Francis Spufford has written a book called Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Still Makes Surprising Emotional Sense. I don’t think I’ll be reading it, if this excerpt is at all representative, because what it represents is all that I despise about Christianity and Christians. Number one: their persecution complex. That aura of sanctity they all get by piously reciting all the horrible things done to them because of their deep, profound, all-important faith. So Spufford babbles, at excruciating length, about all the misconceptions atheists have about Christians.
It means that we’re dogmatic. That we’re self-righteous. That we fetishize pain and suffering. That we advocate wishy-washy niceness. That we promise the oppressed pie in the sky when they die. That we’re bleeding hearts who don’t understand the wealth-creating powers of the market. That we’re too stupid to understand the irrationality of our creeds. That we build absurdly complex intellectual structures, full of meaningless distinctions, on the marshmallow foundations of a fantasy. That we uphold the nuclear family, with all its micro-tyrannies and imprisoning stereotypes. That we’re the hairshirted enemies of the ordinary family pleasures of parenthood, shopping, sex and car ownership. That we’re savagely judgmental. That we’d free murderers to kill again. That we think everyone who disagrees with us is going to roast for all eternity. That we’re as bad as Muslims. That we’re worse than Muslims, because Muslims are primitives who can’t be expected to know any better. That we’re better than Muslims, but only because we’ve lost the courage of our convictions. That we’re infantile and can’t do without an illusory daddy in the sky. That we destroy the spontaneity and hopefulness of children by implanting a sick mythology in your minds. That we oppose freedom, human rights, gay rights, individual moral autonomy, a woman’s right to choose, stem cell research, the use of condoms in fighting AIDS, the teaching of evolutionary biology. Modernity. Progress. That we think everyone should be cowering before authority. That we sanctify the idea of hierarchy. That we get all snooty and yuck-no-thanks about transsexuals, but think it’s perfectly normal for middle-aged men to wear purple dresses. That we cover up child abuse, because we care more about power than justice. That we’re the villains in history, on the wrong side of every struggle for human liberty. That if we sometimes seem to have been on the right side of one of said struggles, we weren’t really; or the struggle wasn’t about what it appeared to be about; or we didn’t really do the right thing for the reasons we said we did. That we’ve provided pious cover stories for racism, imperialism, wars of conquest, slavery, exploitation. That we’ve manufactured imaginary causes for real people to kill each other. That we’re stuck in the past. That we destroy tribal cultures. That we think the world’s going to end. That we want to help the world to end. That we teach people to hate their own natural selves. That we want people to be afraid. That we want people to be ashamed. That we have an imaginary friend; that we believe in a sky pixie; that we prostrate ourselves before a god who has the reality status of Santa Claus. That we prefer scripture to novels, preaching to storytelling, certainty to doubt, faith to reason, law to mercy, primary colors to shades, censorship to debate, silence to eloquence, death to life.
Jesus fucking Christ, man, get down off that giant cross you’ve erected! You’re going to hurt yourself!
And that’s only a small piece of the long tirade. He has more than a few misconceptions about atheists, himself. He goes off about how Christians are supposed to be embarrassed because they’re not Harry Potter or Star Wars, how atheism is all about hedonism rather than the richly human complexity of Deep Theology, and how he’s so bitter about suggestions that we enjoy our lives, and “Imagine”, and pop culture, and how much he thinks Mozart is wonderful, and there’s not one word that explains why religion adds anything to our lives.
Fuck it, never mind, Spufford, go ahead and climb back up on that rickety cross with your mouthful of nails — it’ll shut you up and keep you happy for a while.
Especially when this is the one strong assertion you make in the midst of all your whiny caterwauling about how awfully terrible it is that some of us look at your tearful tantrum with contempt.
I think that the reason reality is that way, is in some ultimate sense merciful as well as being a set of physical processes all running along on their own without hope of appeal, all the way up from quantum mechanics to the relative velocity of galaxies by way of “blundering, low and horridly cruel” biology (Darwin), is that the universe is sustained by a continual and infinitely patient act of love. I think that love keeps it in being. I think that Dante’s cosmology was crap, but that he was right to say that it’s “love that moves the sun and all the other stars.”
And you’re unapologetic about dishing up that load of bullshit? Shameless, more like.
In case you were wondering, gravity and momentum keep the stars and planets moving, and not one bit of love or absence thereof will nudge stone or plasma a nanometer.