Read The Loser Letters: A Comic Tale of Life, Death, and Atheism by Mary Eberstadt Online


A wickedly witty satire, The Loser Letters chronicles the conversion of a young adult Christian to atheism. With modern humor rivaling that of the media lampooning Onion, found on college campuses all over America, A. F. Christian's open letters to the spokesmen of the New Atheism explain her reasons for rejecting God and the logical consequences of that choice. Along theA wickedly witty satire, The Loser Letters chronicles the conversion of a young adult Christian to atheism. With modern humor rivaling that of the media lampooning Onion, found on college campuses all over America, A. F. Christian's open letters to the spokesmen of the New Atheism explain her reasons for rejecting God and the logical consequences of that choice. Along the way she offers pithy advice to famous atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, in the hope of helping them win over more Christians.Of course we score big time with the young guys who aren't responsible for anything, and don't really care about anything besides spending most of their time in the basement playing video games and texting girls, A.F. Christian points out. But what about all those serious, thoughtful people who are Christian believers? If the New Atheism is to make real headway, she argues, its advocates must do more to persuade intelligent theists living meaningful and fulfilling lives.Amid the many current books arguing for or against religion, social critic and writer Mary Eberstadt's The Loser Letters is truly unique: a black comedy about theism and atheism that is simultaneously a rollicking defense of Christianity.Echoing C.S. Lewis Screwtape Letters and Dante's Divine Comedy, Eberstadt takes aim at bestsellers like The God Delusion and God Is Not Great with the sexual libertinism their authors advocate. In her loveable and articulate tragic-comic heroine, A.F. Christian, Dawkins, Hitchens and the other Brights have met their match....

Title : The Loser Letters: A Comic Tale of Life, Death, and Atheism
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ISBN : 9781586174316
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 148 Pages
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The Loser Letters: A Comic Tale of Life, Death, and Atheism Reviews

  • Mark
    2019-04-29 07:47

    Many years ago i read CS Lewis' 'The Screwtape letters' in which a senior demon writes to his nephew with hints and suggestions as to how to draw people away from the good and towards despair and darkness. For Lewis, of course, this is all tied up with God and the devil and I remember finding it a fascinating and amusing look at the journey of faith with all its struggles, cul de sacs and questions.Mary Eberstadt has taken a similar approach in the sense that her character, a former unnamed Christian woman, writes a series of letters, this time to the 'spokesmen of the New Atheism' explaining her journey from faith in God, 'Loser', and her being a fully paid up 'Dull', to becoming an ardent 'Bright', joining the ranks of the intelligent and insightful Atheists represented by her 'Best friends Forever' Christopher Hitchens, Peter Sanger, Richard Dawkins et al. The reason for the letters however is not just to explain her journey but to give advice to these leading Atheists as to areas which they need to address if they are going to continue to make inroads into the believers and draw them to the truth of the emptiness of Faith.The idea was quite a clever one I thought. Eberstadt, clearly a catholic believer, arguing for faith by pointing out, through the flailing young atheist's struggles, the drawbacks, inanities, inconsistencies and downright misrepresentations of the aggressive atheist approach. She recognizes the failures of the Church and does not shy away from the glaring abuses which could not possibly be ignored even were people tempted to do so; therefore I began reading the book, an easy, fairly light read, with a genuine interest but, and I am sure you could hear that 'but' echoing up from the depths of my catholic heart, it failed to grab me and for a number of reasons.Each letter looks at various issues through the prism of the young woman's life. Questions of morality, social justice, social interaction, community sit alongside reflections on art and inspiration, history and repsonsibility, hypocrisy and abuse and the girl asks her new 'allies' to answer and respond in an adequate and positive way to the contradictions and challenges these questions bring. This in itself is fine and as a committed believer myself I could concur with her asking the questions of the atheists but it left an unpleasant taste in my mouth because she seemed to sometimes do the very thing she, and indeed I, criticize Dawkins and Hitchens for doing. That is going for the absurd and far fetched rather than addressing the real debate. Questions of faith and belief are not provable but for me that does not negate the questions nor does it mean the debate cannot be entered into but it does mean both 'sides' need to recognize that our language, our concepts are not automatically transferable without some sort of sensitivity. Respecting another's view, decent intelligent tolerance, does not mean argument cannot be joined but it does mean that patience and an acceptance of another's honesty should be the default setting.. Belittling the genuinely held position of others, viciously attacking as the source of all evil, hate and tyranny the Church whilst ignoring, conveniently, all the enormous amount of good and noble and genuine things done by its actions is crass, stupid and childish but in exactly the same measure honing in on crackpots and arrogant, egotistical atheists and ignoring the balanced, genuine seekers after freedom and dignity is crass, unworthy and a pointless exercise in yah boo sucks.Also the pay off at the end was unsettling and not in a good way. (view spoiler)[we find at the end that the girl had committed suicide, though she did not realize this, because of guilt over an abortion amongst other things. Her letters, in which she looks at all this unfolding gradually serve to vindicate and show that she is truly sorry for the abortion and did not intend to kill herself. Thus she is able to go to heaven instead of hell (hide spoiler)] I found this, in itself, crass and appalling in its simplistic lack of compassion or insight. I am confused as to who the book is for. It is evidently not written for me, I am a 49 year old practising catholic and thus the letters address to a certain extent questions I have but not to any real extent. Her approach would not convince any atheist that I know, my atheist mates might find some quite interesting, some quite thought provoking but in the main they would see her as patronising and misrepresenting. The language of the letters is the attempt of a middle aged woman trying desperately to be 'down with the kids' and speak cool dude street....she was, I feel, seeking to be groovy a number of decades after that word was no longer in vogue.

