I was saddened to hear this morning of the passing of humanist author Christopher Hitchens. I had to opportunity to read quite a bit of his work over the last few years, especially while working at the Clark County Public Library. He was brilliant and I found myself drawn to him in many ways. But, what really struck me about him though was his sadness. It was as if I could feel his sadness radiating from everything he wrote. The man had no hope beyond what humans and science could accomplish.
He definitely had courage and rarely did anything that you would expect him to do which made him fascinating. He was a liberal yet he supported the Iraq war, he attacked everyone from Bill Clinton to Mother Teresa, he championed of the working class while living in luxury, and he preferred the term Anti-Theist over Athiest because he believed religion poisoned everything…all religion.
I’m sad to hear of his passing because I’m not sure he ever really delighted in living or enjoyed life as if should be lived. I mean I know he enjoyed alcohol and cigarettes. I’m sure he must have enjoyed his time with his wife and children. He probably enjoyed his mistress that he left his wife for, and the child they had together. But true delight in his life?
You might think I’m trying to attack Hitchens because he was an atheist, but I’m not. While I don’t agree with his him, I understand it. It takes great faith to be an atheist. All religions have left black marks on history and so few people seem to represent their faith well, so I can understand a person rejecting religion. (Although, atheism is technically a religion by definition since a religion is the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs.)
I’m just sad to see a life lived so selfishly, spreading such animosity, and rejecting relationships with so many people, including his own brother Peter who converted to Christianity from Atheism. For any man to let hopelessness be his only legacy is indeed a tragedy and I grieve for Hitchens today. All I can feel as I hear of his death is sadness and it makes me want to love people better.
If Hitchens was wrong about God and gets to speak with Him, then I’m sure the conversation will go something like the poetry in wisdom literature of Job 38-40. This may be the only conversation any of us are entitled to: (3) Then Job answered the LORD: (4) “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.” (Job 40: 3-4)