Will atheism sustain him?

Mesa Musings

July 06, 2010|By Jim Carnett

I like Christopher Hitchens.

He's erudite, charming, witty and the possessor of a massive ego. I find him fascinating to listen to, though in order to do so, one must abide his insufferable arrogance. Yet, I listen — and choose to disagree with much of what he has to say.

Hitchens takes no prisoners. He eviscerates opponents with scholarly brilliance and a rapier wit.

But it's been a rough last few weeks for the British-born atheist, journalist, social critic and provocateur.

Hitchens, 61, is author of the 2007 polemic, "God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything." The book, he readily admits, "bashes" the Creator, who he's convinced is a figment invented by weak minds in search of succor.


The rumpled-looking intellectual, who exhibits an extraordinary capacity for dissipation, says that if Heaven exists it must look a lot like North Korea.

Hitchens, who experiences no insufficiencies in regards to his own ego, asserts in the book that Judaism and Christianity induce people to feel like lowly sinners, which, in turn, breeds low self-esteem.

Last week Hitchens unexpectedly cut short a book tour for his new memoir, "Hitch-22." Doctors diagnosed him with esophageal cancer, and the tour was canceled to permit him to undergo chemotherapy.

Esophageal cancer is particularly aggressive. People don't normally consult a doctor until the ability to swallow has become impaired or the voice has changed, and by then the tumor may be in an advanced state.

What will happen to Mr. Hitchens, his many admirers wonder. It's been said that there are no atheists in foxholes. Christopher Hitchens suddenly finds himself on the floor of an uncomfortable foxhole, taking a heavy pounding. Will atheism sustain him?

Here the rubber meets the road. One who's publicly railed against God must now publicly face a challenge that's sure to test his mettle. The world is watching. Many are praying for him.

Like it or not, we're changed by adversity, and often for the better.

The arrogant and nasty Brock Lesnar, Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight champion, is perhaps the brute-power equivalent of Hitchens' brainpower warrior. Lesnar nearly died of an intestinal ailment this past year and took time off from competition. He experienced what some have called an epiphany and is a changed person. Some claim he's no longer the "ornery SOB" he once was.

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles