Christopher Hitchens

I cannot say I admire his work, but Christopher Hitchens will be admired by me for his willingness to confront and engage ideas contrary to his own.  I have seen few Atheist activists, of which Hitchens was one, so quick to accept debates or public appearances with Christian apologists to discuss and argue for his religious points of view.

My perception of Hitchens was that he was nonchalantly angry with God and religion.  By that I mean he was always very calm, but harsh in his rhetoric towards religion and God.  Many other Atheist activists would wear their emotion on their sleeve, getting worked up over Someone they were convinced didn’t exist.

I do admire his honesty to unflinchingly criticize Islam openly where others would shy.  Many Atheists avoid criticism of Islam publicly knowing the reprisals could prove injurious and, thus, attack a more reserved easy religious target: Christianity.

When all is said and done, Hitchens leaves behind many fans who could relate to his profession of atheism.  I know he will be missed by many writers, journalists, bloggers and fellow Atheists deeply — deservedly so.

Comments

  1. Terrance H. says:

    John,

    I respect you more after this post. You looked at Hitchens’ life and work objectively, something a lot of believers may not have done. Excellent post!

  2. I’ve seen roughly 10 conservative / Christian blogs and Facebook comments on Hitchens’ death and was glad to see that not one was disrespectful or snarky.

  3. Having been to several funerals over the years, I have watched, participated and recieved the perfunctory niceness of people who otherwise have very poor relations with the deceased. But that is OK, we aren’t all meant to agree.

    But not knowing your particular soteriological position, I thought I may ask:
    Behind your compliments of Hitchen’s honesty, debate-readiness, calm rhetorics, and fearless critique of Islam, which of these best describes what you think is his present condition:

    (a) Burning in a lake of fire, or rotting in hell or some such horrible, well-deserved, tortous penalty for non-belief

    (b) Non-existence, his soul was annihilated rather that granted eternal bliss in heaven.

    (c) “I don’t know, I leave that to God to decide. (but, shhhhh, we all know that the probably is very high that he went straight to hell)”

    (d) Just dead — like dead deer, chimps and bacteria. Just dead.

    (e) Being reincarnated until he gets it right

    I am honoring Hitchens (as you have done) by asking you this question which I think he would have approved.

  4. Marshall Art says:

    I always thought Hitchens was the type of guy that if I knew him personally, I might want to smack him. He seemed incredibly pompous and arrogant. Yet, I loved hearing him talk almost as much as it seemed he did. He was a very smart man in some respects, not so in others, but always sounded intelligent regardless.

  5. Thanx John. I always found it interesting that Christians could actually be OK being polite about non-Christians while they quietly and simultaneously felt those people deserved to burn in torment.

  6. Well, don’t you agree that you post title could have also read:

    Hitchens deserves to burn in Hell for eternity, but I admire him and will miss him.

    Sure, with more depth of an explanation, somehow you can make that all fit, but on the surface, you have to admit, perhaps it has a taste of inconsistency.

  7. Sabio, John paid the man his due respect at the time of his death. That’s all.

    You would have been better to take it for what it was and left it at that.

    You may take this comment however you like, and you may respond. But I won’t reply.

    A man has died. John’s post was appropriate and civil.

  8. Marshall Art says:

    There is absolutely no inconsistency with pointing out both the good traits of an individual and the bad, acknowledging that consequences follow both. A sorry attempt by Sabio to discredit our host and our beliefs.

  9. @ John
    Actually, I see my posts as questioning assumptions behind the posts. That may be offensive or challenging but concerning Hitchens you said, “but Christopher Hitchens will be admired by me for his willingness to confront and engage ideas contrary to his own”.

    I get that you admire some traits of his, but overall, you consider him great material for burning. So maybe you should not have “gone to the funeral”. In light of your true evaluation, maybe now is not a time for you to speak up. People often go to funerals (as my first comment noted), not because they care, but to look good. Have you done that — said a few nice things, but really you feel he is rightfully damnable. Yes, that is what people do at funerals, but there have been several films done to expose this comedy.

