A Tale of Two Interviews: Those Who Read and Those Who Don’t

It seems that our director’s humble little book, The Faith of Christopher Hitchens, has completely unhinged the self-anointed representatives of reason and rationality. The atheist mafia, so threatened by Larry’s friendship with Christopher Hitchens, seems hell-bent on mischaracterizing a book they haven’t read and, worse, refuse to read while nonetheless speaking authoritatively about it. Meanwhile, the book continues to receive glowing reviews from mainstream secular and religious sources alike. Of course, all of them actually read the book.

But let’s have a bit of fun.

Exhibit A: Chris Matthews interviews Larry Alex Taunton on MSNBC’s Hardball.

HE READ THE BOOK:

VS.

Exhibit B: On BBC Newsnight, Larry defends his book against uninformed mischaracterizations from host James O’Brien.

HE DIDN’T READ THE BOOK:

The comparison hardly needs further commentary. (Krauss, by the way, hasn’t read the book either.) As for the BBC interview? We’ll let fair-minded viewers do the talking:


Dear Mr. Taunton,

I was extremely impressed by your discourse on your book ‘The Faith of Christopher Hitchens’ on BBC’s Newsnight. Your arguments and analysis came across as accurate and provided an interesting alternative insight into the atheism of Mr. Hitchens.

As an Englishman I would like to apologise for the appalling interview techniques of the ‘Newsnight’ presenter in his approach to discussing your book. I can assure you this gentleman James O’Brien is rarely the main interviewer and not representative of the normally fair-minded approach taken by his female co-presenters. It struck me that some of your detractors are simply jealous of the success of your book.

I do not hold any belief in God myself, although I do respect that religion in its various forms can provide much solace and support for those that do believe, and we have some wonderful churches, cathedrals and other religious structures in various parts of the world as a result of that belief.

I look forward to reading your book and am delighted to see that it currently enjoys a significant number of positive and praising comments on Amazon.


Another:

I cannot believe the “ambush” that happened on the BBC with James O’Brien last week. Another person who clearly hadn’t read the book, and then he brings on Lawrence Krauss and gives Larry no right of reply. I can’t believe this is what passes as professional journalism! Those that have read the book are rightly giving it deserved praise.


From a perceptive blogger:

Larry Taunton recently wrote a book on his friendship with Christopher Hitchens and the way in which Hitchens seemed to be revising his opinion on Christianity. I wrote a short review of the book. I think Taunton’s arguments are credible, and my unremarkable review got way more views and comments than anything else I’ve written, all from militant atheists.

Most mischaracterised the book: it was not a deathbed conversion, nor did it claim that Hitchens had some secret religious beliefs towards the end of his life. The book in fact claims that he was going through a process of revising his opinions, was open to Christianity and indeed his own Judaism, and may well have emerged as something other than an ardent atheist if he had lived longer.

So Taunton was on Newsnight alongside physicist and friend of Hitchens Lawrence Krauss. The presenter, who clearly hadn’t read the book and had been inaccurately informed of the book’s contents, smugly attacked Taunton while showing a clear bias for Krauss. (Krauss, however, refused to debate directly with Taunton, resulting in two short separate interviews. I bet Hitchens would have happily gone head to head with Taunton.)

The presenter dismissively remarked that ‘I don’t think trying to unpick the workings of Christopher Hitchens’ brain is within the remit of either of us’. Well, Taunton is not attempting psychology or even telepathy; he’s looking at the evidence, reflecting upon their friendship, and coming to a reasoned conclusion.

The presenter then claims that Taunton is taking a man ‘famous throughout the world for his robust approach to atheism and his championing of it’ and attempting to ‘flog a few books off the back of it’. Hitchens had spoken incredibly warmly of Taunton, so I doubt Hitchens himself would ever make an accusation nearing this about Taunton.

And implicit in what the presenter is asking is that Taunton is arguing something totally improbable, that an atheist like Hitchens would never reconsider his opinion unbeknownst to his closest friends. Well, what happened after 2001? Did Hitchens not surprise and shock and lost many left-wing friends? Did it not seem improbable that the anti-Gulf War, pro-Ralph Nader, self-described socialist would become a proud neocon and defender of the Bush administration? Hitchens was a complex man, as Taunton keeps insisting in the interview, and Taunton relates this complexity in the book. There are absolutely zero certain conclusions in the book, and I get bloody annoyed when so few people seem to be capable of understanding what Taunton is saying in this easy-to-read book.

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