I just finished God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by the recently
deceased polymath, essayist, and atheist Christopher Hitchens. I bought the book after seeing it linger on shelves and cropping up in my recommendations on Amazon.com for the past year.
It’s a systematic, caustic critique on religion that ends with a plea for secular rationalism and a “New Enlightenment,” a book bound to spur controversy.
I’m no stranger to religion. After an incident involving milk and foam cups at one pre-K, my parents moved me to Gingerbread House, a Catholic pre-K in the nearby City of Syracuse.
My dad drove our blue-green Volvo each day, past the gutted factories and black windows, beneath the low bridges etched with rusty rivulets, and past the sidewalks with tufts of grass and weedy tendrils.
Among the nap-time, craft-time, and play-time typical of most pre-Ks, Gingerbread House had prayer time. Teachers took us to a low, dark chapel with clean floors and a white flame incased behind red glass. A crucifix hung in the front. Now and then, the stories of the Bible cropped up in conversation.
My memory is hazy, but Gingerbread house must have hit something. My mom said I dragged her to the chapel once, and as we stood in the silence, I shushed her and pointed to the crucifix.
“That’s God,” I whispered.