Reader mailstrom, 7/05: When An Angry Atheist Attacks!

[UPDATE: I have received a note of apology from Steven, who submitted the letter that I responded to below. My thanks to Steven for his humble reply.]

I just received a letter from “a proud atheist” named Steven. He begins the letter with this quotation:

“In fact, Nazi Germany is the thread that ties everything in the movie together. Evolution leads to atheism leads to eugenics leads to Holocaust and Nazi Germany.” – Christianity Today film critic Jeffrey Overstreet”

Steven even included a link to the Christianity Today page on Wikipedia, apparently feeling that it was necessary for me to research the publication I’ve been writing for more than a decade.

Then Steven began his letter, in which he strives to dismantle that statement and prove it false. “Eugenics, or the filtering out of certain physical traits, are not linked to atheism in any way, and to say so is just plain ignorant,” he began. And then he went on and on and on. And concluded with:

Comparing Atheism to eugenics is illogical and quite frankly, flat out stupid.

You should get your facts straight before you go trying to start another one of your bullshit crusades.

-Steven [last name deleted]

A proud atheist.

MY REPSONSE:

What an interesting letter.

Steven, you begin by attributing a quote to me that I never said. And then you conclude by declaring that I should get my facts straight.

No, I never wrote those words you attributed to me. Heck, I haven’t even seen the film you’re talking about.

Those words that you attributed to me came from a letter that I posted on my blog. Links to that original blog post are everywhere. More than 10,000 visitors read it within the first 48 hours it was online. It’s not hard to find. The facts, such as they are, are plain to see.

Moreover, in the paragraphs immediately following that letter, I wrote: “I’m not claiming his account is 100% accurate I’m sharing it like a letter to the editor because, well… that’s pretty much what it is. I wasn’t there. This is one person’s account of the events as he perceived them.”

So take your club elsewhere and beat up somebody else. But please, think before you start swinging that thing around. It doesn’t serve you well to write a furious rant, and then criticize the recipient of that rant as the person who is on the “bullshit crusade.” Especially when you haven’t done enough research to find the right “crusader.”

Perhaps the “proud atheist” would do well to down-size his pride a bit, so as to allow for better circulation in the brain. As an angry man once wrote (and I’m paraphrasing): You should get your facts straight before going on a b.s. crusade.

Notice, I did not say “A wise man once wrote….” Because the statement really falls apart upon analysis. If a crusader’s facts are straight, then his “crusade” might be misguided, or overzealous, but it isn’t b.s.

Moreover, if one’s facts are straight, a crusade is probably not even necessary. (And that’s where most crusaders‚Äîatheist, Christian, or otherwise‚Äîmake their mistakes. The truth, being the truth, cannot be shaken. It will still be true no matter what misguided, over-zealous, propagandistic, big-screen rants are for or against it. Whether that movie be Ben Stein’s Expelled or Bill Maher’s Religulous, it won’t be powerful enough to leave a scratch on what is True.

The truth will outlast it all, and the truth will set us free from all lies, no matter how many Ph.Ds are crusading for those lies.

I must be careful, though, to attend to the Son of God who exhorted us to “speak the truth in love.” I respect that kind of truth-telling. We could all learn from it, including me. So I’ll leave it at that for now, before I lose my temper. I’ve misquoted folks a time or two in the past. It was embarrassing, and I learned from the experience. So I’ve deleted your last name, sir, and I wish you a lesson well-learned.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” called Through a Screen Darkly, and a four-volume series of fantasy novels called The Auralia Thread, which includes Auralia’s Colors, Cyndere’s Midnight, Raven’s Ladder, and The Ale Boy’s Feast. Jeffrey is a contributing editor for Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine, and he writes about art, faith, and culture for Image, Filmwell, and his own website, LookingCloser.org. His work has also appeared in Paste, Relevant, Books and Culture, and Christianity Today (where he was a film columnist and critic for almost a decade). He lives in Shoreline, Washington. Visit him on Facebook at facebook.com/jeffreyoverstreethq.


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