I Sold My Soul on eBay: Viewing Faith through an Atheist's Eyes
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I Sold My Soul on eBay: Viewing Faith through an Atheist's Eyes

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  284 ratings  ·  58 reviews
Unique insights from an atheist's Sunday-morning odyssey.

When Hemant Mehta was a teenager he stopped believing in God, but he never lost his interest in religion. Mehta is “the eBay atheist,” the nonbeliever who auctioned off the opportunity for the winning bidder to send him to church. The auction winner was Jim Henderson, a former pastor and author of Evangelism Without...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 17th 2007 by WaterBrook Press
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Lee Harmon
Mehta is “the eBay atheist,” the nonbeliever who auctioned off the opportunity for the winning bidder to send him to church. Since then, Mehta has visited a variety of churches, from the cozy to the mega churches, and written about his experiences.

If you’re looking for comedy, this is not. The subtitle is “Viewing faith through an atheist’s eyes,” and Mehta, who stopped believing as a teenager, never crosses back over the line.

He begins his book by explaining what it is the nonreligious believe....more
Laura
Oct 05, 2008 Laura rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: All Christians
Okay. Whew. First things first. I did like this book. A lot. There were just a few things that made me want to pull my hair out.
Let me start by saying that I highly recommend EVERY Christian read this book. His insights are great and he has some great suggestions to making our churches more approachable. He even has some positive things to say about Ted Haggard, so God bless him. I was on the edge of my seat during that section.
However, there were times that I felt like, I don't know exactly how...more
Mike
This book markets itself as being for both Christians and atheists, but after having read it I would say atheists generally shouldn't bother. I think a Christian could maybe get some use out of it as far as understanding what an atheist is thinking when they hear you talk about your faith, and maybe some tips on how to make your church more friendly to "seekers".

I am an atheist who has spent several years attending church services with my Christian wife, and I hoped that I would find something o...more
Naomi
Mehta calls himself the 'friendly atheist' but i think he's the wishy-washy atheist. he wrote this book, after "selling his soul" on ebay. the fun part is, of course, none of have souls, do we? the deal was that he would go to churches as directed by the winning bidder and write about it. resulting in this book and a continuing blog (which i have checked out.) here are some of the problems i had with Mehta's approach:

he seems to think that 'popularity' has something to do with the credibility of...more
Leigh
Hemant Mehta is one of the top representatives of the secular community and those of us who are familiar with his work know why: he's curious, friendly, intelligent, and extremely objective. He lacks the combative, angry vibe a lot of visible atheists embody, which is a turn off to pretty much everyone.

I would recommend this book to Christians who do not understand why or how someone can be non-religious, but if you're already an atheist/agnostic/humanist, and especially if you were raised Chri...more
Tom Roche
I have enjoyed Hemant’s blog “Friendly Atheist” (http://friendlyatheist.com – check it out, the top banner is an ambigram!), and looked forward to reading this book. I don’t recall the news articles around the time he did this auction, so the idea behind this auction was new to me. As an atheist, he offered to go to an hour of the winning bidder’s church of choice – an hour for every $10 of the winning price. Long story short, the winner was a pastor with a blog who asked Hemant to visit 15 chur...more
Tucker
Apr 13, 2011 Tucker added it
Shelves: finished
As a young atheist, Hemant Mehta promised on eBay to attend a church service for $10. If someone bid more, he would attend more services. He ended up in a partnership with winning bidder Jim Henderson, who paid $504 and asked him to write friendly critiques of 15 different churches for Henderson's website. I Sold My Soul on eBay includes Mehta's reflections on these churches as well as his reflections on growing up as a Jain. Although he does not believe in God (which he says Jainism does not re...more
Melody
Interesting concept in which an atheist sells his time to the highest bidder, and at said bidder's request, attends several different churches & critiques the services. Mehta, I think, is sincere but he cuts the charlatans and fools in these churches too much slack.
janet
a little one-sided, misses the point that faith is an integral part of christianity
Kate
Hemant Mehta is quite possibly, one of the greatest things to happen to the atheist movement. I don't say that lightly. He is the epitome of the non-confrontational yet, "take no crap" atheist that I would like to be.

