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Believer, Beware: First-person Dispatches from the Margins of Faith Paperback – July 1, 2009

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This is the second collection of contributions to the online magazine Killing the Buddha (which Sharlet and Manseau founded) to be published in book form. The editors are among the smart, candid, and insightful authors whose personal narratives form the book's 35 brief chapters. The selections represent a wide range of experiences from cheating on bar mitzvah prep to discovering hunger as spiritual food in a Ramadan fast, from sabotaging Bible camp to stumbling upon barbershop theology. Contributions reflect the scope of religious diversity, including orthodox Judaism, Roman Catholicism, Islam, Zen Buddhism and even a meditation on agnosticism. Some are funny, others heartbreaking, and some are simply revelatory. Despite the variety, the collection is unified by the contributors' wrestling with received religious traditions and expectations for belief and practice, each articulating a particular moment of the author's life. The voices are refreshingly honest. Given the narratives' personal nature, readers will not jive with each one but will find particularly thought provoking those that hone in on their own questions, suspicions and experiences. (July)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; First Edition edition (July 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807077399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807077399
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,869,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I grew up as a missionary kid, pastor's sidekick, God merchant, Religious Right leader, you name it. I long since escaped if not to sanity then to a little more happiness. I read other people's books about religion and most are from the outside in. "Believer Beware" is from the inside out.

It is also laugh out loud funny, touching, irreverent and yet, in a deeper way, pays religion the ultimate compliment: it's worthy of scrutiny, debate and measuring up on a very personal scale of intimate first hand experience. This is a book for anyone who knows two things: first, that for better or worse religion is important; second, that experiencing religion can be a harrowing passage into the darker side of human frailty.

And yet... here is a book that does not reject faith but rather asks the question: what can faith mean to me after I discard the prejudice that too often comes with the territory of believing you have "the" answers?

Readers will find brilliant writing here, world-class story telling by some veterans of the trade, such as the luminous Jeff Sharlet, and newcomers like Quince Mountain, who tells the funniest and best written story - "Cowboy For Christ" -- of transgendered disaster, fundamentalist religion and self discovery I've ever read (a story that made me want to read the novel of which this could be a first scintillating chapter.)

This is the most amusing and touching book I've sucked up in years. Recovering religion survivors (of all faiths) will embrace "Believer Beware" in the same way that one revisits childhood memories that both haunt and comfort.
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Which is disappointing because that's what I thought I was buying. Believer, Bewarer was still an excellent read. It is a collection of short stories, articles, blogs what not by many different writers with different viewpoints. Jews, Muslims, Christians, Agnostics and Athiests all get a say in the book. Some of the stories are amusing, some sad, some thoughtful. Overall a good read.
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Not as scholarly as I expected but nevertheless, worth the read. Anyone interested in religion might be interested in this book.
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Examples plenty of folks whose parents didn't have a firm faith and then decided to either expose their children to everything or nothing - resulting in total confusion or abandonment of religion and spirituality. Pretty depressing to read of folks who search for truth but never find that Jesus IS the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life. The pick-and-choose, buffet-style spirituality of those who pick the things they like or are especially easy from various faith communities is astounding. There is no commitment. There is no relationship with a living God or even with other believers. Morality is totally individual and based upon hedonism or existentialism.
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