Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Muppets and Christopher Hitchens

I used to watch The Muppets when I was younger. In particular, I enjoyed the sarcastic and curmudgeonly old men (Statler and Waldorf) that occupied the theater balcony. Their obstreperousness and cynicism tickled my nascent perspectives on the world.

In much the same way, I enjoy reading Christopher Hitchens, a famous atheist whose most recent book, god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything has kindled a fire under the buttocks of theists everywhere. The book has a lot to offer by way of oblique perspectives, logical incoherence, and a sparce but spicy sprinkling of valid criticism. But Hitchens offers his piffle with such flamboyance, and sardonic derring-do that I can't help but continue plundering the pages of his book wondering what cerebral stunts he'll pull next.

Unlike The Muppets, however, I can't figure what got up Hitchens' ass so much that he'd collide so sharply with the deific Reason he esteems so highly. Especially since his Lennon-esque vision of a "world without religion" includes many of the same measures that those pesky, naughty, and bad, bad religions used to exact their vision of the world.

So from an aspiring Contrarian to another well-established Contrarian, I offer my thanks for a good laugh. But I must decline to see you, Mr. Hitchens as anything more than a fellow puppet looking down on the world stage and quipping just as many sophistries as the next guy. And who knows? That next guy might just be me.


sarah said...

I haven't read the book, but I just have to comment on the absurdity of the disparate title and subtitle of Hitchens' book; god is not Great: How I bake cookies with coconut, or god is not Great: How Ingrown toenails Ruin the Sock-Wearing Experience, or god is not Great: Insert Non Sequitur Here...

Who God is and how we behave regardless of whom we blame or name, seem to me to be two very distinct topics. I know that there's a lot to be said on the topic(s), but he lost me with the title, besides that his subtitle reeks of teenage angst: "I HATE you! You've ruined my LIFE!!!" or something like that.

*rolls-eyes* sigh...

suneal said...

"I HATE you! You've ruined my LIFE!!!"

I did? I'm sorry. It seems to me such railing has no specific target, so it might as well be me.

It is ironic don't you think the Psalms are full of such railing toward God, yet they manage to say how great He is more than any other Scripture?

Immaturity rarely says anything is great outside of a narrow purview.

Christopher said...

While the title of the book combined with the subtitle may hint at an immaturity, there is certainly a good deal of worthwhile considerations available to the reader. Hitchens, while crusading for anti-religious fervour, has done his homework in a few areas; most notably, in modern history and culture. And while his overall logic doesn't hold together (e.g., if we're all simply solipsists at our core, then why should I concern myself with anything he says?), his scrutiny of the Old Testament points out some very valid difficulties.

I'm not about to lose my faith by reading Hitchens, but I may just rethink some of the doctrine I've been holding on to for a while.

The book is a good read, overall. It is humorous, even if it is opaque in some of its reasoning. And the writing style is smooth, enjoyable, and very attractive.

sarah said...

I don't doubt there being good points in his book; I quite expect it. I just grow weary of people assuming that the sinful acts of human beings are indicative or proscriptive of the character of God and also that faith and religion are synonymous, which they are not. His title says both of these things and reads a lot like 'do you walk to school or carry your lunch?'

That said, now that you are finished with the book, I'd like to read it too. :)