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Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars Paperback – February 16, 2011
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These thinking actually hurts black men . They are left to fend for themselves. Relationships that should bring joy are often a source of pain and despair.
The pastor tells the faithful to trust God and pray when they seek counsel. The truth is that the pastor is clueless and faring no better in his/ her relationships.
I still attend church and witness how guilt is used to fleece and abuse the faithful. Religion has it's place but the severe limits must be appreciated.
This is an excellent book aimed at the left-leaning non-black atheist or the skeptic-leaning black scholar. She tells the perspective of the black atheist to the world. Hutchinson thoroughly discusses all of these ideas at the intersection of Black Thought and Skeptic Thought, carefully examining a dissecting what others have wrote. Her book is a joy to read because every sentence is so well-crafted and the density of information is dense without feeling cumbersome. A typical paragraph could be expanded into an essay of its own, but Hutchinson has too much to say to have time for that. As a side note, I've seen many writers try to use imagery to invoke a setting as a background to discussion of ideas, but Hutchinson is the only writer who I've every felt really nailed it.
The book brilliantly accomplishes the goals it sets for itself. She explains how central religious skepticism has been in some of the most important thinkers in the history of black thought while indicting contemporary black religious leaders for their parasitic and regressive effect on the black community. She argues that the time has come for black to embrace skepticism as a skeptical force, while preserving the legacy of black activism and rejecting a narrow mainstream definition of what it means to be an atheist. I studied physics in college, so I can attest you don't need a humanities degree to follow along, but she never dumbs it down.
Some centrist or rightest readers might find themselves alarmed that Hutchinson casually refers to corporate America as patriarchical, American foreign policy towards Iran as imperialist, capitalism as oppressive, the Tea Party as resurgent Confederacy etc. But this is the not the hyperbole of an uniformed Internet activist - at every turn Hutchinson establishes her points with a depth of history and carefully crafted choice of words. The whole point of the book is to elucidate the ideological forces in our modern society, and she wouldn't be able to do that were she to restricted her use of ideological words to only the most egregious examples. Its important to step back on occasion and say "that way fascism lies". Or if you still cannot relate, simply juxtapose her words for a history of American society comfortable with black suffering with words Dawkins and Harris have for the history of institutional religion. And ultimately you wouldn't want Hutchinson to water it down to something every reader will find palatable anyway. She is presenting an authentic voice of Black Atheism and there is great value in understanding what that is even if you disagree with it. So now is your time to listen and see what you can learn.
One last thought. Five years later some of what she has written about the atheist movement already seems a little out of date. The inclusion of black speakers at atheist conferences and the number of young blacks calling themselves atheists is now much higher. But actually I think this goes to underscore the importance of this book and the direction the atheist movement is (or needs to be) going.
"There are no more excuses. None."
Perhaps it's a bad sign that I can't think of a better comparison than a recent biology-focused tome by Prof. Dawkins, but bear with me a few minutes.
While Prof. Dawkins chose an ambitious but uncomplicated project of establishing in layman-friendly terms the reality of Darwinian natural selection, Dr. Hutchinson's book takes place at a very different degree of sociological difficulty. She places herself between the black church, the larger white-supremacist and patriarchal society, and the developing atheist movement, and she schools them all. There are few people left uncriticized by her scholarship, only some largely invisible and unheard slivers of society left uninstructed to unpack some invisible baggage.
When it is finished, there are no more excuses. None. There should be no more hand-waving away the need for a wider range of voices in the freethinking movement, no more man-splaining and white-splaining about what issues should "really" be the focus of skepticism and atheism, and no more clueless hand-wringing over why there aren't more women or more people of color involved in outspoken atheism. There are no more excuses for failure to comprehend these concerns, no more assuming that skepticism begins with the Big Bang and ends with Bigfoot. Outside of the New Atheism, there should be no more telling the godless that for the sake of harmony we should simply stop being so noisy about our non-belief. There should be no more pointing to disadvantaged groups' reliance on religion as evidence of its veracity. There should be no more attempts to silence atheism with the presupposition that religion maintains a more ethical, just and civil society regardless of its explanatory power. These are the questions that live at the intersection of sexism, racism, economic injustice and religion in America, and if you just sit down for a while and prepare yourself to unlearn some party lines, Dr. Hutchinson will make everything clear.
There will be some ideas expressed in her book with which you disagree, and some connections explored with which you were previously unfamiliar, and that is only more reason to become acquainted with these concerns. Fear not the expanse of an overly ambitious tome, for Dr. Hutchinson's writing covers an astonishing breadth and depth of research and insight in a remarkably modest word count. There is no more need for multi-megabyte Internet explosions of privileged obliviousness over godless demographic issues. Here are the answers to your questions.