    I think this is directly addressing your post — but it may not be what you wish to hear. But I am willing to confront and engage ideas contrary to my own.

  10. @ John
    No, John, I know you look on his unending torment with a shake of the head, saying “What a pity, but well deserved.”

    • Assuming that’s true, so what? Unless of course you are attempting to make me out to be some “burn, you filthy atheist, burn!!” Christian. Which, I am confident you are doing because of your harping on the issue as opposed to letting me just say my peace.

  11. @ John
    Thanks, you inspired a post: Who should go to funerals?.
    No, John, I think you are simply saying, “Poor atheist — you rightfully burn. Oh, and, I think your willingness to debate was cool even though it was totally worthless in the long run, giggle.”

    • Hitchens posed no threat to me or my convictions. What he did do was provide for me an opportunity to gain an honest civil perspective — though politely vitrioloc — from an Atheist of noteriety other than his atheism. Hitchens was a respected journalist and op-ed contributer for recognized media sources. Most other atheists are mere philosophy professors selling books, or washed up biologists trying to stay relevant content mocking from an insulated distance, and are otherwise irrelevant. But Hitchens was actually relevant to society aside from his atheism and books to people who had no interest in his theology.

      I wrote my “tribute” to him because I had personally interacted with his ideas. They did have some effect on me even if it was not his desired effect. I have read his books, I have written on his ideas, I have read his columns. Why should I recuse myself from offering a condolence for his character that I appreciated? Must I adore the man or else stay silent?

      I find it cynical to sneer at the Christians who do offer a condolence simply because they believe the man will answer his Maker without redemption. Respect enables me and others to offer politeness and condolence without personal unanimous concurance.

  12. Terrance H. says:

    Sabio,

    You’re making yourself seem like a sad, angry little man who can only get his rocks off by frolicking about the blogosphere insulting the silly believers you imagine yourself to be brighter than. In so doing, you’re giving a bad name to all of us nonbelievers, because if the introduction to atheism one encounters is this display, then believing it to be a philosophy championed merely by choleric jackasses, or else mean old men, is nearly inevitable.

    John’s thoughtful, respectful post should have been allowed to stand on its own, unquestioned.

  13. @ John Barron
    Was it Hitchen’s conservative traits that you valued? Had you given concrete compliments of how you feel he actually benefitted society would have helped.

    @ Terrance
    I don’t want you to feel unloved, but I tend to ignore lambasting comments like yours.

  14. Since you weren’t “eulogizing” some aspect of his life, it seemed instead that you used his death to point toward your theology — something I felt important to point out more clearly.

  15. Really, “laughable”? Nice choice.

    You said,

    I know he will be missed by many writers, journalists, bloggers and fellow Atheists deeply — deservedly so.

    So tell us why you feel his being missed is “deservedly so”. Because he was “quick to accept debates with Christian apologists” or because he was “nonchalantly angry with God and religion” or because you feel he did not “wear their emotion on their sleeve”?

    You were using his death to put down other atheists who are emotional about someone they don’t believe it and who don’t criticize Islam. I simply brought out a bit more of your religious position in light of the fact that you weren’t talking really about Hitchens but using his death to criticize others.

  16. So you didn’t tell us why Hitchens should be “deservedly” missed.

  17. Terrance H. says:

    Sabio,

    How charmed I feel, since you didn’t ignore my comment.

  18. Terrance H. says:

    Sabio,

    Let me try and answer that question.

    Atheism, I think you’ll agree, is the fastest growing philosophical movement in the world. It is because of this that we atheists can expect to have our views questioned. This very blog is, in part, devoted to disproving, questioning, debating atheists and our lack of faith. We need this discussion to always go on, and we need intelligent, notable intellectuals engaging in civil debate with believers. This is one reason I miss Christopher HItchens.

