While I’m on the subject of books I read and failed to note here, let me add Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris. I’d not read Harris’ other book, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason, but my friend Jimmy had read both and recommended them. I snagged Letter and read it one afternoon in November.
Harris wrote Letter in response to letters he received attacking his views in End of Faith, many of which apparently contained attacks on him (i.e., ad hominem). In it Harris described the contradictions between the professed belief and the actions of some people who call themselves christians. To a reasonable person, it is clear that terrible —indeed, evil—things have been perpetrated in the name of christianity.
As much as I agree with lots of Harris’ observation, I feel compelled to note that Letter reads a lot like an angry screed. He got a lot right in the book, but it comes dangerously close to perpetuating the same vitriol that it rightly rejects.
Some might wonder how one can reconcile atheism and pacifism. Harris provides some good insight into how it is possible to do so. The basic point is that one can recognize cruelty for what it is is, wrong, without having to resort to religious beliefs.