Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Surprise

I feel like it's always a surprise when I finally write up something to put on here, and here it is a holiday and I'm still posting! Well, I didn't do much else today so may as well.
As promised, the next review is for the book Faitheist by Chris Stedman. This is one that I was really looking forward to writing because I'm going to tell my own story on here as part of the review. (The Amazon version of this will be cut to exclude my personal business.)

Faitheist by Chris Stedman = 4 stars
This was a very different book from anything I have ever read about atheism. It was refreshing and wonderful. Mr. Stedman discusses his struggles with fitting in and wanting a community to belong to. He thinks he's found it at church, but is also coming to terms with the fact that he is gay, and this is not allowed. He has a silent struggle with this and it is heart breaking to watch unfold.
The important thing to note is that he does not leave the church or God because of this. He simply realizes that what he believes does not match up with the ideas of the church. He is unable to find a way to believe in God any more. He says it's like he came home one day to find that God was no longer there; that he had packed a bag and not even left a note. He was simply not a part of his life anymore.

I honestly don't know the reasons why people leave religion. But I do feel like I need to share mine here because it's a story I don't tell. It's one that's hidden away because either people will a. not care to hear it or b. try to convince me to go back. (If you want to get back to the review just skip down, this is a personal insert break for my own therapy purposes.) Church was a safe place for me for a long time and it was a place to belong. For some reason I was more open there than at school. I was shy and didn't have friends at school so I made them at church. I was able to help people when I went on missions trips. That's what I miss the most.
I moved away and gradually fell away from the church. I began looking at other religions because I realized I had been very closed minded previously. I was fascinated by them all, but looked at them all objectively. They are part of people's lives but not mine. They are the motivating factors behind people's actions, but this does not directly affect my own thought processes. I slowly realized that I had nothing to base a belief in Christianity on, other than fear. And I found that fear, and the contradictions and hypocrisy found in the organized church were enough to not need it in my life.
I hid this. For a while. I was terrified to tell my parents that I was that awful term called an atheist. That I had turned my back on what I had been raised to believe. When I told my mom, I saw the fear and the heartache it caused her. It was painful and so very difficult. I broke it to her slowly, saying I didn't want to attend church and that I was questioning. We don't talk about religion anymore now. It's just easier that way.
For a while, I didn't openly admit that I didn't believe in God to anyone unless I was posed with the question. I wouldn't lie, but I didn't volunteer the information. I still don't go around advertising this piece of my life, but people who get beyond my first couple layers find out.
Stedman talks about feeling like an imposter pretending to be a straight Christian and hiding who he was, a gay agnostic. While I am not gay... I do relate to the hiding your beliefs because people don't want to know or don't like atheists.

This brings us back around to the book review part of this. A lot of atheists have a bad reputation because the loudest voices are ones that people find offensive (Hitchens, Dawkins, etc). There is finally a voice telling a story of not religion bashing, but wanting to work together to find a way to better the world regardless of religious affiliation. I enjoy reading the other atheists' works, but this is necessary as well. We can't be constantly bickering or nothing will change for the better.

What I liked: This was the easiest biography I've ever read. I was sucked into his life story and wanted to know more about him. I loved his explanations of how he was raised without religion and still turned out to be a good moral person.
This is a call to action not to erase religion but to find common ground. There are enough calls to end religion already.
He is so young and has already figured this much out, and is working to put his words into action.
What I didn't like so much: Toward the end, it got pretty repetitive about needing to work together. Probably could have cut out 20 pages of it.
I think the "New Atheists" or "angry Atheists," however you want to look at them, were/are vital. Atheists needed someone to stand up and say, "Hey, not everyone agrees with religion." There is tolerance for any belief system except the lack of one. There are so many books written about why people should be Christian, or Jewish, or Muslim. But there needed to be some about this as well. Stedman negates everything that this men say. While we do need balance, I think they did a great service to atheists by helping them come out about their lack of belief.

This was a wonderfully written book, truly engaging, and I would recommend it to anyone. Of faith or not. It finally offers the position of someone who wants to just get along.
*This book was received as a free advanced copy from the bookstore I am employed with*

Happy Thanksgiving :)

No comments:

Post a Comment