Friday, June 02, 2006

More Required Reading

I'm well past the age of toilet papering people's homes, drilling holes in parking meters and taking the change, and stealing cows, painting them purple and tying them to mailboxes in people's front yards (don't ask). Still, every once in awhile an idea for a slightly more subtle practical joke comes to mind and I'm sorry that I have neither the time nor the energy to pull it off.

If I could, I'd like nothing more than to replace the Bibles in libraries, bookstores and hotels with copies of "The End of Faith," by Sam Harris.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against the Bible per se; I simply think it's interesting that one of the standard tenets of the conservative movement in this country is that we all need to be shielded against certain dangerous material, because a fraction of our vast population will take it the wrong way, take it literally, take it to the extreme, and of course by doing so, kill our children. Music, movies, books etc. You know how it works with these dipshits. When a teacher holds an entire class responsible for the actions of one or two, you know whose side of the argument Judge Roy Moore is coming down on.

Astonishingly, the only work which is overlooked by these people is the one that's actually spawned the most misunderstanding; the most venomous hatred; the most killing...

The so-called word of God.

If you haven't read it yet, Harris' book is the final word in logical, rational and -- most importantly -- bulletproof arguments against the concept of God and religion. He fearlessly makes an unfortunate fact clear -- that tolerance and respect for another person's ridiculous superstitions is a luxury that you can't afford in this day and age, because it can get you killed. "The End of Faith" has become, ironically, my holy book.

But this isn't about that, believe it or not. My hope is that you've already read or at least heard of Harris. Since I have, it was seeing his name on a blurb for another book that caught my eye and made me grab it off the shelf. You can find this book in the new non-fiction section of your local bookstore, unless of course you live in Kansas, in which case the natives will be burning it out behind the Wal-Mart right after church on Sunday.

It's called "Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism," by Michelle Goldberg, a senior writer for You can't miss the picture on the cover; it shows a horde of the usual docile, glassy-eyed zombies -- arms outstretched as if doing "Jesus Jazz Hands" -- writhing through one hymn or another; their calm demeanor belying the fact that they're the most dangerous people in this country right now. They're the ones the Republicans grovel at the feet of. They're the ones who believe that this country belongs to Christ, and so does your sorry ass -- whether you know it or not. They're the ones who want to replace the Constitution with holy scripture, and will stop at nothing to make it happen.

Pick up Goldberg's book, and be scared shitless. Besides, if you actually are a fundamentalist Christian, you can always just write her off as being one of the ones who killed our lord and savior, Jesus Christ.


hoody said...

Your writing is earthy, cogent and often on the mark. Your takedowns of unions, Oprah and Al Sharpton are brilliant and spot on.

But in endorsing Harris, you simply haven't got a fucking clue.

Oh well. Everyone is entitled to feet of clay. So are you. Stick with excoriating the celebrities. Leave theology to the experts.

Chez said...


That's laughable.

Being an expert in theology (a misnomer if ever there was one) is like being an expert on unicorns or leprechauns; it's utterly meaningless.

But you feel free to go on arrogantly asserting otherwise.

hoody said...

This would lead to a discussion on the meaning of the word "faith", (and I don't mean in the religious sense). Mayhap we can take that up sometime, though just not now as I am drowning in work.

As for calling me arrogant, well, perhaps I may be guilty of that. Yet, in coming from you (and I say this with all admiration of much of your writing), isn't this the pot calling the kettle black?

Chez said...

Faith is, once again, meaningless.

And as much as I truly don't mean to offend you, I do believe that telling someone that he (or she) isn't qualified to understand something that, in reality, is nothing more than a series of fairy tales smacks of hubris.

hoody said...

"Faith is meaningless."

Where do you come to the conclusion that faith -in any form- is meaningless? Don't you believe that science is the best means to knowing the truth? Isn't that "fact"?

But, how do you know it is fact? have you sensed it directly?

Or another notion: The idea that faith is meaningless requires at least a modicum of faith to be absolutely certain.

Our lives -all of ours- are LOADED with faith. It just doesn't have to be religious by necessity.

And yes, I see your well-practiced irony being exercised again.