The Loser Letters. By Mary Eberstadt (excerpt)

An open letter to those spokesmen for the New Atheism who have labored mightily these last few years to sweep aside religion’s paralytic webs of superstition and prejudice, and to liberate the rest of our Species via Science and Enlightenment:

Dear Sirs,

Speaking just for this Atheist convert, congratulations, Guys, You really did it! Thanks to all Your hard work, the rest of us know once and for all that the so-called “God” is everything You say he is: the biggest fraud of all time, cosmic Zero, ultimate no-show. And after all those centuries and promises, too. Like throwing the biggest rave ever, only to cancel at the last minute after everyone’d already bought tickets and drugs for it. What kind of Loser does that, anyway? If this were Facebook, no one would be friending him now.

But You have to admit, that same Loser sure has been great for the book business! Including and especially all those books on the new atheism, I’m happy to say. Almost a million volumes sold in twelve month’s time; covers in every major newspaper and magazine; publicity on all the best talk shows and websites and campuses; national and international book awards out the wazoo: Talk about knowing how to make “something” ($$$) out of “nothing” (the Loser)!

It really is marvelous — sorry; I almost said “miraculous” there (I’m new to the atheist party and hope you’ll pardon any slips) — how Your ideas have taken so much of the Western media by storm. You’d almost think atheism had friends in some pretty high places! Whatever, You probably think we atheists have earned the right to sit back and chill. I mean, it’s pretty clear we’ve won by now — isn’t it?

Except, well, not — and that’s why I’m writing You this letter. Because there’s one thing that’s still missing from atheism’s final victory, and it’s something that just can’t be sugarcoated. Ahem: Apart from me, where is the testimony of anyone Your writings have actually convinced? After all, as one of You said somewhere and all of us want to believe, “If this book works as I intend, religious readers will be atheists when they put it down.” So where are the rest of them, I’m starting to wonder — these other converts (like me!) to the new godlessness?

I’m not asking about the numbers to depress any of You. One of the things I love about our Side — the winning Side, the atheist Side! — is we get that it’s good enough just being in everybody’s face about “God” not existing, even if no one but me was persuaded despite a few million more books in circulation. And I know that it wouldn’t be the first time that atheism fell short on the convert count. “It appears to me (whether rightly or wrongly),” as our most illustrious Forebear Charles Darwin once put it, “that direct arguments against Christianity & theism produce hardly any effect on the public.” And He should certainly know!

Even so, as Your convert, in fact as maybe your one and only convert, I worry for Us. Sooner or later, one of the believers will come along and point out a fact they’ll think is damaging to this new atheism — I mean, that it hasn’t actually convinced anyone. In other words, they’re going to paint our Side as somehow intellectually Unfit. And the idea of being called Unfit, to this newly minted atheist, is just too much to bear. Back when I was a Christian, I was taught to embrace those kind of people — you know what I mean, the maladaptives. But as an Atheist, even a new one, I’ve learned to despise them all as Nature’s mistakes. Being put on the losing side would be what You might call a personal Devolution for me, something gross and Unnatural. Like having an opposable thumb and not even texting with it!

And so, to protect Us atheists from that charge before our religious enemies even get to it, I’ve gone ahead and written the following Letters to You. They offer up the earnest confession of one who — as someone once said of our fellow atheist Allen Ginsberg —“did not come back from Hell empty-handed.” I mean Hell figuratively, of course! Little joke there! But seriously. I’ve ascended from the darkness of the believers by clinging to each and every one of Your words — and I bring with me recent firsthand knowledge of them and their ways that I want to share with You.

About the reasons for my conversion to atheism, I’ll have lots more to say in what follows. But let me first thank some of You for introducing that amped word, “Brights,” to describe our Side. It’s meant to distinguish the “vigorous” and “healthy” souls of atheists, as one of You put it somewhere, from those of the believers (sorry on “souls” BTW). In these pages I want to take that logic of “Brights” to another level — because of course if there are Brights, then by necessity our adversaries, a.k.a. the Christians, must be known by the opposite descriptive, “Dulls.” And so they will be in the Letters ahead.

