Letter to A Christian Nation

Letter to A Christian Nation

Book - 2006
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"Thousands of people have written to tell me that I am wrong not to believe in God. The most hostile of these communications have come from Christians. This is ironic, as Christians generally imagine that no faith imparts the virtues of love and forgiveness more effectively than their own. The truth is that many who claim to be transformed by Christ's love are deeply, even murderously, intolerant of criticism. While we may want to ascribe this to human nature, it is clear that such hatred draws considerable support from the Bible. How do I know this? The most disturbed of my correspondents always cite chapter and verse."

So begins Letter to a Christian Nation …



www.samharris.org
Publisher: New York : Knopf, 2006
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780307265777
0307265773
Branch Call Number: 277.3083 HAR
Characteristics: xii, 96 p. ;,20 cm

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thingamabob May 06, 2016

I haven't read this book, and don't need to to comment, because the title shows the author's ignorance and the nation's wrong view of itself. Put simply, America is not a "Christian nation."

A Christian, by definition, is a follower of Christ, who follows the teachings of Christ. Jesus did not teach intolerance, or justify hatred of others, (hatred of their values and actions being something else, civil disagreement being our right) and did not practice or condone violence ever.

Yes, there are true Christians in America, but if you need someone to tell you how Christians are identified, you need to look in your Bible. Try John 14:12 & 14:15 & 15:14. And Matthew 7:12. Not much of that going around. The rest of the Bible is a pretty good book, too. Maybe you should read it instead of Mr. Harris.

As for "atheism being 'an admission of the obvious,'" the creation makes a Creator obvious (Romans 1:20.) If you think science offers a better or more viable explanation, you are not thinking. But of course that is what science wants, as it ignores a mountain of contrary evidence. (Hebrews 13:9.)

America is no more righteous than first century Israel was. Jesus described that nation as "hypocrites." Mr. Harris doesn't see the real problem.

n
naturalist
May 05, 2016

also recommended
“Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States”
edited by Warren J. Blumenfeld 1947-, Khyati Y. Joshi 1970-, and Ellen Elizabeth Fairchild
Sense Publishers 2009, ISBN-13: 9087906765, ISBN-10: 9087906765, pbk, 160 pages

EuSei May 05, 2016

Well, at least someone admits this is a highly anti-Christian book! I'd suggest anyone interested on learning both sides of the argument to also read "Letter to an Atheist" by Michael Patrick Leahy. (For some strange reason that I can't fathom, the CLEVNET Consortium of forty libraries, that thrive for diversity, do not own this title...) Another option is Peter Kreeft's "Letters to a Young Atheist Wrestling with Faith." These titles give a different perspective that all curious readers would certainly welcome. (I'LL CHANGE MY NAME IF SOON THERE WON'T BE A COMMENT BY Naturalist, RIGHT AFTER MINE!)

dendem4 May 04, 2016

It's alright and I agree with it, but it contains weak to mild arguments. Also he sites the Daily mail for one of his statistics...really!?

p
pete1984
Mar 15, 2016

A somewhat pointless book that doesn't really serve any particular purpose. I don't know who the target audience is. If you are a theist, you likely heard more scathing criticism of your religion and are already familiar with everything in this book. If you are an atheist who did his homework, you probably already know everything in this book and then some. This book is barely scratching the surface of all the issues to be discussed.

n
naturalist
Jul 20, 2015

“The Rise of Christian Fascism and Its Threat to American Democracy – We must attend to growing social and economic inequities in order to stop the most dangerous mass movement in American history -- or face a future of fascism under the guise of Christian values.” 07-02-2007 by Chris Hedges from
http://www.alternet.org/story/47679/the_rise_of_christian_fascism_and_its_threat_to_american_democracy . . .
and . . .
“The Christian Fascists Are Growing Stronger” by Chris Hedges 07-06-2010 from
http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_christian_fascists_are_growing_stronger_20100607

j
jocarr123
Mar 23, 2015

This was much more engaging that the "prequel", End of Faith. Harris stayed on point and offered some valuable insight. It left me wanting more - I think religion is a serious problem and this book, in the grand scheme, only hints at what we (secularists) can do about it. I don't see the conversation he has here with an imaginary Christian doing much to change their mind - especially the evangelicals I have knows throughout my life. However, it's a breeze to read and leaves you with some good analogies to chew on and some post-reading pondering (always a good sign).

redban Sep 04, 2014

While I share similar concerns with Sam Harris, I prefer Chris Hedges' "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America", which is a more nuanced analysis of the issue. Also, read up on financial imperialism and political economic history, which Sam Harris too often neglects.

w
wilbur2010
May 22, 2013

This is literally a letter to a Christian nation, so the only thing an atheist will likely get out of it is a template for their own responses to Christians of this particular bent. This is a very to-the-point book and I read it in one sitting. It covers all the primary stuff quickly, but without dumbing it down. It isn't likely to deconvert anyone (that isn't the point), but it makes strong arguments that they will have difficulty getting around. If I had read it earlier in my journey I probably would have had the courage to leave religion sooner - it said everything I knew, but was too afraid to admit. I think it will be most helpful to such conservative-turn-moderate Christians who, while they take issue with so many aspects of religion, are too ambivalent about atheism to consider it as an alternative. As for the tone of the book, as an ex-conservative-evangelical I readily admit that the vast majority of atheist arguments were insulting and offensive to me years ago, but I don't think that's avoidable. Even the softest spoken person, when they're telling you you're wrong, is going to insult and offend. The book is what the argument is - inherently insulting, because it is so obviously right.

d
danielestes
Nov 14, 2012

I love this little book. I'm not sure whether it was this one, or Harris' more in-depth End of Faith—probably a combination of the two—that pissed off the devout, attracted new fans and rocketed him to stardom.

I easily identify with Harris' method of reasoning here, but it's taken me years to understand that true believers simply see the world differently and their discussions on religion are overwhelmingly couched in feeling, not logic. This doesn't presume they're not reasonable (though Harris probably disagrees) and it's definitely not a question of intelligence. Where I see a convincing argument, they may see uncompromising hostility. When it's explained to me that a sunset is evidence of God's love, I shake my head at the non sequitur, but likewise, my demonstrations of the logical absurdities of Christianity may produce equally baffling head-shakes in return.

The strongest statement in Letter to a Christian Nation comes right at the beginning where Harris sets up the either/or proposition of belief. Either some or all of Christianity's supernatural claims are true, or they're not. It's intellectually dishonest to be inclusive here. One group is going to be really right; the other really wrong.

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naturalist
May 05, 2016

naturalist thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

EuSei May 05, 2016

EuSei thinks this title is suitable for 1 years and under

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alpha_rwc
Jul 30, 2013

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Quietlake
Aug 21, 2008

Harris uses a combination of reason, statistics, and quotes from the Bible to build a case for the Inadequacy of popular Christianity to provide moral direction. While not arguing that Jesus and the Bible contain excellent teachings, he compares the Christian view of reality to other religious views and to a non-religious view and finds the Christian view lacking. Along side his main argument he also defends Evolution as fact and raises issues of moral concern such as slavery and stem cell research. Well written, concise, and convincing, the book also contains some glaring faults, mainly the author’s tendency to see the world as divisible in to black and white, right or wrong categories. A good primer for discussion, the book serves primarily as a source of important questions. Sam Harris offers few satisfying answers.

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