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Hating God: The Untold Story of Misotheism Hardcover – Nov 18 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (Nov. 18 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199751382
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199751389
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 2.3 x 16 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,262,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"In Hating God, Bernard Schweizer distinguishes between atheists---those who conclude from the arbitrary and cruel acts of God that he does not exist---and misotheists---those who believe in God but engage in a life-long struggle with his apparent indifference to the world he has created. It is misotheists, those who wrestle with God in the manner of Jacob and Job, who create the rich literary tradition Schweizer so persuasively illuminates in this important book."--Stanley Fish, author of The Fugitive in Flight: Faith, Liberalism, and Law in a Classic TV Show

"Bernard Schweizer makes a long overdue distinction between atheism -- the denial of God's existence -- and misotheism -- the morally inspired hatred of God, and, in the process, reintroduces us to some of the most subversive religious thinkers who have ever lived, from Friedrich Nietzsche to Gore Vidal and Zora Neale Hurston. Hating God is one of the most exhilarating excursions into religious studies that you will ever take!"
--Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America

"Schweizer skilfully plumbs pathology and pathos among real and imagined agonizers."--The Journal of Theological Studies

About the Author

Bernard Schweizer is Associate Professor of English at Long Island University.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xb2e9918c) out of 5 stars 7 reviews
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb2ea2c6c) out of 5 stars misotheism - a shady religious phenomenon brought to light April 2 2011
By Rolando Monello - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Schweizer's book presents an amazingly new kettle of fish on the religious scene, which I have been studying academically for years. I wonder if the concept of "misotheism," which fills a gap in the system of religious classification, will spawn a following, one that either applauds the literati of his mentioning or alternatively stands up for their own views which, I surmise, may have been subconsciously tucked away. Mister Schweizer is shedding light on an area, which has surprisingly enough remained unnoticed until he blew some cobwebs from the book-covers of the classics and opened their content to a fresh viewing. Aware of the diverse emotions the misotheistic view may elicit, I hope the mere observation of an intellectual and literary stratum does not attract a negative response in defense of a deity, whose existence amazingly enough is not questioned but in a twisted manner reinforced by the misotheists. A believer in God may have a "problem" with Satanism as a form of opposition to her deity, but a negative reinforcement of God might be a worse position yet - and so the miso-misotheist would be born. I congratulate Mister Schweizer for the discovery of a phenomenon hiding in plain sight.
20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb2ea2c00) out of 5 stars Hating God Jan. 24 2011
By QuestioningBeliever - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I was immediately drawn to this book because it presents a completely new class of religious rebellion.
In response to the increasing attention being given to atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, this book seems to have found an emerging populace that have become increasingly more vocal about their feelings of discontent towards God.

In this book (which I have read and really enjoyed) Schweizer explains how this sort of god hatred has been around for many years, and because of the fear associated with expressing such blasphemous beliefs, was expressed primarily through literature. The book illustrates how literary giants such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Mark Twain, Zora Neale Hurston, Rebecca West, Elie Wiesel, and Philip Pullman all felt profound hatred towards God.

When I look at the world today, with increasing secularism, religiously motivated mass bloodshed, and considerable feelings of disillusionment in personal faith, this book seems to outline a lot of the sentiments that have apparently been around for a long time, but have not, until now, been openly discussed.

Check out the website as well.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb2ea28c4) out of 5 stars Fascinating topic marred by too much literary criticism Dec 2 2014
By Hexameron - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rather than taking a holistic approach to the topic and exploring the cultural history and philosophical idea of misotheism, Bernard Schweizer spends a great deal focused on misotheistic ideas that crop up in literature. As a result, 2/3 of this book is saddled with literary analysis. That, in a nutshell, is my gripe with a book subtitled "the untold story of misotheism." This is misleading. "Hating God: A Literary Tradition" would have been more appropriate. Freethinkers and atheists looking for an expansive polemic in the vein of Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, or Daniel Dennett will be disappointed. Much of the book is concerned with isolating and analyzing key passages by six authors who despised God. It's as if Schweizer uses misotheism as a pretense to write a book about these authors. That's fine, but the title and presentation of the book should make that clear from the outset.

