Friday, December 16, 2011
Kresta Comments: Remembering Christopher Hitchens - Faithful to the End
I have a hard time believing that Christopher didn’t know better, however. He was an extremely well-read man and he must have understood that his caricature of the deity bore no resemblance to the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ or the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He didn’t show the same care in interpretation of biblical texts that he would have shown, I assume, in the literature of his own generation. He spoke as though the ancient Hebrews were not merely ancient but extraordinarily gullible and dumb. Nevertheless, it is worth remembering that his stated definition of god was that of a false god.
It is also worth remembering that his mother, with whom he was especially close, died a suicide during an extra-marital affair with an Anglican priest. That kind of thing can distort one’s view of God and life. All this to say that we are especially incompetent to judge what forces are at play on the hearts and minds of those with whom we share the faith.
Back to what I consider so tragic. In his struggle to live he insisted on integrity by which he meant the perseverance in his atheism. He rejected the possibility that these extreme moments might be opportunities to reevaluate his atheistic stance. He even warned that if news were reported of his conversion that we should take it to mean that the cancer had reached his brain before death did. Life throws at us certain jarring experiences which bring us to the end of our resources and reveal how limited we are in the face of life’s and death’s mysteries. I make no judgment on his place in the after life. That is outside our jurisdiction.
Who knows what grace might suddenly become operative in those closing moments as we decline into the depths. No, what I find tragic is that he didn’t appear to remain open to the intervention of God in his soul. From his published remarks, he steeled himself to die as an atheist in order to encourage fellow atheists to continue the “secular revolution.” What would have been his end on earth had he not apparently barred the gate of his heart to the motions of divine grace? To operate as though under command to maintain his atheistic faith to the end seems bizarre. Atheism promises nothing and death is inevitable. But it is this persistence in his faith that he choose to display to the world and we do him no service to deny that, by his own lights, he rejected his Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. His brother, Peter, a Christian with whom he had many years of conflict, sees in his brother’s death a model of courage. I can see that. I only wish it hadn’t been courage to persevere against any possible whisperings of divine love from a God who loved him far more than a brother.
at 2:01 PM