1888 PressRelease - Johnny Monsarrat explains how he set a Guinness World Records title with his community art project where he provided handwritten advice about life to nearly 12,000 questions.
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1888 Press Release - Johnny Monsarrat explains how he set a Guinness World Records title with his community art project where he provided handwritten advice about life to nearly 12,000 questions.
Boston, MA-NH - Johnny Monsarrat set a Guinness World Records title ® this month by giving advice through an atheist art project called Wheel Questions. The project began in 2008 as an outdoor installation where pedestrians could submit a handwritten question about life, such as "How can I get kids in school to stop teasing me?" or "Why did Josie have to die?" Like an advice column in a newspaper, Johnny Monsarrat would turn the cards over and write answers, displaying them both on the installation itself and on its website. The installation has traveled to Plymouth, Massachusetts, to New York City, and to festivals in Boston and beyond.
Johnny Monsarrat said, "The advice columns in most newspapers already give secular advice. You make good decisions, they'll say, by paying attention to reality. But they don't like to comment on religion. I see religion as a bit part of people's lives, both positive and negative. I don't shy away from negative comments when they need to be made - for example, when religion keeps two people who love each other apart." Monsarrat's willingness to talk about religion from an atheist's perspective makes his advice unique, although only a fraction of the questions he gets are about belief.
While most people are happy with a believe in God, Johnny Monsarrat feels that differences in belief can also cause conflict, in-between people and internally. Surprisingly, he doesn't advocate giving up belief. "Believe what you want to," Monsarrat said, "but make good decisions. More than 90% of all Catholics use birth control even though it's against their church's beliefs. They rationalize it, and I think that's great. Use your head to make smart decisions and don't just follow belief blindly. You don't have to walk away from God. Just move one church closer to the choices that are best for you."
Johnny Monsarrat's answers also give comfort to those whose beliefs aren't of the religious type. For example, those who believe in the healing power of crystals or that love must involve "soulmaters" also benefit from his advice to keep ones feet on the ground. "I know your secret," he wrote in one answer. "You are not in a rut. You are not trapped. You know what you're doing is foolish. Ask a friend for help and make a change."
About Johnny Monsarrat
Johnny Monsarrat is a leader in the secular movement, which communicates the power of rational thinking and science, and reaches out to people in need who feel overwhelmed by social and family pressure to conform to a religion. The movement also seeks to reduce prejudice against nonbelievers and foster their acceptance in society. A recent Pew study found that American discrimination against minorities running for President was more biased against atheists than against Muslims, gays, blacks, women, and every other group of people.