Until this Sunday, John Cornwell was not someone I had a lot of time for. He is best known for his inaccurate and agenda-driven book, Hitler's Pope that converts scurrilous rumour and gossip into history to claim that Pius XII was in hock with the Nazis. These silly claims have been trashed so often (most recently by Michael Burleigh) that it is a surprise that Cornwell hasn't got the honesty to admit he got it wrong. His latest book, Seminary Boy, is a memoir about how beastly Catholic schools and seminaries used to be. Needless to say, Cornwell is most at home attacking Catholicism and all its works (he is, himself, a liberal Catholic of the sort who wants to remake the Church in his own image).
H. Allen Orr is one of Darwinism staunchest defenders. He has lambasted Intelligent Design with great effectiveness. While not a Darwinian extremist like Dan Dennett, he rejects any non-scientific explanations for anything. Andrew Brown and Terry Eagleton are hardly friends of organised religion either. One a self-declared atheist, the other a Christian Marxist of sorts.
I could go on, but you are getting my point. Not only has Richard Dawkins finally persuaded the Church of England to defend Christianity (a task previously regarded as impossible by many Christians), he has even united many of traditional Christianity's opponents in castigating his book, The God Delusion. Cornwell, with typical modesty, takes on the role of God himself in the Sunday Times. Orr's review in the NYRB is the most effective I have seen so far. I've already linked to several other reviews including Brown's and Eagleton's. In Prospect Magazine's list of most over-rated books of the year, Brown's submission was The God Delusion and his commentary on his choice just one word "Of course".
There is nothing wrong with bad reviews. If I ever get my book published, I'd give my eye-teeth to be trashed by A.C. Grayling. But when your natural allies unite against you, when your enemies finally make common cause, you have failed utterly in what you set out to do.
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