BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

Why only half the story?

I'm afraid that this review is likely to end up being more about me than it is about the source material. As regular readers will recognize, I'm both a conservative-leaning Libertarian politically, and a “deep agnostic” on the religion front … being one of those “wishy-washy” near-atheists that irritate the likes of Penn Jillette. Frankly, I have studied so much religion that one could say I'm Vajrayana one day, a Pantheist the next, a paleo-Pagan Shaman the day after, a Gurdjieff/Ouspensky “Fourth Way” follower another, a Thelemite on occasion, a Sufi-esque mystic at times, and a hard-core scientific materialist every now and again (and I'm probably missing stuff here). This is where the agnostic/atheistic split comes in - it's not that I categorically deny the possibility of there being a deity along the lines of what the big three monotheisms envision, it's just that I consider that particular view only slightly more plausible than Bertram Russell's cosmic teapot. Or, as Christopher Hitchens put it: "Since it is obviously inconceivable that all religions can be right, the most reasonable conclusion is that they are all wrong."!

I venture into this bit of autobiographical digression to frame what brought me to the current book. I had not been familiar with S.E. Cupp (not making a habit of watching CNN or MSNBC where her shows are), but ran across a mention of her as being both a conservative and an atheist … and I'm always eager to find “fellow travelers” down the somewhat lonely path (although I find that many Libertarians are sufficiently uninterested in dictating to others what to do and/or believe that they might as well be atheists, even if they don't self-identify, like Mr. Jillette certainly does, as such) of not believing in either the fairy tales of the religious or the fairy tales of the Left. I was fascinated to see an atheist produce a book defending Christianity … as it seems a bit like Freud's sarcastic note: "I can most highly recommend the Gestapo to everyone."

Cupp's book, Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media's Attack on Christianity was, strangely, a very uncomfortable read. There obviously are different opinions of what is dangerous out there, and Cupp evidently is in the camp that does not see the threat of “Dominionist” Christianity, which is the biggest bogeyman for a lot of my friends. The fact that she had Mike Huckabee pen a foreword to this indicates that she does not consider strident, unyielding, anti-intellectual, organized religion as a danger, or at least not as much a danger as the Left. Of course, I agree that the Left is a threat, and that their shock troops in the MSM have totally perverted what was once a key counter to government over-reach, but painting Christianity as an innocent victim of a militant left-wing press creates WAY too much cognitive dissonance for my tastes.

A quote on the dust jacket sets up the tone pretty well:
The press has become a political and ideological tool of oppression – politicized, self-aware, self-motivated, and power-hungry … In short, these people can no longer be trusted.
Yes, that's true … but atheist Cupp defending Christianity seems as bizarre to me as Libertarian (and atheist) Jillette defending the Obama regime as being “well meaning”! Frankly, I was never quite able to triangulate where Cupp was coming from here, as she even goes so far to besmirch the Enlightenment in her defining a “revolution”
      If this sounds ominous, it is. And it's much worse than you think.

No matter what you believe, and how fervently you believe it, this particular war on God, just the latest in a string of them since the Enlightenment, is a war against all Americans – religious, atheist, and secular – not because of whom it targets, but because of who's behind it.

      The revolutionaries are in the media.
      The people you trust to be fair, accurate, objective, and insightful, the so-called watchdogs of the state, protectors of the truth, gatekeepers and guardians of freedom, are the very revolutionaries out to shame, mock, subvert, pervert, corrupt, debase and extinguish your beliefs, the beliefs of the vast majority of Americans, and the values upon which this country was founded. They're doing the one thing they're not supposed to do: They're taking sides. … this means {the} guardians of truth are being dishonest, wholly subjective, and, frankly, un-American. Targeting faith is targeting Democracy, and that's something that should make every American deeply concerned for the future.
I'm certainly not going to argue against the concept that the MSM has been deliberately infiltrated (along with academia and government) with hard-Left “true believers” (with thrills going up their legs), but I can not get how this can be posited to be more of a danger than the Dominionist movement, and related groups who seek to create a Biblical theocracy in America.

Anyway, the book is set up with ten “thou shalt” chapters, each focusing on some particular topic of deep interest to both the Leftist MSM and Christian fundamentalists … all things gay, the bugaboo of evolution, sexual permissiveness, abortion, stem-cell research, etc., etc. … with Cupp defending the Christian stance in each case. Sure, there is a lot of legitimate finger pointing at the abuses of the media, (things like how blatantly the MSM will blow up a scandal involving a conservative, and totally sweep under the rug equivalent or worse behaviors by liberals) but this feels (from where I'm sitting) like defending the kid who killed his parents because he's now an orphan. Both sides are vile, yet Cupp doesn't seem to be willing to shine an equivalent light on the similarly dangerous situation of having millions of people out there who believe in religious doctrine over and above science ... or the true underpinnings of our Republic.

Ultimately, the only sense I could make of this was that it was a numbers game … if you have a media elite that's attacking a “vast majority” of America, it's anti-democracy and bad. Except, come on … if the beliefs of that majority are preposterous, destructive, and threatening, they should be mocked. Cupp certainly makes a lot of valid points about how frustratingly one-sided the Leftist media are, and the deep cynical hypocrisy that goes with that, but she's basically defending the indefensible here … which is sad.

I had really hoped to have liked Losing Our Religion, but – as much as I agreed with her hostility to the MSM – it lacked the balance of highlighting the clear and terrifying hazards of a majority that chooses Bronze Age fairy tales over reason. This is still in print, but the new/used vendors (where I got my copy) at the on-line big boys have it for as little as a penny (plus $3.99 shipping). If this sounds like something you'd want to have a go at … at least you can get it for cheap!

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Tags: book review
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