Peter Bebergal Walks the Plank for His Faith

Peter Bebergal is half of the writing team responsible for the wonderful new nonfiction book from Bloomsbury USA called The Faith Between Us. It’s an energizing discussion about friendship and religion, and I’ve written more about it on the Amazon blog today. Check out the short review there, but stay here for the “walking the plank” interview I conducted with Peter via email (also check out The Faith Between Us website.)

Why should readers pick up your book as opposed to, say, just about anybody else’s book?
It seems that most of the books on religion tend to be either evangelical or atheistic. The Faith Between Us, which I co-authored with Scott Korb, doesn’t find either of those positions very interesting. My book argues what is interesting about religion is the stories and language that evolve from it. So that is why it is a book of narrative, a book about what it means to struggle with religious ideas, rituals, and images. And this struggle takes place in the world, a world where I get married, have sex, read comics (have you seen World War Hulk? It’s everything Civil War should have been), listen to psychedelic rock, and feel confused and befuddled a lot of the time.

Does your book have any socially redeeming qualities? If so, what are they?
The Faith Between Us suggests that when religion focuses on the afterlife, it does a disservice to our lives here on earth. When religious communities see our lives in the here and now as precious and miraculous, then we can really start to change the world. That, and there is a great section on different kinds of LSD.

Does your book have any medicinal or mental health value to readers besides the section on LSD?
There are lots of stories about eating disorders, interesting sexual proclivities, drug addiction, death and mourning, and subsequent recovery, monogomy and hope. Maybe someone will be inspired by it and see that from the bottom you at least have some ground to stand on to start figuring out how to climb your way back up. If you are suffering from a phobia of flying things, though, I would skip the chapter on birds.

Assume your book has been filed under “Ages 8 to 12” in the children’s section, perhaps by mistake, perhaps not. How horrified do you imagine a child would be after reading your book, and why? How many years of therapy would the child take to recover from the experience?
See my previous answer! When my own son reads one day this I am going to have a lot of explaining to do. But at least he’ll know when I was dropping all that acid, I was listening to some kick ass music.

If no one buys your book and you are unable to continue publishing your fiction due to the intense vilification that occurs in the media, what line of work will you go into?
Well since this book is non-fiction, I hope to write fiction (of the speculative kind), and if that doesn’t work, I think I would teaching is the only thing I can do as well as write. I am pretty good a lot of things, not very good at any one thing. Except building Legos with my son, and I don’t see much of a career in that.


  1. michael bishop says

    This does sound like a fascinating book, Jeff, and I’ll definitely look for it. (I just wish I’d figured out a LOT sooner that building Lego structures with kids doesn’t promise one a secure career, at least in any negotiable monetary currencies, uh, currently in use.)