Christopher Hitchens

I’ve read some good reflections on Hitchens’ death in the last few days from the following authors:

  • Doug Wilson, who had many debates with him and turned some of them into a movie, Collision (hat tip: Rick via Facebook)
  • Ross Douthat, who helped me understand a bit why I always enjoyed reading Hitchens’ columns (hat tip: one of Joel’s comments on this post)
  • Brian Mattson, who began with William Cowper’s poem about Voltaire and made what I thought was a good comparison between Hitchens and Voltaire
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5 comments

  1. I really liked Douthat’s eulogy. I’m not familiar enough with Hitchens’ life or perspectives (particularly his economic views) to summarize him, but from what I saw, he was remarkable for his knowledge and his passionate logical and moral arguments.

    It’s almost as if he whole heartedly believed in an objective morality, and because of that he could not embrace Christianity as he would like. Christianity was logically inconsistent and even perversely immoral the way he looked at it. I think all people share these concerns that he gave such eloquent voice to.

    He asked good questions. He made profound moral statements. He struck me as brave and honest. And I learned many new words from him. 🙂 I’ll miss all of that.

  2. I thought that Douthat’s was great, too. When you said, “It’s almost as if he whole heartedly believed in an objective morality, and because of that he could not embrace Christianity as he would like. Christianity was logically inconsistent and even perversely immoral the way he looked at it,” I think that you nailed his perspective.

    What new words did you learn?

    One of my enduring memories is his explanation of why he didn’t like ties: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/fighting_words/2008/04/one_angry_man.html

    “One reason that I try never to wear a tie is the advantage that it so easily confers on anyone who goes berserk on you. There you are, with a ready-made noose already fastened around your neck. All the opponent needs to do is grab hold and haul.”

  3. Good question. Unfortunately, I can’t recall specific words… I just remember being impressed by his vocabulary while reading his articles or hearing him on C-SPAN, and then looking up words. I keep a list of some words and their definitions as I learn them, but I don’t track sources, so I’d just be guessing which were from him. From the Slate article you link, I’d look up “pram” but that’s about it. “umbrage” at one time maybe? Alas, perhaps I have a sense of too many words now to be surprised.

    Your Hitchen’s quote is wonderful and it reminds me of Totten’s account: “Christopher Hitchens Attacked by Syrian Nazis“. That’s the bravery I was thinking of. Not wearing a tie is only practical given his defiant nature. I’m moved to embrace his reasoning and not wear a tie myself, but I fear it’d be wishful thinking that I’m brave enough to deface a swastika amongst nazis. But if I ever do find the courage, I’ll be sure to remove my tie first. 🙂

    “The SSNP,” I said, “is the last party you want to mess with in Lebanon. I’m sorry I didn’t warn you properly. This is partly my fault.”

    “I appreciate that,” Christopher said. “But I would have done it anyway. One must take a stand. One simply must.”

  4. Thanks for posting these. I normally don’t follow the lives of celebrities and their passings, but I felt a real sense of loss with the passing of Christopher Hitchens. I remember reading interviews with his brother Peter after the publication of “The Rage Against God” some years ago about their sibling rivalry and the disparate courses their lives took at times. Christopher could at one moment seem very bigoted and closed minded and the next moment open minded, thoughtful and willing to reexamine his positions if he found them wanting. He was certainly brilliant and well read, almost a man from another age. That was a quality respected by all, I think. One got the sense that he really was sincerely trying to follow his conscience, however corrupted it may have been. I felt sorry that he didn’t seem to find peace in this life and sincerely hope that behind the scenes he was able to make his peace with the Creator of the universe. Cancer is a pretty crappy, humbling way to die. Hopefully, God was able to use it for his own redemptive purposes.

    • I hope so too. Like you and Kevin, I felt very saddened. I suppose part of it was that even though I had only seen him on TV and read his columns, and not his books, he seemed very knowable.

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