[THIS POSITION WAS FILLED. THANKS FOR YOUR INTEREST]
My latest book, The Ghost of My Father, is barely two weeks old but I’m starting research on another book. This time the topic is religion, architecture and place. The tentative title is The Atheist of Jerusalem. It’s a project I’ve thought about since my first visit to Israel in 2012, and I have a window of opportunity to work on it now.
The pitch: Jerusalem has important sites for three major world religions, and each religion has different claims about which buildings and locations represent the presence of the divine. Who would be best to arbitrate their claims? It would be an atheist, someone with no stake in any particular religion who could visit these places, make observations and ask questions the faithful wouldn’t think to ask. The ambition is to write a book that asks and answers important questions for both the faithful and the faithless.
The book: I will visit the major religious sites in Jerusalem, and write about the experience. What do I see? What questions do I have? What are the answers? What does it feel like to be a curious, well-read and mostly respectful atheist to visit some of the most religiously significant places in the world?
Chapters might include:
- Walking the Via Dolorosa
- “Praying” at The Western Wall (I’m of Jewish heritage, thus the quotes)
- Watching at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
- Thinking at the Temple of The Mount
The book’s primary goal will not be a manifesto on religion or to debate theology, but instead to use the physical experience of visiting these places, and both their history and the experience of visiting them today, to explore the questions and answers they raise.
Help Wanted: Researcher(s)
I need one or two people who are experts at doing research to help me study the history of each site I’m planning to visit. Before I go (Dec 1st) I need to know how each site has changed over time, how the meaning has changed within the particular religion, and be prepared with specific questions and ideas before I arrive. The research goal is to provide me with a dossier for each location.
Ideally you’d have a background in religious history, religious studies, architecture or live near Jerusalem. The position would be paid with a stipend for the project and a major acknowledgement in the book.
Time commitment: a few hours a week through November and early December.
Help Wanted: Photographer
I need to partner with a local (e.g. Jerusalem) photographer who can come with me as we visit each site. The photographs would be central to the book, documenting what I saw, what the experience was like, how I tried to answer the questions I had, etc. As a local you’d possibly help co-ordinate the project logistics and intangibles I’m overlooking.
The position would be paid with a stipend for the project, I’d cover at least some of your meals, and you’d get a major acknowledgment in the book.
Time commitment: you’d need to spend a few hours a day with me while I’m visiting Jerusalem (first week in December).
How To Apply
To apply for either position, do the following:
- Take a deep breath, they’re good for you. Follow this list carefully.
- If you’re interested in research, explain how the Via Dolorosa’s location has changed (or has it?), with references. One page is sufficient.
- If you’re a photographer, send me to your portfolio and list any relevant professional/documentary shooting experience. (Note: ideally you live in Israel. If you don’t live in Israel you’d have to be willing to go there first week in December.)
- Tell me either the superpower you’d like to have, or your favorite meal (and why you love it).
- Contact me with the above here