Christopher Hitchens, the war and religion


Everything that can be said about Christopher Hitchens has already been said. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet (and the fact that we all knew he was going to die soon), every friend, foe, analyst and critic in the world weighed in on the guy who was both an Oxford-educated British snob, a hard-partying literary figure, a one-time Trotskyite and, over the past decade, a disgraceful fan of the Iraq War.

He'd barely been dead an hour when the plaudits and attacks started to roll in -- and I'm nowhere near qualified to join that party. (Although I will say: I have to give a certain amount of credit to anyone who can get away with calling Mother Teresa a "thieving, fanatical Albanian dwarf.")

But I will say this: "God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" is a wonderful read, and there was nothing more entertaining in the world than listening to Hitchens debate learned and respected religious figures on the Bible, hell and Jesus. While he's (righly) lambasted for popularizing the term "Islamofascist," he wasn't much kinder to the Pope; he despised all religious leaders, rejected calls for a deathbed conversion and died a confirmed atheist.

I heard him once ask a noted Baptist minister whether he was really going to suffer unspeakable torture for eternity just because he didn't believe in the Baptist God; the guy couldn't answer him. He could discuss the great religious texts like the scholar he was and make jokes along the way.

I'm not much for the upper classes in general, and the British upper classes seem to have a particular sense of entitlement that grates on me, particularly when they weave back and forth between socialism and fine champagne. But you have to admit: The guy had style.



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