  • Shannon
    2019-04-20 11:48

    Skip it. Read the "Screwtape Letters" instead.

  • Debbie
    2019-04-29 04:12

    With biting satire and dark humor, Mary Eberstadt puts a new twist on the C.S. Lewis classic, The Screwtape Letters. In this particular tale, A.F. (A Former) Christian writes a series of letters to the top brass in the Atheist world, e.g. Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, et al.The "Loser" in the story is the same Person as the Enemy in Screwtape, i.e. God. Once the reader gets one's head around the fact that this story is topsy-turvy, and it's actually a compliment to be called a "loser," a "crackpot," a "Dull," "unspeakably treacherous," "dangerous," or "mortal enemy," then one begins to fully appreciate the wickedly brilliant sense of humor of Mrs. Eberstadt. And she is not afraid to name names. Besides addressing her letters to her BFFs (Best Friends Forever) in the atheist world and calling them by name: "Messrs. Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens, Onfray, Stenger and Others" she also names some of the greatest enemies of atheism: John Paul II, G.K. Chesterton, Fulton Sheen, Elizabeth Anscombe, Mother Teresa, Kit Carson, Dorothy Sayers, Alec Guinness, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Mortimer Adler, Evelyn Waugh, Malcom Muggeridge, Graham Greene, Hilaire Belloc, T.S. Eliot, Robert P. George, Michael Novak, George Weigel, Bernard Nathanson, Antony Flew, Richard John Neuhaus, Germain Grisez, C.S. Lewis, Dinesh D'Souza, David Berlinski and the sonagram machine, to name just a few.To give you just a taste of her rare wit, here's a sentence...yes, just one sentence, for you to ponder:You see, if everything You guys and the rest of the Brights said is true; if we Humans really are just some tiny animate fungus on a somewhat larger rock of some kind, however statistically improbable, just orbiting one of those billions and billions of stars that Forebear Carl Sagan liked to talk about; if there really is nothing behind us and nothing ahead, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing at all; if You guys and the other Atheists are right, and all Loser's poets, builders, painters, prophets, believers, and apologists stretching back over three millennia are wrong; if no one else really is watching us, or caring about any of us at all; well then, in this whole random cosmic rave of matter and antimatter, space and time, that just dwarfs every last thing any one of us will ever be or think or do--if that's really what we're talking about here, then one little elective medical procedure, one teeny-tiny exercise of a woman's right to choose by one very insignificant human female like A.F. Christian, shouldn't matter much to anyone, anywhere, ever at all.Brilliant, isn't it?And on the wide-range of atheist opinions on the morality of abortion, she gives this adroit observation: At first, I have to admit, I didn't quite get why everybody should be so North-Korean-election-lopsided about this. After all, we Atheists are supposed to be Freethinkers. We do disagree about some important things, like--well, like nothing I can think of offhand, but I'm sure there's something we don't all think alike about, somewhere. This issue isn't one of them, though.It is a pleasure to read a book that promotes deep-thinking, yet is easy to read. The ending is satisfying, yet leaves you hungry for more. Thankfully, the author has given us a list of "enemies" from whose work we can choose.

