Get Your Faitheist Now!

A few weeks ago I wrote a longer review of Chris Stedman’s captivating new book, Faitheist: How An Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious.  To celebrate  it’s official release this week, I wanted to re-post some of what I said:

Chris Stedman has written the book I didn’t know I needed to read.  …

[The “new atheists” like Dawkins, Harris,] leave me unsatisfied.  There’s always been something about them that doesn’t sit right.  Tone?  No, I’m not averse to conflict and disagreement.  Anger?  No, give me righteous outrage any day.

What I needed was to read Faitheist.

“And in a universe where I believe meaning and purpose are not gifted from a divine source but are instead collectively assembled by humans, learning to live alongside and love others – all others – is perhaps our greatest task.”

This spirit of generosity, curiosity, humility, and compassion pervades Stedman’s book and I am grateful for it.  His leadership in bringing atheism to interfaith dialogue and public service will be essential for us to learn to live with and love each other.

But it’s not just that Stedman is  It’s that he is able to weave together two stories of personal discovery deeply embedded in a culture that privileges heterosexual Christians.

There were, in fact, two “coming out narratives” in Faitheist.  Stedman realizes twice that he’s just been trying too hard to be what the dominant culture says he’s supposed to be.  Trying to be straight.  Trying to be Christian.

Because this is the power of systemic privileges in this culture.  I’ve written about Christian privilege and being an atheist ally elsewhere on this blog, and I sincerely wish more people of faith would reckon with their complicity in a system that advantages them.  …

One of the gifts I find in Lutheran theology is its ability to reckon with the complexity of being human.  And I can’t help but see that influence when Stedman reflects:

“For years I was blinded by my own anger, animosity, and resentment.  It prevented me from seeing myself honestly, and from seeing and hearing others in their complexity.”

This is what Chris Stedman does that Dawkins cannot or will not do.

And it’s why Faitheist is really the new atheist.

Get your Faitheist now, folks!


About Caryn Riswold

Caryn D. Riswold is a feminist theologian in the Lutheran tradition. She is Professor of Religion and also teaches Gender and Women’s Studies at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, where she has worked for over a decade teaching undergraduates to think critically and creatively about religion. She earned her Ph.D. and Th.M. from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, holds a master’s degree from the Claremont School of Theology, and received her B.A. from Augustana College in her childhood hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.