Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Ditch the Hitch?

My short review of Christopher Hitchens' God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything is out in the new TONY. How I wish I had liked this book more. I agree with almost everything in it, and yet found it to be a tiresome slog; by the end, I felt as if I was stuck on the subway next to a self-righteous stranger screaming in my ear. Of course it's kinda moot to say that a reasonable tone would be more successful in luring believers—if believers were susceptible to reason, they wouldn't believe to begin with. But there has to be a middleground between giving a free pass to superstition and obscurantism and Hitchens' brand of condescending aggro.

Cheap little mistakes don't help his case either. The French right's saying in the 1930s wasn't "Meilleur Hitler que Blum" but "Mieux vaut Hitler que Blum," for instance, and the Vichy slogan wasn't "Famille, Travail, Patrie" but "Travail, Famille, Patrie." But God is in the details after all, so it makes sense Hitchens would be cavalier about them.

1 comment:

Ben said...

Just finishing Hitchins' book and found your post by searching for the French slogan. I lost my faith a couple years ago, but I have to say that implying that Christians are incapable of reason makes it hard on those of us who still maintain friends from our past. I was a sincere, thoughtful Christian because of my upbringing, and reason led me into more and more dedicated Christianity, then out the other side. It's hard enough getting them to trust those of us who lack faith and religion, so I urge you to be more diligent with the things you say. Reason is good and it does work.