Min Liv Som Humanist (My Life as a Humanist) by Edd Doerr
By Rick Rohrer
Edd Doerr came to the twin cities some years ago when he was president of AHA to be the keynote speaker at the first ever banquet for the Humanists of Minnesota. Those who were present got to know Edd Doerr as a gifted speaker, tireless worker, and accomplished coalition-builder.
Doerr collects the anecdotes and memories of his lifetime of service to Humanism in his newest book, Min Liv Som Humanist (My Life as a Humanist). The title was chosen to echo the title of a popular Swedish film, “Min Liv som Hund (My life as a Dog)”, and serves to underline that this memoir is strictly about the humanism in Edd Doerr’s life, and not about his personal life. Indeed Doerr barely mentions his family in the book.
It’s a small book – only 30 pages plus some appendices that add up to another 22 pages. It is written in Doerr’s trademark direct and concise style. The pace is breathtaking. Doerr recounts projects involving years of lobbying and litigation in a few brief paragraphs. You’d better pay attention to every word because Doerr does not use two words where one will do.
This book is interesting reading for those who want a glimpse into the life of a professional activist. Doerr recounts his almost 40 years of work with Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the American Humanist Association. He discusses his involvement with the Unitarian Universalist movement, religious Humanists, Jewish people and others who share Humanism’s goal for a better life. He describes coalitions he helped build to oppose government aid to private schools (called “parochiaid” in those days and “vouchers” today). He describes many of the interesting people he has met and worked with over the years.
By sharing his experiences, Doerr gives effective lessons in coalition building, lobbying, litigation, and managing a nonprofit. There are numerous photos and side stories presented along with the main narrative. This is a good book for fans of Ed Doerr or anyone who wants to learn how to be a more effective activist.