Hitchens refuses to engage authentic religion

God is Not Great by Christopher HitchensChris Hedges, author or “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America” reviews  Christopher Hitchen’s God is Not Great  for the Philidelphia Inquirer!

“…Unencumbered by serious theological or biblical knowledge, Hitchens taunts religion with the same bigotry and ignorance that fundamentalists use to delegitimize those who do not submit to their rigid belief system.

What he and the other writers of the new atheist manifestos, such as Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins, attack is not religion, but the ossified forms of religious orthodoxy that have been misused for centuries to instill fear and obedience. The charlatans and demagogues who today dominate Christian radio and television stations, the James Dobsons and Pat Robertsons, continue a long and sordid tradition of claiming divine sanction to justify personal enrichment and empowerment. Piety, like blind patriotism, is an effective cover for the corrupt and the venal.

There is a case, of course, to be made against institutional religion. But there are great theologians from Paul Tillich to Ernst Kasemann to William Stringfellow who skewer institutional religion, indeed brand it as a dangerous form of idolatry. They write with a deftness, nuance and erudition that shame the tired cliches that pad out this book.

…Hitchens, as a secular fundamentalist, endorses the myopic and disastrous imperial agenda beloved by the Christian Right. He does so because he imbibes the same toxic mix of self-aggrandizement and intolerance. He supports the war in Iraq and the waterboarding and torture of Muslim detainees.

Hitchens’ blind embrace of American imperialism and disregard for the rule of law makes him no better than the apologists for radical Islam and Christianity he seeks to discredit. His moral certitude and arrogance are no different. The consequences are as dangerous.”

2 responses to “Hitchens refuses to engage authentic religion

  1. If the religion he criticizes has “been misused for centuries” and is still represented by “charlatans and demagogues” today, then how is this not “authentic” religion?

  2. Mr. Hedges’ critique seems to consist of a generalized personal attack on Mr. Hitchens, not the specific criticism of Mr. Hichens’ ideas that one would expect. For example, consider the “serious biblical or theological knowledge” which Mr. Hitchens supposedly lacks. By whom is such “serious” knowledge defined, and why should one regard that definition as authoritative? In “god is not Great,” Mr. Hitchens provides example after example to support is argument, while Mr. Hedges provides zero examples to sustain his description of Mr. Hitchens’ political beliefs. How do we know Mr. Hitchens “supports . . . waterboarding”? How does Mr. Hitchens “disregard . . . the rule of law”? Mr. Hedges seems to possess the same arrogance for which he criticizes Mr. Hitchens, absent the specificity to back it up. If all we do is talk past one another, or call one another names, neither side addresses the points raised by the other, yet only in doing so can we come to grips with the essentials of the issue under discussion.

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