The story of a former Evangelical Christian turned openly gay atheist who now works to bridge the divide between atheists and the religious
The stunning popularity of the “New Atheist” movement - whose most famous spokesmen include Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens - speaks to both the growing ranks of atheists and the widespread, vehement disdain for religion among many of them. In Faitheist, Chris Stedman tells his own story to challenge the orthodoxies of this movement and make a passionate argument that atheists should engage religious diversity respectfully.
Becoming aware of injustice, and craving community, Stedman became a “born-again” Christian in late childhood. The idea of a community bound by God’s love - a love that was undeserved, unending, and guaranteed - captivated him. It was, he writes, a place to belong and a framework for making sense of suffering. But Stedman’s religious community did not embody this idea of God’s love: They were staunchly homophobic at a time when he was slowly coming to realize that he was gay. The great suffering this caused him might have turned Stedman into a life-long New Atheist. But over time he came to know more open-minded Christians, and his interest in service work brought him into contact with people from a wide variety of religious backgrounds. His own religious beliefs might have fallen away, but his desire to change the world for the better remained. Disdain and hostility toward religion was holding him back from engaging in meaningful work with people of faith. And it was keeping him from full relationships with them - the kinds of relationships that break down intolerance and improve the world.
In Faitheist, Stedman draws on his work organizing interfaith and secular communities, his academic study of religion, and his own experiences to argue for the necessity of bridging the growing chasm between atheists and the religious. As someone who has stood on both sides of the divide, Stedman is uniquely positioned to present a way for atheists and the religious to find common ground and work together to make this world - the one world we can all agree on - a better place.
Perhaps skip to chapter 9, read the last 2 chapters, absorb the much-needed message and then go back to the beginning to read the whole thing. Throughout the book I found myself alternating between absolutely loving it and being annoyed by his continuous need to punctuate his great experiential stories with touting his diverse experiences with ABC organizations. I found it to be a shirt-pulling, look-at-me way to prove his worth and make sure his voice is heard for being so young. His stories are great enough, and he clearly is making an impact. Perhaps the listing of ABCs aren't so irritating in written form, but the Audible performance of that illicited cringes from me after the fourth time.
Overall it's great, and his message really hits home for me. Inter-faith efforts include scientifically minded religio-less folks. Build bridges with commonalities. Be respectful and honor differences. Everyone has a story worthy of being heard. Beautiful and necessary!
Narrated by Corey Snow, fast becoming a favorite narrator of mine, Faitheist is the story of Author Chris Stedman. Raised an evangelical christian Chris has left his faith in God but not in men. As a openly gay man who felt the rejection of Christian community Chris is now an Atheist.
This book is a stunning revelation that not all Atheist hate the church or organized religion as is being loudly shouted from the ranks that call themselves "The New Atheist's". Chris believes that there can be Good without God as presented in Harvard Chaplin Greg M. Epstein 's book.
Chris's life story, although under 30 when written, covers his trials as a gay ex-Christian who studies religion and attends a Luthern Teological Seminary,for his Masters Degree, where he attempts to connect with the religious.
Atheism is not a religion, but seems in my understanding of Chris's point of view, to be split into at least two factions. The atheist 's who want to make the world a better place free of judgement and condemnation, and the atheist who want to destroy all religiousness of any kind anywhere.
Chris wants to work side by side with those who have Faith, with the understanding that together they can accomplish great things. Many of today's New Atheist don't believe that this can be done and almost call for a humanist anarchy of sorts. Chris is more like a Atheist Monk, although any label would be rejected by the author.
Faitheist is truely one mans attempt to find common ground with the religious society as a whole, and do good without labels or boxes that limit peoples interactions with each other.
If Chris Stedman had stayed in the church, he'd be everyone's favorite closeted youth pastor.
But this Fellow from the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University had the bravery to come out as gay and an atheist. He found, as he tried to reach out in the atheist world, that, as organized groups, they were often defined by what they were against, rather than what they were for.
Stedman calls for non-religious people to identify their values and work towards a positive identity. He asks the religious to move beyond their assumptions about who atheists are, and to recognize our common humanity.
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