In short, I offer to You my own conversion story — that of a former Christian who has Adapted at last to Atheism. It’s a personal tale, by the way, not a point-by-point engagement with all of Your arguments and themes. After all, I’m no theologian. (And neither are any of You of course!). But before getting into all that, I’ll start at the beginning: by explaining what kept me — and not only me, but a great many other potential converts for our side — away from atheism for as long I did.

Above all, I want all my Letters to be useful. I was taught by Marxist Leninist Atheists at college a while back, back before they all went to wherever all the Marxist Leninist Atheists went. And I have to confess, at times I really miss their verve! Don’t You? Especially their sense of how the highest purpose is to be Useful.

Well, I think the most Useful thing I can do here is to show You something of how the Dulls really think from the inside, so You can see what we’re truly up against in trying to convert them. Just think of me as your own private Project Runway or What Not to Wear — someone who just wants us atheists to be all we can be.

I do hope everyone reads my story of personal Evolution through. After all, it’s the only one You have, at least so far. But don’t let the numbers bother You much. One down, and just a few billion more to go!

Your huge fan,

A.F. Christian


LETTER ONE: “The Trouble with Experience”

Dear Sirs,

First let’s talk about something You atheist Guys all like to talk about (judging by those latest books especially!!!), which is sex and the role that it plays in separating the benighted believers from the enlightened rest of Us.

As I get it, Our atheist position on sex boils down to this: the believers with their tard regulations are all wrong about it, while we Brights have been — I’m reaching here for the words that You Guys might use — so groovy and hip by throwing out the Christian rule book on all that stuff. Or to put it another way, thanks to atheism and secularism more generally, words like privacy, consenting adults, and behind closed doors are in; and ones like monogamy, self-restraint, and staying together for the kids are out. If there’s anything We Brights are all on the same page about — and again, I’ve read all those pages of yours pretty carefully! — it would seem to be this; am I right?

Now, as a fresh convert myself who is in a more or less delirious state at all times just thinking about what my new atheism will mean for my personal life now that I’ve been freed from all those commandments (!), I’m certainly not here to argue with You about the appeal of doing what comes Naturally. At the same time, though, I have to warn You about something. A lot of what the new atheism says about sex strikes me as strategically dangerous to Us — the kind of talk that runs the risk of turning off some of the very believers, especially the younger believers, who might otherwise be tempted to switch over to our Side.

Let’s start with that generational difference between You new atheists and some of the rest of us. Did Your parents ever leave home for the weekend when any of You were kids, putting You in the care of teenage siblings? Do You still remember the two-day nonstop party, and the expressions on Your parents’ faces Sunday night when they saw the overflowing ashtrays and empty kegs and someone else’s underwear in the laundry and throw-up in the fish tank? Well You should know that’s pretty much what it was like for those of us who went through life after You baby boomers did, a decade or so after what might be called the Godless Generation swept through first.

And this brings us to why atheists run the risk of losing among this younger generation when You talk about sex the way new atheists all have so far: because everybody on the godless team writes about sex and freedom from the religious moral rules as if all the years from 1960 on never even existed. As if the Sexual Revolution hadn’t been staggering along for nearly a half century now! Hello? Well for better or worse from the point of view of our Side, it has. And what that means is that all kinds of people now know that if we try and make a selling point out of trashing Christian sexual morality — as atheists have been doing since the beginning — a whole lot of Dulls today are going to raise their hands and call us losers again on the subject of sex and say that we don’t know what we’re talking about. So in this Letter I’d like to draw Your attention to just some of the legacy of the sexual revolution, in the hopes of making our Movement less vulnerable to the unfortunate Facts.

We can begin where most Americans really begin to learn about sex, i.e. on the typical American campus of the past few decades. To live it is to see up close and personal that Dostoevsky’s mantra — when God is gone, everything is permitted — is not some lame old literary prophesy, but a vibrating social fact. Of course by saying “everything” is permitted on campus I don’t literally mean everything, after all; these upper middle-class children, some still wearing braces and nearly all still depending on their doting parents for every library fine, have for the most part proved unlikely to take up mass murder or grand theft auto. But the part of “everything” that involves everybody’s favorite something, i.e. risk-and-supposedly-consequence-free sex (or at least the promise thereof), has been different.

