bITS 'N CHUNKS
So let me get this out of the way, and it may not mean much to you all but I hate Christopher Hitchens. He was a towering figure in my youth as a nonbeliever, but near the end of his life he ironically became as irrational and prejudiced as the very groups he attacked. He ended up representing everything wrong with new atheism/antitheism and nothing right; even Dawkins wasn't this goddamned ridiculous.
That being said, God Is Not Great is one of his last useful texts and one of the most useful texts in atheist literature. Of course, it's not occult literature nor does it discuss anything occult but it is a good resource on how to approach spiritual material. It's accessible, witty, and meant for aiding in the understanding of disbelief, not really to convert others. Reading this book helped me put a lot of things I was having trouble with into perspective, namely articulation and skepticism.
Growing up, I thought I had to have an excuse or reason for everything. When pressed about my nonbelief, I found often that I had no real answer other than "I just don't". Living in the Bible belt, people wanted answers. Was the trick to just not discuss it at all? No, people found out somehow. And I'm of the believe that you shouldn't have to hold your tongue. I couldn't recite a Bible verse after years of study and vacation bible school, and it was obvious. It's important to note the context as this was during a time when that kind of thing was very strange, unlike today where it's kind of ho-hum I feel.
The texts of Bertrand Russell and Thomas Paine were boring, dry, and most importantly not good enough. I was branded a Satanist, a Nihilist, an Agnostic, and "troubled". Christopher Hitchens helped me bring it back down to earth. I thought of my own trajectory to the point where I am now and it helped me realize that this was simply something innate for me. There comes a time when it's okay to question the things around you and you're free to go back or keep going forward. Hitchens also helped me realize why I tended to scoff at Eastern religions and philosophy as well; too many people in the west were trying to make them into a panacea for everything, substitute things that were culture bound because western religion was getting too contentious and boring. Like, I don't think people understand how contentious Buddhism is. I began to articulate my problems with organized and non-organized religions on a sociological level as well as philosophical, and I was finally able to successfully turn down all those church invites with no fuss.
God Is Not Great is not perfect, though. In its casualness, it really lacks the vigor of research and there are definitely times where Hitchens looks damned amateurish, notably his surface level understandings of Christianity versus Islam versus Judaism. And he clearly has a favorite target because that's what he's used to. Later, surprising few, it became Islam. Violently and disappointingly so at a terrible time. But with a few reservations for the controversial chapters, I still occasionally recommend the book for people trying to find their way or if you need help trying to articulate your atheism to others.
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...