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Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)
#1
Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)
* I am posting this at Adrian's request (and under the assumption that he was not too drunk when he made it). It is my introspective on the passing of Christopher Hitchens published at the Aristophrenium. Please feel free to use this thread to express your own introspective about the passing of this iconic figure.

[Image: christopherhitchens.png]

It might seem a little odd that a Christian apologetics web site should pay respect to the passing of a militant atheist who was so fervently opposed to the Christian religion, but in all honesty I rather enjoyed the contributions he made to the culture of dialogue between Christians and atheists. He was inarguably a man possessed of considerable rhetorical skill and sardonic wit who managed to articulate his antipathy for religious convictions with an eloquence that was engaging and thought-provoking. Despite the fact that his arguments were sophomoric and did not present any cogent challenge to biblical Christianity, he nevertheless forced believers to think critically and do their homework regarding the points on which he attempted to hang his arguments, and in my books that is always a good thing for it produces a more informed believer. And in the forge of his blazing vitriol, combined as it was with the likes of Richard Dawkins and the other “four horsemen” of neo-atheism, my own apologetic was tempered and refined to contend with a new breed of antitheism.

Say what you will about his venomous language but one can hardly dispute that the man was a gifted writer, “the vocation of his life, one in which he excelled,” pastor and theologian Douglas Wilson admitted (2011, para. 2). Hitchens himself confessed that writing was not just his living and livelihood but his very life; after having received some injection to relieve the pain in his hands and fingers, a side effect of which is a numbness in the extremities, he greatly feared losing the ability to write. “I feel my personality and identity dissolving as I contemplate dead hands and the loss of the transmission belts that connect me to writing and thinking,” he confessed toward the end of what would be his last essay (2011, para. 20). In spite of the stark antithesis between the convictions and values of Hitchens and myself that is one thing that we both shared in common, a passionate and consuming need to write and an abiding appreciation for its capacity to serve as a conduit for shaping not only our own thoughts but also the thinking of others. Although he used his craft as a rhetorician and author to distill and augment his enmity with God—and maybe that is one sense in which we can take Tom Gilson’s comment that Hitchens’ rhetorical effectiveness “was in many ways his undoing” (2011, para. 4)—there is little room for doubt that he was powerfully eloquent and captivated his readers, both admirers and critics alike. He may have been convincing only to the already convinced but to just about anyone he was eminently readable, engaging, and entertaining.

Nobody of course knows what will be his ultimate fate other than the fact that, like everyone else, he will stand before the judgment throne of God. It is unfortunate that he cultivated such an atheistic celebrity because it practically cemented his obdurate rebellion against God and repentance. So worried was Hitchens about the potential for reports of a deathbed confession that he crafted in advance a narrative to combat that sort of thing. As he told his friend Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic in an interview (Goldberg, 2010; video clip 2:56–3:26):

Christopher Hitchens Wrote:Now might be the time to say, I guess, that in the event of anyone reading or hearing a rumor of any such thing [as a deathbed confession] being made it would not have been made by me. The entity making such a remark might be a raving, terrified person whose cancer has spread to the brain. I can’t guarantee that such an entity wouldn’t make such a ridiculous remark. But no one recognizable as myself … could possibly say something so silly.

As Wilson observed, it was almost as if Hitchens was “afraid of letting down the infidel team,” so to speak (para. 10), as if to express a sort of concern that his antitheistic legacy might be robbed of its credibility should he quite inexplicably turn to Christ in repentance and faith at the end. If you hear something like that coming out of my mouth, he said, then it was not me saying it. He wanted people to know that if he confessed faith, then the Christopher Hitchens we all knew “should be counted as already dead,” Wilson said (ibid.). What Wilson found most interesting was that the advance narrative Hitchens prepared, while yet manifestly in his right mind, did not involve someone claiming to have heard him cry out to God and thus misrepresenting yet another unbeliever (as had been done with Charles Darwin, for example), but rather involved Hitchens himself uttering such a thing. Was Hitchens thus implying that it was conceivable to him that he might (and thus he had to discredit it ahead of time)? I have to agree with Wilson: it is interesting that Hitchens framed the advance narrative in the way that he did.