Looking back to my own years in the university, I’d say that if the place had had to choose a motto in English, likely the Fittest would have been “Let copulation thrive!” If You know what I mean (and I bet You do!). And the connection between all this furtive fun behind doors and the absence of any public religiosity was quite obvious, at least to this former Christian. It wasn’t just the deity who’d taken a hike off the quad, of course; authority in practically any form had disappeared along with the Loser. But there’s no doubt that god above all just wasn’t done. In four years, I met one student who openly attended church, and the subsequent number I have uncovered were doing so more or less samizdat. That’s what I’m trying to explain about this. The place was as pure as any atheist’s dream, as deity-free as the Bravo Channel on Sunday morn (or any other time!).

Now why is any of this a problem for the atheist side? Duh. First, the fact of what’s been happening on campus all these years means that we Brights can’t very well go around like the communists always tried to, and say that the problem with our vision is that it “hasn’t really been tried.” No, secularism/atheism when it comes to sexual mores anyway has been tried, is being tried, and the empirical Fact is that what’s happening on campuses is what sex and “romance” look like when we Brights get our way and dispose of all those silly religious rules — two, three, many Charlotte Simmonses.

And if the campuses don’t do it for you, take a look at what secular sex is doing in post-Christian Western Europe! Pornography is everywhere, over-the-counter medicines for STDs are front and center in every convenience store, red-light districts showcase poorer and younger people (mostly from the East) being paid for every possible combination of sex by richer and older people (mostly from the West), the age of consent keeps getting pushed lower — and marriage and children and families are disappearing.

Please don’t misunderstand me here — I’m not saying it isn’t all fantastic! I’m just saying something none of You mentioned when you talked about sex, which is that this is what things look like when We atheists get our way.

See? That’s secularism for you; that’s what it does. You can stand on your hind feet like a proud biped and applaud it; you can pretend it is something other than what it is; you can say with a straight face that you’re happy to send your own daughters into that kind of world, that you don’t care how many men or women or even what species she sleeps with — or what her partner devours for hours on end in the computer when she’s asleep, say — as long as they are all somehow “responsible” about it; but that’s pretty much the limit of what the Facts will allow us to do.

What You can’t do, any more than I could back in my Christian days, is to pretend that this atmosphere on campus, anymore than the sterility of Western Europe today, was somehow accidental to the absence of religious practice. Of course the two are glued together. Secularism is as secularism does.

The second point I’d urge You all to consider — and again, it’s not the kind of thing Guys of your age might know if you’ll pardon my saying so — is that when we atheists say with a straight face that deep-sixing the old sex rules will make everybody happy, we’re dissing the experience of most people who have passed through college since the Godless Generation. I mean to say, that’s pretty much everyone under the age of 50. The Gen-Xers on down have all seen firsthand the same things this former Christian did — that all this rutting and strutting and getting free contraceptives and living for the moment was not exactly the way atheists all paint it in their books, i.e. as some fantastic liberation from the sexually repressive hand of the doddering Church.

Oh snap! In fact and to the contrary, throwing out all the rules has actually been making a lot of people very miserable indeed — to say nothing of how miserable plenty of them were making other people. Maybe You somehow weren’t around for all the hangovers and de-toxing, the panicked trips to the shrinks and the clinics, the door slammings and crying jags and suicide threats that so many of us think about when we think about college; but some of the rest of Us saw enough to get pretty sick of all that, and tempted to think that a rule or two about how some members of the Species ought to treat others might not be all bad. It was mostly worse for the women than for the men, I’m thinking — which reminds me of something else that’s the subject of a later Letter: You all do know some women, don’t you? — but it wasn’t so great for plenty of the guys, either.

So You see, one other reason for my own former resistance to secularism and atheism — and a big reason why many other believers resist Us, too — was just this: it seemed plain as the ring in my nose that the so-called sexual revolution, which is celebrated to a man (again, not a typo! More on that later too) by every atheist, turned out not to be the benign bacchanal Everyone said it would be; it was not the nonstop party of so many panting descriptions; it was not even the Loveshack of the B-52’s; it was instead, from the point of view of many of the believers, proof that secular so-called morality once unleashed would do some real damage in the world.

