The Treatment of Religion by Contemporary Authors

Currently reading Music: A Subversive History by Ted Gioia. It’s okay. It was praised lavishly by all the people I respect, and I normally like Gioia a lot, but this one falls a bit flat for me. I think it’s because he treats the subject of religion so flippantly. It’s an interesting trend among modern authors.

Priests fulminated against the evils of music from the pulpit, church councils issued rulings on its use, theologians disputed its nature, even the pope intervened on occasion. All this was handled with the most deadly seriousness: after all, salvation or damnation in the next life hung in the balance.

Can you sense the eye-rolling in the last sentence? I can. “Oh, those primitive medieval folk. They believed in things like sin and salvation—how very quaint!” sneers the atheist, who lives surrounded by billions of believers in a society built by religion.

I would be offended if I weren’t so bored with this line of attack. As it is, I’m happy to read the book and disregard Ted’s disdain for people as foolish as me.

To be fair, I’m probably being a little unfair. I doubt Mr. Gioia dislikes people like me. He does, however, probably think I’m not as smart as he or his friends are. I can live with that, but it does make me wonder: What would he say to Gregor Mendel?

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