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Corner Brook atheist author Brent MacLean wants believers to give his book a chance

Brent MacLean of Corner Brook has published a book, “My Perfect Broken God,” about how his opinions on religion evolved into him becoming an atheist.
Brent MacLean of Corner Brook has published a book, “My Perfect Broken God,” about how his opinions on religion evolved into him becoming an atheist. - Gary Kean

Brent MacLean never had religion forced down his throat growing up. However, he still developed a sense it would be in his best interests to believe in and fear a higher power.
It consumed much of his thinking during childhood and it wasn’t until university that he realized he could no longer accept what he had felt obligated to have faith in.
Now, the Corner Brook resident has self-published a book, titled “My Perfect Broken God,” that offers the reader a glimpse into his atheistic epiphany.
He was christened in the Anglican church, but his parents were not staunchly religious. They were what MacLean calls casual believers.
His personal spiritual journey may have had its genesis with the illustrated children’s Bible his brother brought home one day. In addition to stories of brimstone and fire, the book contained some fascinating and - in the case of the cloven-hoofed Satan - downright scary images.
“For some reason, I took it seriously and I believed it all,” said MacLean. “I worried about what God was thinking of me and I worried about if I was going to go to hell or not.”
On one occasion, when he was eight or nine, a relative took him to watch a religious play at a Pentecostal church. The play involved a series of life scenarios ending with the person dying.
“Either the devil would come and drag them off to hell or Jesus would come out and welcome them into heaven,” he recalled.
After the play, the pastor made MacLean sign a document declaring he would give his heart over to Jesus.
“I was really terrified and I remember riding my bike in the rain after, thinking how I needed to change my life,” he said. “I was too young to be thinking like that.”
Maclean said these weren’t traumatic events, but they affected him greatly.
He had a friend in his teens who told him she was atheist and he thought that was the silliest thing.
As he got older, he began questioning religion more. He wanted to know for certain what he was believing was true and not just a blind leap of faith.
He began scrutinizing the Bible more closely and reading more about what biblical scholars had to say about it and religion in general.
“More and more, I said this doesn’t make sense. Eventually, I said there’s no reason to believe there is a God at all.”
MacLean had a penchant for writing down his thoughts on a wide variety of subjects, including religion. He also conveyed his thoughts as lyrics for music, for which he also has a passion.
When social media became popular, he began posting some of his musings on Facebook. That platform wasn’t really conducive to some of his lengthier essays, so he decided to take a friend’s advice and start a blog.
That’s how “My Perfect Broken Mind” came to be. The blog often uses humour to drive home MacLean’s beliefs and his reasons for them.
Years ago, friends encouraged him to write a book based on his blog posts. He considered and decided to focus on the ones about religion since they seemed to generate the most attention and commentary. 
He picked away at it sporadically for years until deciding pursue publishing a book earlier this year. He simply modified the blog title to use as a title for the book, which he has now published through Lulu Press.
“I thought that title worked because I’m not saying anything against anyone else’s beliefs,” he said. “I’m just saying my concept of God is broken.”
It’s not a chronological account of how his thinking was transformed. In fact, other than the last two chapters, the book is arranged alphabetically by blog post titles.
He said the flow of the book just happens to work for him that way.
“The last two chapters are the last two blog posts I did about religion around three or four years ago. I never planned to stop writing. I just felt like I never had anything else to say about it.”
MacLean respects others' opinions about religion, even if they disagree with him on the matter. He just doesn’t like it when that respect isn’t reciprocated.
“I completely understand when people say something must have created us and all that, but the sticking point for me is when people say they know the details and when they start making societal rules based on this thing they can’t really show evidence for."
He feels an unwavering belief in God is a stagnant stance that has little or no room to consider being questioned.
He knows his book is not likely to convert religious fanatics, he just wants people to enjoy reading it and to do so with an open mind.
“I’m glad people are getting the humour in it. I did try to make it humorous because the subject matter itself is serious, but it can be entertaining, too.
“I’m fine with anyone being a believer. I’m just thankful they would give the book a chance.”
He’s happy enough to have ticked off a bucket list item that he can call his own.
He dedicated the book to his five-year-old daughter, Jessica, who he said seems to share his sense of wonder about life.
“She’s always asking questions,” said MacLean. “I hope she never stops being that inquisitive.”

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