  • David
    2019-05-10 08:47

    The author writes as the character A.F. (A Former) Christian, a young woman who was converted to atheism by the writings of the "new atheists." In gratitude, A.F. Christian sends a series of letters to her atheist heroes, thanking them for their work but mostly saying what she thinks is wrong in their presentation of atheism and attack on theism (specifically Christianity). A.F. Christian tells her atheist heroes that they need to realize that the sexual ethic they are calling for, where pretty much anything goes in the privacy of two consenting adults, has been tried since the 1960s and has empirically been found wanting. In the second letter she writes about the problem that most people throughout human history have believed in a god of some sort. The third letter calls on atheists to focus on what Christians have done wrong rather than on good works atheists have done, for when it comes to actual evidence Christianity has done much more good for the world then atheism. Fourth is a letter about how art is another subjects atheists should avoid since Christians far outpace them here too. Fifth, she asks about converts to Christianity from atheism. The sixth letter asks if atheists know any women, children or families. This letter is important in the grand scheme of the book because in it she identifies the tie of families as the biggest reason so few convert to atheism. Here we see that this book is not as much a defense of why Christianity is true as an attack on what atheism lacks. The next letter is about abortion, asking the intriguing question that if atheists are such freethinkers how come they all agree on this one issue. The eighth and ninth letters finally tell A.F. Christian's story of why she turned to atheism, with the tenth letter summing up the whole thing (in a quite surprising and odd way).Overall, it is a fun read written on a level that is approachable for practically anyone. If read with an open mind, questions are asked which should make any person think about their own beliefs. Reading it, do not expect a comprehensive argument for Christianity, for that it is not. Expect a challenge to the idea that atheism is the only logical way to live. My biggest problem with the book is that some of the everyday slang becomes distracting. When done well, this writing style is one of the best things about the book. But if A.F. Christian is a woman in her twenties, some of the slang is just too juvenile (who says "doy" anyway?).

  • Sarah
    2019-05-08 07:03

    I'm a big fan of The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis, and Mary Eberstadt's Loser Letters plays on what I love best about Screwtape. It's a series of letters, written by a young lady who wants to help the devil do a better job of recruiting. I laughed quite a lot, reading this, but I also shuddered. There's a lot of truth in this book. Well done.Sadly, I don't have my own copy (got it from the library). I will, though, because this is going to be one that I reread.

  • Liz
    2019-05-02 06:05

    Awful. My entire book club hated it. The author comes off as condescending and insincere. The author belittles atheism and suggests that the only reason not to believe in god is to justify abortion, and that once you move past it religion is the only logical conclusion. I am an atheist. I don't particularly care if agree with me or not, but don't care to be mocked either.

  • Doy
    2019-04-26 09:10

    I'm ashamed to admit I read this piece of...

