Heavenly Hitchens? Oh Please!

I’ve been bamboozled by the Christian commentary I’m seeing this evening on New Athiest author Christopher Hitchens. Having heard of his long anticipated death Christians leaders are falling over themselves trying to explain how he’s now, or just might be, in heaven. Just to show how nice and non-judgemental we all are.

It strikes me as chaplaincy gone mad. Hitchens made it quite clear he wanted no prayers or posthumous salvation attempts. Indeed, this is exactly the sort of thing he used to snear at. Why can’t Christians respect the right of non-Christians to reject the Messiah and the God he revealed? It smells of Christendom spirit to deny freedom of irreligion and freedom from heaven.

12 Comments

  1. Yeah. Completely agree. It was the same with Steve Jobs. Sure. There’s always the hope of a death bed confession/repentance – but to talk up the possibility just seems bizarre. Particularly Wilson’s efforts. At least with Hitchens it is pretty clear he knew exactly what the gospel he was rejecting involved.

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  2. Hitchens was nasty and tried to do as much damage as he could to the Christian faith. It is natural that those who have had to contend with his bitter words now have something to say. You will probably find however that most Christians hope that in his final hours he yielded to God. Any rational person knows that atheism offers nothing, no peace, no contentment, and it’s no wonder this man always looked so miserable!!

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  3. I recommend his ‘Letters to a Young Contrarian’ as a good way to test your concept of Christian intellectual ethics. I concluded that Contrarianism (if that’s the word for the Contrarian life stance) is not a defensibly Christian practice; too adversarial for how we are to treat each other and pursue progress. We can learn much from it though, and Mr Hitchens did it better than almost anyone. Always intelligent and engaged, recognising the risk of being often wrong, and preferring that to apathy and stagnation. Vale (and excuse the etymology).

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  4. Well, if Contrarianism means taking an opposing view for the sake of taking an opposing view I’d agree it would be difficult to square with the Christian peacemaking ethic. Was Hitchens truly contrarian though? He liked to stir the pot, sure, but I gather he did believe in what he said.

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  5. No, I don’t think anyone defines ‘Contrarian’ as favouring opposition for it’s own sake. But it means consistent rationalist polemic as a means to progress; a kind of intellectual survival of the fittest.

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  6. Tania said:
    Any rational person knows that atheism offers nothing, no peace, no contentment, and it’s no wonder this man always looked so miserable!!
    You sure about that? There are an awful lot of atheists out there. Since they’re atheists, one might think they must be getting something out of it.
    Seriously, making blanket statements about what other people “get out of” their beliefs (or lack thereof) is not a good idea. It suggests that you think you know those people’s minds better than they do. And hey, it’s their minds. That’s a pretty serious claim to make, even implicitly.

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  7. Hitchens’ brother is a Christian. Guess we should also be compassionate toward him and how he is handling all this stuff during his grieving for his brother.

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  8. Meanwhile of course Hitchens was a cheer-leader for dreadful situation described in this book.
    http://erasingiraq.com
    And the now never-ending “war on terror” – whatever that could possible mean. That phrase is pure Orwellian double-speak. It is even more tragically and darkly ironic that Hitchen’s was a fan of Orwell, at least when it suited him.
    Hitchens also became directly associated with the right-wing Hoover Institute which, again ironically, contains some very heavy-weight apologists for right-wing Christianity or the kind of religion that Hitchen’s quite rightly despised.

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  9. Wow Jarred you sure read between the lines – I talked of atheism – an ideology and what it offers. I didn’t say about what athiests gets out of it or delve into their minds. I have atheist friends who are honest enough to admit that atheism offers nothing. If they are ok with nothing, that is their choice, but most people aren’t!
    What’s more he did look miserable! You didn’t deal with that ‘blanket statement’ or the fact that he was nasty, another blanket statement, (which btw just means a strong statement that you just don’t like – or was that a blanket statement?)

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  10. I’ve been thinking lately, I’d like to explore the arguments of Jesus more. While his over arching program was one of forgiveness and reconciliation, he clearly saw polemic as warranted in a number of conversations with the Pharisees. Which begs the question, when is polemic ethical for the Christian?

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  11. I have atheist friends who are honest enough to admit that atheism offers nothing.
    Reread that statement and think about it carefully. Then consider that I have atheist friends who believe that atheism offers plenty.
    If your atheists friends who say atheism offers nothing are “honest enough,” what does that make my friends who disagree with them? Liars? How can you comment on the accuracy or honesty of their opinion without claiming to not be delving into their minds?
    What’s more he did look miserable!
    I haven’t looked at many pictures of Mr. Hitchens. In the picture Matt included, I’m not convinced he looks miserable. I’d say he could just be looking pretty serious, which is not the same.
    But even if we accept that he looks miserable, there’s no reason to jump to the conclusion that his misery stems from his atheism. Maybe he’s having a bad day for other reasons. Maybe he’s having severe health issues. Maybe something happened at work. I’d argue that you’ve assumed his misery is due to his atheism simply because it suits your narrative rather than on any verifiable evidence.
    You didn’t deal with that ‘blanket statement’ or the fact that he was nasty,
    Was he nasty? Or did he simply say things you didn’t like?
    And quite frankly, I can find examples of miserable and nasty Christians. Would you appreciate it if I started making blanket statements about how that’s the “true nature” of Christianity showing through? Would you take issue with that? I’m guessing you would.
    (which btw just means a strong statement that you just don’t like – or was that a blanket statement?)
    No, a blanket statement is a statement where you observe something about one person or a small sample of people and universally apply it to all members of a larger population or a particular ideology that group or person adheres to. I also take issue with blanket statements in which people generalize the nasty things some Christians say and do to all of Christianity and have spoken out about them — even when made by fellow Pagans. (There are a couple examples of this on this blog, in fact.)
    I also take issue with people who allow strong disagreements with others to edge them towards making personal comments about those with whom they disagree, which I feel you are doing with Mr. Hitchens. And again, this is something I take issue with as universally as possible. For example, I also take issue with people who make derogatory comments about Maggie Gallagher’s looks, despite the fact that I find Ms. Gallagher’s theology and politics of lies and deceptions to be highly objectionable and worthy of much criticism.

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  12. oh does it make you feel better if in front of every sentence I say “in my opinion?” In my opinion my friends are being very honest when they say that atheism offers nothing. In my opinion the dude was nasty and looked miserable. In my opinion “blanket statements” and “generalisations” are something we all do but only pick up in others when we want to make something out of nothing. In my opinion your argument was simply nitpicking and verbose. You have not said what atheism offers on its own. In my opinion and in my experience atheists need something else alongside their ideology ie Buddhism, Paganism, Alcoholism etc. It is my opinion that at the end of the day atheism offers nothing!

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