “You’ll regret this!” He gave me a thorough thrashing with his belt, and he died before I could beg forgiveness. Was I the cause of his death? I couldn’t be sure—I was quite religious and still believed at least somewhat in the magical force of words: the blessings and curses so important in the Christian Bible.
Memoir Four: “Grandma’s Deathbed Disbelief” tells the story of how Grandmother Somogi—the woman who reared me during the first few months of life after my desperately ill mother had rejected me at birth—became an Atheist one week before she died. Literally, she became an Atheist on her deathbed.
Next: Memoir Five: “Tales My Grandpa Told Me” and Memoir Six: “Stump School.”
For 17 years, Frank R. Zindler was a professor of biology, geology, and psychobiology at Fulton-Montgomery Community College (SUNY), and became Chair of the Division of Science, Nursing, & Technology. For over 37 years he has served as a linguist and editor of scientific literature for a learned scientific society in Ohio. Managing editor of American Atheist Press since the murder of Madalyn Murray O'Hair in 1995, he became interim president of American Atheists, Inc., in 2008, and still serves on the board of directors of that organization. He is a former member of the Jesus seminar, and is an internationally known exponent of the Christ-Myth Theory, the theory that Christianity began without a historical Jesus.