  • Jeannie
    2019-05-15 09:56

    What did I think... Well, it was about 4 stars until the end when the story became, umm, weird? The basic premise is somewhat like the Screwtape Letters. Except, we have a former-Christan-now-New-Atheist convert writing to Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, and the other "New Atheist bigwig guys." She writes a series of letters telling them why their arguments in favor of new atheism do not really work as marketing or evangelistic strategies. This is a highly researched, highly intelligent, highly witty, and scaldingly satirical piece. However, it is also one of the most annoying books I have read. The main character/author of the letter is a twenty-something with at least some college. She is, essentially, the typical and desired convert victim. She is educated, well-read, and critical. The points Eberstadt makes through A.F(ormer). Christian in the letters are thought-provoking, accurate, and eerily prophetic at times. Nevertheless, the tone is frustrating. Endlessly frustrating. My husband and I (people better educated than A.F. Christian) often had to open the dictionary apps on our phones and say, "huh. Cool word!" But then, the sentence following the "college words" contains a reference to Project Runway, Lost, or American Idol and, "like, omg, I am, like, sooooooooooo sooooorrrrryyyy and wish, like, I could have you all as my BFFs not just one because by nature a BFF requires one to be BEST and, lol, how could I choose, and, like, because BEST implies ONE being BETTER than the REST, like, who would I pick! And, lol, I am starting to sound like a spastic hypochondriac with a headache and all nutso like a chihuahua on espresso-laced liver treats! Did so you see Legally Blonde? I mean, Bruiser is like, ADORBS!" And on and round she goes from being a cheerleader chewing bubblegum and twisting it around her finger to an educated philosopher with extensive vocabulary. It made the letters hard to read because the blocks of intelligence to gushing teenager were at times long enough to forget that the other was coming up again or, in other cases, so mixed together that it became hard to decipher the point. Enough of that. Back to the content. The points the author makes are good. The research and knowledge presented impeccable. Eberstadt does an excellent job presenting some of the flawed marketing strategies (8 of them) in an atheistic worldview from an insider's viewpoint. Eberstadt is Catholic, and writes from the ironic viewpoint of a Catholic writing from an atheistic viewpoint. The irony is intentional, and I felt helped drive the points home. She doesn't explicitly present the Christian counter-point to the atheist views. Instead, she (at times scathingly) indepthly explains the New Atheist argument and, by nature of their explanation, lets them prove why it isn't a good selling point. These 8 points are presented as individual letters. The last few letters, then, are the moments we have all been waiting for: how a Christian Dull became a Bright. The arguments are interesting, and the promise of the testimony kept me glued to the end. And it came. As common and heartbreaking as expected.But then, the book's ending came. I am not sure what to make of it. *SPOILER ALERT*We find out A. F. Christian committed suicide by overdose on pharmaceuticals because of the guilt she felt following having an abortion. Was the suicide intentional? Well, yes and no, but that isn't the point. The point is that she (and the reader) thinks she is writing the first 10.5 letters from a weird detox place. The director is a strange one (A. F. is no stranger to rehabs). He walks around as a midget in a red cape. He doesn't say much, and she doesn't see his face ever. The orderlies are strange, too. They all are the same, nondescript, "metro" gray people. They give her Rosetta Stone German to learn so she can better understand her New Atheism worldview. She learns some Deutsch. Then, they take it away. Eventually, it comes time for her to see the director and for him to decide where to place her. One of the gray orderlies takes her to a crack baby nursery in the rehab center on the way to the director. She gets to hold a baby the same age her baby would have been had she not killed her. The baby is H.D. A.F.'s Hypothetical Daughter. A.F. has to put the baby back and go to the director with the thought that maybe she would get to see her daughter again tomorrow. The director, it turns out, is some strange form of Jesus. And the orderlies are his assistants. And the way they do things there is like an episode of House (I forgot that is another show mentioned in the book) and the assistants get to guess where He is going to send the patients based off their symptoms until he intervenes and actually sends them to their new locations. The assistants had a hard time on A.F.'s case because they were torn whether or not she felt remorse for aborting H.D. or if she had meant to kill herself on what would have been H.D's birth day. Indeed, the vote went back and forth on that subject as they gave her German to learn as that was the only language spoken in one probable final location (Hell) and then took it away as they read her letters and felt she had a change of heart (or maybe her heart was never changed...). Either way, the Director decided that A.F. should be given the Rosetta Stone for Italian so she, her recently deceased mom, and H.D. could go paradise in Italy. Final letter sign off: "A. Christian." ... .... .... ... Okay... So, I'm not sure the point of that ending. That Jesus will forgive your mistakes and a sinner can come back to Him? Hopefully. But. Seriously. What in the world??????? Or where in the world? In what way is this at all a good ending for a book that is supposed to make people think?? In fact, who is this book intended for? I feel like I am too old for the book because of the language, but, then again, I am at least A.F.'s age if not younger than she is. Is this book for teens? Maybe, but, then, why the "college words" throughout the book that give the sentences incredible nuanced meaning? Would someone who communicates like a Valley Girl look up words he or she doesn't understand? Maybe. Or maybe he or she would understand that word, and I am making a bad stereotype. Regardless, it seems Eberstadt did not determine an audience before writing this book. Could I hand this off to someone wavering in her faith in hopes of encouraging her to carefully consider? I don't know. I would hesitate because, like me, she might end up obsessing about the ending and wondering why Heaven is in Italy and what is with the weird holding-tank idea and Peter Dinklage Jesus-figure. I couldn't hand this to an atheist and say, "hey, here are some criticisms of your belief system" because, even if he got to the end, he would be like, "You think I'm flawed? You Christians believe in some sort of deistic betting system/traveling agency!" So...I don't know what exactly to make of this book. The meat is good. Really good. make an ugly metaphor, the gristle and fat and bitter aftertaste make it nearly inedible. The style: Ugh. The overall message: think your beliefs through and imagine what they implicate. Who would I recommend this book to: Umm...not sure. Would I read it again?: Selectively, yes. And, yes, I am mocking the "OMG <3 4EVER" style of the book with my phrasing, Peter Dinklage reference, and general use of commas.

