By Carl S ~
ottom line: God is in the business of bestowing good feelings and material prosperity. He's answering small prayers. Take the recent U.S. Kentucky Derby race. The jockey on the winning horse said, “I thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” God answers the prayers of one jockey. What about the prayers of those massacred by fanatics as he spoke? Wait. Isn't he the same “Lord and Savior” who finally answered the prayers of those stricken with smallpox in the 20h century by eventually “sending” scientists to cure smallpox - but waited for 300 million people to die first?
Again, on a national news feature, a young man who was in a vegetative state (in a hospital) recovered. There he was on camera, telling us he “went to heaven.” He and his mother proclaimed his recovery a “miracle.” If you're a member, like them, of the “closed-world,” you understand exactly what they meant. If not, you want to find out what really happened; to discovering evidence in order to help everyone. You want to learn in order to prevent the illness or help other victims recover from such an illness. You'll support those who find a cure, such as those doctors who eradicated smallpox.
One of the evils of the (comforting?) ”closed-world of religions”: they stifle discovery, investigation, and creativity. To call a recovery from a vegetative or apparently-dead state a “miracle” is a dead end; it says no further explanations needed. That's it? Do people who say such things think? Do they think of what killers of joy they are? I say to hell with miracles, divine intervention, prayers answered, and all that doctrinal crap. I want to know what happened to this kid's brain to begin with, what happened to it during its trials and activities/inactivity, what synapses were firing and were not, and how. What kind of indoctrination led him and his mom to accept the closed-world of “heaven” and “miracles” and no other answers? We have the tools necessary to help us discover these things now.
I want to know how religions get away with exploiting human fears of the unknown and unfamiliar by feeding those fears, discouraging their adherents from accepting them as surmountable by analysis and questions. Why do believers use their creative minds for blaming, destroying, and silencing their objects of discomfort? Why do religions program human creativity to be employed negatively, sarcastically, and to humiliate others because they don't belong to their “closed-world?” It's a shame to pervert any creativity, which should be used to invent solutions, end irrational fears, end unnecessary suffering, and seek familiarity with each other as human beings sharing the same planet and universe.
Religions are like submarines: they are enclosed and protected from the outside world and threatened by other submarines. Each submarine has posted rules and regulations which must be obeyed in order for those who occupy it to survive. “Keep door closed.” “Do not open without authorization.” “Do not block entrance.” “Danger: hazardous material enclosed.” “Restricted Area, authorized personnel only.” Everything on board is authorized, restricted, or absent, by authority of the commanders. All they allow or deem “necessary” is onboard. Leaving the sub on one's own is certain death. The security of the mighty fortress is a prison. Without scientific help and fresh air from the outside world, all within would suffocate. Yet each religious community fears and damns the worldly discoveries that will free them from confinement.
Humans are maladapted to live underwater; most of humankind would experience claustrophobia eventually, if not immediately, living on a submarine, no matter how huge it may be. We are unfitted to live in cloisters, compounds and prisons. Religions are prisons of the mind which many fear to flee.
We begin as children who are curious (some more than others). We question everything in our experiences without embarrassment or considering our attitude isn't “normal.” To a curious child, everything is fair game for questions. That is, to a child, what “normal” and an obvious right means. Now some adults blindly follow their inherited traditions, parroting “answers” contradicting the world of reality. They're employing lies, half-truths and negative attitudes, thereby closing the vast world to the child. They tell themselves they do this because they love the kid. But if the child accepts and doesn't eventually question the closed-world, he fulfills the words of George Orwell: “To accept an orthodoxy is always to inherit unresolved contradictions.” What an inheritance!
Humanity would be better off if all parents kept their kids from being programmed. Until then, we may tell our children to respond when someone tells them “we believe, yadda, yadda....” with, “Whatever.”
By A Former Believer ~
fter quitting my Religion, I have had a problem. I always have had ADHD. The problem that follows with this is lack of focus. I have never been able to sit down and work without having a lot of distractions.
When I was young I had the same problem but after converting to Christianity I prayed and suddenly I could work for hours and hours.
It worked like this : after I prayed and I started working, when some distraction occured, I immediately thought about God, and he would ask me to focus and return to Work. It was very efficient. During those years, my grades rose several steps. This was one of the main reasons why I stuck to Christianity for so long. As an adult I have tried several times to come back and achieve the same effect, but without any luck.Today I dont have the slightest belief that a God exist.
