Catholic writer Mary Eberstadt's new novel, The Loser Letters: A Comic Tale of Life, Death, and Atheism (Ignatius Press), begins by noting the laurels and attention heaped on authors such as Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens. With a couple decades off to forget Soviet Communism's anti-religious oppression, the last few years have been awfully good for unbelief.
Everything is going great for the New Atheists, observes the book's narrator—a witty, sharp-tongued 20-something named A.F. Christian (A Former Christian)—except for one thing: "… where is the testimony of anyone Your writings have actually convinced?"
Riffing on C.S. Lewis's observation that people tend to drift into unbelief rather than convert to it, Christian fancies herself the only actual convert to atheism. She proceeds to offer epistolary advice to the New Atheists on how to improve their message and gain more converts—another obvious Lewis homage.
Each of the book's ten letters approaches a serious issue from a decidedly humorous bent. Christian's first letter takes on sexual mores. After describing the typical U.S. college campus—"as pure as any Atheist's dream, as deity-free as the Bravo channel on Sunday morn (or any other time!)"—she points out that the guilt and consequences attached to promiscuity are still prevalent.
Christian also urges atheists to explain their contradictions; for example, how "99.99999999 percent of humanity" has been wrong about religion except themselves. And she eviscerates some of the logical arguments in favor of abortion, while effectively mocking the media's transparently transgressive lack of respect for human dignity.
Perhaps the book's most important lesson is its much-needed ...1
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