Hating God: The Untold Story of Misotheism

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Overview

While atheists such as Richard Dawkins have now become public figures, there is another and perhaps darker strain of religious rebellion that has remained out of sight—people who hate God.

In this revealing book, Bernard Schweizer looks at men and women who do not question God's existence, but deny that He is merciful, competent, or good. Sifting through a wide range of literary and historical works, Schweizer finds that people hate God for a variety of reasons. Some are ...

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Hating God: The Untold Story of Misotheism

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Overview

While atheists such as Richard Dawkins have now become public figures, there is another and perhaps darker strain of religious rebellion that has remained out of sight—people who hate God.

In this revealing book, Bernard Schweizer looks at men and women who do not question God's existence, but deny that He is merciful, competent, or good. Sifting through a wide range of literary and historical works, Schweizer finds that people hate God for a variety of reasons. Some are motivated by social injustice, human suffering, or natural catastrophes that God does not prevent. Some blame God for their personal tragedies. Schweizer concludes that, despite their blasphemous thoughts, these people tend to be creative and moral individuals, and include such literary lights as Friedrich Nietzsche, Mark Twain, Zora Neale Hurston, Rebecca West, Elie Wiesel, and Philip Pullman. Schweizer shows that literature is a fertile ground for God haters. Many authors, who dare not voice their negative attitude to God openly, turn to fiction to give vent to it. Indeed, Schweizer provides many new and startling readings of literary masterpieces, highlighting the undercurrent of hatred for God. Moreover, by probing the deeper mainsprings that cause sensible, rational, and moral beings to turn against God, Schweizer offers answers to some of the most vexing questions that beset human relationships with the divine.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Schweizer, an associate professor of English at Long Island University (see InProfile in this issue), dissects the contemporary guard of angry atheists (Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris et al.) by placing the phenomenon in historical and literary context to show roots and development. He likes the term "misotheism" to capture the virulence of the god-haters and draws mostly from misotheists from 1800 onward, though he looks at the book of Job. Most god-haters (including Shelley, Camus, and Zora Neale Hurston, whose inclusion might surprise some) have used literature to articulate and disguise their briefs against a divinity they blame for suffering, catastrophe, and/or mass slaughter. Schweizer's textual readings are close and careful. Some figures he concentrates on are less than compelling choices; nobody reads Swinburne anymore except graduate students of English. This book provides a useful reminder that a long history of cursing God precedes the present vogue--and society has not yet collapsed from the corrosive effects of angry atheism. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
"In Hating God, Bernard Schweizer distinguishes between atheists—-those who conclude from the arbitrary and cruel acts of God that he does not exist—-and misotheists—-those who believe in God but engage in a life-long struggle with his apparent indifference to the world he has created. It is misotheists, those who wrestle with God in the manner of Jacob and Job, who create the rich literary tradition Schweizer so persuasively illuminates in this important book."—Stanley Fish, author of The Fugitive in Flight: Faith, Liberalism, and Law in a Classic TV Show

"Bernard Schweizer makes a long overdue distinction between atheism — the denial of God's existence — and misotheism — the morally inspired hatred of God, and, in the process, reintroduces us to some of the most subversive religious thinkers who have ever lived, from Friedrich Nietzsche to Gore Vidal and Zora Neale Hurston. Hating God is one of the most exhilarating excursions into religious studies that you will ever take!"

—Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America

"Schweizer skilfully plumbs pathology and pathos among real and imagined agonizers."—The Journal of Theological Studies

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199751389
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/5/2010
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 996,661
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Bernard Schweizer is Associate Professor of English at Long Island University. He is the author of Rebecca West: Heroism, Rebellion, and the Female Epic and Radicals on the Road: The Politics of English Travel Writing in the 1930s.

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Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction

Part One: A Brief History of Misotheism

Part Two: Six Case Studies in Literary Misotheism

Absolute Misotheism I
Paganism, Radicalism, and Algernon Swinburne's War With God

Agonistic Misotheism I
Faith, Doubt, and Zora Neale Hurston's Secret War Against God

Agonistic Misotheism II
Bad Fathers, Historical Crises, and Rebecca West's Fluctuating Attitude Towards God

Agonistic Misotheism III
Divine Apathy, the Holocaust, and Elie Wiesel Wrestling With God

Absolute Misotheism II
Perverse Worshippers, Divine Artists, and Peter Shaffer's Plots Against God

Absolute Misotheism III
Children, Deicide, and Philip Pullman's Liberal Crusade against God

Conclusion

Bibliography

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 15, 2010

    A well-written, original work

    The author provides a very readable summary of the history of misotheism in the first half of the book and discussion of some relatively recent literary examples of misotheism in the second. As a lay person, I found it completely comprehensible. What I appreciated most was the objective treatment of the topic by the author. Even though theists might be challenged by the examples of misotheism cited, it would be hard to accuse the author of misotheism.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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