    Christians should miss him because they need to have formidable opponents to debate with, because if they don’t, they miss the opportunity to have their faith grow even stronger. So, I think many of them, John for certain, want the debate with such an obviously brilliant man, if only to solidify their own beliefs.

    But I also think you’re missing something: Christopher HItchens was a human being first and foremost. That, alone, is enough to mourn his passing, whether you agreed with his philosophical persuasion or not.

    If you want to argue with John, believe me, you’ll have your opportunity. But to turn this piece into ammunition for some bizarre little war you’re having with John is not only disrespectful to John, but to the memory of Christopher Hitchens as well. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  19. Marshall Art says:

    “@ Terrance
    I don’t want you to feel unloved, but I tend to ignore lambasting comments like yours.”

    Seems you’re too busy being impressed with your comments lambasting others to do so.

    John lists a few reasons right in his post why Hitchens will be missed. You’re obviously intent on focusing on anything that will discredit John and those like him. How sad.

    • @Marshall

      In Sabio’s “defense” he seems to just skim my posts.

      @Sabio

      “So you didn’t tell us why Hitchens should be “deservedly” missed”

      — his willingness to confront and engage ideas contrary to his own
      — quick to accept debates or public appearances with Christian apologists to discuss and argue for his religious points of view.
      — his honesty to unflinchingly criticize Islam openly where others would shy
      — [has] many fans who could relate to his profession of atheism

      These are just the four reasons why Hitchens will be deservedly missed. They are all direct quotes from the post itself. Stop skimming.

  20. Just as John Barron attempts to address what he sees as the corruptive, deadly assumptions of liberals and atheists, Christopher Hitchens was unashamed to address the horrible assumptions of religions. Hitchens spoke out against the pernicious, exclusivist-damnation philosophy found in many forms of Islam and Christianity. I felt this exclusive-damnation meme was behind the text of John’s non-compliments of Hitchens in this post. I think Hitchens’ ghost would be glad for my pointing this out. It is only with careful reading (not skimming) that one sees underlying assumptions, as John understands very well. But, of course, we can all be wrong in our analysis — especially those of us who are angry, little, shameful, cynical, sneering, disrespectful, bizarre and sad (to quote some of the derisions heaped upon me in these comments).

    Naked Pastor just offered an honorable tribute to Hitchens:
    http://nakedpastor.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=4d03b90f9fff26c211dc4eb54&id=fd68d74adc&e=0e9684b888

    • So since you are convinced there are ulterior intentions, you are determined to discover them. Like I said, you import intent where there was none.

      My post had nothing to do with Hitchens’ ultimate destination. You imposed that on my post by asking me about my thoughts on it, then claim it is the subliminal drive for my post.

      Do you ever just engage the written post? Or is it in your commenting nature turn the discussion where ever you think it was “meant” to go?

  21. I don’t think I said anything about “ulterior intentions” or any other “intentions”. No did I say you had a “subliminal drive”. Instead, I am saying that your position that Hitchens deserves to burn and suffer for eternity for his unbelief screams rightfully louder than your empty, supposed compliments. All others here disagree with me.

    • I don’t think I said anything about “ulterior intentions” or any other “intentions”. No did I say you had a “subliminal drive”.

      But that’s what you meant.

  22. Marshall Art says:

    Hitchen’s ghost? I hope that was tongue-in-cheek from an atheist. And what an arrogant sense of self-importance that one could suppose one knows without doubt the sincerity of another’s compliments. Talk about what screams out to the reader!

  23. Ironically, John, I think your issue is that you just skim at best, or at worse, intentionally misread.
    Marshall, you are indeed an astute reader. With tongue-in-cheek, how can it be anything but playful? I love the continued righteous derisions — brilliant rhetorical flare!

  24. Marshall Art says:

    It is indeed righteous to call you out for the obvious presumption in your comments.

