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Faitheist: How An Atheist Found Common Ground With The Religious

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  509 ratings  ·  127 reviews
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 as well as their vehement disdain for religion. In Faitheist, Chris Stedman challenges the orthodoxies of this movement and makes a passionate argument that atheists should le ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published November 6th 2012 by Beacon Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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Lee Harmon
Oh, man, do I relate. Here is an atheist that feels more at home in religious surroundings than with a secular community. While I’ve never considered myself an atheist (I’m happy with the phrase “agnostic Christian”), even if I were, I would hesitate to take the title. I don’t want to be known as someone who tears down rather than builds up. I have more in common with nonbelievers than fundamentalists, but I have never been able to swim in the waters of an online atheist forum without feeling qu ...more
Dec 02, 2012 Ellery rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone.
Recommended to Ellery by: Andrew Sullivan
While Mr. Stedman is young, which shows in his writing a bit, he is very impressive. His journey from irreligious to evangelical Christian, to tormented gay evangelical, to atheist, to interfaith activist is one many of us can relate to in a personal search for meaning.
In the wake of an election and a decade in which Americans and the world are seriously in need of some mutual understanding, his book is timely. It calls us all to be better people in service of our fellow man, and willing to eng
Disclosure: I am a Facebook friend of Chris.

First, I agree with his take on Gnu Atheism. Very much so.

I also agree with the idea of trying to find common ground with people of faith, though perhaps not to the degree he tries to seek it out.

Second, a relatively minor issue, but I wonder about someone this young writing a memoir. (Along with that, sorry, the book's not even 208 pages. It's 180 of body text. Kind of slim, especially at list price of 22.95.)

But, there's the more serious reasons I c
Rebeccah Marrero
This is difficult for me to write because I really wanted (and expected) to LOVE this book. I've met Chris a number of times and I find him incredibly inspirational and an all-around awesome person. He's doing amazing work at the Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy. But I cannot say that his book is incredible because I felt completely underwhelmed.

This may be because I'm already on board with the mission. I've been doing interfaith work for the past several years- the idea of cooperation between peopl
Jesse Markus
This book sure gave me a lot to think about. I listened to Chris Stedman when he came and gave a very enjoyable talk at Portland State University several months ago. Afterwards, Center For Inquiry-Portland took him out to dinner, and I enjoyed his company even more. When I finally got around to reading his book, I was pretty sure I knew what to expect: the New Atheists are doing it wrong, we need to build bridges and create dialogue, you catch more flies with honey, all that stuff. And yet there ...more
I had the privilege of hearing Chris Stedman speak at Lincoln School in RI, and I was so impressed with him, I immediately went out and bought his book. As a lifelong atheist, I was fascinated by Chris' story, especially the reasoning he went through when he became a "born-again Christian", and then his gradual dissatisfaction with religion in general. I, too, have been attracted to secular humanism. The thing I find most powerful about Chris is his genuine desire to connect with people of all b ...more
Henk-Jan van der Klis
Where New Atheist movement (what’s new in this?) famous spokesmen include Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens may impress some like-minded people, their pedantic attitude towards fellow humans that do adhere a faith or consider themselves religious, caused lots of animosity with others. In Faitheist (mind the words: fag, faith, atheist; kidding, it’s a previously coined term), a twentysomething named Chris Stedman challenges both sides and pleas for a respectful treatm ...more
Against the backdrop of his memoir, Chris Stedman has produced a valuable call to action. Having begun to confront questions of sexuality, religion, and community as a teenager, Stedman changed his personal approach several times. He discovered that his "conflicted enmity toward religion was poisoning [his] own well." Today, in his mid-twenties, he asserts the values of listening, compromise, intellectual humility, and relatedness above "being right." In this sense, the moniker "Faitheist" is me ...more
This book started out strong with the author relaying his viewpoints and his early experiences as an Evangelical Christian however midway through the book it became a dry reaccounting of organizations he worked with and appearances he made. I lost interest around page 84 and no amount of skimming brought me to a place where I was reabsorbed.
I thought the first few chapters, chronicling his life in middle school and high school struggling with his sexual orientation and relationship with Christianity, were the strongest. Lots of good insights on how and why atheists need to find ways to collaborate with religious people in order to do good in the world.
Megan Lawson
I picked up Faitheist for a multitude of reasons, one of which was a serious love of Eboo Patel's Acts of Faith which was a phenomenal read and to this day remains one of the most influential novels I have ever read. Faitheist doesn't hold the depth of Acts of Faith but that doesn't mean it isn't an important part of the discussion with regards to building an interfaith community.

As I read through Stedman's childhood in the first few chapters and his changing relationship with the church I could
Kate Savage
Chris Stedman has the right ideas. He just hasn't written a great memoir. I understand why he did it: he strongly affirms the value of personal stories to build connections between people. Unfortunately, a heartfelt story doesn't make you a good writer -- a dull story sours into unbearable with Stedman's attempt at a charmingly self-disparaging tone. All the same, I hope book sales have helped support his work.

Stedman's main point is that instead of fighting religion, atheists should partner wit
I picked up this book, because I have met Chris Stedman a few years back at a leadership convention where he was on a panel talking about interfaith work. At the time I was one of those angry atheists that he spoke of in his book, I disagreed with interfaith, and thought that making fun of religion was the way to get people to agree. Over the years of seeing more and more "faitheists" at work and humanism being more of a worldview to live your life by I changed. I gave up going to freethought me ...more
As a follower of Chris Stedman's work, I've come to know a bit of the path he's taken over his short yet full life and how that path has brought him to the space he now occupies. I, too, am of the "kinder, gentler atheist" ilk and knowing for over a year this book was forthcoming has been an almost agonizing wait, exacerbated even further by the tantalizing snippets posted on his blog.

