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Faitheist: How An Atheist Found Common Ground With The Religious

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  636 Ratings  ·  141 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
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Megan Lawson
Jun 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Rebeccah Marrero
Dec 26, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Jul 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Henk-Jan van der Klis
Jul 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finished, relativist
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
Nov 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 17, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
Jan 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
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.
Jan 20, 2013 rated it liked it
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!!
Nov 12, 2016 rated it did not like it
Is there a HELL for Mr. Stedman? (the really fun nice gay guy who desperately wants all the faiths, AND his atheistic brothers, to simply get along.) Why yes - pass the Hot Sauce.

There's obviously a Biblical Christian Hell: somewhat hot and lonely.
Maybe a Buddhist a hell: Dalai Lama speaks frequently of hell-beings and demi-gods.
Possibly the atheist's hell on earth scenario - yes if all those pesky Fundamentalists were fully in charge.
But all the cults seems to mention a hell of one kind or anot
Roxanne Russell
Jul 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book obviously spoke to me because I am a non-believer who loves my job supporting the work of Christian ministers and the theological faculty of a (mostly) Methodist seminary. Stedman articulates this paradox in the same way that I experience it- I see no reason to feel hypocritical about this work just because the people I support attach a mythology to what I find to be our overwhelmingly shared values— love, social justice and mutual respect for each other while we make our way through t ...more
Feb 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, read-in-2012
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
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
May 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Kate Savage
Nov 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
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
Chris Burd
Nov 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Less than 24 hours after stumbling across Faitheist: How An Atheist Found Common Ground With The Religious in my local bookstore's religion section, I have another book added to my all-time favorites. This is that book that I didn't know I needed.

Link to my longer review and take-aways on my blog.
Tommy Cummings
May 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 04, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Chris Stedman's Faitheist charts his journey from a non-religious upbringing to Evangelical Christian to atheist. I found the read engrossing as Chris's style draws you in as if you have known him forever. For anyone who has either lost their faith or holds a pluralistic worldview, this book is a must read. You will come away inspired to create interfaith dialogue and increase your own understanding of religions.
Jun 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed reading it. I Identified a lot with the Stedman's initial struggle. It was more autobiographical than anything. I guess I was hoping to get some great insight into how to deal with those situations and it didn't spend a lot of time being self-reflective. However, it's an ongoing struggle, as I am sure it is for Stedman, so it's understandable that there wouldn't be a particularly strong resolution to the story.
Feb 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Mr. Steadman raises very good argument for why we should all work together to improve our communities, cities, regions, world. Only through working together and sharing our stories can we see the things we have in common rather than our differences. If we don't share our stories then the only voices that people will hear are the loudest and most extreme, and those are the voices that people will use to define you. Muslim=terrorist, Christian=Westboro Baptist Church, etc.
Oct 25, 2013 rated it liked it
I personally didn't connect much with the author/narrator, but I found this memoir important for two reasons. First, it shows the damage that rigid evangelical practices can have on the identity formation of a young gay man. And it calls for true interfaith dialogue, bridge-building, and commitment to the common good from both the faith community and those outside it. Faitheist provides a necessary viewpoint in an increasingly religiously polarized world.
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
I loved this book. Stedman intertwined his own life story with an interesting introduction to the ideas behind Secular Humanism, the atheist movement, and the interfaith movement. I found the story of how Stedman became a born-again Christian and then lost his faith but became committed to building connections between all people compelling. I'd recommend Faithiest to anyone who enjoys memoirs or reading about religion/philosophy.
Oct 17, 2013 rated it liked it
I appreciate the willingness of the author to discuss his own story but wished there had been much more dialogue that included discussions that need to happen to promote tolerance and unity. It reminds me a bit of technical manuals that state something can be done without any explanation of how to do it. Maybe his next book will include actual discussions between theists and nontheists to show we agree upon quite a bit and find ways to bridge the gap.
Tyler Hartford
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
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