Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (2007)

I had never heard of Christopher Hitchens until very recently but had a friend recommend his book, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.  To be honest, I was prepared to dislike the book--as an agnostic raised in a non-Christian home, I don't tend to have the fiery hatred toward religion that many former-Christians have, and the "poisons everything" in the title came across as either incredibly melodramatic or incredibly angry--either way, it was a turn-off.

By the time I was half-way through the first chapter, however, I was enthralled.  Hitchens is brilliant--both as a mind and as a writer.  The fact that he managed to refer to both P.G. Wodehouse and George Eliot in the span of about twenty pages makes him an automatic shoe-in to my "Intellectual Crush" list.  He's both erudite and concise, and manages to weave meaningful stories throughout his text to ground the reader when things might be getting a bit too theoretical.

However, as a "live and let live" kind of girl, I couldn't quite get over the bitterness that permeates the pages.  Yes, Hitchens argues that all atheists want is to be left alone, but the anger he exhibits would be a huge deterrent for anyone who really needs this message rather than someone who just wants their own internal messages reinforced.  In addition, his writing may be brilliant, but his message is nothing new, and though it may at points have been a comfort to this non-believer buried in the Bible Belt, it didn't really tell me anything I didn't already know or change anything I already thought.

If you're bored, though, try a youtube search for "Hitch Slaps."  They're pretty good, and don't require the time commitment that 336 pages does.


Homero said...

As a somewhat lapsed, very non practicing Catholic, I love Hitchens (for the most part). Holy moly, the guy makes actual legit arguments, rather than finger point and whine. He is hilarious. He writes on slate.com all the time.

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

He's an AMAZING writer. Have you read his address to American Atheists?


"Nothing would have kept me from joining you except the loss of my voice (at least my speaking voice) which in turn is due to a long argument I am currently having with the specter of death. Nobody ever wins this argument, though there are some solid points to be made while the discussion goes on."

I'm not tearing up... there's just a lot of dust in here, that's all.

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