What we get here are really two books. Part One is a chronological survey of misotheistic thought from the ancient philosophers to early 20th century thinkers. Part Two analyzes six authors whose works are misotheistic to some degree. Part One is outstanding. It provides compelling definitions of various strains of theism and contrasts them with misotheism. Schweizer supplies a useful taxonomy of ists and isms, distinguishing traditional atheism from new atheism and antitheism from agnosticism. He then examines the origins of misotheism, which is brilliantly traced back to Job's wife, winds its way through Epicurus and Percy Bysshe Shelley, and culminates in Nietzsche and Camus. Schweizer discusses several exponents of misotheism like Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Mikhail Bakunin, both of whom are especially intriguing figures worth reading about.

So Part One is great, but it's only 80 pages. I was hoping it would be the springboard for a philosophical discussion of misotheism. Instead, it raises the curtain for 120+ pages of interminable literary analysis in Part Two. Here Schweizer examines the works of six authors: Algernon Charles Swinburne, Zora Neale Hurston, Rebecca West, Elie Wiesel, Peter Schaffer, and Philip Pullman. Schweizer spends way too much time scrutinizing their writings and loses the thread of misotheism as a philosophical idea. I think he would have done better to compress Part Two into one short chapter and research other genres and avenues--besides literature--in which misotheism has been promulgated.

Bottom line: This book is primarily about misotheism in literature. Admittedly, misotheism is marginal and has few adherents, but there must be more than literature to draw from in support of the case for god hatred. Schweizer ignores art, film, theater, culture, sociology, psychology, etc. I think it would have been interesting to poll and interview self-proclaimed misotheists (I've met a few myself) and delve further into the psychological reasons behind it. Instead, Schweizer's scope is narrowly confined to literature; this is disappointing.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb2ea2b94) out of 5 stars A must-read! Nov. 8 2014
By Alexandre bish - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In ‘Hating God’, Schweizer demonstrates that attitudes towards religion and God are more diverse than most of us assume.
As opposed to atheism, anti-theism, or agnosticism, Schweizer defines misotheism as the outright hatred of God. As opposed to atheists who question the existence of God, misotheists acknowledge his existence but question his good will. Schweizer divides misotheism into three categories: agonistic, absolute and political misotheism. Agonistic misotheists, studied through Rebecca West and Elie Wiesel, struggle with the acceptance of a bad and careless God and seek to enter into dialogue with him, convinced of his underlying good will. Quite the opposite, absolute misotheists, like Nietszche and Shelly, do not wish to change God but rather completely dispose of him. Proudhon or Bakunin, as political misotheists, address their attack because of the socio-economic effects that God and religion have on the world.
Through this thorough definition of Misotheism, Schweizer skilfully brings the rigour and precision one would expect with the minting of a new concept, writing a book both addressed to academia and non-scholars.
I highly recommend this book to anyone, religious or non-religious, willing to explore literature through the pathos of great writers and experience an unfamiliar journey into human relationship with the divine.
With his coinage of misotheism, Schweizer has laid solid ground for further theological study of the subject but also for future scholars willing to approach great figures of literature in a completely new way.

An overall very well written must-read for those looking to have a sound understanding of religious rebellion through literature.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb2ea26d8) out of 5 stars Great read Sept. 24 2011
By Lorenzo Lorenzo Luaces Valencia - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Not an atheist book or not so much a 'how to' or 'why' guide on nonbelieving or hating God. Instead this book discusses the surprisingly vast, sometimes subtle, literary tradition of hating god(s). I couldn't think of a reasons why believers would want to read it but it should be enjoyable and informative for the rest of us