BOOK REVIEW: ‘god is not Great’ attacks religion

Mimi Pysno

Christopher Hitchens, grade-A asshole, leaves no religion un-attacked in his latest work, “god is not Great; How Religion Poisons Everything.” This book offers a piercingly harsh look at religion, calling on real examples, historical and contemporary, as the basis of its assault. There is no rest for the weary when it comes to the list of religions under scrutiny, with the potential to offend anyone who cares to read it.

Discussing monotheist, polytheist, Western and Eastern religions alike, “god is not Great” cites human rights abuses, wrongful death and torture, war and more as examples of “how religion poisons everything.” Some of Hitchens’ examples of injustice are hard to argue. However, he artfully spins other instances in order to make his case.

Hitchens charges that fascism, Communism and Nazism were all exacerbated by religion. Although this is irrefutable in some cases, his argument sometimes asserts the pious are to blame for success of corrupt systems. He ignores the mastermind of the systems under which religion is abused as an opiate or a scapegoat.

Attacking perhaps the most famous historical figure, Jesus Christ, Hitchens refers to a work by C.S. Lewis, which called Christ a lunatic after describing how he took the blame for sins he had nothing to do with. About 100 pages later, Hitchens claims that when Orthodox Jews declare they are the “chosen people” they help to bring about anti-Semitism.

The man has guts.

For as harsh as Hitchens’ words are, they are just as wonderful. Witty and quick with a strong voice and clear opinion, he screams his claim at the top of his lungs. Hitchens encompasses specific examples and stories, personal and historical, into the sweeping idea of each chapter, leaving only those stones that may hurt his case unturned. This work is more like an artful monologue than a calculated book.

For a believer, this book is indecent and insensitive; for an optimist it is a depressing blow to the head; for a lover of words and ideas it is nothing short of an informative and fascinating read. It may not convert you, but it certainly will get you thinking about what religion is for and what you can do to ensure its peaceful goals are met.