What is “An Atheist Reads”?
This is where I read apologetic/Christian books and literature, then decide whether or not they have any merit to their claims. So far, the author is striking out big time.
When we last left off, we had just covered the loaded subject of prayer. Now that was bad enough but from here, the book only gets worse. Welcome to chapter five, “Don’t Think He’s Fair”. And this starts off with a doozy.
We’re treated to the story of a young couple who, after so many failed attempts, finally conceive a child. Although the young woman in this couple tried desperately to carry the fetus to term, she couldn’t. The child was born premature and died. When Groeschel goes to visit the grieving couple, the wife tells him not to say that this had happened for a reason.
There’s only one problem: if you follow Groeschel, this whole thing did. God planned it all out. Think long and hard about that. Yeah, makes me sick too.
Groeschel spends a good portion of the chapter absolving god of his sins; cancer doesn’t come from god, he just allows it to happen. Because god isn’t fair but just. You see, he’s got a purpose behind that grief you feel; it’s all part of the greater good!
I tried. I honestly tried to make sense of this chapter, but I could not. This was just one long apology for the supposed benevolent creator of the known universe and how he can be a complete and total dick to his followers. This had to be one of the worst chapters in the entire book; it’s little more than Groeschel letting god off the hook for the creation of such horrific things such as AIDS and baby cancer. I can only sum this up in one phrase–UGH.
Chapter six–“Won’t Forgive”–takes things to a brand new low: Groeschel tells of how his sister Lisa was molested by a family friend named Max and how Groeschel can’t forgive the guy who did this to HIS sister.
You are reading that right. Groeschel makes his sister’s molestation all about him. Even worse? His sister’s name is simply wiped from the conversation; she’s persona non grata in her own story. Her agency in this doesn’t matter as Groeschel is her protector and this is all about him and his failing. We’re also not supposed to feel badly for her; instead, we’re supposed to eventually feel sorry for Max. Poor guy has MS or something like that, can’t Groeschel forgive the poor suffering guy?
To me the answer was no–just why in the hell did Groeschel feel he had to forgive this asshat is beyond me–but he does it anyway and presto! Max is magically a changed person in the last few days of his life! He can die in peace! Glory, hallelujah!
Boy, that sounds familiar. The guy can rest in peace even though he’s done some horrible things because a magic man in the sky just gave him a pass. I can’t even. I just can’t. If this is how Groeschel is making his case in his church, I don’t understand how he still has members. Terrible does not even begin to describe what I read; I wanted to throw this book against the nearest wall after this chapter. I’m not kidding; I had no desire to finish this book after suffering through this. But I made a commitment so I had to soldier on.
In the next chapter “Don’t Think You Can Change”, we’re dealing with addictions which can be overcome by Jesus. Or something. However, one of the major flaws of this chapter is what Groeschel considers an addiction. He lumps in sleeping with multiple partners and porn as addictions. Porn addiction, as most people know by now, isn’t really an addiction. This seems to be a catch-all term that most christians use in reference to sexual desire outside of marriage. In other words, porn addiction does not truly exist. It is not real. Having any sexual feelings outside of church sanctioned relationships is not an addiction and there is no way to treat this. On top of that, having the Jesus doesn’t always “cure” an addiction; nobody is actually cured. You have to learn to change your behavior, among a host of other things. Dealing with an addiction is a journey and not a destination. But Groeschel doesn’t seem to understand that salient point.
Chapter eight–“Still Worry All the Time”–is basically a bunch of platitudes that worry doesn’t come from god and that god will help you with your worry. To Groeschel, worry is not your “fwiend”–he uses that term constantly throughout the chapter due to an incident dealing with a baby rattlesnake and his young son–but god can take care of it. See if you pray about it, god will hear you and he’ll take care of what might be worrying you. Afraid that your terminal cancer may kill you? Pray and god will cure you, thus ending the worry! Afraid that your kids might get shot in a bad part of town? Pray and god will send his angels to protect them, thus ending your worry!
Yeah, it doesn’t work that way or my brother-in-law would still be alive.
Eight chapters down and I’m not convinced. I still have four more to go so I’ll give the last act in this little play the hard sell: will Groeschel finally come up with a convincing, logical argument? Will the reader ever be given a different answer other than “trust Jesus”? Will I get through this book without slamming my head against a wall to blot out the ridiculous? All of this and more (platitudes) are waiting for you in the third and final installment of An Atheist Reads: The Christian Atheist.