I mean, even Christians can count on their fingers — You know, about things like the number of peers from broken homes who seemed to have “issues” that the ones from intact homes didn’t; the number of girlfriends unhappy about their abortions, their sexually transmitted diseases, their inability to treat men as disposably as they were treated themselves; the number of men who turned out to make particularly crappy boyfriends because they’d been around the block one or ten or twenty too many times; the number of marriages split by the kinds of things consenting adults do when they’re consenting with people outside of it. Just for instance.

Does any of this sound familiar? I’m sure it doesn’t, because it’s a part of sexual reality that atheists never mention! But that’s exactly why I’m harping on it. If our Movement is really going to go around arguing that the sooner we get rid of all those rules, the happier humanity is going to be, we’re going to get blown away by this kind of counterevidence. It’s enough to make You envy Bertrand Russell and all the atheists who came before Us, isn’t it? Who were able to paint a happy face around all those things that didn’t exist yet? Well, unfortunately We in the 21st century can’t pretend we don’t know.

Third and plus which, it’s another very bad Fact for our side that if people actually followed Dull sexual teaching, this would probably be a better and happier world than one in which they don’t. (Note that I’m not including myself in there! As St. Augustine should have said, “Make them good, God, not me!” But You have to admit, there’s a lot to be said for having the rest of the Species play by the rules.) Even worse, it suggests to some of them that the Dulls are on to something with this notion of natural law. Of course we atheists should call it Unnatural Law, since nothing could be more foreign to our biological imperatives! But the odd thing is, again, that if everyone lived under their Unnatural Law, an awful lot of people would seems to be better off than they are now — and this is even true of the most controversial teachings, the ones You all most enjoy snickering at.

Like, if you had asked me back in my Christian days questions like: Would those girls have been better off without those abortions? Or: Would those kids happier being raised by both biological parents? Or: Do guys who have already slept with a hundred women make worse boyfriends than those who haven’t? Or: — hit me where I really used to live! — Which set of rules, atheism’s or religion’s, would you want your own hypothetical children to live by? I’d have said the answers to all those and more were no-brainers — no-brainers that made points for the religious side, that is. I’ll confess a terrible weakness here and say that even now, after I’ve Evolved so far, I still want to reach for the Xanax just thinking about an Atheist like any of You dating my theoretical daughter — as opposed to, say, a nice, anti-abortion, save-sex for marriage Christian. I know it’s terribly Unfit; but is that just me?

The bottom line is, after everything that’s happened since the sexual revolution, I’m telling you that we atheists really need to knock off all the happy talk about how fantabulously liberating sex is. Privacy, privacy, privacy, Everybody mantras — as if that word settles anything at all! It’s messed up, isn’t it, when you think of how otherwise puritanical our own times are, that the church’s notion of sexual discipline should seem so funny to so many people? After all, it’s the only kind of discipline that’s out of bounds! We all know that people who eat too much are pigs, people who drink too much are drunks, people who don’t exercise are slobs and parasites on the body politic what with all their health costs, and people who smoke are just as disgusting as it’s possible to be, like an old person crossed with a fat one wearing a fur coat and eating venison and cake at the same time or something — and the rest of us are all really put out at every one single of those kinds of people for being such slobs and so hard on our own eyes and wallets. You know?

Yet sex behind closed doors, just as the Dulls point out, has more serious consequences for the world than any of these other kinds of piggishness. It’s those “private acts” outside of marriage that have sent the illegitimacy soaring and put so many kids in the rough hands of mom’s rotating boyfriends. It’s consenting adults who have turned AIDS and STDs into global health problems. All this is to say nothing of the consequences that are harder to measure of all those mature adults doing as they please “in private.” And kids know all about those kinds of consequences, as You can see if You ever look at their music and movies and Facebook pages. There’s a backlash out there that none of You seem to know about — one you might call Ozzie and Harriet, come back — All is forgiven! I would go even farther, based on what I saw as a Dull, and say that this notion of sexual discipline and its importance is not only serious rather than unserious; it is also what pulls many of the Dulls into practicing or even turning to religion the first place, because they feel somehow better about life when it’s lived inside of those rules.

