That NonProphet Status is moving forward without its founder, Chris Stedman, at the helm is that much more difficult given the touching and fantastic introduction he’s given our relaunch. The returning writers—Walker Bristol, Stephen Goeman, and I—thought it would be a nice send-off to share some of how he’s inspired us and how that inspiration is helping us carry NPS forward.
Something that immediately impressed me about Chris Stedman when I first met him almost half a decade ago was his commitment to producing capable and self-directed activists and writers. Chris has found his niche in teaching and promoting young folk, ensuring that the new generation of religious “nones” is saturated with compassionate, confident, and capable leaders dedicated to acting on the moral opportunities and commitments revealed in humanistic life. Having Chris for a mentor not only means that I am consistently valued and supported by him, but also that I am constantly discovering new and exciting voices in the atheist, humanist, and interfaith worlds who have been elevated and empowered by Chris.
It’s very fitting to me that Chris has passed the NPS torch to those he has guided. I’m excited to live up to the standards of communal support and empathy he has set as we welcome in a much larger roster of contributors than we previously hosted. It is my hope that a diverse and constantly changing lineup will ensure that dialogue relating to atheism remains relevant and reflects the lived experiences of modern, socially conscious secular folk and their allies. We’ll take it from here, Chris.
It wasn’t long after I met Chris that he brought me on to contribute to the original incarnation of Nonprophet Status—it was a terrific and exciting opportunity, and a very generous move on his part, especially as I was just a young and ridiculous college student. Writing alongside Chris not only redirected my view of the role of atheism and Humanism in making the world a better place, but it taught me values of integrity and honesty that he exemplifies so clearly. I can’t thank him enough for that.
As I start a big new chapter in my life, perhaps more than anyone, I have Chris to thank for teaching me that pastoral care and counseling are not only possible for people who aren’t traditionally religious, but that they are perhaps even more critical as we embark on secular journeys in our world. Chris has carried me through some of the most difficult experiences of my life, but has always treated me with respect and admiration that gave me the confidence to soar higher. I don’t feel like Vlad and the rest of us taking over this new chapter of NPS is leaving all that Chris has contributed to the project thus far behind, because Chris has helped so many of the contributors here explore the world with the passion and perspective that drives us to want to make NPS an engaging forum in the first place. Thank you Chris, and tell Tuna we said hi.
I’m filled with equal parts excitement and dread at the prospect of taking the stewardship of NPS over from Chris. Dread, because Chris has set such a high standard with the quality of the voices he’s recruited and the depth of patience and warmth he consistently shows, both to burgeoning voices and in response to criticism; excitement, because I’m sharing this platform with some of the brightest thinkers I’ve been fortunate enough to meet through atheist channels, and I’ve spent all week reading and editing their fantastic pieces that I can’t wait to share.
On a personal note, I’m glad to have benefited from Chris’s friendship and inspiration since I met him four years ago. I was younger, brasher, and less interested in growing than I was in winning arguments. Chris and I stayed in touch after we met, and through his patience and example, I was able to look further than the narrow view of atheism I had settled myself into. Any resemblance between the old NPS and new is in no small part due to the influential guidance and kindness Chris has shown me over the years as a sounding board and friend.
As Chris continues writing at his fantastic column at Religion News Service, which we urge our readers to follow, we’re eager to carry on his spirit in our new home at Patheos.