God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything Click the title
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by Christopher Hitchens
Twelve Books, Hachette Book Group
It’s an image that could make the most hardened cynic smile: a miniature Christopher Hitchens, fair-haired and apple-cheeked, trotting across a meadow in ankle-strap sandals. It’s a gentle season in a gentle era. Britain has won the war, the ruins have been repaired—the Dartmoor ponies are grazing, the grass is lush and verdant. Nine-year-old Christopher is excelling at school and has a special fondness for Bible studies. By all appearances, God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world.
On this particular outing, Christopher’s religion instructor, a kindly old widow, is using the natural surroundings to demonstrate God’s love for humankind. In His infinite kindness, she explains, He made the grass green, a color that would please and soothe the human eye. “I simply knew,” Hitchens would later write, “almost as if I had privileged access to a higher authority, that my teacher had managed to get everything wrong in just two sentences.” In the green fields of England, an atheist is born.
Fast-forward half a century, and the child skeptic has grown up to be a formidable iconoclast. With his razor-sharp wit and blatant disregard for all things sacred, Hitchens seems, as one L.A. Weekly writer put it, “capable of pissing into your grandmother’s fish tank.” Some would deem this an understatement. In 2003, Hitchens met with a Vatican panel in an effort to stop a certain Nobel Prize–winning nun from achieving sainthood. During a recent appearance at the New York Public Library, his very first utterance was a comment on Mother Teresa’s beatification: “The old bitch got it anyway.”