No, God is back, says Time Out, London’s witty, snazzy, hipstersque weekly magazine:
“God. He’s back! Well technically, as a deathless deity, he never went away. But this year the Almighty is getting his hands dirty, first by hiring Russell Crow to build a bloody great boat in Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Noah’ (March 28). Next he’ll be inflicting plagues, floods and all manner of hindrances on the Egyptian army in its pursuit of Christian Bale’s Moses (and hi oh-oh-Israelites) in British director Ridley Scott’s ‘Exodus’ (December 5). He’ll even be turning up – voiced by Morgan Freeman and wearing a tie-dye T-shirt – in ‘The Lego Movie’ (February 14). Oh, God, is there anything you can’t do?”
Now this is of course written in classic Time Out style. Glib, exhibitionistic irony and authorial self-infatuation permeate almost every cleverly crafted sentence. The funny thing is, this little paragraph sounds like it came straight from Dawkins’ pen. It’s hard to be sure on this one, because of the deeply ironic style, but it sure sounds like what we have here is yet another dawkinesque, supremely naive and ignorant understanding of God that has informed and shaped these witty lines about 2014’s biblically themed movies. Out of intellectual honesty I say it’s hard to be sure because, well, it’s all easy to misread irony, either by under-reading or by over-reading meaning into it. But If I am right, then it’s an ironic (and, oh, so… familiar) example of how ‘enlightened’, quick, culturally savvy atheists, the ones who report on and create popular culture, entertain the awfully primitive and erroneous notions of God and faith, vociferously ignorant of the nature of religious claims, the Christian tradition and grammar. This is the new generation of “confident, even strident atheist proselytisers who appear to know almost nothing about the religious beliefs they abominate (and, i might add, mock!), apart from a few vague and gauzily impressionistic daubs or aquarelle washes… who seem to have no real sense of what the experience of faith is like or of what its rationales might be. For the most part, they seem not even to know that they do not know.” (David Bentley Hart, The Experience of God. Being, Consciousness, Bliss, Yale University Press, 2013, p. 20). It’s quite elementary, really: if you’re going to dismiss something, the sensible (rational (!) even scientific (!) ) thing to do is to ensure that you first of all have a good grasp of that which you are dismissing. No?
Now, I realise the author of that little paragraph in Time Out that got me started may not be worthy of the portrait and analysis I have sketched above. Good for him/her. That said, I still think I’m right inferring from the style that he/she fits to template quite well. I guess it’s the ease, the flippancy, the self-assured zeal with which he/she talks about the comeback of God on 2014’s movie scene…