Remembering Christopher Hitchens
I just happened to stumble upon this article about the last days of Christopher Hitchens. An acclaimed public intellectual, writer, and one of the four horsemen of New Atheism, Hitchens died from pnemonia (a complication of oesophageal cancer) on December 15, 2011. He was 62 years old.
Lines like this are part of the reason I loved Christopher Hitchens. He called Christians out on our bullshit and did so with a dry wit that made those of us with a sense of humor laugh. I was a fan of his work, following his writings for publications such as Slate and Vanity Fair and even reading a few of his books. I think Hitchens was wrong about God. I think his writings on atheism could have benefited from actual study of metaphysics and contemporary theology. In spite of these shortcomings, I will always admire his intellect, skepticism, and relentless pursuit of truth.
Christopher Hitchens will always be one of those famous individuals I wish I could have met but never will. Had I met him, I don’t think I would have asked for an autograph or told him that I was his biggest Christian fan. Instead, I think I would have wanted to have a conversation with the man. I would have wanted to hear his story, gotten some advice on writing, and maybe pick up a joke or two.
I would have told Christopher Hitchens that the church needs critics like him. Had he been interested, I might have even offered him a testimony of what a difference the Christian faith has made in my life and how the church has supported me and my family over the years. If it wouldn’t have offended him – and I don’t suspect it would have – I would have prayed for him.
I don’t know why Christopher Hitchens’ pursuit of truth led him away from God. I’m not sure why he opposed religion so vehemently, or why he chose to focus only on the sins of the church while ignoring all of the good religion has accomplished. My hope is that Christopher Hitchens’ pursuit of truth didn’t end at death. And that maybe, just maybe, he’ll find what he was looking for somewhere in eternity. Perhaps then I’d get to have that conversation after all.
I think I’ll still pray for Christopher Hitchens.