I picked up Speaking of Faith to get an alternative perspective after reading The God Delusion. It did provide a different perspective, but it was not quite as satisfying or enlightening as I was hoping for.
Two aspects of the books were quite different from my expectations. For one thing, it was much more the personal story of the author than I thought it would be – I was expecting more of the content from the radio program of the same name. And secondly, it had much more of a focus on the three monotheistic religions than I expected – in fact, Tippett explicitly says in the first chapter that that is her focus and that she will not especially be looking at where atheism, for example, fits in. These two aspects of the books disappointed me and made it harder for me to relate to the book. I was really hoping for an intelligent discussion of religion and faith that bridges the gap between those who believe in a deity and those who do not. This book was certainly an intelligent discussion of religion and faith, but it did not bridge that gap for me.
I also found the book a bit difficult to follow and get into. To me the content of the chapters was a bit random and the flow of thought not that logical. To use the terms from my university, it felt a bit “fuzzy” which was a challenge for my logical and “techy”-oriented brain.
All of those criticisms aside, I do think Krista Tippett makes some important points, such as that religion is something that we live, that faith can be about questioning, that fundamentalist religion can actually be considered superficial, and that religion and faith address questions of meaning in our lives, which is not necessarily at all in conflict with science. Overall, reading this book reinforced my thought that, contrary to what Richard Dawkins suggests, religion can and does have a positive and important place in many people’s lives. Reading both this book and Dawkin’s brought to mind one of my favorite quotes about religion, by F. Forrester Church: “Religion is our human response to the dual reality of being alive and having to die.”