  25. Indeed, you are from a noble line of great prophets, warning the people of their horrible transgressions. Carry on great prophet.

  26. Well, Sabio. Congrats. You’ve managed to ruin what was a perfectly appropriate message about a man at his passing. Pretty damned low.

  27. Marshall Art says:

    Prophesy is hardly required for what I stated is so very obvious.

  28. “I always found it interesting that Christians could actually be OK being polite about non-Christians while they quietly and simultaneously felt those people deserved to burn in torment.”

    Sabio (deliberately?) distorts Christian views to make a petty dig at John. There is nothing illogical about saying that there were things one can appreciate about Hitchens while pointing to the truth that without trust in Jesus he will spend eternity in Hell.

    Sabio implies that we want people to go to Hell. If that was the case then we’d stop sharing the Gospel. Think of all the time, money and hassle we’d save if we did that!

    And the Christian worldview is that we, as Christians, deserve Hell just like Hitchens but that we are saved by the grace of God.

    Sabio’s initial comment also conflated torture with torment. Big difference.

    I encourage critics of Christianity to be more careful in understanding their subject matter. Straw man arguments are time-wasters.

  29. P.S. Clarification on the torture vs. torment comment — Sabio righly used torment in the comment I quoted. I was referring to his use of torture in his original comment: “(a) Burning in a lake of fire, or rotting in hell or some such horrible, well-deserved, tortous penalty for non-belief”

  30. I’m a little late to the party, but I’ll add my two cents. Sabio has taken a lot of flak for failing to be politically correct in regard to the appropriateness of a blogger’s conciliatory post on the occasion of a great man’s passing. While I agree that his response to John’s post was a bit provocative, and not particularly popular here, I think it honored Hitchens’ spirit most beautifully. In a wonderful interview of Hitchens on BBC soon after his cancer treatment began, he was asked if he regretted being so divisive at times. His answer, egregiously paraphrased, was that he didn’t believe in uniting people for the sake of harmony, but proudly stood by his role as a divider of sense from nonsense. When a man thinks he sees clearly that a doctrine or view is false, popular, and therefore dangerous, it is not appropriate to engage in platitudes for the sake of decorum. Sabio asked, as he should, what John’s opinion was in regard to the fate of Hitchens beyond the grave. John gave his reponse that he believed that the man was condemned to eternal torment in Hell, the only response consonant with his beliefs.

    Sabio’s mistake was to argue the point further. Mr. Hitchens would have finished the point at that point with a simple rejoinder. “I rest my case.”

  31. Very well said, Max. It was getting a bit lonely on this thread. :-)

  32. Marshall Art says:

    “Sabio’s mistake was to argue the point further. Mr. Hitchens would have finished the point at that point with a simple rejoinder. “I rest my case.””

    And what case was being made? That there is something inconsistent with admiring the good qualities of someone likely doomed to eternal damnation? Not much of a case if that was it. No one on this side takes joy with the likelihood of Hitchens’ destination, and most would be thrilled to find out that our understanding of the afterlife lacked what atheists and weaker christians demand, an absolute final last chance so that everybody goes to Heaven. It’s just that there’s no justification for that hope. What’s more, it’s very much a Christian trait to see the good in people, even when people expose their more wicked selves. So if there was some point Sabio was trying to make, that wasn’t just a lame attack on the character and beliefs of our host, I can’t see it.

  33. Sabio ignores the fact that Christians do not make the rules. Christians do not condemn anyone to hell. A person condemns himself to hell. He alone chooses to bask in the the love and forgiveness of God by obeying his commands or, as Hitchens’ life demonstrated, sets his throne above the stars and desires to be like the most High God. I do not know if Hitchens in the end turned to a saving faith in the only source for eternal life. I pray he is in a state of bliss right now.

