Friday, September 5, 2014

"Lost his faith" : Saint Richard Dawkins, Saint Christopher Hitchens, Saint Sam Harris. . . ?

“. . . lost his faith. . .”

Faith. . .wasn’t something kept in the pocket that could fall through a hole.  It was a burning chain about the heart.  Sometimes the only way to endure it was to deny it was there at all.

Veronica Black, from  Vow of Sanctity

It has long seemed to me that the "new" outspoken atheists "protest too much."  Why, I wondered, would it offend you for somebody else to believe in something you really don't believe in at all?  For example, it doesn't offend me if somebody mentions the Easter Bunny.  It doesn't offend me if somebody wishes me a Happy Kwanzaa.  It doesn't offend me if somebody asks me what my astrological sign is.  It's either amusing, or a nice congenial thing to say, or maybe just silly--but it's definitely not offensive.  I have no desire to sue stores to prevent their putting up pictures of rabbits and eggs in the spring, or to take legal action to remove references to the constellation Taurus from public documents; nor do I feel the need to fuss at people who wish me Happy St. Patrick's Day and explain in detail how and why I am not Irish and how they should keep their offensive Irishness to themselves, because "not everybody is Irish, you know!" and then go into an extended harangue about the moral and political wrongs throughout Irish history, the harmfulness of Irish culture as an insidious influence throughout the world, and personal examples of Irish people that have caused annoyance and trauma in my life.
So I've long thought that the "angry atheists" (and let's face it, there's obvious anger there, you hardly have to scratch at all to let it out--often it just bursts out on its own whenever they get on a roll) are in fact angry at something (indeed, Somebody), and that, therefore, the truth is that they are not a-theists, because you can hardly be angry with somebody that does not exist.  

But stumbling across this quote in an otherwise fairly innocuous (but fun) light mystery series gave me some serious food for thought.  What if these guys aren't just "angry with God," but actually, in some sense, afflicted by faith?  What if these are people who in fact have such unendurably strong connections with their Creator that, existing as they have unfortunately done in a modern context that provides little or no support for that, they just can't stand it, and must therefore deny it--vigorously, vociferously, even violently--merely to defend their sanity?

If so, this is a great failure of the Church to support these men (odd that they do mostly seem to be men, yes?--probably also not unimportant).  If so, Dawkins and Hitchens et al. may in fact be GREAT SAINTS in the making, if only we could assist them in shouldering the weight of glory apportioned to them.  

Any ideas how we could help these afflicted future saints in taking up their respective crosses?

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