What would happen if a young Justin-Bieber-like superstar was also an outspoken atheist? That’s the combination we find in Julian Monk, the main character in Marcus Herzig‘s novel And a Child Will Lead Them. Monk’s celebrity gives him plenty of opportunities to speak out against faith and superstition, but it also rattles his bandmates, who have to deal with the backlash.
In the exclusive excerpt below, Monk appears on Bill O’Reilly‘s show and goes head-to-head with the Bloviator-in-Chief:
For the final leg of his American tour, Julian was invited to appear on The O’Reilly Factor on the fair and balanced Fox News channel. The interview was off to a rocky start.
“Why are you such a pain in the ass?” Bill O’Reilly asked.
“I don’t know, Bill,” Julian said. “Why are you?”
That pretty much set the tone for the rest of the interview.
“Look,” O’Reilly said, “I realize you’re young and full of hormones, and you need to be a little rebel and all that nonsense, but I think you don’t realize what’s going to happen to you and all those nonbelievers out there in the end.”
“And what’s that?”
“You and your kind will end up in hell.”
“So you believe in hell?” Julian asked. “A literal hell?”
“Yes I do.”
“And you think nonbelievers deserve to go there?”
“That is not what I said,” O’Reilly said.
“You said you believe in a literal hell, and that we will go there. Who’s going to send us there? God?”
“No,” O’Reilly said. “Not God. You are sending yourself there by not accepting Jesus Christ as your Saviour.”
“I accept Jesus Christ as a great philosopher and as a role model in many ways. Is that not enough?”
“No, it’s not. It’s not enough to just sit there and say, ‘Yeah, you know, that Jesus guy was a cool dude and I like what he said’. That is not enough. You have to accept Jesus as your personal Saviour.”
“And what is he supposed to save me from?” Julian asked.
“He is going to save you from eternal damnation. He gave his life for your sins.” “That was very nice of him and all, but he didn’t really need to do that because I’m really not that much of a sinner.”
“Are you aware of the concept of original sin?” O’Reilly asked.
“Our album is called Original Sin,” Julian said. “So yes, I’m familiar with the concept.”
“Yes, your album. I’ve listened to it.”
“Have you really?”
“Yes, I just told you so.”
“Well,” Julian said, “if you listened to it then you should know that I’m aware of the concept of original sin.”
“It was a rhetorical question. I’m running a show here, all right? Now if you’d just shut up for a moment so I can get to the point.”
“Original sin means that we are all sinners from birth, and that we need to accept Jesus Christ as our Saviour. Do you understand that?”
“What I do understand,” Julian said, “is that if you believe in original sin, you have a terrible and appalling idea of man. You think that humans are inherently evil, and one must wonder where that dreadful belief originally came from. I think it originated from a deep-rooted feeling of guilt that the Bronze Age peasants who wrote the Bible felt needed to be alleviated.”
“And what, in your opinion, were they feeling guilty about?”
“They were feeling guilty about themselves, and about the poor state of the world that they had created. They needed to find an excuse for all the violence, greed, bigotry and hypocrisy that seemed to be a part of our nature, and, not least, for the way they treated women. So some brilliant mind came up with the concept of original sin which not only seemed to explain the dark side of human nature; it also, very conveniently, gave them an excuse to treat women the way they did, because in the end — or I should say in the beginning, really — it was all Eve’s fault. The first woman tempted the first man, and suddenly we were all doomed. We were thrown out of Eden and forced to live a life of misery. Now if you look at the third chapter of Genesis as an allegory of the dawn of the human race, I think when we ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, it was not only not a mistake; it was the only right thing to do. It was a step forward — not back — and it was inevitable.
“Paradise, as it’s described in Genesis, is a state of ignorance. It’s a place where we didn’t have to worry about anything because we didn’t know anything. It’s a place where we didn’t have to take responsibility for our actions, because we let only our instincts guide us. And it’s a place where we were oblivious to the fact that one day we all have to die.
“This is what we have ‘lost’ when Adam and Eve ate from the tree. You call it the fall of man? I call it the rise of man, his emancipation from a state of blissful ignorance to a state of painful wisdom. That is no reason to feel guilty. It’s a reason to be proud. It should make us all want to advance even more, rather than go back. Those who mourn this paradise lost don’t realize that it was not an eviction. It was an escape, and if you want to go back to paradise, what you really want is to give up all our achievements that set us apart from the other animals. Because you are scared of the responsibility that comes with knowledge; you are scared of the fact that there is no divine creator who loves you, who looks after you, and who has a plan for you; you are scared of the fact that in the grand scheme of things your life is completely insignificant.”
O’Reilly raised his eyebrows and shook his head. “Look, son,” he said, “I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I’m not scared, because I know that Jesus will save me.”
And a Child Will Lead Them is now available on Amazon.