  34. If he’s in a state of bliss right now (I think he’s most likely in an early state of decay) it would have nothing to do with “turning to a saving faith.” He accepted responsibility for leading a life that was likely to lead to an early death and his only regrets were in causing suffering to friends and family. Hitchens knew that we all die and when we do that’s all there is. He didn’t harbor secret fantasies of eternal life. It’s one shot and you make the most of it. No, Christians don’t make the rules. Nobody does. It’s our job to be wide open to discovering the ways of the universe and to try to find harmony with them. Knowledge isn’t given or revealed magically. It’s discovered through sustained openness and effort. Hitchens had his preferred way of making that effort which isn’t right for everybody. Somehow I think it worked for him, but he probably would have liked it to last a little longer. When asked if he wished he could have done more with his time he said yes, but he would have felt the same way if he died at 100. Sounds pretty wise to me.

  35. Max, with your logic, what right have you to be upset if I were to slap you in the face? If I can choose to make my own way, then I believe that people who think like you should be slapped. The only morality you can claim is might. If you can stop me from slapping you then you are right. If you can’t then I am right. If I “discover” that slapping you in the face makes me happy, I should be able to do it. It may not be right for everybody, but I should be able to live how I want to.

    Why should you laud Hitchens for his regrets that he caused suffering? If death is all there is, why should we worry about how miserable we make other people in this life? Your insistence on imposing a Judeo-Christian morality speaks to your conscience knowing that there is a God who set the rules of morality in place.

  36. what right have you to be upset if I were to slap you in the face?

    I don’t think it’s a matter of “right” but a matter of a normal human reaction to pain mixed with surprise and confusion. I consider myself a pacifist, which means not that I see no reason ever to engage in violence, but that it is seldom the wisest first resort. In short, I’d try to understand why you slapped me before I’d consider physical retribution. Could that be what Jesus was getting at with “turn the other cheek”?

    If death is all there is, why should we worry about how miserable we make other people in this life?

    A lot of things I’ve read backed by my experience and natural temperament leads me to believe that the quality of the life I enjoy here and now has a lot to do with how I treat others.

    Your insistence on imposing a Judeo-Christian morality speaks to your conscience knowing that there is a God who set the rules of morality in place.

    I was raised a Christian, so a lot of Judeo-Christian philosophical concepts are natural to me. I think Jesus, and probably many of the Jewish prophets who preceded him, experienced transcendent states of being that led them to formulate wonderful guides to living in harmony with others. I see no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but the truth as I see it is that there is some truly disgusting bathwater to do away with if we want to keep that baby clean.

  37. @Max,

    So you think Jesus is a liar, then? Jesus claimed to be God and said he was the exclusive way to salvation. You cannot think him merely a good man who “experienced a trascendant state of being that led him to formulate wonderful guides to live in harmony with others” when Jesus claimed to be God.

    You, logically, have to choose whether he is God as he claimed or is a liar.

  38. By the way, Max, my initial comment was hyperbole. I don’t think you should be slapped.

  39. DT, I don’t know what Jesus actually said and neither do you. We know the result of a 2000 year old game of broken telephone. He might have said a lot of things. I have no reason to brand him a liar.

    And I’m glad you don’t plan on slapping me (at the moment).

  40. I don’t think it’s a bad description, and shouldn’t really be that provocative. I’ve read a little on the historic Jesus, and it’s remarkable how little there is to know. It’s almost all speculation who he really was and what can be attributed to him directly. First, there’s the fact that very few were literate in his time and era, and stories were spread orally for many decades before being written down. Then there is the natural tendency of church leaders to edit and manipulate the various versions of his reputed teachings to develop a canonical ‘Truth’ to be adhered to thenceforth for political reasons. I think the only thing we can be fairly sure of is that there’s almost nothing we’re sure of.

    There are even some who, I’m sure you’re aware, question his very existence. I question everything, but my gut feeling is he did exist and that he was a striking and highly charismatic person, probably highly intelligent and committed to social change. The man Jesus and the mythical Jesus of the Bible are two entirely different things, however. One is a real human being, forever shrouded in mystery, the other is a work of fiction created by human beings with a powerful agenda. I’ll repeat it because I truly believe it. I don’t know, Dog Tags doesn’t know, and you don’t know what the historical Jesus really said. No one does and it’s doubtful anyone ever will.

