Sociology is the backdrop to all that we do, and all that we write, which is why the world of letters becomes a paragon of dishonesty when it makes a travesty of the social reality of religion in American Life. Ariel Levy, a New Yorker staff writer, was chosen to edit The Best American Essays 2015, and she curates som fine personal cranks and cranked-out revelatory mini-essays at the beginning, but then betrays a dishonest, malingering God-bothering streak with a spate of selected apogees of supposed writing/thinking.
The worst one is an execrable, rank piece of passive-aggressive hooey by a male writer, Justin Cronin, who relates the story of his wife, who nearly kills his daughter by flipping their SUV while trying to pick up some Kleenexes. This causes the wife to find “God,” whose omnipotence supposedly saved the two of them after this horrifically negligent act by the mother.
The father bemoans himself and his wife for not churching the daughter or the son earlier, but the young son gets nicely brainwashed and leads the family to the Episcopal Church of the raging Christianity of the deep South. Oh no, it’s not what we should think – the pastor is a Lesbian, there are gays and lesbians everywhere in the congregation, so the family is healed and restored and brought to Jesus, albeit with LGBT shoes.
The worst part of this Hallmarkian bilge is the opprobrium heaped on the daughter, who rejects the Jesusing of the offending mother and the yearning spiritualism of the dumb dad. The daughter is made out to be the offender, the holdout atheist whose immoral rejection fo the balm of Christianity is the last thing keeping the family from reaching some true holy union.
Let’s hear it for the daughter, and all the recalcitrant yet brave, moral holdouts who are children of indoctrinating theists. The amount of suffering loosed upon the mostly defenseless offspring is an on-going epic tragedy across all “civilizations,” , a needless inculcation of disrespect and inhumanity from parents towards their doubting progeny. The only good news is akin to that hoary chestnut: “It doe get better.” Children will grow up and out from under their theistic parents’ wings, where they find affinity with other rationalists and skeptics. Whole societies are rejecting the authoritarian damage of theism. Atheism will be available for those stalwart youth, if not in all societies as it should, at least to a much greater degree than was possible in the hideous 50s days of enforced obedience to religious strictures.