Converts, Wed, Jan 30 2013 #(569)

Jan 30, 2013

I just wanted to post something to your site as I have read 4 of your books and it gives me great pleasure to write something that you may read. I particularly enjoyed 'The Ancestor's Tale' which I thought debunked most religious myth by simply relating the history of living things on earth. I am reading 'The God Delusion' and quite enjoying it but responding to irrational ideas is not quite as interesting as relating the knowledge that makes the ideas so irrational. However, I commend you for your unrelenting efforts.

I escaped my Catholic brain washing over a long period of time between ages 12 and 20. I remember fondly the theology courses I had to attend – having been born a registered Catholic – at a Jesuit university in Nova Scotia. The contrivances of the church as presented by the erudite and devoted Father Hoffman were open to free and vigorous discussion, unlike the fearsome knuckle rapping instruction of my fifth form Irish lay teacher in the Convent of the Sacred Heart in East Anglia. I retained an interest in the history of religion and some understanding of its fabulous power.

I must include Joseph Campbell in my influences. To someone with a Catholic indoctrination, the idea that all of these myths were common and not the result of divine revelation or even particularly creative was a … revelation. I had read a lot of myth literature but never really connected the dots until I read Campbell.

It was when I was escorting a Jewish friend through the lovely museums and churches of rural Tuscany that I realized how profoundly inculcated I was in the myths of Christianity and particularly Catholicism. I knew by rote much of the significance of the endlessly repetitive – and often lovely – works of art. My friend would look at them with some detachment and curiosity but I realized that my twentieth century upbringing had been informed (misinformed, surely) by these same ancient images and the myths behind them. I think we both learned something. His wife was somewhat taken aback when I put Jewish belief in the same category as any other religious belief – i. e. ignorant and superstitious. We are still friends.

As others have written here, I found in your thoughts a rational and coherent framework for my own intellectual hunches. I had long had a vague appreciation of Darwin – my father was an amateur archeologist and anthropologist – but no rigorous understanding until I read your books. I think ex-catholics have a certain angry resentment of the ham-handed mind control they had to endure. I know I could get into a very satisfying rant about the evils of the church and, later, religion in general. I have become altogether calmer and more reasonable about the subject after being exposed to the history rather than the myth of life – and death. For that, I thank you.

Lastly, I want to thank you for encouraging non-believers to speak out and to bear witness to the frightening results of ignorance and superstition given power or even left unchecked.

Phillip Bourque

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