Even she doesn’t pray to it

Just what I keep saying – Karen Armstrong’s ‘God’ is all very well but it’s not what most believers mean by ‘God’ – to put it mildly. If a ‘United Church of Christ and American Baptist minister’ (you’re allowed to ride two bicycles like that?) doesn’t buy her version of god, why should anyone else?

[H]er pastiche construct of the divine, intended as a greater god, reduces the divine to an ethereal “it” describable in ethics as compassion and as transcendence in metaphysics, but unrecognizable in any of the world’s living religions as God. Even she doesn’t pray to it.

Just what I keep saying. Yet Armstrong is pretty emphatic that her pastiche is the real ‘God,’ is ‘God’ properly understood, is the One True Scotsman.

And even if she were right it wouldn’t make any difference. The god that matters now is the god that people believe in now and for most people that is not Armstrong’s pastiche, or any other ‘sophisticated’ abstraction, whether Terry Eagleton’s or Paul Tillich’s.

The United Baptist American of Christ minister likes Armstrong in other ways though.

The virtue derives from her giving God some needed press-coverage among the chattering classes…As a public intellectual in media coverage, Armstrong is a refreshing counterpoise both to old literalists (who confuse words with truth) and to the so-called New Atheists (who narrow truth down to facts)…providing some needed public-square intellectual respectability to religious thought.

Bollocks. Needed press-coverage among the chattering classes? Needed public-square intellectual respectability? Please. God gets plenty of press-coverage among the chattering classes and public-square intellectual respectability. Plenty. Look where this very article appears, just for a start – it’s in the regular ‘faith’ column in the Washington Post. There is no regular atheism column in the Washington Post! How much more press-coverage and intellectual respectability does Willis Elliott want? All God all the time?

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