Saturday, December 17, 2011

Goodbye Christopher Hitchens

I cried when I heard Christopher Hitchens - "Hitch" - had died. {Later (12/21): I don't know why I cried. I really don't. I didn't like anything the man had to say. Maybe it was because I saw him in the video with Douglas Wilson which highlighted the cordiality of their relationship. Wilson treated him with a great deal of respect, which is a good thing, but I nevertheless thought Hitchens' arguments were unintelligent -- unbelievers simply do not and cannot "get it" and I've come to the conclusion that there's no point in trying to change their minds. Scripture SAYS they can't get it. You have to believe the basics before you can get it.}

He was an icon of the atheist debates over the last decade or so, and of the Left going much further back than that, though in recent years he had begun to object to some of the Leftist arguments. He had charm and wit and even when I hated what he was saying I couldn't dislike him personally. {Later: I'm not sure that's true. I think I didn't like him really. His charm was very self-consciously cultivated and I did not like that. He did have wit but not of any high level. Must have written this too soon after his death, which for some reason did affect me.} I made a point of listening to the debates he participated in that I could find on the internet. {Later: I also made a point of listening to the debates Dawkins did, and many others on the atheist Christian-bashing circuit, and I don't "like" any of those people}.

It disturbs me greatly when Christians say goodbye to an unbeliever with "rest in peace" because it's a form of lying and denial of the faith. They should know an unbeliever cannot rest in peace after death. It is true that "now he knows" what he denied in his lifetime about another world beyond this one. I wish he'd discovered it in this life but he didn't and much as I might wish he could "rest in peace" I'd be denying the truth if I pretended it were possible.

David Horowitz counted him a personal friend both from his own leftist past and in his neo-conservative life, and he wrote this tribute to him. I also have to hope that David will eventually discover God as well.

Later: Found this obituary by Douglas Wilson at Christianity Today. He finishes with "R.I.P" after expressing the hope that God might still have converted him at the end, fair enough though by all the signs I'm aware of he remained adamantly unconverted to the end. There is a DVD of Pastor Wilson and Hitchens traveling and debating together available at Amazon and elsewhere, also free on You Tube. They developed something close to a friendship during their debates.

All the debates against Biblical Christianity come down to one thing in the end, which the Bible itself reveals:
1 Corinthians 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
Christopher Hitchens would rail against the "immorality" of Christ's death for our sins, basically its "foolishness" as seen by a good Greek mind. Our message is foolishness to the world, they can't hear it, and sometimes they get all exercised against it and throw us to the lions for it.


Wed Dec 21: Found This article by Peter Hitchens, Christopher's brother, on his completely different path from his brother's, back to Christianity. I think he does a very good job of making the case against his brother's atheism though of course he couldn't get Christopher to recognize it. But for me that was overshadowed by some of what he said about his own change of heart:
No doubt I should be ashamed to confess that fear played a part in my return to religion, specifically a painting: Rogier van der Weyden's 15th Century Last Judgement, which I saw in Burgundy while on holiday.

I had scoffed at its mention in the guidebook, but now I gaped, my mouth actually hanging open, at the naked figures fleeing towards the pit of Hell.

These people did not appear remote or from the ancient past; they were my own generation. Because they were naked, they were not imprisoned in their own age by time-bound fashions.

On the contrary, their hair and the set of their faces were entirely in the style of my own time. They were me, and people I knew.

I had a sudden strong sense of religion being a thing of the present day, not imprisoned under thick layers of time. My large catalogue of misdeeds replayed themselves rapidly in my head.

I had absolutely no doubt that I was among the damned, if there were any damned. Van der Weyden was still earning his fee, nearly 500 years after his death.

At around the same time I rediscovered Christmas, which I had pretended to dislike for many years. I slipped into a carol service on a winter evening, diffident and anxious not to be seen.

I knew perfectly well that I was enjoying it, although I was unwilling to admit it. I also knew I was losing my faith in politics and my trust in ambition, and was urgently in need of something else on which to build the rest of my life.

I am not exactly clear now how this led in a few months to my strong desire - unexpected by me or by my friends, but encouraged by my then unbelieving future wife - to be married in church.

But I can certainly recall the way the words of the Church of England's marriage service, at St Bride's in London, awakened thoughts in me that I had long suppressed. I was entering into my inheritance, as a Christian Englishman, as a man, and as a human being. It was the first properly grown-up thing that I had ever done.

The swearing of great oaths concentrates the mind. So did the baptisms first of my daughter and then of my wife who, raised as a Marxist atheist, trod another rather different path to the same place.

Read more:
...entering into my inheritance, as a Christian Englishman, as a man, and as a human being.
I had a similar sort of feeling when I was finally solidly a believer -- along with the amazing discovery that it was all real, that God is real, that there is such a thing as salvation, that God purchased it for me, all the wonderful discoveries of this previously unthinkable and aggressively rejected and repudiated but now vividly real Reality beside which everything else paled into nothingness -- besides all that there was this sense of having "entered into my inheritance" that I had vaguely apprehended as a child, salvation, yes, but this was also the culture I had grown up in suddenly showing itself to be a Christian culture and me having been given its opportunities which I had repudiated. The first Christmas after becoming a believer that I experienced in a church I just sat there and sobbed uncontrollably as all those familiar carols were being sung, actually reclaimed in my case, pulled out of the darkness into the light, all of them remembered from childhood and heard off and on throughout over forty years of my life without really being heard, now suddenly full of meaning, full of the Truth that had now become mine. It was a joyful crying of course, but there was so much of the pain of the loss from those previous years in it now finding release it's almost hard to recognize the joy. Oh but joy there is. This is my inheritance, this is reality, this is what I was made for, this is what I had all my life but didn't know I had and only now really have. This great great real real God, this beautiful Savior for whom the most glorious of carols could never be sufficient, to whom we rightly sing adoration, adoration, adoration and lift our hearts to realms of glory that otherwise have no excuse for existing at all in the cramped dark outlook of this benighted earth.

I have to repeat that, it's so true:
...realms of glory that otherwise have no excuse for existing at all in the cramped dark outlook of this benighted earth.
"Grandeur" in the evolutionistic view of things? Oh Darwin, what you missed out on.

God might have allowed me such an exalted experience without the holiday of Christmas, I'm sure, but I have to think such a concentration of expressions of Glory in the Highest was intended by Him, and refuse to accept the debunkery of those who put it all down to a cheap Christianized version of paganism.

Yes I recognize that this post was supposed to be about Christopher Hitchens and I've taken it back to the recent post about Christmas, but oh well.

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