When I tell christians about this, they soon proclaim it was a miracle.I don't think so. I remember that when it worked, I considered it to be a psycological effect (without God interfering), but soon oppressed that Idea, and thanked my God for all the work I had done. The power of wanting to believe was the main source of this incredible brain trick.
Are there any fellow former believers who have tried this, and have anyone found a solution?
Submitted to ExC by Karen Garst ~
When I was growing up in a religious cult, I never thought for one moment to question whether god was a man. After all, in our house, my father reigned supreme as his god had intended all males to do. My mom, however, was a rather stubborn woman according to him. It was often necessary for him to subdue her. She didn’t always comply to his wishes and that caused a great deal of religious tension in the household in addition to all the other angst and terror that a holy god brings to a family controlled by an iron fist.
Once, my mom became so angry that she bit my dad’s nose. They were having one of their rows over scripture and how much in submission a woman needed to be in order to please her husband, I mean god. My dad was a bit of a philanderer, but he blamed that on my mom, too. After all, if she’d only been a better wife, more compliant and supportive to him as head of house, he might not have been driven to seek solace and companionship elsewhere. The nose biting left him with teeth marks to which he applied red mercurochrome for days, a constant reminder of how violent their argument had been. Eventually, long after I’d left home to find my place in the civilian world, my mom also left the church.
For the rest of their lives, my parents worshipped two different gods.
Out of respect to my dad, she rarely attended a service elsewhere while my dad remained in his position as pastor to his own flock without my mom to assist him. Eventually, my grandma came to live with my mom and dad. She was a devout woman of god but a different god altogether than either one my parents served. She’d actually been drawn to the Pentecostal religion years ago and supposedly talked in tongues now and again. She lived with my parents for over a decade. All three of them deeply religious but unable to fellowship with one another. Each sanctimoniously serving a different god, but here’s the catch. All three gods were men.
You got it! God, no matter which god, is always a man.
Of course, all gods are fictitious characters concocted by human imagination. There are almost as many descriptions of gods as there are humans to create them. Some gods are loving and interested in human activity. They never malign our endeavors but instead are there to assist us, a lot of support with few demands. This god tends to focus on love rather than punishment. He’s like a personal assistant to the stars while each human calling upon him for support is playing a leading role in their own stage production of This is My Life. From getting the next job to finding a mate to buying the perfect home, the god that these believers call upon when they need something — anything — is a thoroughly likable chap. Could he be a woman? Nope! This god is a man, an enlightened male perhaps but a man nonetheless.
Now the god that I grew up with was a vengeful god not a Snowflake god at all.
You’d better watch your step with this guy, because if you slip up, if you let him down, you could end up in a burning lake of fire for eternity. All gods are voyeurs but this god was particularly nasty in that department, He monitored your thoughts as well as your actions while personal desires were always suspect. Your imperfections were constantly being analyzed and thrown in your face. No matter how hard you tried, you were told that you were basically unworthy and that without god to do practically everything for you, you’d most certainly fail. For all intents and purposes this particular god could fit the stereotypical description of a petty female a few days before her time of the month, but no … she’s still a he.
The warrior god of the Old Testament most certainly is a man.
There is no way that women could slay thousands with the jawbone of an ass. That kind of valor, strength and ability to meet danger without blinking has clearly been assigned to men even in secular literature. So although women may have slunk around in the dark corners of history doing brave things to save humanity, they will continue to remain anonymous and god will always be the male super hero.
What about the god that begat a son with a woman?
This next bit can get a tad confusing. This god, we are told, had a son by a human woman, but the son and the father were really one and the same. And, as if that’s not tricky enough, there was a ghost that rounded out the godhead. Yep! the one true god is actually two parts male, one part ghost but zero part female.
It seems that it was better to have a ghost occupying the third head of power rather than a woman.
God, no matter which god, is always a man.
The good people who stick with this confusing story would no doubt argue that there is no way that god could be a woman because only a he is capable of planting a seed, his holy seed no less, in a virgin. Being a virgin was apparently highly prized otherwise how could this god be sure the baby was really his. What if the baby wasn’t his? Why the boy could grow up to be an imposter. What a ghastly outcome. This god never thought for one moment, however, that he’d be better off sacrificing a daughter to save the world. Saviors apparently must be male, too. I’m sorry if this last god is confusing. It was almost impossible to write such a fantastical story without becoming confused myself. Suffice it to say, the god of three entities, well, all three of them are the same MAN.