Please understand that I’m not criticizing here! Cheering for pornography and omnivorous sex and by extension, broken homes and abused and screwed up kids and all the rest of the revolution’s fallout may not be everyone’s thing; but most of You new atheist Guys have definitely made it Yours. I respect all that! I’m just saying for now that we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that the believers’ sexual codes are an unmitigated bad on them and a plus for Us, when most evidence suggests it’s quite the other way around.

Meanwhile, while we’re still on this subject of what doesn’t and doesn’t work for us when it comes to bringing others round to godlessness, let me bring up a related point that You’ve been indulging to our possible long-term detriment (though not just You! The Enlightenment started it!). That is the argument that Reason itself is also on the atheist Side. As I’ll explain in the next Letter, that’s one potato we really need to drop before Somebody gets burned by it.

Yours Pretty Faithfully,
A. F. Christian


LETTER NINE: “My Turn to Atheism, Part Two. An Internet Café in Portland, the Little Debbie Tea Party, and You.”

Dearest Fellow Brights among Brights,

Drum roll, all You leading Atheist Guys — this finally is it!! The moment Everybody’s been waiting for! Part Two of the true Facts in the actual chronological Sequence of what exactly turned this Former Christian to godlessness!

I've just got to share with You before starting today, this place is the craziest rehab I’ve ever seen. I mean, I knew I’d end up someplace serious after what happened that night two months ago. But here? If those whiners on Intervention could see this detox, they’d never touch anything stronger than Red Bull again!

As mentioned, for example, the Director here is a midget who wears a red cape. And even though I’ve talked to him like twenty times, I’ve never really seen his face, because he keeps the hood up. He’s the one who gave me Rosetta Stone German, You know. He said studying it would help me to understand atheism. And then for no reason at all today, one of those creepy attendants of his took away my whole language kit — no explanation, no apologies, no nothing! They said the Director ordered it, and that he’d explain why when he sees me next week. How totally stupidly random is that?

And just when I was making lists of all kinds of Scientifically significant German words to put into this Letter to You, too! Words like Rassenhygiene (racial hygiene) and Minderwertigkeiten (inferior) and Krankheitsanlagen (diseased traits), for instance. They’re from the history of Social Darwinism, You know — the Applied Evolutionism that was so influential in certain circles in Germany not too long ago. I have to admit, just reading auf Deutsch about what happened in Darwin’s name there got me a little freaked on Our behalf. Now I totally understand why none of us Brights ever mentions that history voluntarily! And to think about all those atheist attacks on Pius XII, for what he supposedly did during World War II! Holy chutzpah!

Now back to what I was explaining: As if the Director in here isn’t snarky enough, there are also the so-called attendants. Those guys — if they are guys; they’re so metro I can’t tell — freak me totally. They don’t go around in those bright colored scrubs like the orderlies do in some regular old rehab, but in some kind of weird shimmery gray robes. And they don’t wear those fake smiles all the time like orderlies and nurses do, either — you know, like the ones who come in chirping like, “Good morning A.F., I think you’ll be very happy with our crafts project today!” when the only thing I’d want out of that stupid crafts class is glue and lots of it if You know what I mean.

No, the attendants in here don’t act like anything like that. In fact, they don’t even have real facial expressions. They’re not happy. They’re not sad. They just look totally alert. They’re like that New Yorker cartoon of the tragedy mask and the comedy mask — You know, where they’re both wearing the same exact look, and the caption just says “Botox”? Well, that’s how these orderlies or nurses or whatever they are look, too. That must be some stash back of Botox in the Director’s office, don’t You think? If I weren’t so busy writing these Letters to improve our new atheism, I’d probably be wondering what else he has in there!

But now let’s get back to our real reason for Being here — Part Two of Your one and only atheist conversion story! And no more digressions or little jokes this time, swear to Loser.