He is perpetually respectful of everyone's right to believe what they want but, also works very hard to open the dialogue between believers of all faiths, and non-believers. He speaks with passion, admiration and respect for everyone. He is truly, the friendliest atheist I've ever m...more
bookczuk
Interesting book and an timely read for the start of Holy Week 2008. I thought the premise and original idea unique, but got slightly turned off by the author's self importance and his, at times to my ears, condescending voice when he wrote his observations. It's very easy to learn the customs and traditions of a church before going to the actual service. A little beforehand research would have helped him to understand why certain words are used or why certain actions are performed. I find it a...more
Emily Jane
I initially found this book at a Christian bookstore and then reserved it at my local library. Billing himself as "The Friendly Atheist," but raised in the Jain faith, Mr Mehta posted on eBay the opportunity for one lucky buyer to pay him to attend any church or churches of the buyer's choice for as long as they paid him. This venture gained acclaim and note and Mr Mehta began work observing Christian churches from an outsider's perspective.

This is an interesting project, and one that yields man...more
L
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alise
I picked up this book because I've read Hemant Mehta's blog off and on and his style has a lot of appeal to me. The premise of the book where an atheist auctions his soul (though it's more like his time!) on eBay is one that is fascinating at the start, but this book is far better than even the premise. Mehta visits numerous churches of varying sizes and then reports on what he as a young, non-Christian male thinks about them. He offers some great insights into both the good things that he belie...more
Daniel Koeker
This is a book for religious and non-religious readers alike. It's the writings of an atheist who spent plenty of time in churches in a number of states, critiquing their sermons and services, detailing what they did that was good and bad. He's an open-minded individual, more concerned with trying to engage in discussion and learning than trying to prove other people wrong, and to that end he succeeds.

His message is one that I personally agree with. As an atheist myself, I've had great fun going...more
Choong Chiat
In this book, the author presents a candid, personal and concise account of his experiences firstly as a devout Jain, then as an atheist and finally as a church-visiting/reviewing "friendly atheist".

The author's simple and conversational style of writing makes this book an easy and light read (I personally finished the book in five days' time but could have finished it in an even shorter period of time if I wanted to).

And perhaps it is because that I am a friendly agnostic, I am in agreement wit...more
Corey
In this short and readable book, Mehta definitely sets himself apart from many other contemporary atheist writers giving their perspective on religion in general and Christianity in particular. Mehta has earned the label "the friendly atheist," and rightly so. He's non-judgmental almost to a fault and wrote the book in a very simple and conversational way. He at least has a chance of getting a hearing from some Christians, especially since he holds the institutional church in high regard and gen...more
Keith Whitfield
Hemant Mehta concludes the church/Christians need to adapt to society/culture to attract people like himself. My understanding of Scripture is that it is God and His Holy Spirit who draw those who will believe. That doesn't mean that Mehta, and people like him, are not welcome in church, but to insist the church adapt to his ideas of what church should be really doesn't make sense. Mehta puts more stock in a preacher's ability to tell a good joke rather than "give instruction in sound doctrine"...more
Heidi
Dec 06, 2007 Heidi rated it 3 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Christians, atheists
At first he resisted the moniker, but as the media that picked up his story wouldn't let it go, Hemant finally embraced being known as the guy who sold his soul on ebay. While in college, he helped the University of Illinois in Chicago establish its first secular student group, Students WithOut Religious Dogma. As part of his effort to establish respectful dialog with religious people, he sold his time to attend worship service to the highest bidder on ebay. For every $10, he would spend an hour...more
Dede Till
We are treading on dangerous ground - he is critiquing things he can't possibly understand apart from the Spirit of God.

What he has to say has all been said before and what he learns by visiting churches is nothing new that has not already been recognized by many in the body of Christ which is why there is diversity and various modes of worship...

