In Memoriam: Christopher Hitchens, 1949”“2011

Christopher Hitchens””the incomparable critic, masterful rhetorician, fiery wit, and fearless bon vivant””died today at the age of 62. Hitchens was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in the spring of 2010, just after the publication of his memoir, Hitch-22, and began chemotherapy soon after. His matchless prose has appeared in Vanity Fair since 1992, when he was named contributing editor.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Media, Parish Ministry

13 comments on “In Memoriam: Christopher Hitchens, 1949”“2011

  1. Terry Tee says:

    I read his autobiography Hitch-22 and envied his wizardry with words. If only it had been used to more positive effect. He specialised in dynamite and destruction rather than building up. His way with words could not only lacerate but also make us laugh. He was a master of the vituperative arts. His hatred of religion, all sorts, was proverbial, and his book attacking faith must have pleased many of the cultured despisers of religion and fed the corrosiveness of our culture and our era. His autobiography is curious, though, in charting his journey from the far left to the American right, without a hint of embarrassment. I mention this because he is anti-religion but does not seem to see that he swallowed the absurdities of the Trotskyite International Socialists, of which he became an active member, compared with which Christian faith seems eminently rational. Or perhaps there is embarrassment: see page 88, ‘I realise that this may sound slightly as if I had joined a cult.’
    And yet, I am sorry that he did not get the healing for which so many Christians prayed.
    Finally, ponder his description (p 62) of his public school religion [note to American readers: public school in this context means private school]:
    The school motto was Ut Prosim (‘That I May Be Useful’), and when one has joined in the singing of ‘I Vow to Thee My Country’ – especially on 11 November by the war memorial – or ‘The Day Thou Gavest, Lord is Ended’ (‘To sing is to pray twice’ as St Augustine put it) then one may in fact be very slightly better equipped to face that Japanese jail or Iraqi checkpoint.

  2. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) says:

    I did not agree with everything Mr. Hitchens said, but this is really sad. And a lot of the treatment for esophageal cancer begs the question, “Which is worse, the disease or the cure?” and this particular cure is still, usually elusive.

    He was biting but I enjoyed many of his cultural observations and his way with words.

    Wherever he is now, I hope there is peace for him. Atheism is not my choice but it was his. I am a believer but at worst I prefer the Camus way of viewing things(“I would rather live my life as if there is a God, and die to find out there isn’t, than live my life as if there isn’t, and die to find out there is.”). In a case like this I can only hope that, maybe, a human was misdirected and God is His merciful self. God was certainly merciful here in ending this man’s Earthly suffering.

    Big prayers for his family and friends, and all his colleagues at Vanity Fair, who will miss him greatly. I’m just an American nobody, and I will miss him too.

  3. Ad Orientem says:

    A truly remarkable man. May God have mercy on him for his many failings, as with me.

  4. ls from oz says:

    My 20 year old son is a passionate critic of the New Atheism, but when he learned of Christopher Hitchens death, he teared up. When I asked him why he was so upset, he said that he couldn’t help but think, if the man hadn’t changed, of how frightened he must be right now. Sobering thought. “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”.

  5. clarin says:

    #4: perceptive comments, Terry – thank you.

  6. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    I can’t think of Christopher Hitchens in isolation from Peter. I imagine them being the brothers from hell whose fights in the back of the car continued through the rest of their lives: a determined and furious rivalry and yet at the same time firing off one another to produce their best work, taking a diametrically opposed view on almost any issue. A binary star system, one part of which has now gone.

    Reading the background one can perhaps see why he might not have been impressed with the Church and with Christians, aside from the fact that Peter took to it.

    Prayers for Peter Hitchens and the family left behind, and with gratitude for this remarkable, talented man of so much promise.

  7. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) says:

    Pageantmaster #7, I’ve been thinking about Peter, too, ever since I heard this news yesterday morning. Yes, when a binary star system loses a piece, even when they’re diametrically opposed, it’s not binary anymore. This is so sad. Prayers for all…

    And also for the UK’s recent weather. Hope that has not been too bad, but it was bad enough to have mention on the American National Weather Service. Like Nor’easters, in some ways you need them, but they’re a bear. Maybe a little of God’s wrath or sadness, too…

    Every cloud has a silver lining, though–for the last year I’d bet Mr. Hitchens had fun keeping Houston on its toes. 🙂 Gives new meaning to “culture shock” for both–I hope God gives him rest, whether he likes it or wants it or not…

  8. Gnu Ordure says:

    Bookworm:
    [blockquote]I am a believer but at worst I prefer the Camus way of viewing things(“I would rather live my life as if there is a God, and die to find out there isn’t, than live my life as if there isn’t, and die to find out there is.”). [/blockquote]

    Hitch would have found this amusing; that even on a blog to mark his death, the tide of religious misinformation about atheists continues to roll in.

    Camus did not say those words; google finds a million hits attributing them to him, but not a single source. This is the power of the idiot web; a lie gets repeated so many times that people simply accept it without thinking.

    And of course Camus would never have said anything like that; it makes no sense, for a start. If an atheist was going to live his life ‘as if’ there was a God, which God should he choose to follow? There are a lot to choose from, and one cannot act as if they were all real…

    Not to mention that the Christian and Islamic religions require belief and faith. God isn’t going to respect someone who acts ‘as if’ he was real, is he?

  9. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #9 Hello Bookworm, prayers too for the Snarkster.

    I have met Peter, briefly; also a talented man not shy of giving his views but quiet and thoughtful. Some families just seem to produce talented children all of whom make a contribution in different ways – the Hitchens, Dennings, Mitfords, Attenboroughs to think of some from here – I think it shows why time and effort spent on children is never wasted, and particularly talking to them about, and encouraging them to take an interest in the world from an early age. Interestingly they both moved from at one time a Marxist outlook in different directions but came from a service [military] family.

    Thanks for enquiring – the weather here is clear and frosty, which makes it seem more like Christmas this week, but obviously those of us who have to travel before Christmas Eve are keeping an eye on the weather.

  10. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) says:

    #10 Pageantmaster–safe travel for all before/during/after the holidays and we’ll pray for good weather!!

    Interesting; I picked up a biography of the Mitford sisters in a used bookstore just the other day; it’s now in the “q”… 🙂

    Gnu, I see you’re just as erudite here as you are over on SF.

  11. wildfire says:

    The words attributed to Camus above come from the well known wager of [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal’s_Wager]Pascal[/url], the French philosopher and mathematician.

    Mrs. Wildfire

  12. Gnu Ordure says:

    Mrs Wildfire:[blockquote]The words attributed to Camus above come from the well known wager of Pascal, the French philosopher and mathematician.[/blockquote]
    Quite. [Edited by Elf]. As Camus certainly did not live his life ‘as if’ there was a god.

    Bookworm:
    [blockquote]Gnu, I see you’re just as erudite here as you are over on SF.[/blockquote]I try to maintain certain standards.

    [Coment has been edited – please be careful to avoid ad hominem comments – thanks – Elf]