Share Your Secular Story Contest. Although I conceived, drafted and submitted the essay over the course of a day, I have some confidence that it's a winner.
This might sound boastful, but I am not predicting that the essay will win the contest. I just mean that it's a very good piece that has a reasonable chance of getting to the runner-up stage. I'm not naive, though. I know this contest will get a boatload of essays from REALLY REALLY smart people who are original, thoughtful, witty and great writers. I still think my submission will be able to stand with these others.
My story talks a bit about growing up Jewish and negotiating happiness in and out of religion. I was only allowed 800 words, so I had to keep things tight. The story's supposed to be true, and mine is, but I think I also told things "slant," to borrow from Emily Dickinson.
Since the winner gets the essay published in a place like the Washington Post, I am making a deal with myself. Should my essay be selected as a grand-prize winner and get published in the WaPo, I'll "out" myself by dropping the pseudonym.
If you hadn't guessed, my real name is not Larry Tanner. Larry Tanner was a stupid nickname given to me when I was an undergraduate, but it has nothing to do with my actual name. I started using the pseudonym when I thought just having a blog put at risk my professional life and aspirations. These days I also have blogs under my own name that relate to my research and studies.
Winners of the Share Your Secular Story contest will be announced after June 1.