It’s interesting, don’t You think, given all the attention we Brights devote to the question of what draws the suckers to theism, that so little has been said about the opposite — i.e., what might tempt people to atheism? Oh, of course a handful of the Dulls — mostly the very worst backstabbing enemy cranially supersized ones — have thought to address just this question of motive. I’m embarrassed to report, by the way, that their answers for why people turn to atheism don’t remotely line up with Yours. Not one of them seems to think that going godless has anything to do with succumbing to Reason and Logic, for example — not at all.

C. S. Lewis, for one, pulls the rug out from under Us like this: “If you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away?” I can’t pretend to Statistical certainty here, and I hate to say the old Loserphile got anything right. But I’d have to say that based on what I’ve seen of most Brights I’ve known, he nailed that case shut.

Fulton Sheen — who incidentally gets under my Epidermis like no other flak for Rome, though he also is mercifully as it were Deceased — makes a different if also hateful point. He addresses what he calls the “anger” that colors so much Bright writing and thinking: “He who has fallen away from the spiritual order will hate it, because religion is the reminder of his guilt.” Can You believe that guy? As if humorlessness and a low boiling point have anything to do with being drawn to godlessness! I got so mad when I read that one, I threw his book right across the room!

Yet Lewis and Sheen, much as I hate to admit it, get closer to the Facts of my own personal conversion than any explanations offered by our own Side. In the end, it was all very simple; and the simplest part of all went like this.

You see, if everything You Guys and the rest of the Brights said is true; if we Humans really are just some tiny animate buttfungus on a somewhat larger rock of some kind, however Statistically improbable, just orbiting one of those billions and billions of stars that Forebear Carl Sagan liked to talk about; if there really is nothing behind us and nothing ahead, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing at all; if You Guys and the other atheists are right, and all the Loser’s poets, builders, painters, prophets, believers and apologists stretching back over three millennia are wrong; if no one else really is watching us, or caring about any of us at all; well then, in this whole random cosmic rave of matter and anti-matter, space and time, that just dwarfs every last thing any one of us will ever be or think or do — if that’s really what we’re talking about here, then one little procedure, one teeny-tiny exercise of a woman’s right to choose by one very insignificant Human Female like A.F. Christian, shouldn't matter much to anyone, anywhere, ever at all.

Isn't that right, Everybody? Isn’t it just right?

Because that is how it all came down. We were living in Portland with friends by then, leechosaurus ex-boyfriend Lobo and me. His Dad as mentioned earlier had finally kicked him out of the apartment in New York. Lobo managed to find a job at our nearest Starbucks, so he was actually working a little for once (though not much!). I was sort of working too — not for real money, Loser knows; just trying to get some of my fiction serialized online. But at least for the first few months there in Portland, things were more or less what You might call normal — or as close to that as the likes of us could get.

That’s when I found out I was pregnant. And that’s when Lobo, who is a hyper somewhat Endorphically challenged head case even at his absolute best which he rarely is anyway, really flipped out.

Now, inexplicably fond as I was of my hopeless ex-boyfriend — he wasn’t all bad, You know, only mostly — I knew inside he did have a point. Bringing up a baby with him, I thought more than once, would be like giving someone a pig for a father (I don’t mean that in the Peter Singer sense of course!).

But on the other hand, and even by that late date — months after I’d darkened any church doorstep, years after I’d really even talked to the Loser — there was still enough of the former Christian left in me to put up some fight about it. We’re supposed to be anti-violent, I told Lobo. We’re vegans, for Loser’s son’s sake. We don’t even kill the roaches in this place. And we’re supposed to go and do something as Unnatural and bloody and Biologically imperialist as that? I probably said a lot of other things, too, when I was trying to talk Lobo into keeping the baby; I’m trying not to think too much about that now.

But Lobo didn’t want to hear any of it. Instead he did what he always did when we fought and I won: stalked off to see his friend who ran the internet café, and who was always on top of the latest progressive stuff. And when Lobo finally came back that day, he had all Your books on atheism and a bunch of others that his friend had loaned them to him. He said they both thought I should read these books, because they’d prove to me once and for all would prove that getting a You-know-what was no big deal.