  • Analuabc
    2019-05-04 10:49

    Uma visão bastante peculiar sobre o tema. Divertido e leve de se ler. Talvez porque fica a dúvida se a autora se leva a sério ou se a teorização é mesmo real.

  • Mark Victor Young
    2019-05-12 10:09

    This book came up in the search results when I was looking for something else. It said it was hilarious satire in the tradition of "The Onion" newspaper. Well, it wasn't funny, but it was laughable. It is written in the form of letters to the "New Atheists," such as Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, etc. Oh-so-subtly wielding the Socratic method, our correspondent pretends to agree with them, all the while clumsily restating their arguments to her advantage and then shooting them full of holes they should "watch out for when trying to convert people to Atheism." It reads like someone who has lost her imaginary friend and is desperately trying to say it isn't so because of this and this and this. And this Christian apologist author's sad attempts to sound hip read like an older, conservative person sprinkling her bitter prose with a few OMGs and LOLs, thinking this will make her character skew younger. Fail.

  • Lori
    2019-05-07 04:03

    To preface, I am a relatively theologically conservative Presbyterian. I read a lot of books about theology. This book is one of the worst.It's greatest actual sin is that it is mean-spirited and ungenerous, but it's greatest artistic sin is that it is poorly-written and terrifically unfunny. This is not satire; this is schoolyard-level taunting and about as well-informed. This book will simply annoy (as it did with me) Christians or give them a false sense of pride and arrogance for being so much better than atheists. I cannot imagine any atheist getting more than a few pages in except for a MST3K style mocking of it. I only kept going because I really cannot believe a woman taken seriously by some people I do respect (for her other work, not this one) could write something so appallingly bad.

  • Cristina Montes
    2019-04-21 05:08

    Inspired by "The Screwtape Letters", "The Loser Letters" is a series of letters from a young atheist to seasoned atheists, giving them advice on how to win over more people to atheism. The letters are brilliant and witty, like those in "The Screwtape Letters". The ending is wonderful and intriguing; I've been reading it again and again trying to figure out where A.F. Christian has been all along -- was the "rehab center" some sort of purgatorial realm? Or was it a real rehab center where she not dead yet but given a chance to make things right, and then she only died when the Director (who turned out to be God) talked to her in the end? In any case, I love the ending.

  • Scott Kennedy
    2019-05-13 09:46

    The premise of this satirical book is that A F Christian (a former Christian) now Atheist writes letters to atheist leaders giving advice on particular aspects of their argument. The first letter dealt with the sexual revolution and the argument that is often put forward that atheism has lead to wonderful freedom in the area of sexuality. In fact, the Sexual Revolution has not brought the freedom it promised, and the years since have proved the wisdom of Christians in the area of sexual morality. In letter 2, the protagonist points out that a number of cherished atheistic arguments should not be used since they cut both ways. For instance while it might be true that some find psychological refuge in the existence of a God, there can also be ‘wish fulfilment’ reasons for rejecting him. Nor is the God of the Bible the sort of God one would invent. The third letter is an absolute cracker. Here she points out that atheists should steer clear of hammering the idea that atheism does as much good in the world as Christians, since the actual evidence for this is embarrassingly against the atheist. She points out, “The reason why we’ll lose every time is simple: because their highest authority, Loser, tells them to care for the sick and weak, whereas ours, Nature tells us the opposite.”It is in this chapter he quotes from Arthur C. Brooks’ “Who Really Cares: America’s Charity Divide; Who Gives, Who Doesn’t, and Why it Matters.” I’ll include the couple of great quotes she mentioned.“People who pray every day (whether or not they go to church) are 30 percentage points more likely to give money to charity than people who never pray (83 to 53 percent). And people saying they devote a “great deal of effort” to their spiritual lives are 42 points more likely to give than those devoting “no effort” (88 to 46 percent). Even a belief in beliefs themselves is associated with charity. People who say that “beliefs don’t matter as long as you’re a good person” are dramatically less likely to give charitably (69 to 86 percent) and to volunteer (32 to 51 percent) than people who think that beliefs do matter.” In her fourth letter, A.F. Christian points out that the towering intellects of history, and the great artists and architects have willingly harnessed themselves to the cause of religion and that their record of achievements speaks for itself. Letter 5 looks at how many great atheists have become committed Christians, but the traffic has not been replicated the other way. The sixth letter was one that I found rather powerful. Here she points out the influence of family. “It’s families that make people religious, not vice versa.” Why? “It’s familial love that first gives people the idea of infinite love. It’s that kind of love that puts them in touch with Loser in the first place – meaning that nothing is more of a problem for is than the existence of human families.” Faith is hard to shake off, because devotion to God doesn’t exist on its own, but is wrapped up with the other people in one’s life. Abortion is the subject of the seventh letter. Here A.F. Christian argues that atheism needs some people on the Pro Life side. She puts down one of the more silly arguments that favour abortion (nature aborts), and notes that youth is on the side of the Pro Life argument. The Dulls (her word for those of faith) do not think abortion is an issue, they think it is the issue of our time, and only Christians seem to be worrying about it. This very fact is causing some to turn to Christianity. Therefore, she argues, there is great need to a prominent atheist to be Pro Life. The final three chapters tell the story of her journey to atheism, and I won't spoil the surprise. Suffice it to say, that there is a twist or two here.