I understand how Chris strives daily to promote constructive pluralistic discourse among all belief systems and
Doc Kinne
I think that the beginning of Chris's book will strike an amazing cord in many of its readers. I expect that a good bit of its readers may be somewhere on Chris's spectrum. In my case I was heavily in Chris's spectrum as a Gay boy who moved from a social Catholic, to a committed Wiccan, ultimately ending up as a Humanist/Secular Buddhist who finds his expression within the Unitarian Universalist community. Reading the first part of Chris's book was, in a lot of ways, like reading my essay "Spiri ...more
If you are an atheist and the increasingly xenophobic and disrespectful rants coming from the likes of Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens bother you, Chris Stedman's philosophy and actions will probably make you feel better, whilst challenging you to convert your own ethical beliefs into practical action that will materially improve the lives of others.

I thought the book was not without its flaws, one being that the memoir parts were simply not as engaging as the call to action in the final part. In
Tommy Cummings
I first heard Chris speak on a podcast that I listen to. I really enjoyed reading his story into and out of Christianity. I have a great deal of respect for the work he is doing now; uniting the religious and irreligious for a common good. I think this book would speak to anyone who has ever felt themselves in the minority. I love that he seems to be working through the trials of his past rather than letting them fuel anger. This book is well written with a few places where the youth of the auth ...more
I received this book through a First Reads giveaway. I was drawn to this book because of the focus on building interfaith coalitions and an atheist movement that works with religious groups, rather than against them. Chris makes some very compelling arguments about the need to collaborate and bring social justice to the forefront. This book almost seems to be two books in one - part memoir, part polemic. While Chris certainly has some interesting stories to share, at 25 his life experience is no ...more
I realize Stedman is big on the power of narratives, but I guess I was hoping for more discussion of ideas. It's possible to discuss big ideas through narrative, but Stedman generally told his stories without digging into the deeper ideas. Doing so would have been the glue to bind the stories together; as it was, this was mainly a memoir of a person maybe a little too young to write a memoir. Still, as an irreligious atheist without the general hostility toward religion that a lot of my fellow a ...more
I was interested in this book because it had been described to me as promoting a way of being atheist that differed markedly from the polarizing "New Atheism." Instead of being anti-theist, Stedman believes atheists should work to form significant bonds and partnerships with religious communities in pursuit of shared goals. Defining yourself by what you don't believe (theism) or what you don't support (religion) is no way to live and can be just as toxic as religious fundamentalism.Thus, Stedman ...more
Robin Beaudoin
Chris Stedman has had a pretty unusual relationship with (and without) religion. My experiences and those of many that I know usually fall into two storylines: they began with religion and still have religion, or they began with religion and have since decided that it was not for them. I was interested in the layers of his story. And the goal of his work is to get people of many faiths talking to find what they have in common rather than harp on their differences as a way to begin to understand ...more
Perry Martin
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
I'm not sure what I expected - but I think that I thought that this was going to be a clinical discussion on how to find a path to bridge secular Humanism and religion - which both have, as their root, very similar values.

But instead, it's a story. Chris Stedman's story of his exploration of Christianity, of atheism, and that he found how he could build that bridge. This story is told from a unique and fascinating perspective, and it's a great book about faith. Ironically, a book by an atheist
This is a very readable (at only 182 pages) memoir in which the author uses his own story to make some interesting points. The best parts are the beginning and the end, with a bit of a dry spell in the middle. I thought his descriptions and stories of his initial struggles, in trying to find his own identity, to be quite compelling. In all my reading lately, this theme of identity is quite common. How invested are we in our own self-images? What happens when that self-image is shattered?

The midd
Robb Bridson
Out of the prominent atheistic thinkers out there today, I think Chris Stedman is probably the one who has the best plan for the future of organized Humanism.
I only wish the book spent more time outlining his ideas. They are mostly condensed into the last chapter, the rest of the book being a memoir. This is understandable because Stedman believes strongly in the power of story to build understanding between groups.

His story is definitely a moving one and one I think most atheists and possibly
This really made me think about what interfaith really means and what it should mean. Good food for thought and inspirational. One of my favorite statements from book: ...a quick perusal of human history shows that when one person's idea of "rationality" trumps basic human decency for other's, we all suffer.

FYI @ Erin - he even quotes Vonnegut a couple of times!!
Tyler Hartford
Gives a good view of the inner struggles one goes through moving from a life of Christian faith to holding an Atheist view. I appreciate his openness about his process of coming to terms with his sexuality. While I am a Christian minister who disagrees with some of his points, his message of warning to two sides screaming at each other is one worth listening to.
God, I loved this book (pun intended). Chris asks, "Why can't we all be friends? Is that really so hard?" I also love books that mirror my childhood (except in this case, without the being gay part).

In the interest of full disclosure, I totally tweeted the author that I loved the book, and he retweeted me, so of course I <3 him big time. BIG TIME.
Anderson Marsh
I'd been looking forward to reading Stedman's book since i heard about it, i was not disappointed by it.

Stedman's work thus far is amazing his ability to walk with people from all walks of life and find common ground is exceptional, I'd very much like to explore this concept more fully here in the UK as I think it's very powerful.

A valuable addition to interfaith and atheist popular literature. Stedman doesn't enumerate what I consider the best reasons for leaving faith, but he does tell a heartfelt, personal story of being religiously misfit, misunderstood by religious and nonreligious people alike in his desire to find common ground.
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