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What’s a Faithiest? Review of Chris Stedman’s New Book

Faithiest coverWhat’s a faitheist?  Find out in detail by reading Chris Stedman’s autobiography entitled Faitheist:  How an Atheist Found Common Ground With the Religious.  The short answer is:  A faithiest is a non-believer who nevertheless cherishes religious pluralism, and works with people of faith to make the world a better place.

Stedman wants to give atheism a kinder, gentler persona.  Readers may  be acquainted with “new atheists” such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris, who are fervently determined to debunk religion of whatever sort.  By contrast, Stedman went to seminary as a non-believer, apparently to explore whether the humanistic values which he shares with many people of faith might somehow be similarly grounded.  If not in God, then how?  The answer would seem to be:  in love.

Stedman got love from the Christian evangelical community of his youth.  But when he matured and realized that he was born queer (sic) and that there would be no more welcome for him in such a biblically conservative and homophobic community, he dropped out; and not just from the narrow sector of Christianity which he had known, but from believing in God altogether.  Readers might rightly question whether he threw the baby out with the bath water.

Stedman is so far removed from the notorious “new atheists” that this reader wonders whether he would have renounced his faith were it not for an exposure to so doctrinaire a version of Christianity, and his bitter experience as an out gay man.  He must have discovered in seminary that Christianity is a big tent, so big that some who live under it pay little attention anymore to belief, but rather, to spiritual experience.  It has always been so among Christian mystics, such as the Quakers.
This reviewer wonders whether he would have felt comfortable among such as they, who tend to understand God as light and love, instead of a bigger and even more wrathful version of ourselves.  Well, I am not eager, really, to bring Stedman back into the fold.  I admire his compassion, his courage, his resolve to be honest and act by the dictates of conscience.  However., I notice that he is a circumspect young man, open to new ideas, and ever curious.  I hope that he has not ruled out a  believer’s walk on the basis of scant experience.

A YouTube interview with Chris Stedman can be viewed below.

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