  • Audrey
    2019-04-24 04:57

    This was another one that I read for a class, and one of the things we discussed was whether or not the tone of this book works against the message. Who exactly is the audience supposed to be? To atheists or to strengthen the brethren? Does the sarcasm subvert the message and prevent evangelization? Is the tone actually un-Christian in its us-versus-them style?Scattered with hit-and-miss pop culture references, at times perhaps this book tries a little too hard to sound hip and relevant (would a twenty-five-year-old who has read all she has and graduated from college still use “4-ever” in place of “forever”?). Also, from a character perspective, the fact that she gives the Christian or theistic argument for something, cited and well-explained, and then just throws in a “but they’re stupid” phrase (because she’s a militant atheist) doesn’t initially make the format believable or justify how she knows all this. While these passages may present excellent defenses, are they true to who the character is supposed to be? I struggled to completely suspend my disbelief and buy that this was a young punk atheist—not Mary Eberstadt. The fact that the protagonist seems to embody just about every vice imaginable also makes her unconvincing … or maybe that stuff is more ‘normal’ today than I think.To be fair, the bulk of these reservations were ironed out by the end of the book. In fact, I think many of these factors make the ending all the more powerful. Speaking of the conclusion, I like how her thinking, reading, and inquiring was at best a jumping-off point toward Christianity; it is only through an encounter with the living God that the gift of faith is given to her. (But what was with the votes?)As a whole, the book does present some very thought-provoking critiques of the atheist worldview—not just the debunking of fallacious inferences, proportionalism, etc., but also exploring the cultural collateral that comes from trying to prop up a world without God. With authentic and infinite Love forcibly removed from the equation, the results are incredibly damaging to the human person. The sanctity of family life and the conjugal union are quickly displaced by a view of the family dominated by ridicule, materialism, and a loss of dignity. Christianity, a religion based in holding up and defending the weak and vulnerable, detrimentally clashes with a post-Christian society based on survival of the fittest. The necessity of religion for authentic culture spreads to all aspects of society. The book touches on many of these, including charitable works, the witness of individual lives, intellectual contributions, science, art, and how the transcendentals—goodness, truth, beauty, belonging—figure into the Christian vision as they express and point to the Almighty. Still, I don't feel like this book would be very helpful at converting any atheists ... especially that ending (which probably seems a bit of an imaginative embellishment even for Christians). Despite it's flaws, overall, this is worth a read. Although I’m still not sure who exactly the target audience is ...

