Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Another negative review of Prothero's "God Is Not One"

The slow motion epic fail continues.

Yet another negative review of Stephen Prothero's God Is Not One has appeared. This one was written by Leo D. Lefebure (Professor and Matteo Ricci Chair at the Georgetown University Theology Department), and appears in today's online edition of The Christian Century.

As was the case with the two negative reviews that appeared just a little over a week ago in the Washington Post and the Boston Globe (by Jay Tolson and Alec Solomita, respectively), Lefebure seems broadly sympathetic to Prothero's stated goal, but he also clearly feels that Prothero has completely failed to deliver. (For an overview of those other two reviews, along with relevant links, see my previous post: "Holy Crap! Two reasonably intelligent reviews of Stephen Prothero's God Is Not One".)

Lefebure's analysis of Prothero is calm, methodical, and withering.

Lefebure begins (after an introductory paragraph that tells you more in five sentences about what Prothero is actually trying to do, than Prothero himself ever bothers to tell the reader in his entire book) by pointing out that there is nothing original in Prothero's rejection of perennialism. Then he moves on to point out that: "Any astute defender of the Perennialist School would, of course, readily acknowledge the kind of surface differences that Prothero notes." (This is Lefebure's nice way of saying that Prothero's whole schtick is nothing but a long drawn-out straw man argument, rather than a serious critique of the Perennialist School.)

Lefebure then takes on Prothero's bizarre accusation that Gandhi's teachings on religious tolerance have directly and significantly contributed to religious intolerance and violence. And Prothero's crude sleight-of-hand, in which he attempts to consign any commonality among humanity's religions to the field of ethics, and, thereby, deny that religions as religions share anything in common, is also deftly exposed by Lefebure.

And there's more, including some factual whoppers that undermine any value that Prothero's book might have even as just another popular survey of world religions.

Previous posts from this blog on Stephen Prothero's "God Is Not One":
Holy Crap! Two reasonably intelligent reviews of Stephen Prothero's God Is Not One
Good Fences Make Good Religions?
Who, if anyone, is Stephen Prothero arguing with, other than himself?
How Stephen Prothero mangles the economics-politics-religion analogy
The basis of universal spirituality
Contra Prothero