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Sunday, December 17, 2006

'Tis the season

I live knee-deep -- actually hip-deep -- in books, and over the past decade or so I have spent several thousands of dollars each year adding to my 'library' (such things must be tracked for tax purposes...).

Thus, when faced with the decision of what to get their dad for Father's day, birthdays or the holiday season (Chanukah is the family focus at this time of year), the choice my kids make is typically a book they suspect I do not have
or a gift card to some local or online bookstore.This year my Chanukah gift from each kid was a gift card for Barnes and Noble, and I had no reluctance in spending my new found religious holiday loot on four "sacrilegious" books I have been hearing about for the past two or three months as the debate over the revival of atheism has mounted.

Back in February I purchased Dennett's Breaking the Spell and got deep into it before having to turn to other matters. I am a fan of Dennett (see here and here) and planned to get back to the book over this winter break, but then I got drawn to the arguments being made by Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion and Sam Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation and The End of Faith .

Are the atheists piling it on? Some think so -- see Gary Wolf's article in Wired ; also Richard Shweder of the University of Chicago attempts to counter their efforts (see his NYT Op-Ed here and listen to the On Point show of December 11 which also features Harris). Today's NYT Week in Review included a piece on how those leading the atheist "juggernaut" have retained some of the religious holiday spirit -- the Harris family has a seasonal tree, and even Dawkins admits to joining in on the family gatherings this time of year.

As for me, I get a kick out of the religious ritual of receiving presents from my kids, and I gladly spent it on expanding my collection of atheistic tomes....


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