Book 

Letters from a 'Loser'

Charles Darwin, the famous British naturalist and Father of Evolution, once expressed some frustration at the tenacity of belief of religious believers. 

“It appears to me — whether rightly or wrongly — that direct arguments against Christianity and theism produce hardly any effect on the public,” he said. As a more efficacious alternative, Darwin the atheist proposed “gradually illuminating” minds through the advance of science. 

Mary Eberstadt, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and occasional contributor to OSV, turns that advice right back on the atheist establishment in a bitingly witty new novel called“The Loser Letters: A Comic Tale of Life, Death and Atheism” (Ignatius, $13.95). 

Her main character, A.F. (A Former) Christian, a 20s something convert to atheism, writes to offer advice to today’s leading atheists on how to win more converts. That’s necessary because it is embarrassing, she says, that the vast majority of atheists seem to be those who have simply slipped away from practice of religion, not through conscious, rational choice. 

“Of course we score big time with the young guys who aren’t responsible for anything, and don’t really care about anything besides spending most of their time in the basement playing video games and texting girls,” she writes. 

But how are atheists to widen their appeal to thoughtful Christians? If atheism really is the most reasonable position, it ought to draw many more intelligent adherents. 

The more A.F. Christian dives into the challenge, the more obvious how ridiculous some of atheism’s claims are, and how much more plausible, even from a rational point of view, Christianity really is.

Sports

Cup runneth over with Catholic references

Midway through the World Cup tournament in South Africa, not all of the news coverage has been restricted to the field. 

There have been several Church-related stories — good and bad. Perhaps this is unsurprising since many Catholic countries, such as Spain and Brazil, are soccer powerhouses. 

In the “bad” category, there was a tasteless Hyundai television commercial that featured a service at an Argentine church with a stained-glass window of a soccer ball and rambunctious worshippers kneeling at the communion rail to receive pizza instead of a host. After complaints from Catholic groups, Hyundai pulled the ad. 

A more positive representation has come from English star Wayne Rooney, a Catholic who is often seen with his rosary. His witness is all the more powerful considering the secularism that pervades his country these days.

Music 

Hip-hop priest's musical wanderings

Franciscan Friar of Renewal Father Stan Fortuna, known for his rap music and books such as “U Got 2 Pray” and “U Got 2 Believe,” takes listeners along on a musical journey with his latest release.

On “Seraphic Wanderer” (Francesco Productions, $17), Ugandan drums keep beat on some tracks, while smooth jazz riffs punctuate “Morning Offering.” The sounds of crashing waves, then a sampling of rhythms from around the world accompany his “Immigrant Soul.”

The title of one track, “1-11-04,” may seem puzzling to listeners until they realize that is the date of a devastating accident that nearly killed Father Benedict Groeschel, founder of the musician’s order and his mentor.
One of the most poignant songs is Father Fortuna’s “Love Giver,” sung to the music of “Moon River.” It is a tribute to his mother, Connie Fortuna, who died in 2009.