  • Laura Mcneill
    2019-05-09 05:47

    This is a fascinating look at a Catholic's conversion to New Atheism. Similar to C. S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, it is presented in the form of letters written to the "brights" (leaders of New Atheism). It provides great insight into what draws people of faith ("dulls") into New Atheism. The style of writing truly reflects the crass, blasphemous, vulgar tenor of current New Atheist discourse that we see in writers like Richard Dawkins. If that will trouble you too much then don't read it. However, if you can just chalk that up to proper character development and gut through it you will gain some great insight into how the New Atheists think and are able to woo so many young folks away from the faith. More importantly, though, there is much to be gained from this book on how the New Atheist worldview fails to consistently provide answers with regard to social justice, human dignity, love, beauty, art, compassion, and civility in general. (view spoiler)[ The last chapter should be completely thrown out. The author is Catholic and the last chapter is supposed to represent Purgatory. I fear this will give any person struggling with faith vs. atheism a false hope that there will still be time after death to turn. This is tragic. The last chapter could have held out a real hope by giving a clear presentation of the Gospel rather than a vapid hope that there is a chance that the doubting atheist could go to a place where she might be redeemed if her intentions are judged (voted on) by the "midgets" as remorseful or penitent. This completely unbiblical view of the afterlife was a huge disappointment.(hide spoiler)]The books is worth reading for a better understanding of the New Atheist movement alone. It is very "quote" heavy and as such provides starting points for further research and reading on atheism and on defending faith (no particular brand, just general theism) against atheism. If it weren't for the last chapter I would have given this book 5 stars.

  • Jenn
    2019-05-15 06:56

    I suppose most of my issues with the book stem from the fact that I am a convert from atheism. However, not atheism as the protagonist views it. From what I gather, she is speaking specifically to what is termed "New Atheism," which appears to be anti-theist, as opposed to strictly atheist.Atheism as I understand it, is more of a null position. It just means that you do not believe there is a God. If you are agnostic, then you do not know if there is a God (and perhaps don't think that it's possible to know whether or not there is a God). If you are antitheistic, then you are opposed to the idea of a God and/or religion in general.Atheists as I have experienced are most likely to mark "None" when asked for their religion, instead of "Atheist." They (we) are typically not a cohesive group and do not claim to hold the same views, beliefs or opinions as other atheists.This book repeatedly argues from the positions that atheists are united in world-view and that they have a pointedly antagonistic attitude towards religion and religious people.If only specifically addressing "New Atheists," I suppose this work accomplishes what it sets out to do, but can be confusing to those who do not know the difference between "new atheists" and people who do not believe there is a God. I'm not sure if I would have preferred the book to be expanded in its scope or more precise in its terminology.In general, the arguments (or suggestions for improvement) that the protagonist gives are somewhat convincing, although a little too simplistic for the topics. It is however, a decent outline of potential problems with an atheist worldview and a starting point for true intellectual discussion.One thing I would question is the claim made that without God, one cannot have morality. Isn't it possible to work within a paradigm of natural law ethics?

  • Angelica
    2019-04-24 09:11

    A newly-converted and highly enthusiastic atheist chronicles her falling-out with Catholicism in letters that “constructively” critique atheism and which ultimately lead her to discover a deeper meaning behind her newfound “faith.”Mary Eberstadt’s The Loser Letters takes an interestingly sarcastic view of the atheist argument by telling it from the fictional perspective of a Catholic-turned-atheist. The female main character writes letters in first-person to atheists in general but to the leaders of the movement in particular, in order to break down their arguments in what the character hopes to be “constructive criticism” for the movement. However, in some instances Eberstadt’s writing felt simplistic and childish, and the story became too contrived and predictable (it was a very simple read at 145 pages with big margins and big print). It was also confusing because while in my mind I knew that Eberstadt is Catholic and I understand her motivations for the book, the writer in the novel wrote from an atheists perspective and sometimes confused my thoughts with what the different points of view are.Still, it’s obvious that Eberstadt knows what she’s talking about and she has hands-down influenced me to read up on the historical arguments in order to get a stronger sense of how to stand up for FAITH. I’ve racked up a list of the scholars (Catholic, atheist, and atheist-turned-Catholic), and I’m excited for some good academic reading. BRING ON THE DEBATE!

  • Andrew
    2019-05-13 06:08

    This was hilarious. Written from the point of view of a Christian turned Atheist, the "Loser Letters" is all about the best way for militant atheists to win more converts away from God (AKA "Loser").Mary Eberstadt takes many arguments too far, but some would say she takes them to their logical end. She points out women and children lose under a society that needs more abortions, because the beginning of life causes many to develop faith. She picks apart common atheist arguments, and then says they need to find better ones if they actually want people to join.I especially liked how decimated Dawkins' argument that all intelligent people are atheists, as the amount of brain power on the theist side is just as powerful, and that's only speaking for Christians. All-in-all I was greatly pleased with this satire, and hope to find more of the author's books. She knows here stuff.

