Friday, December 14, 2007

oh, Mr. Hitchens...

Earlier in the semester I was reading in Christopher Hitchens's God is Not Great; eventually I threw in the towel because one can only read so much ad hominem until growing tired of it. And honestly, when a man unabashedly shows his disdain for both Mother Teresa and Gandhi, can you really continue to take him seriously?
I had planned on reviewing the book upon finishing, but as you may have surmised by now, that will likely never happen. What I can say of what I read is this: Hitchens has little to say of the dangers of religions qua religions, but has much to say of the evils perpetrated by religious people throughout history. I'm not surprised that he came up with so much the say here, considering the vast majority of people in recorded history have been religious. I also question whether some of the disputes that he focuses on are even religious in nature at all, and may not be instead cultural or rooted in realistic conflict.

Nevertheless, I was struck by one thing in particular early in the book: Hitchens is a fan of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I suppose everyone is, but then Christopher Hitchens must surely be exempt from all "everyone" statements. But no, he praises Bonhoeffer:
Religion spoke its last intelligible or noble or inspiring words a long time ago: either that or it mutated into an admirable but nebulous humanism, as did, say, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a brave Lutheran pastor hanged by the Nazis for his refusal to collude with them.

Bonhoeffer, the adherent of some "nebulous humanism".
Now that I am actually reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I can't help but wonder if Mr. Hitchens ever actually has.
Beside Jesus nothing has any significance. He alone matters.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

The pastor mentions Christ over 30 times in the book's 4-page introduction. That's just the first four pages.
Somehow, apparently, religion didn't poison Dietrich Bonhoeffer, just everything else.

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