God is Not Great (4 stars)


God is Not Great (Atlantic)


(Photo: © Christian Witkin)

Christopher Hitchens is not a man to shy away from a difficult situation. On stage in Hay a couple of years back, he confronted his right-wing press pack brother Peter after a détente in which they hadn’t made eye contact for four years over some joke or other about Stalin. Humorously awkward throughout, Christopher’s chain-smoking catapulted one irritated woman to flee from the room in outrage at his gall. So, you have to wonder about the reaction of the religious sects who have been put firmly to the sword with this direct and swingeing strike at the heart of their beliefs.

Hitchens simply has no truck with anyone who holds faith dear to them (including his sibling) and were he to suffer the same death-threatened fate of his friend Salman Rushdie, you could imagine Hitch simply sticking two fingers up to his would-be assassins. Of course, he only happens to be either absolutely correct or very convincing indeed in all of his arguments within chapters which bear highly contentious titles such as ‘Religion Kills’, ‘Religion’s Corrupt Beginnings’ and ‘Is Religion Child Abuse?’ Not one for pulling any of his punches, he seeks to expose the gross hypocrisies and penetrate the woolly myths as well as rip apart the acres of poppycock which have passed for gospel down the centuries from all ecclesiastical sides. He may be putting his head firmly on the block, but Hitchens is merely testing the faith and showing us just how tolerant religions really are.

(Brian Donaldson)

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