"The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually di...more
Rod
How an atheist views the Christian Church. He has some funny insights into the habits of Churches and Church goers.
Although he seems to think Christians should spend more time re-arranging chairs on a sinking ship than trying to get people onto the lifeboats. (destination = Heaven)
I should seriously count all the times he mentions himself as an intellectual! Apparently all it takes to be an intellectual is to doubt everything and say "where's the proof?". Of course I'm guilty of this as well...more
Hannah
Hemant Mehta is an easy person to relate to. He's friendly, reasonable, and willing to look for what he can get from perspectives vastly different from his own. Even as a very Christian person, I found myself nodding in agreement with many of his critiques on the churches he visited. His view as a church outsider gives some valuable insight into some things that the church is doing right, some it's doing wrong, and some it's doing right but don't realize it LOOKS wrong. I'd definitely recommend...more
Carole
Aug 31, 2007 Carole rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: church leaders
He didn't sell his soul. He did go to 15 different churches in the Chicago area and rate them. He considered things suchas whether the sermon held his interest, where the people friendly, did the church look appealing. He rates them according to size soo he isn't comparing a mega to a 150 person church. He gives good ideas churches should listen to when trying to attract new members.
He is an athiest. He mentions several times that he is who churches are trying to attract. I disagree. I think chu...more
Jonathan
although 'slow' at times, very compelling read. at least from the perspective of reading what an 'outsider' has to say about the inner workings of Christianity ... basically asking some of the same questions that i ask.

know that the author does not bash or overtly go out of his way to belittle anything about Christianity. in fact, it's extremely cordial in the approach.

all in all, a thoughtful read, though not incredibly theologically 'deep'.
Jaci Payne
I really enjoyed this book. The I sight is from a place I never would have seen otherwise, and I found the critique to be fair, and far less biased that I had anticipated. I was hoping for a little more depth, it covered so much area in a fairy short book, and the end result was simply more like a review of faith than the deeper exploration I had expected, but that does not take away from what was there; a witty, light take on a heavy topic.
Sarah
this was really interesting. I'm an atheist too, though I don't know if I would have the inclination to visit many different churches. I thought the depictions of the different churches were very interesting, I have gone to a number of churches in my lifetime, I was raised Catholic and then later became evangelical for a little while, so I could relate to a lot of what the author is talking about as to the church services.
Nikki
This was an interesting read for me. An Atheist visits a dozen or so different churches and talks about his experiences at each one. What made him feel comfortable, uncomfortable, offended, confused, etc. I think it would be a great book for people who work at churches to read if they're interested in reading about an outsiders view. He isn't rude or mean but he is very to the point.
Lynne
A very interesting and refreshing look at several organized Christian religions. Seen through the open and unbiased eyes of an athiest who is willing to believe if a faith community can convine him. Mehta is intelligent and honest and his observations are right-on. Makes you think carefully about what a religious community says versus what it does. Easy and facinating to read.
Vanni
This book is addressing believing Christians, not Atheists, so if you're an Atheist you might want to keep on moving. Whether or not you're Christian or Atheist, you'll likely see how Mehta takes an interesting project and turns it into an extremely boring book. I recommend you skip to the last chapter (What It Would Take to Convert Me) and pass it along.
Joey
This book is not bad. Mehta gives fair and insightful critiques to the church to consider. It was mainly his writing that annoyed me. It read like a term paper, and he is very repetitive. However, Mehta truly is an honest seeker and has good and embarrassing (for me and all church goers) reports to share about our evangelical churches.
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Hemant Mehta graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with degrees in Mathematics and Biology. While there, he also helped establish their first secular student group, Students WithOut Religious Dogma (SWORD). He earned his Masters in Math Education at DePaul University and currently teaches high school math in the suburbs of Chicago.

He has worked with the Center for Inquiry and the Se...more
More about Hemant Mehta...
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“Pastor Ted and other evangelical pastors I hear about in the media seem to perceive just about everything to be a threat against Christianity. Evolution is a threat. Gay marriage is a threat. A swear word uttered accidentally on television is a threat. Democrats are a threat. And so on.

I don't see how any of these things pose a threat against Christianity. If someone disagrees with you about politics, or social issues, or the matter of origins, isn't that just democracy and free speech in action? How do opposing viewpoints constitute a threat?”
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