Book review: That Old Devil Called God Again
by Archbishop Jonathan Blake
For an author who writes that he “intends [his] book to be positive and enlightening,” this book is disturbingly negative. Its raw, take-no-prisoners tone dares you to knock the chip off Jonathan Blake’s shoulder.
Blake is the Archbishop who isn’t. He escaped from the Anglican Church and says he holds on to the title of Archbishop “only to provide a platform to ridicule its pretentiousness and to lay siege to the power systems it has spawned.”
So you aren’t going to get any inspirational Christian instruction in this book. What you’ll get is a tirade against the “plastic, manipulated and processed Jesus of Christianity.” Blake is more interested in the real Jesus, a man who succumbed to the same sort of irrational religious thinking that has blighted civilization throughout the ages, but whose intentions were at least good.
Now, the Bible isn’t all bad, Blake insists. It might be worthwhile to extract the few decent parts of the Bible and preserve them, alongside a few nourishing morsels from other religions as well, so as to write a new holy book. But I don’t think Blake is holding his breath for this to happen.
In the mean time, religion has to go. It may seem innocent on the surface, but it isn’t. Religion stunts our growth or, worse, herds us back into infantile rhythms. The teaching of religion should be replaced by anthropology, psychology and sociology. We must protect young minds from being hijacked by religious thinking.
God has to go, too. It is only when we stop believing in God and stop thinking about God and stop praying to God and stop worshipping God and stop having anything to do with God or giving any thought to God that we can be true.
Near the end of the book Blake finally works his way back around to Jesus, who, though his misguided plan of self-sacrifice turned out to be a colossal mistake, still promoted a way of love. Blake grasps and endorses love as the meaning of life, and insists that when we outgrow religion, love will come easier.
In the end, Blake may be more right than wrong, but his tone and lack of supporting references (“evidence suggests” and “studies show” a lot of things in this book) left me shrugging my shoulders.
Christian Alternative Books, © 2014, 249 pages