But I bring this up because of something that I found particularly interesting beyond what Wilson observed: the biblical truth inadvertently lurking within the narrative that Hitchens crafted. If he should turn to Christ in repentance and faith at the end, then we should understand that it was not him saying it, that the Hitchens we all knew would never do or say any such thing, that in the face of such a statement he should be counted as already dead. And that is precisely what would be the case, for that is the very nature of what happens for anyone who turns to Christ in genuine repentance and faith. It is a new creation that emerges from regeneration, that is, being born again of the word of Christ and power of the Spirit; the old person is gone, having given his life up to God for Christ’s sake: “For through the law I died to the law so that I may live to God. I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:19-20). It is true that if Hitchens had turned to Christ in repentance and faith it would not have been the Hitchens we all knew who had done such a thing; indeed that Hitchens would be counted as already dead if he went from loving sin and hating God to loving God and hating sin, because those who are “in Adam” are morally and spiritually incapable of such a thing. And the one who believes in Christ will live even if he dies (John 11:25). The unintended irony of his advance narrative is that it was entirely consistent with a pronouncement of saving faith he was trying to distance himself from.

We do not know if he turned to Christ; there is no reason to suppose he did and plenty of reasons to think he did not. And that is a sad and sober thing, for on the day that he stands before the throne of God he would have nothing to which he can appeal but the 62 years he lived from April 13, 1949, until December 15, 2011, a life during which he heard the light of the gospel in many ways and from many people but preferred the darkness of life apart from Christ, the Son of God he defiantly reviled. That is not by any means something to celebrate and I want nothing to do with the Westboro Baptist type of people who would disgrace themselves and bring shame to the name of Christ by doing so. It is something that we should reflect upon soberly as we include his wife, family, and particularly his brother in our prayers.

As for me, I am going to miss him.

The deep pain that is felt at the death of every friendly soul arises from the feeling that there is, in every individual,
something which is inexpressibly peculiar to him alone, and is therefore absolutely and irretrievably lost.
~ Arthur Schopenhauer ~

(See Peter Hitchens, “In Memoriam: My courageous brother Christopher, 1949-2011,” Daily Mail Online [2011, December 16]).

There are others in the Christian apologetics community who have commented on his passing. Please take the time to read their reflections on this event:

References:

Tom Gilson, “On the passing of Christopher Hitchens,” Thinking Christian [blog] (2011, December 16). See link above.

Jeffrey Goldberg, “Hitchens talks to Goldblog about cancer and God,” The Atlantic (2010, August 6). See also Goldberg, “On the possibility of Christopher Hitchens finding Jesus” (2011, December 13).

Christopher Hitchens, “Trial of the Will,” Vanity Fair (2012, January).

Douglas Wilson, “Christopher Hitchens Has Died, Doug Wilson Reflects,” Christianity Today (2011, December 16). See link above.
Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when
called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.
(Oscar Wilde)
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#2
RE: Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)
(December 17, 2011 at 5:02 pm)Ryft Wrote: ...Hitchens would be counted as already dead if he went from loving sin and hating God to loving God and hating sin...
Any evidence to back up the idea that Hitchens loved sin and hated god?

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#3
RE: Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)
(December 17, 2011 at 5:02 pm)Ryft Wrote: Nobody of course knows what will be his ultimate fate other than the fact that, like everyone else, he will stand before the judgment throne of God.

You say that as if it is fact. Facts please?

Quote:As Wilson observed, it was almost as if Hitchens was “afraid of letting down the infidel team,” so to speak (para. 10), as if to express a sort of concern that his antitheistic legacy might be robbed of its credibility should he quite inexplicably turn to Christ in repentance and faith at the end.

I know you never said it, but the statement above is vile christian slyness.

