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Leaving Fundamentalism: Personal Stories (Life Writing)

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1554580262
ISBN-10: 1554580269
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Editorial Reviews


“Fundamentalism, in its anxious search for inviolate truth, commands submission to a supposed objective and unmovable power outside of the mysteries of human fragility, struggle and wisdom. It is no friend of the poetry of authentic human story which searches the ways of truth through deep engagement within the realities of life. “Leaving fundamentalism” gives witness to the hard work of uncovering and embracing the mysterious and vulnerable truth of human story. The both frightening and lovely thing about “leaving fundamentalism” whatever the direction of the human and spiritual journey afterward, is that the leaving is an awakening to the pain, challenge and joy that comes as though one has finally been given permission to be fully human. This collection draws us into the beautiful complexities of individual journeys united in their liberating encounter with the mystery, ambiguity and poetry of life itself and is to be commended for the courage of its authors.” (Eileen Scully (PhD), Coordinator for Ministry and Worship, The Anglican Church of Canada)

“Who’d have thought a collection of stories about fundamentalism could be such a good read? Elijah Dann is not only a fine writer himself, but his ability to select compelling narratives by other ex-fundamentalists shows the acumen of a splendid editor.” (Eric McCormack, novelist, author of The Dutch Wife)

About the Author

G. Elijah Dann has taught in departments of philosophy, religion, and health studies at various universities in southern Ontario, and most recently was Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society, University of Victoria. He is the author of After Rorty: Possibilities for Ethics and Religion (2006) and co-editor of Philosophy: A New Introduction (2004). He is presently completing a book on the role of religious values in the public square.


Product Details

  • Series: Life Writing (Book 23)
  • Paperback: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Wilfrid Laurier University Press (May 26, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1554580269
  • ISBN-13: 978-1554580262
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,685,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this book, former fundamentalists (mostly Protestant but some Catholic) describe how they came to leave the faith. I went into reading this book thinking that they all became atheists, but the majority actually stayed Christian although much different kind of Christian than they had been before.

A common theme running through the book is how the fundamentalist mindset is powered by fear and guilt. Fear, in which a person is terrified to ask questions about their faith because they brainwashed that these questions will lead them to an eternity of suffering, and guilt because fundamentalism teaches both that its adherents are sinners who are basically dirt at God's feet, saved only because of the sacrifice of Jesus, but also that as Christians, they need to live a perfect life.

This book confirmed my belief that a fundamentalist upbringing, in most cases, is tantamount to child abuse - it causes untold suffering to children. I saw a lot of my own background in this book. It was good to know that there are other people who went through the same thing that I did, even many that had it worse than I did. Their stories talk about how harmful fundamentalism was and how miserable the worst fundamentalists, but they are honest about the moments of happiness that they had as Christians, and these moments of happiness were why many of them remained in the Christian religion, albeit a more progressive kind. Another thing that I take away from this book is that leaving fundamentalism is an enormously painful experience - the person risks ostracism and estrangement from friends and family, confusion, anger, a sense of being disconnected, and fear, as well as a sense of having wasted part of their lives. Changing the belief system that is so thoroughly ingrained in the person rocks a person's foundations and can be very difficult. I went through this in my own life, so I could relate.

Overall, this was a very valuable book.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This book is a collection of powerful personal stories by people who have left fundamentalist Christianity.

Some find peace in a gentler, more mystical Christianity than the literal-minded, evangelical faith they left. Others turn to Buddhism or a more individualistic form of spirituality. And others reject all religion and the supernatural entirely, learning to find their own peace in a world without God.

The stories are the perspectives of the individual writers, and are each fascinating in their own right. Some are very moving, and anyone struggling with faith and fundamentalism will find some common ground in this book.

Highly recommended for anyone interested in the fundamentalist Christian mindset, and for anyone who is struggling with the Christian faith.
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