Book Reviews

The Loser Letters

A Comic Tale of Life, Death, and Atheism

Mary Eberstadt San Francisco 2010-03-01

Fictional character twenty-five-year-old A. F. Christian has converted to atheism. Through disinterest in her Roman Catholic upbringing, a university education, some drugs, her “idiotosaurus” boyfriend Lobo, an abortion, and a full diet of the New Atheism, a spunky young writer with total enthusiasm has left the Dulls (those religious people) and joined the Brights. In ten letters this buoyant correspondent sets out to inform Dawkins, Dennent, Harris, Hitchens, and company how they might improve a bit on their atheist arguments. She was feeling a little left out as a woman in what feels like a white male lodge, so she set out to help her dear “Awesome Leading Atheist Idols” (as one letter begins) understand why a lot of people do not find their arguments especially convincing and do not like them either—notably women, children, and families.

Author Eberstadt is not a twenty-five-year-old. As a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, consulting editor to Policy Review, and contributor to a host of national publications, she has led a distinguished political and editorial career since the 1980s, including serving as a special assistant to the United States ambassador to the United Nations and a speech writer for the United States Secretary of State. A conservative scholar and Roman Catholic by conviction, the author is a strong defender of human dignity (from conception) and the freedom of religion.

None of this is in the least evident (at first) in this hilarious, “wickedly witty satire” on the New Atheists, in which it seems that raising her four teenagers provided the basis for her vocabulary. The ten letters were originally published in National Review online. And while readers may find some of the language over the top or certain themes worn a bit thin, the book forcefully and repeatedly drives home intellectual arguments for the superiority of Christianity over a morally bankrupt atheism. Compared by some to C. S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters, The Loser Letters will keep readers laughing, while learning with every page.

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J. Scott Horrell
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