Surprise, surprise, surprise.
Some of my readers by now may have gotten a chuckle out of the above descriptions. I freely admit that the wannabe standup comic in me enjoyed writing them. The point, however, to this comic exercise was to cleverly bring to the reader’s attention the fact that believers in the Christian sphere of mythical gods and ghosts have rarely if ever created a female god. The belief that god is a guy is a foregone conclusion within Christian culture. To consider otherwise is barely worthy of debate.
Does it matter? Does anyone even care?
It seems to matter very little to neither liberal, conservative nor radical Christians that an entire belief system is based on the premise that the universe is run by a man. Even most women accept this as, uh, um, you know, the gospel. Culturally, it has given credence to male privilege based on superiority.
This particular ideology has made men the head of house, head of country and head of companies for a long time.
Positions of power and thus more opportunity, wealth and autonomy have been automatically given to males. We still haven’t had a female president in this country. It looks like I’m probably going to go to my grave without seeing that happen.
I don’t believe in any of the gods and for lots of reasons other than the glaring fact that someone, somewhere decided to make god a man.
Choosing to not believe, however, isn’t enough to protect me, my daughter and granddaughter from old, outdated harmful ideas. Religious indoctrination is so enmeshed in our cultural psyches that whether you’re a believer or not, these insidious myths continue to influence equality in a social world that could be evolving at a much faster pace. Most people most of the time don’t even realize that our culture clings to ideas that prevent progress.
Furthermore, liberal Christians in their persistence to hang on to the Bible as a basis for their faith are contributing to the very thing that they say they want to change in society — inequality.
More and more, they must apologize for the old ideas in the Bible, a book that they consider to be a source of wisdom at the very least and the word of a god at best. Secular society has moved well beyond the wisdom of the Bible. Our daughters want to take their rightful place in the world as autonomous, free-thinking and opportunity-seeking human beings.
Is god a man? Of course, he is.
He’s the epitome of self-centered manhood, but I contend not a good example for my son to emulate. There are much better men in the real world than gods have ever been.
By GimpyGeek ~
grew up in the church. Well, actually, the first 5 years of my life were not so church like. My mother left when I was about 2 years old. She never bonded with my sister or I, and so she left us with our father. He also didn’t have the ability to bond with anyone, so we were pretty much on our own from a very early age. Sometimes we had babysitters, but more often my sister (a year older than me) and I would be left to fend for ourselves. When my father married his second wife, they put us in foster care for a year while they went to bible training.
When I was six, I “got saved”. I still remember the flannelgraph board with the story of Jesus. I remember really loving him, and I really needed someone to love and be loved by at that point in my life. Our parents came back and got us shortly after that, and we moved to California for them to start in ministry. They were very involved with Campus Crusade for a while, and we were brought up in a very strict fundamental Christian household.
Some years later, we moved to Big Bear where they started a church. I remember the good feelings of community, the friends and the feeling that we were part of a bigger family. I was as fully committed to religion as a young child could be and believed everything I was taught as fact. It was the only place that I felt safe. You see, our father was a pedophile and was molesting my sister and I for years. Our stepmother had very little use for us, but when everything our father was doing came to light, we stayed with her while the church imploded around us.
Our stepmother remained very religious (to this day she is fanatical in her beliefs) and continued to raise us in a highly Christian environment. She eventually came to love us, but in my early teen years I decided to go live in Vermont with our biological mother who had come back into our lives.
You would think that after all that we went through I would never be able to believe in religion again. I was fully indoctrinated even through all that. “God felt your pain, your fear. He was right there with you the whole time” I was told. I wondered why he didn’t do anything to stop it, but I was told that he was trying to save my father.
From early teens to mid-twenties, I still held a belief in god, but I just didn’t want to be around any of his people. I always felt guilty for not going to church and being fully committed but I thought that someday I would recommit and get back on track.
