W.P. Kinsella (1935)
It was on this date, May 25, 1935, that Canadian novelist W.P. Kinsella was born William Patrick Kinsella in Edmonton, Alberta. A writer of baseball fiction, Kinsella's bestselling 1982 novel, Shoeless Joe, was made into the very successful 1989 motion picture Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones. Kinsella won the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame's Jack Graney Award for Shoeless Joe – an award “given for significant contribution to baseball in Canada through a life's work or a singular outstanding achievement.” In 1993, Kinsella was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. In 2005, he was awarded the Order of British Columbia. In 2009, he was awarded the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award.
Many of Kinsella’s novels and stories have supernatural elements. But for those who would say, “Oh, then he must believe in God or a god,” it must be pointed out that it is not unusual for a religious skeptic to use the supernatural as a literary device. For examples, there are: Edgar Allen Poe, Gabriele D’Annunzio, Henrik Ibsen, Anatole France, Honoré de Balzac, William Shakespeare, Ambrose Bierce, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Guy de Maupassant, Maurice Maeterlinck, Théophile Gautier, H. G. Wells, Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson—and, of course, the most famous ghost storyteller of all time, Charles Dickens, author of the classic ghost story “A Christmas Carol.”
Kinsella is reported by the British Columbia Humanist Association to be a member of American Atheists. He is profiled in the 1996 book Brave Souls: Writers and Artists Wrestle with God, Love, Death and the Things that Matter, by fellow Canadian Douglas Todd, in which W.P. Kinsella is profiled as an atheist.
Originally published May 2003 by Ronald Bruce Meyer.
In an earlier age, a Deist of Pope's beliefs would have been tried and either burned or hanged for impiety. Today, no longer having the power to do that, they embrace him as a "Catholic poet."