What is “An Atheist Reads”?
This is where yours truly reads Christian books with a skeptical eye in order to see if their claims hold water. Right now, this bucket seems kind of leaky. Just a little.
Our last post ended with the infamous “worry is not your fwiend” chapter. Now, we’re taking a turn towards the lighter, it seems. This deals with happiness!
Or not. It seems god doesn’t want you happy. Yeah.
Chapter nine is titled “Pursue Happiness at Any Cost”, which Groeschel apparently doesn’t want you to do. Because god doesn’t want you happy all the time; the only way we can feel that is through sin–BAD! But if you’re a good person and love god you’ll get your reward after you die, namely you’ll be happily standing next to the creator of baby cancer and AIDS for all of time and eternity–GOOD!
Call me crazy but spending my eternity next to someone who thought cancer and ALS were good ideas wouldn’t make me happy. In fact, it’d make me the opposite. But god knows better than we do so I digress. That’s the chapter in a nutshell. It’s a lot of fluff and little else.
Now we move on to chapter ten, the loaded chapter entitled “Trust More in Money”. This is Groeschel telling you that you can’t serve god and money and oh hey, you need to give to the church a lot more. Because tithing is important and being poor brings you closer to god. How do we know? Groeschel tells the story of a poor woman in Honduras who saved up all her money in order to bless him with a gift of meat while he was in the country doing missionary work. Groeschel says he’d give up all of his money “to be like her”.
Here’s the thing: he could. Since his church falls under the title of a “megachurch”, Groeschel could take the donations he gets and eliminate quite a bit of poverty in his area. But he hasn’t. Instead, he simply stands at the front of the church and asks for even more money. Because you don’t need it but god does.
Or money, for that matter. But I digress. However, if you think that was bad, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Chapter eleven–“Don’t Share Your Faith”–is the hell chapter. We all knew it was coming and hoo boy, is it a lulu. Because even though god loves you very, very much, even though he had a hand in you being here, even though he has this ultra-special relationship with you, if you don’t love him right, he’s going to throw you into an oven and roast you to death for all eternity. Because you didn’t love him enough. And you didn’t save enough souls.
But don’t worry! He doesn’t really want to do this! You made him do it! Because you screwed up and didn’t say the right prayer or believe in the correct sect of Christianity. It’s not his fault you see, and it makes him so very, very sad that he has to do this.
There’s one massive problem with this “logic”: nobody is forcing god to do anything. God is doing this on his own. No offense, but this doesn’t sound like such a “loving” guy to me.
This chapter is simply telling everyone to do good not because it’s the right thing to do but because you have to convert people. It’s all about winning souls and keeping them out of hell. So go out there and share your faith because someone out there may not have heard the name Jesus Christ. (Yeah, no. I don’t buy that.)
Now we’ve finally reached the final chapter, number twelve which is titled “Not in His Church”. This is basically hooray church! It is the shit! You should totes go because community and stuffs! I’m not kidding, that’s the entirety of this chapter. It’s a bunch of feel-good stories that have been printed to manipulate you into going to church and that is it.
TREES DIED FOR THIS. PLEASE TELL ME WHY TREES DIED FOR THIS.
Groeschel includes an afterward where he talks about the three lines of faith; number one is believing enough to benefit, number two is believing enough to comfortably contribute while number three is believing enough to give your whole life to it. In other words, forget you. It’s all about god. Groeschel claims that he gave up one thing after another until one hurdle remained and it was an intensely personal one, one that he won’t mention. One that a grand total of only two people know. But apparently he sacrificed a fear that he had ever since he was a kid to get to the level he is at now.
I can’t help but raise an eyebrow at this and wonder just what the hell he “gave up”. Your guess is just as good as mine. But again, I digress.
Final verdict: not convincing in the slightest. You can drive a truck through the logic holes here and the only one who might be convinced is the nice person who quit going to church but feels like they’ve left something truly special. It might convince the fallen christian but it won’t do anything for an atheist of any stripe. Well, other than annoy them, that is.
With that, we are officially done with this book. But we’re not done with this little experiment. Tune in next time when I do another take down/review of christian literature. Or not, if you don’t want to deal with the brain-breakage and cognitive dissonance. It’s strictly your choice.
See you then!