(Incidentally, They Live also has the longest fight scene of any movie I've ever seen).
The hero is a drifter who stumbles upon some high-tech sunglasses that allow him to see aliens that have infiltrated human society. Kind of like X-ray vision. You can't see the aliens without the sunglasses.
Anyway, the line. The hero walks into a bank wearing the sunglasses and holding a shotgun. He declares: "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum."
He then proceeds to blow away all the aliens. It's awesome. Check it out for yourself.
(I've always had the nagging feeling that the guy is actually just experiencing a psychotic break and there aren't really any aliens. But it's a great line anyway.)
That line popped into my head as I was reading the book by David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies.
The book came to my attention when it received this year's Michael Ramsey prize in Theology.
Hart is writing in part to unmask the popular historical fallacies used by people trying to tear down the Christian faith and replace it with the Grand Narrative of "modernism." He seems to have been goaded to the task by certain strains of atheism:
I can honestly say that there are many forms of atheism that I find far more admirable than many forms of Christianity or of religion in general. But atheism that consists entirely in vacuous arguments afloat on oceans of historical ignorance, made turbulent by storms of strident self-righteousness, is as contemptible as any other form of dreary fundamentalism. And it is sometimes difficult, frankly, to be perfectly generous in one’s response to the sort of invective currently fashionable among the devoutly undevout, or to the sort of historical misrepresentations it typically involves.But, as evidenced in the quote above, it is Hart's rapier-sharp writing style as much as his thoughtful historical reflections that get me whooping with delight.
For example, Hart contrasts the erroneous assumptions and lack of rigorous engagement of the foaming-at-the-mouth "New Atheists" with their far more worthy predecessors in the early days: "genuinely imaginative and civilized critics, such as Celsus and Porphyry, who held the amiable belief that they should make some effort to acquaint themselves with the object of their critique."
He turns to Sam Harris's The End of Faith:
[This] is also a book that, in itself, should not detain anyone for very long. It is little more than a concatenation of shrill, petulant assertions, a few of which are true, but none of which betrays any great degree of philosophical or historical sophistication."Ouch. That's gotta leave a mark.
Sometimes it's the driveby turns of phrase that pack the hardest punch:
- Rather than court absurdity, however...
- All of this, however, is slightly beside the point. Judged solely as a scientific proposal, Dennett's book [Breaking the Spell] is utterly inconsequential--in fact, it is something of an embarassment--but its methodological deficiencies are not my real concern here.
- In short, The End of Faith is not a serious--merely a self-important--book, and merits only cursory comment.
- If Harris's argument holds any real interest here, it is as an epitome--verging on unintentional parody--of contemporary antireligious rhetoric at its most impassioned and sanctimonious.
- This is one reason why the historical insight and intellectual honesty of Nietzsche were such precious things, and why their absence from so much contemporary antireligious polemic renders it so depressingly vapid.
Chesterton would be proud.
Anyway, I am enjoying this book, perhaps a little more than charity would allow.
Let me just say, I'm glad I'm not the one staring down Hart's barrel.