I married my amazing wife when I was 22. We tired for several years to have children but weren’t able to conceive. I came to the decision that it was because I was “backslidden”, so I started searching for a church. I believed that god knows ones’ heart, and I needed to be sincere because he wouldn’t be manipulated so I gave it everything I had, hoping that he would give us children. I found that I really loved the feeling of community, the feeling that I was helping people and spreading good in the world.
I studied the bible constantly. For over 20 years, I spend at least an hour a day reading the bible. Many evenings I would read Christian authors and study apologetics. I had 2 large bookcases filled with religious books and had read every page.
Eventually I started leading a small group at church. I joined the tech team. I started a men’s ministry at our church that grew to a few hundred guys. For several years, I was leading 2 different men’s groups, a college age small group and a mid-week small group, as well as running tech for the Saturday service and 3 Sunday services. I was at the church usually 5 days a week, and I loved it. It was so much work, but it was so rewarding and fulfilling.
Every once in a while, I would come across something that didn’t make sense. I would read about how god had a woman killed for collecting firewood on the sabbath or how he would strike a couple dead for lying about how much they made when they sold their house. In the old testament, god seemed angry and full of wrath. Sometimes I would find what seemed to be contradictions in the bible. But I had a strong conviction that the bible was the inerrant word of god and that he was all good, so it must be that I wasn’t seeing the situation from the right perspective. I would have what I called “dark nights of the soul” that would sometimes last for weeks where I would struggle, pray and seek answers, unable to move on until the questions were resolved. Eventually, I would come to an understanding that would ease my confusion and allow me to move forward in my belief. Sometimes that boiled down to “I just need to have faith in him and understand that his ways are higher than our ways” but usually I would have some kind of reasoning that ease my conflict.
I think that even back then, a part of me felt like I was making unreasonable justifications, or that I was manipulating things to make them fit my version of reality. It was easy to do though, as many of the authors and speakers I was absorbing would do the same things.
When people would come to me with their hard questions, I would share my process with them and help them come to “correct” answers, always based on the infallibility of the bible and the pure goodness of god. And every time I did that, there was a little voice saying “that doesn’t make sense”, which I ignored… because it felt so good to know that I was helping people be stronger in their faith.
As I continued to invest everything I had into my beliefs and the people in the church, I began to notice that most of them had a kind of casual Christianity. They didn’t read their bibles or study much or even really do anything about their belief except for going to church and groups. They were drawn to the social aspects of church but didn’t want to invest much of themselves. So, I made it my goal to help people become fully devoted followers. I got religious tattoos as a reminder to myself that I would never turn away from god again. (I’m kicking myself now, as it’s really expensive to have them removed or redone into something else). I encouraged everyone around me to be more fully committed. I was a hard core evangelist, with a focus on the people inside the church.
I remember when I realized that even the people I believed were fully dedicated to god had their own doubts. The Purpose Driven Life had just come out, and I was asked to lead the 40-day church program that went along with the book. I put together a team of the most devout leaders and we began planning. We needed to set goals that we could shoot for and in our meeting, we came up with the goal to get as many of the ~1500 people as we could involved in a small group. I thought that we should come up with a goal that only god could reach, showing everyone how powerful he was, so I proposed that we shoot for 120% involvement, meaning that there would be more people in small groups than we had in the church. The rest of the team shot me down pretty hard, talking about setting realistic expectations and achievable goals. Where is their faith, I wondered? It was striking to me that with all the talk about believing in and expecting god to do amazing things, when the time came to put that to the test, no one wanted to. It was the first bump in my belief system, but I marked it off to their lack of faith.
The second bump for me was from a college pastor at the church. We answered the call of the church to have a young man who was being hired to lead the college ministry live with us. We were told that it would only be for a month or two at the most. He lived with us for 16 months, and we became very close friends. It turned out later that he was told that his “rent” was being paid by the church and was part of his pay. We were never given a dime.
Eddie (not his real name) was every bit as passionate about god as I was, and we had many nights of great discussions. I knew that he was fully committed and sought god with all his heart. So, when I found out that he believed in theistic evolution (the theory that god used evolution to create the earth), I was stunned. You see, I believed in a literal interpretation of the bible, and to hear that someone who was as fully devoted as I was could believe in evolution was really difficult. I had just assumed that god made everything clear to those who diligently sought him, so how could we believe two very different things about the creation of the world?
