The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Posts Tagged ‘Peter Hitchens

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Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 16 December 2013 at 14:53

Posted in While wandering . . .

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Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)

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Earlier this week I read The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me To Faith by Peter Hitchens. Today, in a curious conjunction of circumstances, I discover that Peter’s older brother, Christopher, has died. Peter’s book was written in the context of his deep difference of opinion with Christopher over faith, subjectively and objectively.

I just looked out my Christopher Hitchens books. I never made it to God is Not Great. Maybe I will sometime. My first Hitchens volume was Prepared for the Worst, which – despite the date that I have in my personal copy – I know I read while in secondary school. It was a loan from one of my teachers and I was delighted by Hitchens’ wit and skill with words (I remember it distinctly because I recall the conversation which followed in which I bemoaned the fact that Hitchens could get away with writing things with words that I was told were inappropriate, and that particular teacher replying that the use of a word by a writer like Hitchens in a thoughtful context made it, by definition, a suitable word in that context, an argument that signally failed to move the aptly named Mrs Ironside when I later employed some of Hitchens’ richer invective). I moved on later to Blood, Class and Nostalgia: Anglo-American Ironies, which has the more accurate date of “Autumn 93” scribbled into it.

Justin Taylor, in a gracious obituary, writes:

He was a brilliant and entertaining man. He was enormously gifted, and in his final years he took those gifts and used them to mock God, using his considerable wit and sharp tongue to convince as many people as possible to do the same.

I knew that Hitchens was no believer, but I did not realise the extent of his antagonism to God. Perhaps it intensified over time, as such things are apt to do. As one who can recognise at least some of Hitchens’ contentions and antagonisms in his own history, I grieve that every indication is that he went to his grave and to his judgement with his brilliant stubbornness intact:

Even if my voice goes before I do, I shall continue to write polemics against religious delusions, at least until it’s hello darkness my old friend. In which case, why not cancer of the brain? As a terrified, half-aware imbecile, I might even scream for a priest at the close of business, though I hereby state while I am still lucid that the entity thus humiliating itself would not in fact be “me.” (Bear this in mind, in case of any later rumors or fabrications.)

I say this not because it is impossible that, before his death, Hitchens turned from his sin. Rather, I say it with the penetrating knowledge that, in the paraphrased words of (I believe) John Bradford, “There but for the grace of God goes Jeremy Walker.” I say it, too, fully confident that, if he did turn from sin, repenting of those aggressive blasphemies so characteristic of his later output, and if he put his faith in Jesus, the blood of Christ is sufficient to have made him clean. This, indeed, is the hope of sinners like you and me, and the hope of all the world.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 16 December 2011 at 09:45

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