Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Heartened [?]

Just stopping by, briefly, to say that I was heartened [← is that even a word?] today to notice something in the Globe and Mail “Book” section.
Bestsellers in the Non-Fiction chart.
#1 and #2… the current bestsellers in this department [in Canada, at least] are Richard Dawkins’s, The God Delusion, and Christopher Hitchens’s, God Is Not Great, respectively.
The Hitchens one is fairly new, but the Dawkins book has been among the top ten for 30 weeks!
Why am I “heartened”?
BECAUSE!
These are the kind of books we should be reading nowadays.

I’ve written a wee bit about the The God Delusion, and the Hitchens one is something I intend to get my paws on, soon!
Both of these guys are atheists.
Am I an atheist?
No.

But neither am I a traditional “believer”.
I am some sort of proto-heretic non-atheistic post-religion, hydra-headed hybrid BEAST!
I don’t even KNOW what I am, spiritual-wise. But, I have spent a lot of years as a fundamentalist Christian, and so I know what that is.
Whatever it is that I am now, is better.
I like to call myself a “Christian in exile” to borrow a very apropos phrase from one of my favorite avant-garde authors, John Shelby Spong.
Let me tell you something though, when it comes to some of these atheist writers. [Some, not all… one must be selective]. → They are saying relevant stuff about our existence, stuff that should be read and wrestled with, until our hips are out of joint, like Jacob’s was [Genesis 32:22-28].
People like Sam Harris.
Dawkins.
And now, Hitchens.

Here is a conundrum.
And I admit…. it is only my opinion. After all… I am not “God”.
But I do believe that there is one. A “god” I mean.
It’s just that “it” is not the one we learned about, in Sunday school. The “god” that I believe in is the one that Paul Tillich called “the Ground of All Being.”
Impersonal.
It is the god that defies any religion’s description.
Ineffable.
And… strangely enough, I believe that if this “god” could speak to us, “it” would tell us to read these books, written by the very people who say “it” does not exist, to the exclusion of those books written by those who know all there is to know about “it”.
That is why I am heartened.
Because it seems… it seems to me, according to the Globe and Mail charts, that we are perhaps, finally, and at long last, listening.
And reading.

***********

7 comments:

Beth said...

I hope you're right - that more people are listening and reading.
I'm weary of engaging in dialogue with non-believers and those know-it-all believers.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

According to Marcus Borg in his excellent book The Heart of Christianity, I am part of an emerging paradigm and "believers" are part of an earlier paradigm. The difference is that what is important to me is a transformed life, which seems to me to be exactly what Jesus was talking about. Instead of "believing" something, we should "be" something ... persons who LOVE. When I become a changed (transformed) person, I will be like Jesus and I will love God, self, and others as he "commanded" (though I think that word has unfortunate connotations).

Nymeth said...

I really liked this post. I have not yet read the books in question, but I like Richard Dawkins, and I do think that regardless of what one believes, these books are relevant.

stefanie said...

It is exciting to hear that these books are selling well. I hope it is true, what you say, that people are reading and thinking. No matter what a person believes I think it is very important to consciously understand those beliefs instead of just believing because that's how you were raised. Questioning is important I think because it opens a person up to learning something which may lead to growth as a human being. I plan on getting to the Dawkins book on of these days

- said...

I can not say that I am happy about this.... I just don't like Dawkins, I've seen his vitriol on too many interviews, his condescension, and his intellectual dishonesty... he seems to mirror those he hates. As for Hitchens, well, I do like Hitchens. He seems to be more genuine, and less condescending, as I'm reading two of his books right now...

I would consider myself part of the "Emergent movement" not a traditional evangelical, but still a believer in who Jesus was and is... I think that these guys do raise good questions, I struggle with the anti-intellectual crap of the pure fundamentalist as much as I struggle with the anti-teleogical garbage of the atheists... Rationalism is just a theory... anyway, Dave, good to read your stuff!

I still believe Jesus loves us, man! No matter how much it gets twisted!

Steve

meli said...

I think I am a Christian in exile too. A very quiet one. Also used-to-be-fundamentalist.

Cold Molasses said...

Just started to read the Hitchens book myself...I'll let you know what I think after I'm done.