Find us on Google+

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

My Favorite Gay Atheist or Why Conversation Makes Us All Better

I just finished reading a very good book:
Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious. In it Chris Stedman tells the story of how he grew up, converted to Christianity, came out as gay, went to bible college, became an atheist, discovered that religious people aren't universally terrible, went to seminary, and began advocating for interfaith dialog and action - even though he doesn't have any faith per se.

The story is very personal and thoughtfully written. If you've never met an atheist or a homosexual person, you should absolutely read this book to see the humanity within those groups. Chris doesn't hide his humanity.

The story of Chris desperately struggling to not be gay was particularly moving and thought provoking. Especially since that's not what caused him to lose his faith...

Right now Chris is primarily concerned with helping atheists to have a moral purpose other than just disagreeing with theists. He's helping his atheist brothers and sisters to serve, connect, and make the world a better place. Chis is also helping atheists to converse with people of all faiths through his connection with Interfaith Youth Core.

Chris' story is one of continually diving into the deep end of dialog with people. Through it he's been hurt, abused, and rejected. But, more importantly, through it he's helped erase hate, bigotry, and violence that are bred of ignorance.

Dialog, according to Chris, doesn't call us to lessen our beliefs, ignore our convictions, or change our faith to accommodate others. Instead, actively sharing what we believe and why we believe it helps to strengthen the core of compassion, love, and connection with others. Listening to other people is a powerful way to show value for them. Listening without trying to convince exclaims respect.

I notice that Jesus never tried to convince the Romans to stop following Jupiter. Jesus' words about religion were to those who claimed to have a lock on the truth. He broke the lock, kicked in the door, and invited in everyone to have a part of the conversation.

Jesus' beliefs did not require him to convince others of his rightness, nor did his beliefs weaken in response to open dialog with others.

Why can't we have the same attitude?

1 comment:

Will Conley said...

We absolutely should have this same open attitude. Props, James, to your continued efforts towards openness. I share that vision.