On John Bice's A 21st Century Rationalist in Medieval American: Essays on Religion, Science, Morality and the Bush Administration. Langsburg, Michigan: Chelydra Bay Press, 2007. 215 pp.
Bice's writing is clear and well reasoned and the general tone is engaging. Bice's takedown of religious fatuousness can be downright funny. Consider his description of a "faith-based anti-missile system" or "prayer-assisted air traffic control" not to mention "Prayer -Powered Sewage Treatment," all dependant for function solely on the supplications of the faithful.
In developing his thesis of a medieval mindset in contemporary society, Bice notes that we live in a time of when "faith-based" initiatives take a wrecking ball to Mr. Jefferson's constitutional wall of separation between church and state, when a born-again president terms his misbegotten war a "crusade" and in communities where half the citizens affirm that God created humans 10,000 years ago. Further examples include pharmacists refusing to dispense medicines that offend their religious scruples, e.g. the Wisconsin Christian pharmacist who refused to either fill a woman's birth control prescription or to transfer it to another pharmacy. Then there is the case of the "Several Imax theaters, including some in science museums, are refusing to show movies that mention evolution--or the Big Bang or the geology of the earth--fearing protests from people who object to films that contradict Biblical descriptions of the origin of the Earth and its creatures. This reader particularly appreciated the careful sourcing and footnoting which adds authority and substance to the author's perspective.
The series of essays that make up this work originally appeared as newspaper columns in The State News. In them he comments on topics to include Biblical inerrancy, Intelligent Design to Raelian beliefs and Scientology to Bush administration's "Faith-Based" policies and such religiopolitical wedge issues as gay marriage.
Mr. Bice's work, written primarily for "a mainstream, largely Christian readership" is a valuable work in both creating a sense of community among rationalists and in counterbalancing the irrational affirmations in which U.S. society is immersed. Bice self-describes his writing as confrontational, acerbic and blunt. It could just as well be termed refreshing, accessible, worthwhile, and achingly honest.
Free lance journalist John Bice is a graduate of Michigan State University.