My rating: 5 of 5 stars
With biting satire and dark humor, Mary Eberstadt puts a new twist on the C.S. Lewis classic, The Screwtape Letters. In this particular tale, A.F. (A Former) Christian writes a series of letters to the top brass in the Atheist world, e.g. Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, et al.
The "Loser" in the story is the same Person as the Enemy in Screwtape, i.e. God. Once the reader gets one's head around the fact that this story is topsy-turvy, and it's actually a compliment to be called a "loser," a "crackpot," a "Dull," "unspeakably treacherous," "dangerous," or "mortal enemy," then one begins to fully appreciate the wickedly brilliant sense of humor of Mrs. Eberstadt. And she is not afraid to name names. Besides addressing her letters to her BFFs (Best Friends Forever) in the atheist world and calling them by name: "Messrs. Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens, Onfray, Stenger and Others" she also names some of the greatest enemies of atheism: John Paul II, G.K. Chesterton, Fulton Sheen, Elizabeth Anscombe, Mother Teresa, Kit Carson, Dorothy Sayers, Alec Guinness, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Mortimer Adler, Evelyn Waugh, Malcom Muggeridge, Graham Greene, Hilaire Belloc, T.S. Eliot, Robert P. George, Michael Novak, George Weigel, Bernard Nathanson, Antony Flew, Richard John Neuhaus, Germain Grisez, C.S. Lewis, Dinesh D'Souza, David Berlinski and the sonagram machine, to name just a few.
To give you just a taste of her rare wit, here's a sentence...yes, just one sentence, for you to ponder:
You see, if everything You guys and the rest of the Brights said is true; if we Humans really are just some tiny animate fungus on a somewhat larger rock of some kind, however statistically improbable, just orbiting one of those billions and billions of stars that Forebear Carl Sagan liked to talk about; if there really is nothing behind us and nothing ahead, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing at all; if You guys and the other Atheists are right, and all Loser's poets, builders, painters, prophets, believers, and apologists stretching back over three millennia are wrong; if no one else really is watching us, or caring about any of us at all; well then, in this whole random cosmic rave of matter and antimatter, space and time, that just dwarfs every last thing any one of us will ever be or think or do--if that's really what we're talking about here, then one little elective medical procedure, one teeny-tiny exercise of a woman's right to choose by one very insignificant human female like A.F. Christian, shouldn't matter much to anyone, anywhere, ever at all.
Brilliant, isn't it?
And on the wide-range of atheist opinions on the morality of abortion, she gives this adroit observation:
At first, I have to admit, I didn't quite get why everybody should be so North-Korean-election-lopsided about this. After all, we Atheists are supposed to be Freethinkers. We do disagree about some important things, like--well, like nothing I can think of offhand, but I'm sure there's something we don't all think alike about, somewhere. This issue isn't one of them, though.
It is a pleasure to read a book that promotes deep-thinking, yet is easy to read. The ending is satisfying, yet leaves you hungry for more. Thankfully, the author has given us a list of "enemies" from whose work we can choose.
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