Faithless: A Journey out of Religion with Stops for Light Refreshment Along the Way (BOK)
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Faithless is a blisteringly funny memoir whose central theme concerns the break-up of the author's relationship with a man-made deity. Sacred cows are butchered with sharp wit, deities are probed with the zeal of a meticulous proctologist, and all that is miraculous is interrogated under the hot light of reason. All of this is accomplished by viewing religion through the memories of a young boy growing up in Ireland in the 1950s and 60s whose already jaundiced eye had begun to see the flaws in blind faith. Growing up in a country in the thrall of Archbishop John Charles McQuaid and President Eamon de Valera, Tony Philpott provides an atmospheric evocation of Ireland in mid-twentieth century. Though much has changed since, he nonetheless shows how the political and religious ethos of the times still casts dark shadows over the Ireland of today. But perhaps more importantly, Faithless is genuinely funny. While it may skewer cherished beliefs with pointed sarcasm, it does so without ill will and its irreverence is intended to provoke laughter as much as thought. All that's asked of the reader is that you bring an open mind - however the more fervent among you may want to bring your Rosary beads! [T]he Catholic Church...had a visceral mistrust of human intelligence simply because the more educated one became the more likely one was to arrive at conclusions that religion might just be all ceremony and scented smoke; a contrivance in which Papal announcements were just as valid as the ravings of an elk-skinned Shaman ranting to his Neanderthal congregation in a prehistoric cave. Although, it has to be said, the Pope has much nicer robes. The Aztec priests, well versed in the post hoc thought process, had nice robes too - multi-coloured garments of exotic bird feathers to impress the impressionable. These pre-Columbian theologians believed that the sun wouldn't rise without tearing the living, beating heart from a sacrificial victim every day. And, true enough, the morning after they performed their daily cardiac excisions the sun rose. Cause and effect - who could doubt it? "Er, excuse me, Quotzapalotle, just a thought. I have a hunch the sun might rise without ripping out Axylotle's heart here." "You really think so, Popacatapetle? Well, we've been doing it for years and it's never failed us yet. Sounds a bit like heresy to me. Besides, we have a big crowd here today and everyone's hoping for sunny weather for the match tomorrow." "Yes, but I really think we might be in some kind of false cause-and-effect loop here, O Great One. No disrespect." "Listen, Popacatapetle, just pass me my dagger, unless you want to be first up on the sacrificial slab tomorrow?" In 1950s Ireland no one wanted to be next up on the slab. Writers faced the threat of being excommunicated, politicians risked losing their seats and ordinary people who might have had concerns about the country being a virtual theocracy kept their mouths shut lest they face being "read from the pulpit". Not exactly the same as having your heart ripped out before sunrise, but quite the fearsome prospect nonetheless. And that fear made everyone complicit.