The first pre-publication review of Agnostic: A Spirited Manifesto just arrived from Booklist:
“Hazleton’s manifesto makes the suspension of conviction as attractive as any theist or atheist testament,” it concludes.
Well, I’d say far more attractive, but then I might be a tad biased.
It’s always odd to find your own work written about in terms you’d never use. “Mental comfort?” None of that for me, thank you! “Historiography?” Never on the agenda. But overall, my review of the review is that it’s a serviceable overview, and a very positive one.
Feel free to add your own review of it, of course. And don’t fear using the pre-order button. I’ll post soon about why this is important (it involves the mysterious realm of algorithms).
Meanwhile, roll on, April 5!
Perhaps it’s not surprising that the author of accessible, balanced accounts of Muhammad, the Sunni-Shia split in Islam, and the Blessed Virgin withholds judgment about the existence of God. In eight personably persuasive chapters, she counts the benefits of agnosticism, though not so much for the practice of objective historiography as for personal intellectual freedom and mental comfort. Neither believing nor disbelieving in God removes the irksome pressure to choose sides. It allows deep and continual exploration into the realities the word God used to contain. It permits living in doubt or, as Emily Dickinson had it, “dwell[ing] in possibility.” It accepts irresolvable mystery, facilitates understanding how humans makes meaning, encourages acknowledging mortality (“The meaning of life is that it stops”), and grasping — well, appreciating — infinity. Finally, agnosticism lets one give up on the soul — a possession — in favor of soul as a “quality of existence,” as when we say something is soulful. Informed by science, philosophy, literature, history, travel, hiking, and more, Hazleton’s manifesto makes the suspension of conviction as attractive as any theist or atheist testament.
— Ray Olson, Booklist, February 1, 2016