I have two books to recommend today.

This Littler Light: Some Thoughts on Not Changing the World, Wipf and Stock

Jesse James DeConto

From the start of this lyrical memoir, I kept thinking, “I have never read a memoir from a guy, written like this.” Then I reflected on the reality that memoirs by straight, white guys who are not comedians are actually a) somewhat hard to come by and b) not often from a perspective in which I am interested (which is about me and not them). This book, however, began with a deep and grieving reflection on why the author got a vasectomy.

My eyebrows raised to my scalp, I pored on through his wrestling with fundamentalist roots through his reflections on his first marriage over his discovery of depth and breadth in music into his realization that his little light doesn’t have to brighten the whole world at once. This is truly a book about unlearning a savior complex and leaning into the complexities of having been saved, not only from death, but from one’s own self.

DeConto reflects that people are often already deeply aware of brokenness, even if they don’t name it as such. Those who are trying to walk the Way (and not be in the way) must embrace the messy reality of upshot of faith.

Resurrection is good, whether you live a long, beautiful life, surrounded by people who love you, with a successful career, real teeth and a head of hair, or you get beaten and whipped and fed vinegar and have your hands and feet nailed to a wooden cross.

I strongly recommend DeConto’s book for those in your life, especially men, who have come out of a more fundamentalist background and are looking for how to live faithfully in a softer way. This book swims in and out of social issues, personal reflection, song lyrics, and stories of people and places, but it remains grounded in a hopefulness that is undeniable and undeniably appealing.

** This book is not expensive in its ebook form. It is pricey in print. If you’re considering it for a group read, I advise contacting the publisher to see about a group purchasing discount.

Faithiest: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious

Chris Stedman

Stedman, a gay, Humanist, writes about his journey out of faith and into interfaith activism. For the deeply religious, especially those with whom Stedman’s pain will resonate, the stories of his childhood spiritual struggle and trauma within the confines of faith environments is heart-breaking, resonant, and frustrating.

The book is not, however, a diatribe against religion or religious people. It is about how the author wrestled with his own ethics and desires to improve the world and his realization that it would and could only happen alongside people who had the same, regardless of where their moral imperative originates.

The book is not smoothly written, but the narrative is easy to follow and reveals the deep reflection that went in the writing. Stedman’s reflection on the fundamentalist bent of the “New Atheists” is particularly engaging because he notes how it does  not actually accomplish anything that improves the world or the circumstances of people for whom one cares.

A world absent of religious would not necessarily be a more cooperative or peaceful one; a world absent of fanaticism, totalitarianism, and tribalism would certainly be.

 

I would recommend this book for 1) a church in a community wherein there is a struggle between the religious and non-religious voices, 2) a group that is working to name positively how their faith shapes what they believe, or 3) a inter-faith group working to understand each other (within a group of other potential readings).

One thought on “RevGalBookPals: This Littler Light and Faitheist

  1. Since I taught religions of the world at Chattanooga State Community College, I have collected a number of books about religion and about why some are against religion. Atheists have written many books, but this one sounds different and I may have to get a copy of it.

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