“This is difficult for me to write because I really wanted (and expected) to LOVE this book. I've met Chris a number of times and I find him incredibly inspirational and an all-around awesome person. He's doing amazing work at the Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy. But I cannot say that his book is incredible because I felt completely underwhelmed.
This may be because I'm already on board with the mission. I've been doing interfaith work for the past several years- the idea of cooperation between people from different faith and non-faith traditions isn't new to me. I expected Chris to focus on the interfaith aspect. Really though there are only about 20 prime pages of that.
Much more time is spent on Chris's childhood: his conversion to Christianity, realization of his sexual identity, self-hate, becoming an atheist, etc. Somehow, even with knowing the ending, he made me root for him to find a welcoming Christian community. Th way he paints the story, I became as invested as young Chris and then it was almost crushing when Chris realizes that he doesn't believe in God.
The other main message of the book is really geared towards atheists and how atheists can work together with the religious to effect positive change. Chris outlines a number of arguments, cites statistics, brings his own personal experience. It's a wonderful, very long pep talk that may work... if you're an atheist. Personally, I'm not.
At the beginning of the last chapter Chris writes, "I've questioned the appropriateness of writing a memoir before reaching the age of twenty-five more than a few times." I question it too. If I hadn't already met Chris and heard him speak at an interfaith institute, I don't know if I would have finished the book. If I had paged through it and read some excerpts in a store, I wouldn't have bought it. In book form, I just don't find Chris effective- and I think he should be. I firmly believe that the message of interfaith cooperation needs to be spread widely. In person, Chris is wonderful at doing that. Will Faitheist convince theists? I don't know. But if I didn't already believe in the end goal, it wouldn't have convinced me.”
Rebeccah M wrote this review Friday, January 4, 2013.