Quote:We do not know if he turned to Christ; there is no reason to suppose he did and plenty of reasons to think he did not.

We know that he won't have done.

Quote: And that is a sad and sober thing, for on the day that he stands before the throne of God he would have nothing to which he can appeal but the 62 years he lived from April 13, 1949, until December 15, 2011, a life during which he heard the light of the gospel in many ways and from many people but preferred the darkness of life apart from Christ, the Son of God he defiantly reviled.

It isn't sad at all, only if your belief is true. And if your belief is true, then it is sad for the human race as a whole, believers and disbelievers alike.

You are currently experiencing a lucky and very brief window of awareness, sandwiched in between two periods of timeless and utter nothingness. So why not make the most of it, and stop wasting your life away trying to convince other people that there is something else? The reality is obvious.

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#4
RE: Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)
Joe Bloe and Norfolk And Chance,

None of your statements or questions have anything to do with either Christopher Hitchens or an introspective about the life or legacy of that iconic figure. Out of respect for Hitchens and those of us who mourn the loss of him, please do not hijack this thread.
Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when
called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.
(Oscar Wilde)
Reply
#5
RE: Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)
What's the point of this thread then? We all read it and admire the flowery language? It contains stuff that we find stupid and/or offensive, and perhaps we regard those things as an insult to the memory of Christopher Hitchens.

There is another memorial thread for Hitchens on these forums anyway. If you want the bullshit original post to stand unanswered, I suggest you lock the thread and sticky it or something.
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#6
RE: Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)
(December 18, 2011 at 1:38 pm)Ryft Wrote: Joe Bloe and Norfolk And Chance,

None of your statements or questions have anything to do with either Christopher Hitchens or an introspective about the life or legacy of that iconic figure. Out of respect for Hitchens and those of us who mourn the loss of him, please do not hijack this thread.

I just knew you wouldn't answer my question.

You say that Hitchens loved sin - and then accuse me of being disrespectful !
Reply
#7
RE: Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)
Quote:As Wilson observed, it was almost as if Hitchens was “afraid of letting down the infidel team,” so to speak

Horseshit, Ryft. What Hitch knew is that you xtians are a bunch of lying bastards always trying to make your imaginary sky-daddy look good.
Reply
#8
RE: Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)
A true icon,a true hero who's death shall not be forgotten any time soon...
[Image: pastafarian.png]
“Democracy is the road to Socialism.''
-Karl Marx

Reply
#9
RE: Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)
(December 18, 2011 at 1:38 pm)Ryft Wrote: Joe Bloe and Norfolk And Chance,

None of your statements or questions have anything to do with either Christopher Hitchens or an introspective about the life or legacy of that iconic figure. Out of respect for Hitchens and those of us who mourn the loss of him, please do not hijack this thread.

Who is hijacking the thread? I do not agree with some of the things said in the "tribute".
You are currently experiencing a lucky and very brief window of awareness, sandwiched in between two periods of timeless and utter nothingness. So why not make the most of it, and stop wasting your life away trying to convince other people that there is something else? The reality is obvious.

Reply
#10
RE: Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)
Ryft there are some things you said in there that are appropriate. However you should also realize that there are a lot of people who have a great respect for Hitchen's life and legacy. Saying it is unfortunate he was a rebellious sinner who loved sin is not going to be tolerated by many people with regards to Hitchen.

The reason people have problems with your tribute isn't because you are a Christian but because you are inserting preaching into it and talking about Hitchen's in a somewhat negative yet positive light. I know that you are simply stating what you believe but please be sensitive to people and the situation.

Now is not the right time to start making remarks about how Hitchen's is a sinner. I remember someone else saying to me recently that "I bet he is surprised now" and I scolded her for saying it. She said she wouldn't have said it to his family but it doesn't matter. If you want to show respect to the man please hold your comments about his sinful nature until later when people have had more time to deal with his passing.

This is of course not to say that a decent amount of your post was not respectful though.
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