    This probably isn’t your favorite historical source, but it’s there, at least as legitimate as the Bible.

    • Max

      The Jesus seminar is on the far left fringe NT scholarship. Their views are not representative of even skeptics in the field, and are not cited by those in the field as references. Their methodology for determining what Jesus said is nonsensical and entirely self-serving.

      If it is supernatural, he probably didn’t say it
      If it sounds too Jewish, he probably didn’t say it
      If it sounds too Christian, he probably didn’t say it
      If it is not found in more than one writing, he probably didn’t say it

      This is silliness, and no wonder they conclude we don’t know what he said. None of this criteria is based on the documents, but rather their self imposed standards. They had an agenda going into it. If you’re touting the Jesus seminar then you went fishing, you didn’t take the entire scope of scholarship.

      What makes it so ridiculous is if we applied the Jesus Seminar’s standard to my blog, they’d conclude I probably didn’t say anything on here, likewise with anyone else for that matter.

  41. If people really want to know more about the oral tradition and the reliability of the Gospels, I recommend Can We Trust the Gospels?: Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John by Mark Roberts. http://www.amazon.com/Can-Trust-Gospels-Investigating-Reliability/dp/1581348665/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1324649164&sr=8-1 . It is an easy read but thorough and helpful.

    Yes, the Jesus Seminar is a joke. I think they voted that only one verse of the Gospel of John belongs there. And any passage hinting at God’s judgment or wrath must be removed. The worst part about those fakes is that they claim to really, really like Jesus. It just happens that they made up their own version of him, which is truly a fictional one.

    An employee wanted to give me a Christian book for Christmas so he found one that looked good to him (“The Greatest Prayer” by John Dominic Crossan). My guess is that he figured a book about the Lord’s Prayer would be a safe bet. But Crossan is part of the Jesus Seminar, and just scanning the book yesterday revealed all sorts of his falsehoods. Ugh.

  42. Yes, I went googling a bit, and that was about the only source I found that didn’t have a cross on the page somewhere. There are others I could have mentioned. Elaine Pagels “The Gnostic Gospels” was one of the most remarkable books I’d read many years ago that opened up my eyes into how much the early Church had controlled the message by eliminating all material that didn’t fit with the view they were trying to advance.

    Another good one is “Jesus: a Life” by A.N. Wilson, which attempts to put together a true biography of the real human being. Neither of these works approach the subject from a hostile point of view which is one of the primary reasons I was attracted to reading them. I’m just very curious about a man who caused so much powerful social change in his brief life. I’m also very drawn to works about the historical Buddha, another figure shrouded in mystery. Someday no doubt Mohammed will get his turn. It’s when you examine works like these that you begin to see the commonalities in the religious experience of these figures. It’s the cultural context in which they live, and more importantly in which their followers lived down to the present day, that account for most of the doctrinal differences resulting in such terrible discord and division.

    • Pagels is as bad as the Jesus seminar, she may as well be among them. I haven’t read the other. Not even Bart Ehrman is as far to skepticism as Pagels or Seminar, and he is no Christian scholar.

      Do you actively avoid authors who would be considered conservative, or is it that it just turns out that you don’t happen to read them. It wouldn’t surprise me that you just happen to not have read any conservative thought since only Seminar and Pagels kinds of Jesus “scholars” are the only ones in popular book stores.

      If you are interested in reading the other side I can recommend a couple authors and books.

  43. I’m not expecting a lot of objectivity here, but take a look at the Amazon blurbs on these two sources:

    Jesus: a Life
    Sifting through 2,000 years of myth, miracle, sacred and profane texts, Biblical commentary, and archeological scholarship, A.N. Wilson overturns long-cherished legends about every aspect of Jesus’ life. What emerges is a vivid, gripping narrative that combines impeccable scholarship with the dazzling intuitions of a brilliant literary mind. In JESUS: A LIFE, we discover anew the true beauty and wrenching drama of the life of the central figure in Western civilization.