This was the first of several times that my beliefs were shaken by things like this. There would be two writers that I deeply respected who held opposite beliefs on the role of women in the church. There were very different views on the “once saved always saved” or can you lose your salvation issue. I had often seen disagreements in the church, but I always chalked that up to people being at different points in their walks. And most of the disagreements were about things that didn’t seem to be that important. But I couldn’t understand why the deeply faithful would come to opposite decisions about the biggies. Is god a god of confusion? I would study scriptures and eventually come to my own belief on those issues, but I just couldn’t ever fathom why there would be such discord among the “true believers”.
Over the years, I also saw the dirty underbelly of church leadership. The senior pastor threatened when the college group grew from 18 to over 300 in a few months. Bickering among the leaders about the direction this or that ministry should go. Personality conflicts that lead to people leaving with hurt and sadness. Jealousy when the homeless ministry made the local news channels. But I had grown up with that, so it never struck me as anything other than normal. Eventually, these conflicts came close to me and my family and we decided that it was time to seek another church.
That was a very rough time for me. It felt like how I imagine a divorce must feel. We bounced from church to church, feeling very disconnected and trying to find a place to fit in. It was at one of those churches that a huge blow that would lead to the collapse of my beliefs happened.
We found a pastor that we really liked. His messages were deep, meaningful, entertaining and convicting. The church was more conservative than we preferred, but we loved the teaching of this pastor. One week, he began a 4 part series on the story of Noah and the flood. He came at it from a totally different perspective than I had ever heard or thought of before, and I was enthralled. On the 4th Sunday, he mentioned that there were different interpretations of the story within the church, and he brought up the fact that the flood story actually appeared in earlier writings that were not biblical at all. I was stunned. Could it be true that the bible borrowed the flood story from earlier secular writings (hint: Epic of Gilgamesh)? It was just a fable?
I was deeply shaken to realize that the bible was not the historically accurate document I was always told and completely believed it was. How much was allegory? How much was literal? How much was parable? How could you tell which was which?
All my questions that I had been stuffing down started to come bubbling back up to the surface. Why does god allow so much bad to happen? If god is incapable of evil, but he created everything, didn’t he create evil? Why are there so many denominations who all think that the others are going to hell? How can so many people feel like god is calling them to be pastors, yet so many of them be complete failures when they try? Why do we pray when god supposedly has a plan? Hundreds more just like it.
And what about Noah? So, god wiped out every living thing on the earth (except for aquatics and the ark inhabitants) because there was so much evil in the world, and the very next story is about Noah and one of his sons having sex. Killing every man, woman, child, puppy and butterfly didn’t even work in the least. Epic fail god.Is god a god of confusion?
At this point, I was struggling more than I had ever struggled. I felt my faith falling apart and it scared the hell out of me. Over the next several months, I read more, prayed constantly, sought with everything I had. I decided that I needed to find the supernatural things that my faith rested on to help solidify it. I began to look for what set Christianity apart from all the other false religions in the world. I knew that they all had holy books, and the bible was very suspect at this point, so that wasn’t it. I researched prayer and found that it had failed every objective test ever thrown at it. So that was out. But I knew that one thing I had was my own personal experience, my testimony. There were several times in my life where I KNEW that god had spoken to me. Times of deep struggle and fear that he had comforted me. Surely that must be unique to the Christian religion. Nope. People all over the world had their own profound experiences that proved their god to them. I begged god for some kind of sign that he was real, and I really expected him to answer, because he would know that my very faith was at stake. Nothing…
I had always been a little jealous of people when they had their conversion experience. They talked about the feeling of great joy and relief they had. I was too young when I was saved to have that, and I felt like I had missed out on a great experience. But the day that I finally admitted to myself that I no longer believed, I had that experience. I was flooded with relief, peace and a sense of calm that words can hardly explain. It really did feel like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
In the months to follow however, I sometimes felt like I was walking the high wire without a net. I had days of almost terror about being alone with no supernatural support. I had to learn I was not the complete piece of trash that my religion had taught me I was, and that I was actually a pretty good person (not close to perfect by a long shot) and that I had been making both good and bad decisions all along, yet still survived and even thrived. I had done all this thinking that an imaginary deity was helping me, but in fact I was living life on my own. Based on the fact that I had done fairly well in life, married to a wonderful and supportive wife for over 27 years, I have come to the belief that we are going to be just fine.
