Since we have recently considered the utter uselessness of blurbs on account of their noxious sycophancy, it occurs to me that it would not be altogether inappropriate to provide further proof in support of my earlier argument.
After rather some time of (to borrow Felix Culpa‘s felicitous expression) “studiously ignoring” the work of one David Bentley Hart, Wednesday evening I finally convinced myself to purchase a copy of his new book Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (New Haven: Yale, 2009). The back of the dust jacket features a blurb by John Milbank which reads as follows:
“Surely Dawkins, Hitchens et al would never have dared put pen to paper had they known of the existence of David Bentley Hart. After his demolition job all that is left for them to do is repent and rejoice at the discreditation of their erstwhile selves.”
This is so excessively adulatory as to be nauseating. (Incidentally, that John Milbank should have written such a blurb for David Bentley Hart is not lost on me: birds of a feather, as they say, flock together. Nor, I believe, would it have been lost on the eminent and learned Jürgen Hauwerwas, had he not altogether ceased to grace us with his online presence.) Mercifully, Fr Jonathan Tobias has already commented on the fatuity of this particular blurb and so I won’t have to concern myself with that point any further. But, in the face of blurbs like the above, I wish repeat here the conclusion to my earlier post:
[I]t is the nature of blurbs to be given to exaggeration of various kinds because, by and large, blurbing is an exercise in truthiness. Blurbs toe party lines, deride straw man opponents, and hyperbolize the merits of any given book beyond recognition. For this reason a majority of them are useless, and if considered at all, should be taken with an enormous grain of salt. More often than not, however, they should be altogether disregarded.