Atheism on Trial: Mary Eberstadt’s “The Loser Letters” Hits the Stage

Atheism is on offense nowadays, enjoying almost taken-for-granted status in America’s most prestigious cultural centers. So it’s fascinating to see a critique of both the theory and practice of atheism hit the stage.

Last Thursday I had the pleasure of attending the premiere of Mary Eberstadt’s The Loser Letters at Catholic University’s Hartke Theater in Washington, DC. Readers will be familiar with Eberstadt’s Loser Letters from its serialization at NRO in 2008. The performance was a great success and many of the students on hand stayed afterwards to participate in a chat with Eberstadt, director Jeffrey Fiske (who has also adapted and directed a popular stage version of The Screwtape Letters), and the cast.

A play like this at Catholic University won’t ruffle many feathers (although some few social liberals were apparently off-put on Thursday). But what if The Loser Letters were to go on a tour that included some secular colleges? I’d like to believe the play would be courteously received at any school, but I can’t help feeling that heads might explode—with protests or worse to follow. I only hope we get a chance to find out. As Eberstadt pointed out during the post-play discussion, making a way for a production like this on college campuses is at this point a free speech issue.

If you’d like to attend a performance of The Loser Letters during its DC run, which extends through October 9, go here. And check out K-Lo’s interview with Eberstadt and the thoughts of Director Jeffrey Fiske.

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He can be reached at

Stanley Kurtz — Stanley Kurtz graduated from Haverford College and holds a Ph.D. in social anthropology from Harvard University. He did his field work in India and taught at Harvard and the University ...

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