  • Justin Hill
    2019-04-27 07:48

    I'm not much of a reviewer, but I just finished this book and wanted to put in a good word for it. If nothing else, it's an entertaining summary of the ongoing debate between believers and non.I wish the book cover were different -- it makes it look like a teen angst book or something racier.I was a little bothered by the narrator at first -- it made me realize how difficult it was for Lewis to make Screwtape so believable -- but she grew on me and made more sense when I realized her situation and the reason for her zeal.If you're an atheist, I assume the book will only annoy you. If you're something else, you'll probably find some useful or at least interesting ideas in it. I quite enjoyed it.

  • Tee
    2019-05-19 04:52

    Excellent and funny! This one is a thought-provoker, too, even though it's a light read. There are a few tragic moments, though, but the ending was good. It's funny how people who live in "heaven" speak Italian and people in "hell" speak German.Since the author is a catholic, there are some catholic stuff in there. The setting, for example, is in a "rehab center" as A Christian put it. The "Director"'s face couldn't be seen and he knows everything. Sounds familiar? I believe the author meant the "rehab center" to be Purgatory. (The Director mentioned Dante) I'd recommend this book to Christians and atheists alike.

  • Rob
    2019-04-20 08:13

    An update on CS Lewis' The Screwtape Letters. It's always tough for an author to revisit and update a classic - she is just not as funny as CS Lewis was. You don't have to have read The Screwtape Letters to appreciate this book, it stands on its own just fine. It is not a detailed rebuttal for all secularist objections to religion, but it does point out some of the difficulties that secularists might gloss over in advancing their worldview. If you pay attention to the claims and counter-claims in the secular vs. religious debate, this is probably worth a couple of evenings to read.

  • Marjanne
    2019-05-02 11:13

    An interesting discussion on the holes in Atheist beliefs. Written in a way that kind of mimics C.S. Lewis' 'Screwtape Letters', though doesn't nearly pull it off that well (though how can you compete with Lewis?). I haven't particularly about some of these, so it was interesting to see some of what works against Atheism. I also appreciated the kind comments about my own religion. The first seven letters were the best, the last three (i.e. the personal conversion story) were just a little lame and kind of pushing it.

  • Jackie
    2019-04-29 05:15

    I'm generally more of a "read for fun" gal, and this book actually makes you think about religion (Christianity/Catholicism specifically). If you're looking for a beach read, I wouldn't recommend it. I struggled through most of it but really enjoyed the last two chapters. Worth the read if you are interested in satirical books and/or those that are a bit more thought provoking. If you find it a bit slow in the beginning, try to hold out til the end.

  • Maria
    2019-05-05 05:55

    This book is a not nearly so clever rip off of CS Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, focusing on atheism rather than evil. I was disappointed by the contemporary cultural references that will not stand the test of time, and by the heavy-handedness of its arguments. In the end, a touching story, but not nearly as clever as it tried to be.

  • Maria I.
    2019-05-07 08:54

    Eberstadt's main character, A.F Christian was very funny. Great piece of satire of a former Christian (aka A.F. Christian) who becomes an atheist and who then writes letters to the Brights (Atheists) giving pointers to them on how to win over more Christians to their way of thinking. Really, this a defense of Christianity.

  • Andrea
    2019-04-22 07:08

    I liked the ending to this book. This book is probably written for a younger audience; it took me a few chapters to get used to the language style. I plan on encouraging my kids to read it after reading The Screwtape letters. I think it presents the arguments of atheism in a somewhat humorous style, but at the same time discounting them. It was a quick and fun read.

  • Cyd
    2019-04-20 06:10

    This is a literarily smart, hip, thoughtful, modern morality play. Of course she owes a great deal to C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters, but that's all right, because I think her version really works. Without giving anything away, I must say that you will probably enjoy this book more if you are either Roman Catholic or highly sympathetic to certain causes important to Roman Catholics.

  • Beth
    2019-04-23 04:04

    Incredibly disappointing. This book is problematic for orthodox Christians and unconvincing for atheists. Actually it was great until the last two chapters, where she torpedoes her entire argument and comes up with a very bizarre picture of purgatory.

  • Ryan
    2019-05-20 12:05

    Great read, delightfully snarky and tongue-in-cheek, but erudite and thought provoking at the same time. Check out the full review here:

  • Terry Southard
    2019-05-13 09:16

    I liked some of the ideas very much. Don't think the book will stand the test of time however. Reading it several years after publication, some of the references are already out of date and will only become more confusing as time passes. Worthy effort. Not completely successful.