Audible is a life saver -- and a life changer!
Torture the words of the Bible sufficiently and any endeavor can be justified. Douthat utilizes this scripture-twisting tradition to select history, authors, and statistics to build his thesis, which is: the only hope for Christianity, (or the ultimate fate of Christianity; depending on the chapter), is a return to the more extreme, self-sacrificing, exclusive brands of old time religion. The swath of destruction that most churches have plowed from earliest history to the present doesn't come up.
The "bad" of 'Bad Religion' is the corruption of the main doctrines (he mostly picks on Evangelicals) from the past 60 years or so. He claims that inclusion of gays, women, divorce, abortion, and even contemporary music, have only ever undermined the foundations of the chapel. I share Douthat's disdain for retrofitting doctrine to bless the vanity and materialism of the times, all the while claiming "religious virtues". However, I take issue with the hypocrisy of that practice. Douthat, on the other hand, is piqued because adherents are just not suffering enough for Jesus.
He further discredits his work by trivializing or ignoring the scholarship of those who challenge the validity or even the necessity of religion. (He thinks the textual criticism of Bart D. Ehrman is lacking, Sam Harris is a lightweight, Christopher Hitchens is barely on the radar, Richard Dawkins got a mention but Mother "No Morphine-No Condoms" Theresa is the Real Thing).
His unspoken conclusions are dangerous. The perfect Douthat World would dial the clock back about 60 years or more for women and civil rights. It would clear the barriers between continued progress and the otherworldly goals of those of the new Right, (those very people that messed up his Catholic Ideal). He also appeared to rationalize racism as a price paid for keeping religions separated from each other; distinct and pure.
Two stars: one for his excellent writing and another for exposing me to an interesting variety of fallacious arguments.
Five stars for Lloyd James' narration. It was so professional and engaging it nearly obscured the medieval ideas he was relaying.
yes, this is the same reader who read the coming of the third reich. I liked that his voice gave legitimacy to the idea that the new religion is poison.
I appreciated that the positive thinking nonsense has been outed as more religion of the blamed. "Suffering is your own fault"
This is one of those books that was hard to stop listening to. I had started listening to audiobooks when I started running out of time to just sit and read. This book, on the other hand, had me stoping just to listen to it. In particular his insights into how the "mainstream" Protestent and Catholic churches crippled themselves by moving away from their respective core values were thought provoking. I am a Catholic who joined the Church as a late middle age adult. Personally I am aware of some of what he talks about in the Protestent churches but have not seen much of it in the Catholic churches. Nevertheless this is well worth looking at and listening too!!
The author seems committed to not making any point- Only stating things that are obvious as if some greater point is coming up. I Got three hours into the book and I still can't tell you what the book is about- He just keeps talking about how there are many churches in the nation and there are more now than there used to be and they have different points of view and different levels of influence- which is obvious.
I bought this book thinking it was about the atheist perspective of the negative influences of theocracy in American politics- well, the author is a catholic and the book is apparently not about anything- at all! I don't think I am a dummy- I read this genre all the time- even though he said it was not what I thought I still tried really hard to give this book a chance- I think the author is afraid to say what he thinks on such a fragile subject so he says nothing- He just quickly jumps from one subject to another with no rhyme or reason or wit or moral- it's just written on autopilot with any kind of opinion or point carefully edited out.