So every day for a while, we took turns reading all those books on the new atheism out loud to each other. And what with one crappy thing and another coming back to bite — I was throwing up like I was auditioning for the Ms. Bulimia contest, my sister e-mailed to say Mom was sick, our cable got shut off for nonpayment and Lobo said the lights would be next — I started to weaken; and finally I caved. I went to Planned Parenthood and just did the thing, and then went home as usual — home by then being defined as Lobo, Your books, some painkillers courtesy of PP, and lots of talk about how into all this new atheism we both were getting.

The trouble was that despite my new belief system in all Your ideas, things started happening in my head and just wouldn’t stop. First, I got this crazy but totally firm idea that the baby — as I could not stop thinking of it — would have been a girl. I’d see her if I closed my eyes — not looking like a tiny fetus and all, You know, but like a real little baby, all wrapped up in some little pink bunting and trying to curl her tiny fingers up on me. I started calling her H.D., Hypothetical Daughter, to myself. (You know H.D. already, I’ve mentioned her a couple times to You before.) And as time went on, I started to find myself talking to her more and more — and more.

I thought at the time that it was just some OCD kind of habit. Then Mom died unexpectedly a couple months later, and the whirring and clicking inside kicked into overdrive. I hadn’t seen her in a while, You see; she was not exactly approving of my current lifestyle. Somewhere deep in the Cerebral Cortex, I started thinking about them both together and couldn’t stop. The most random ideas would come up: like, if H.D. and Mom were both here today, I’d be seven months pregnant and Mom would be visiting to help me get ready and doing stuff like making dinner for me. Or, in five years when I’m thirty, Mom and I will be going to see H.D.’s first kindergarten assembly. Sometimes I’d tell Lobo about what was happening in my head, and he’d usually just hulk out on me. But that’s just exactly what was happening, whether he went tattling to his friend at the internet café about me or not.

The day I saw a doll on the street that was about the size of a Human infant and brought it home and wrapped it up and sat it on the couch, Lobo finally went ballistic. That’s when he went back to his friend and returned with those essays by fellow Brights that I talked about in the last Letter. There! Lobo said. That all proves it! Because if even bestiality is okay, and if there’s really no such thing as Human dignity, and if even infanticide is getting a re-tooling thanks to all Our new Atheism, then what you did about that blob of cells has just got to be all right too! And as I told You in the last Letter when we talked about the slippery slope, this time around, faced with all that incontrovertible Evidence that the slope really did exist, I was just about certain he was right — at least about that.

But even so, I couldn’t stop thinking. The day I set out a little tea party for Mom and H.D. to celebrate the doll’s one-month birthday, Lobo finally packed up his junk and just left. I still don’t know why. I even set a place for him at the table, like he even deserved it which of course the slacker dirtbag totally didn’t. I mean the quote birthday cake wasn’t even a real cake, just some stale old Little Debbie cookies which were all that was left in the place. And we didn’t even have real utensils that matched and weren’t plastic, so I had to set the table with our little coke cooking spoons. How lame is that for a one-month-old’s party, anyway? I tried to explain how unfair he was being to both of them, but Lobo wouldn’t listen. He just threw all his stuff into his duffel, grabbed whatever drugs he knew about that were lying around the place, called me a crazy b**** and a few other things, and off he went.

You know how some Humans morph into hypochondriacs and spend all their time online Google-searching diseases, convinced that they’re going to find some obscure truth about what’s Malfunctioning inside them? That’s how it was for me with Our new atheism, once Lobo left me alone with Mom and H.D. for good. All I did was read and take notes on Your books. Somewhere in there, I knew, I’d find the words to make me feel a little better. And the longer it went on, the more I understood that I really did have more invested in this new godlessness than anyone else did, and that I really am Your number one convert bar none. That’s why I started making those lists of all the Factual errors and Logical problems that I talked about in the first seven Letters, don’t You see? I thought that if I could just make this new godlessness of Ours airtight, Terminator bulletproof and invulnerable to any question that any believer anywhere ever might hurl at it, I’d be off the hook I was on once and for all.

