Ever read a book and wanted to talk to the author after? I have, but I never actually made an attempt to contact any authors… until last month.
In October I contacted a few authors who I’ve been wanting to contact for a while. I was hoping to send them all letters by snail mail (better chance of a response that way, I assumed) but could only find a mailing address for one of them. The others I sent by email or through website contact forms.
Here’s who I contacted…
Sam Harris – Atheist, Philosopher, Neuroscientist
After watching his TED talk on morality (it’s great) and thinking about what he said, I thought I’d found some exceptions to his idea that the “well-being of conscious creatures” is/should be the sole basis of morality.
Instead of contacting him right away, I thought I should actually read his book on morality first, so I started October by doing that. After reading his book and thinking through my exceptions further, I’m less confident that there are holes in his theory. Maybe there`s a missing caveat that needs to go along with it, but no major holes that I can see.
I sent him a message anyway through his blog, asking what he thought of the caveat that I came up with, if he agrees that conscience is the best way to know right from wrong (he talks mostly about what makes things right or wrong, rather than how we know it), and I also asked his opinion on a hypothetical moral dilemma.
Fr. Thomas Keating – Catholic Priest
My longest letter was to Fr. Thomas Keating (6 typed pages). I’ve consumed a lot of his material (written, audio, video). I like him and most of what he says. What I don’t understand is why he’s still a Christian. He seems to have transcended the pre-rational mythic beliefs of most religious people.
It seems to me that Christianity requires a belief in some myths (Jesus was born of a virgin, turned water into wine, rose from the dead, is coming back to Earth, etc). So in the letter I asked Fr. Thomas Keating how he justifies those beliefs.
I also asked him about the psychological effects of meditation/prayer, which he’s explained thoroughly elsewhere but which I’m not convinced of yet.
Ken Wilber – Philosopher
I’ve read a few of his books. They’ve been extremely satisfying and enlightening, although I don’t agree with everything he says/does.
In the email that I sent him I:
- Questioned his apparent belief that repression is the primary cause of psychological problems
- Asked him about the psychological effects of meditation/prayer (I think he has a different view than Fr. Thomas Keating)
- Made some suggestions to improve his website
- Questioned his collaboration with and endorsement of a few people who I consider to be morally corrupt.
Brian MacKenzie – Crossfit Guy
Brian is technically an author but I haven’t read his book because it’s not yet published. I’d heard him say something in a YouTube video about people on the paleo diet not getting enough sodium, and I wanted to ask for some clarification on that. I sent Brian a message through his website.
As of today (Nov 4) I haven’t heard back from anyone. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if I eventually do – I expect that they’re all pretty busy and get more inquiries than they can respond to. If I do hear back I’ll post an update here.
Update: I got a response from both Sam Harris and Fr. Thomas Keating. Both responses were thorough and I was quite pleased with them. I’ve written back to Sam and will send another letter to Fr. Thomas Keating soon.