Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (11-November-1922 – 11-April-2007) was an American writer. In a career spanning over 50 years, he published 14 novels, three short story collections, five plays, and five nonfiction works, with further collections being published after his death.

Vonnegut was an atheist, a humanist and a freethinker, serving as the honorary president of the American Humanist Association. He occasionally attended a Unitarian church, but with little consistency. In a speech to the Unitarian Universalist Association, he called himself a “Christ-loving atheist”. However, he was keen to stress that he was not a Christian. 

Vonnegut was an admirer of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, particularly the Beatitudes, and incorporated it into his own doctrines. He also referred to it in many of his works. In his 1991 book Fates Worse than Death, Vonnegut suggests that during the Reagan administration, “anything that sounded like the Sermon on the Mount was socialistic or communistic, and therefore anti-American”. In Palm Sunday, he wrote that “the Sermon on the Mount suggests a mercifulness that can never waver or fade.” However, Vonnegut had a deep dislike for certain aspects of Christianity, often reminding his readers of the bloody history of the Crusades and other religion-inspired violence. He despised the televangelists of the late 20th century, feeling that their thinking was narrow-minded.

Religion features frequently in Vonnegut’s work, both in his novels and elsewhere. Vonnegut’s works are filled with characters founding new faiths, and religion often serves as a major plot device, for example in Player Piano, The Sirens of Titan and Cat’s Cradle. In The Sirens of Titan, Rumfoord proclaims The Church of God the Utterly Indifferent. Slaughterhouse-Five sees Billy Pilgrim, lacking religion himself, nevertheless become a chaplain’s assistant in the military and displaying a large crucifix on his bedroom wall.In Cat’s Cradle, Vonnegut invented the religion of Bokononism. (source – Wikipedia)

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