I was still working it all two months ago, making my little notes and questions for You, when I looked at the calendar and realized that it was H.D.’s actual due date. So I celebrated the only way I knew how. First I went to my Facebook page and took down all the pictures of Lobo and me and replaced them with some pictures of the doll and changed my status to “single.” I had to take a pass about dinner; there was nothing left, not even any of those crappy Little Debbie cookies. Then I put the doll on my lap as usual, lined up every pill I could find in the place on the kitchen table and washed them all down with most of the last bottle of Grey Goose, and read some random old poem called “Mr. Flood’s Party” to H.D. over and over again till I finally couldn’t read any more.

And that’s really all I remember, until I woke up in this cuckoo-bird rehab place. There was some crack baby on the stretcher next to me, and the midget with the red cape was leaning over both of us not making a sound, and the weirdy attendants just took some kind of notes and stared with those crazy unblinking kind of eyes of theirs. Then they put me in a room somewhere with Rosetta German — and the rest of the story You already know.

Sorry if this Letter’s been kind of a Debbie Downer, Guys. But Everybody wanted to know the Real story of my turn to atheism, and now You do! You can’t say anything got left out this time, because it didn’t! Besides, I’m personally sure that things are looking up! You know that song, “Hey There Delilah,” that topped the music charts everywhere and won all these awards and how there’s the famous story that the girl it was written for actually dumped the now totally famous guy who wrote it for her? Can You imagine what an idiot she feels like now? Well that’s how Lobo’s going to feel some day, when he finds out about my Letters to all of You!

By the way, Everybody, the Director told me this morning that I’ve only got one more week in this place, so we’ll find out where they’re transferring me next Friday. So that means there’s only time for one more Letter to You about our divine godlessness. I’m going to make the most of it, Guys! True dat! You’ll be sooooo surprised and proud when You see!!!

Yours more gratefully 4-ever than You will ever know,

A.F. Christian

Originally posted at

Views: 168

Comment by Jānis Ķimsis on September 1, 2010 at 9:36am
Holy fuck.

On a side note, isn't it funny how humor works with religion? To ridicule religion, all a comedian needs is to read from their scripture. To ridicule atheism, a comedian needs to make up strawmen, logical fallacies, the whole nine yards.
Comment by Wesley on September 1, 2010 at 11:33pm
You couldn't try to get it more wrong than this..... I wonder if this is a gag?
Comment by Jānis Ķimsis on September 2, 2010 at 12:01pm
Product description from amazon:

A wickedly witty satire, The Loser Letters chronicles the conversion of a young adult Christian to atheism. With modern humor rivaling that of the media lampooning Onion, found on college campuses all over America, A. F. Christian's open letters to the "spokesmen of the New Atheism" explain her reasons for rejecting God and the logical consequences of that choice. Along the way she offers pithy advice to famous atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, in the hope of helping them win over more Christians.

"Of course we score big time with the young guys who aren't responsible for anything, and don't really care about anything besides spending most of their time in the basement playing video games and texting girls," A.F. Christian points out. But what about all those serious, thoughtful people who are Christian believers? If the New Atheism is to make real headway, she argues, its advocates must do more to persuade intelligent theists living meaningful and fulfilling lives.

Amid the many current books arguing for or against religion, social critic and writer Mary Eberstadt's The Loser Letters is truly unique: a black comedy about theism and atheism that is simultaneously a rollicking defense of Christianity.

Echoing C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters and Dante's Divine Comedy, Eberstadt takes aim at bestsellers like The God Delusion and God Is Not Great with the sexual libertinism their authors advocate. In her loveable and articulate tragic-comic heroine, A.F. Christian, Dawkins, Hitchens and the other "Brights" have met their match.

What a load. Rivaling the Onion?

Wesley - I was wondering too, before I checked. It seems like an atheist could have written this to ridicule apologists. Poe strikes again.
Comment by Wesley on September 4, 2010 at 12:24am
Met their match?.... In no way shape or form... Its not even good satire. (at least the excerpts posted above..perhaps they get better deeper into the book) The ONLY way it could come across as 'smart' would be if it was a 'double poe'... An atheist lampooning a christian lampooning an atheist......with all the strawman assumptions, circular reasoning, denial etc..etc...

and still the only people who would get it are those who don't need to hear the message. You would just be preaching to the choir.

Satire and Nuance are lost on those who really NEED to HEAR IT. You aren't going to reach the fox-news right wing fundy christian with it.


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