Read a Book, Why Don’t You: Mart Lit
Since I’ve been unemployed, I buy all my books at Wal-Mart. They only offer three kinds of books (religious, self-help, and monster-based romance), none of which I enjoy, so it keeps me from spending too much money. Today, I was up at the Wal-Mart on the Austin Highway, and I found two great selections in the book aisle, which is located conveniently between the gun magazines and the cat litter.
The first was called The Christian Atheist: Believing in God But Living As If He Doesn’t Exist. It was penned by a faith-based hustler from Oklahoma named Craig Groeschler, whose market-researched, chain-store-patterned houses of worship are united under the “LifeChurch.tv” franchise. No, I am not making that up. He also pioneered online, YouTube-style video confessionals and delivers sermons in Second Life, thus providing another lesson in why no one should ever get within a hundred megabytes of Second Life. Anyway, he wrote this book about how he’s always believed in God, but sometimes lived his life as if God’s purpose wasn’t to boss him around all the time. Since I didn’t bother to read the book, my problems, and I have many of them, all stem from the title.
First of all, the subject is wrong. If you believe in God, you are not an atheist. Groeschler’s problem, if you want to call it that, was that he believed in God but behaved as if he didn’t. This would make him not a Christian atheist, but an atheist Christian. Sort of. So right off, it should be The Atheist Christian.
Second, although he pretends this is some kind of unique problem that he has identified so he can sell more books and seem smart, there is nothing at all unusual about believing in God but not acting like you do. Pretty much everyone does this. The reason why is that there is no God. Since there is no God, He does not manifest himself (seeing as He does not exist) in any aspect of people’s lives, and so they basically get used to behaving as if He is not there, because He isn’t. Most people notice around the time they are ten years old that no matter what they do, God never shows up to punish them, reward them, or do anything else whatsoever to them, for them, around them or on behalf of them. They might continue believing in God, but practicality leads them to behave as if He were, say, an imaginary monster that their parents made up. So really, the book should be called The Statistically Average Christian.
Third, there’s nothing atheistic about the book at all, since Groeschler never even remotely suggests that being an atheist is a good thing. Any hint of atheistic thought or behavior must be systematically isolated and destroyed, so that you can get back to pretending not only that there is a God, but that you should do things that He is supposed to have told you to do. It isn’t directed at atheists, or even people who act like atheists, whatever that means; it’s directed at people who have totally bought into the God thing and are worried that they aren’t doing it right. It should therefore really be called The Ridiculously Devout Christian Who Came Perilously Close To Wising Up For Once In His Life But Has Now Returned To A Life Of Pointless, Albeit Profitable, Self-Delusion. Although I’ll admit that lacks the pep of The Christian Atheist.
The other book was Guy Fieri Food: Cookin’ It, Livin’ It, Lovin’ It. I challenge you — no, I dare you — to read that title out loud without sounding like a completely irredeemable douchebag.