In fact, now that I believe that this life is all there is, I am motivated to enjoy and experience every moment of it, making the best of the time I have with my bride, family and friends. I am learning to live in the moment, while trying to make a positive impact on the world around me.
By Karen Garst ~
Anyone who has left religion, whether it was a fundamentalist religion or a more liberal variety, knows the role that religion plays on our mental psyche. We feel guilt that we are making mistakes and not being the person the holy book tells us to be. We feel shame when we engage in pre-marital sex if our church condemns it. And when we leave, some of those feelings are hard to let go of. We may be depressed because of a loss of community or we may feel anxiety that we haven’t yet encountered others like us.
Candace Gorham, a former Evangelical minister, became a mental health counselor after leaving religion ten years ago. She knows about these issues because she has experienced them herself and has helped clients overcome them. She writes about religion’s impact on our brains and well-being in a new book: Women v. Religion: The Case Against Faith – and for Freedom. Dr. Karen L. Garst, edited the book which consists of thirteen essays by women atheists who talk about different aspects of how religion has subjugated and damaged women. “Candace’s essay is the first in the book for a reason: it’s hard to leave your faith beyond. Candace helps us understand what we need to do to be whole again.”
In her first paragraph, Candace differentiates between shame and guilt.
Shame involves how one feels about oneself. It is painfully intense embarrassment and humiliation that arises from having done something wrong. People full of shame have done something wrong, and they feel bad about themselves for having done it. Guilt, on the other hand, is about feeling responsible for something wrong. Guilt involves feeling remorseful and deserving of blame. When observing the psychological impact of religion, we must start with guilt and shame, as many religious traditions thrive by playing upon them to manipulate the minds and prey upon the emotions of their followers.
She points out that hundreds of actions in the Bible are “deemed illegal, immoral, or detrimental to one’s relationship with god.” So we have a good range to pick from in order to harbor shame or guilt for our actions. She also discusses the impact of depression and anxiety that can cause triggers to a person many years after she leaves religion. It is good to know, however, that counselors like Candace can help people through these episodes, restoring a stronger sense of self. Many mental health issues go untreated while a person is involved with religion. They are told to “pray to God” for what they have done, which as we all know, just isn’t going to work. Thus, when a person does leave, these symptoms have often built up to something very significant. Some religions rely on an overemphasis on hell which can also inflict damage to one’s sense of well-being. It is hard to go forward with your personal goals if you are constantly worried that if you do something wrong in god’s eyes, you are going to burn forever in a very dark and hot place.
It is not unusual for people to experience the symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after leaving religion. Symptoms include: nightmares related to specific events you experienced, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts that you cannot let go of, negative thoughts, etc. These symptoms rarely go away immediately upon getting out of the traumatic events that caused them.
Candace cites the Bible verses that condone corporal punishment. Four out of five Evangelical Christian families use spanking according to her research. I remember my mother giving me the choice of a spanking or not going to a friend’s overnight party as a punishment. I chose the spanking. She used a plastic hairbrush and it left my buttocks red. But I really wanted to go to my overnight!
Folly is bound up in the heart of a boy,
but the rod of discipline drives it far away. (Proverbs 22:15)
Do not withhold discipline from your children;
if you beat them with a rod, they will not die. (Proverbs 23:13)
The rod and reproof give wisdom,
but a mother is disgraced by a neglected child. (Proverbs 29:15)
Candace also emphasizes the need to be safe when you do leave. If you have been significantly affected by some of the mental issues outlined above, seek the help of a professional mental health counselor before you leave, even if you have to do it on the QT. Everyone who leaves religion faces a loss of community, whether family or friends. You don’t want to be unprepared for the impact that will have on you. It is also important to seek out people who have also left religion so that you know you are not alone. The Meet-up site lets you find groups locally who are humanist, secular, or atheist. You will be welcomed with open arms. Many national organizations, Freedom from Religion Foundation, American Humanist Association, Center for Inquiry, Sunday Assembly, and others have local groups across the country.
Women v. Religion: The Case Against Faith – and for Freedom contains 12 other essays that deal with issues affecting African-Americans, Hispanics, Transgender, ex-Muslim, and ex-Jewish women, as well as others. It is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and will be available in bookstores sometime in late May.