Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Christopher Hitchens

God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

Possibly the greatest title in recent years, this book presages the impending barrage of anti-religion films and books we are about to see, which in turn will, I'm sure, spur a new renaissance of pro-god films and books, creating a never-ending war of ideologies. And while this isn't the first by a long shot, it is very interesting, as are most of Hitchens' articles, books, rants, polemics, and general effronteries. It is a history of religion focusing on the bad rather than the good (which Hitchens would probably say was ambiguous and non-existent). He does take a few random potshots at innocent bystanders (the one that really sticks out in my memory is Its a Wonderful Life. Was that really necessary?) but stays convincing, keeping a tight reign on his title of: Man I would least like to debate in a public forum.

Most informed people will know about many of the sins, but to see them all compiled into a couple hundred pages is a brutal condemnation of religion, primarily Catholicism, but he overextends his reach by going after some of the others. Regular readers of Hitchens will recognize a few old targets: the Pope, Mother Theresa, and Dictators, as well as the main hot button issues that are impossible to ignore (though we seem to be doing a pretty good job of it): child rape, the support of fascism and genocide, and the preventable proliferation of disease and poverty. "The sins of the father shall be visited upon the sons" becomes a very scary prospect as the book goes on, for those sins are terrible indeed.

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