    Can We Trust the Gospels?: Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
    Attacks on the historical reliability of the Gospels—especially their portrayal of Jesus Christ—are nothing new. But are these attacks legitimate? Is there reason to doubt the accuracy of the Gospels? By examining and refuting some of the most common criticisms of the Gospels, author Mark D.Roberts explains why we can indeed trust the Gospels, nearly two millennia after they were written.

    Lay readers and scholars alike will benefit from this accessiblebook, and will walk away confident in the reliability of theGospels.

    Which one sounds like it was written to find the truth and which was written to defend an agenda?

  44. Yes, I do tend toward sources that are not conservative. To me, conservative means fearful of inconvenient truths, backward looking, trying to hold onto something that one is clinging to in desperation. The opposite is unvarnished curiosity, looking fearlessly and without dogma to find what really is out there. This is what it truly means to be liberal, not the scare stories you’ve been told.

  45. Yes, “Wow.”

    It is interesting how the brave, curious anti-conservatives don’t realize that they are just as conservative as those they criticize: They are conserving falsehoods refuted thousands of years ago. They have made up a god in their own image, just like those of Jesus’ day, and are defending it with the same arguments.

    If the subject weren’t so serious it would be comical how those like Crossan & Co. just happen to “discover” that all the verses that Jesus “didn’t really say” are the ones they don’t like, and how the resulting god is one that fits right in with 21st century political correctness. How very brave and curious of them!

  46. OK, wowsters. How much have you read on the life of the Buddha? Mohammed? Lao Tsu? Quantum Physics? Modern neuroscience? Human psychology? These are subjects that truly fascinate me because they get to the essence of what it means to be human.

    I am not “anti-conservative” in the same way I’m not anti-God or anti-Christian. I’m just not limited by commitment to a particular belief. I don’t believe in atheism, or liberalism. It’s just the way I tend to be, open and curious, embracing of the unknown. I am wary of anything that is exclusive and closed off. It’s what drew me to this site. I like to engage with those whose viewpoints I don’t fully understand and it’s rare to find a site where this seems to be a welcome attitude. I’m still surprised and pleased to find my contrary viewpoints published here, and grateful to John for being open enough to allow it. To some degree I have been impressed by this and do not think of him or any of you as enemies, though it’s clear that I think in a very different way.

    Politically, I certainly lean liberal, but I don’t live in echo chambers. I used to spend a lot more time on the DailyKos – a true liberal site where I find many who agree with me, but never all – that I now spend on Andrew Sullivan’s blog (a self described conservative and Christian). I find it more rewarding and enriching to hear a wide range of ideas. If there is a God, or an ultimate judge of the value of my life, I am confident that such an entity would welcome my curiosity and openness to the mystery of existence, and not punish me for being inclined to question rather than blindly obey and worship. Perhaps I’ll re-think this attitude when I find myself in that lake of fire. I’ll gladly accept that risk.

  47. The entire world believed Iraq had WMDs. The whole world, including house and senate democrats. Either Bsh was the stupidest president, or he was so brilliant that he was able to hoodwink the entire world’s security agencies. But either way, Iraq said they had them, and threatened to use them. I hope you arent suggesting the world is better off with Saddam, are you? But this is irrelevant to the post.

    But I read Hitchen’s books and essays, but rarely his slate material. He wrote on more than religion, and his arrogance was part of the draw. That was what drew people to him. It was an entertaining point of view.

  48. 01

    Please be respectful of Max and Sabio. As much as I disagree with them, insults aren’t appreciated here.

  49. Marshall Art says:

    01 is apparently a Hitchens-type of snob when it comes to atheism. How ironic.

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