Christopher Hitchens and the Big C (Cancer, not Christianity)

10 08 2010

That’s applause you hear . . .

A Message to Those Praying for Christopher Hitchens
by Jeffrey Goldberg
Aug 9 2010, 10:05 AM ET

On behalf of Christopher Hitchens, who thinks all of this skydaddy talk is ridiculous, thanks to all of you who wrote in to Goldblog to report that they would be praying for him as he undergoes treatment for esophageal cancer (you can hear him talk about his current predicament here).
[see also video of him discussing sickness and theology]

I would like to reiterate, of course, that Hitchens is still solidly atheist (strike that “still,” actually, because it implies his mind will change, which I don’t think will happen, at least, as he says, in reference to the mind we know today as Hitchens’s mind—what medicine does to his mind is a different story), but nevertheless I can report that he does not mock those who say they are praying on his behalf. What you could really, do, of course, if you’re interested in making Hitch happy, is buy this book.

As for the few of you who wrote to Goldblog to say they were praying for Hitch’s death, I can say that he does not care one way or another what you do or think or pray, but on behalf of myself and the entire team here at The Atlantic, let me just say, Go fuck yourselves.

I believe God will forgive me for that one.

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18 responses

11 08 2010
Crimson Wife

Cancer is a horrible disease and one I wouldn’t wish on anybody, even someone I dislike as much as I do Hitchens (or at least his militant anti-religion PR campaign as I don’t know him personally). I do know folks who consider Hitchens’ illness “divine retribution” but I can’t square that with what I read in my Bible about mercy and loving one’s enemies. I wouldn’t swear at the haters like Goldberg does but rather ask them W.W.J.D.?

11 08 2010
JJ

I find myself asking Christian folks that a whole lot, lately. Tough times.

11 08 2010
Nance Confer

WWJD?

He would wave his magic wand and cure Hitchens. Geez. It’s right there in the book.

11 08 2010
JJ

But wait — Hitch getting this painful form of cancer, agonizing and then dying was all part of the grand plan though, wasn’t it? So who are humans, even humans harboring god inside, to mess with that?

11 08 2010
sam

Who cares what Jesus would do? What would his father do? Would he destroy the entire earth except for Noah and his entire family? Would he have his people destroy the city of Jericho and kill every single living thing including babies? Because to believe the Bible is to believe that a just and loving god could do those things, and we all know that, due to that mysterious three in one deal that Jesus and god are the same person. Yeah, that Bible is full of mercy.

11 08 2010
JJ

Refugees crossing borders in desperation is bible power of story too, so are anchor babies in the divine plan, not just the 14th amendment? And now of course, the next part of the plan is being revealed — terror babies.

12 08 2010
Nance Confer

Only if they are born in a manger, apparently.

12 08 2010
JJ

Maybe we’re looking at this all wrong.

Which, if any, religions believe their divinity purposely inflicts false beliefs on America through Christianity, as a sort of plague to punish and wipe the unworthy off the planet?

12 08 2010
Nance Confer

Huh?

12 08 2010
JJ

I was thinking that “what Jesus would do” might to a different belief system, itself be considered part of another divinity’s devil?

(I’d just ask religion major FavD except she’s off being a yo-yo roadie this weekend in Orlando. Hey Nance, maybe your kids would like to go see? Teens from all over the world with amazing tricks, mostly from Asia I think . . .very unschool-friendly)

UPDATE: here’s the live stream from the world yo-yo stage, if you can’t get there in person. 😉

12 08 2010
Nance Confer

Even though they are barely here lately — off doing their own fun things — they are both home this weekend and I am happy about that! So no trips to Orlando today but the videos were fun. I hope FavD enjoys herself!

I think you may be thinking of atheism. Not a religion but many of us think WWJD is part of an evil system.

12 08 2010
JJ

There’s a case to be made. Didn’t Newt Gingrich recently and very publicly convert to Catholicism for example?

Yet I’m pretty sure something Jesus would *never* do is say middle-class working dads thrown out of work by the Big Bank rape of the economy, should get off the dole and stop draining unemployment insurance . . .

Gingrich yesterday:
. . .the extension of unemployment benefits has given people a perverse incentive to stay on unemployment . . . creating a permanent pool of unemployed Americans, who get so used to being unproductive that they are willing to accept welfare indefinitely instead of taking a job.

13 08 2010
COD

Given that Social Security is cash flow negative this year for the first time, I think we need to be increasing the citizen count, not decreasing it. Somebody needs to be paying into the system when I am ready to retire!

14 08 2010
JJ

Remember talking at the time, about whether the “act of god” devastating Haiti and all the religiously justified “help” afterward, was what Jesus would do?

Speaking of con men, it’s not about the money as much as the moral systems behind the money. Business ethics are in crisis and I don’t hear the godly calling for reform; conservative priests are cashing in bigtime and building political power bases to assure they can keep their ill-gotten gains.

The ineffably white-bread and presumably wealthy tv personality Brit Hume, supposedly paid as news commentator and not spiritual advisor, pronounces on tv that Buddhism couldn’t help an even wealthier black man (Tiger Woods) in moral crisis so Hume’s superior Christian belief system should be adopted instead, for his own good. That’s downright immoral, both as journalism AND religion ethics.

Then overnight — by an act of god? — Haiti loses up to four times as many human souls as America managed to lose pursuing our own moral and political beliefs protracting the VietNam War. More white-bread conservative media men (Pat Robertson along with David Brooks, see above) damn an official religion of Haiti (voodoo or Voudou en Francais) for it, pronouncing it was their white god’s wrath to ravage a poor and wretched people and wipe out hospitals, orphanages and other social services along with the descendants of voudou priests.

Wish more white theologians who know better would damn the purveyors of such lying pop ethics and vicious religious rivalries, like this sensible and compassionate-sounding fellow from something called “the center for informed faith”:

. . .Finally, notice the 200-year-old voudou prayer for freedom sounds an awful lot like the American freedom conservative whites on tv are always screaming for and packing heat to protect? Wonder what their god really thinks of their politics . . .

14 08 2010
JJ

And this post started from Cancer inflicted on Christ-opher. Is that what Jesus would do, in fact what Jesus did do? And now that it has happened or been done, what about the needed expert care curative or at least palliative — what would any “jealous god” also characterized as a “god of love” do about that? Ask to see his victim’s checkbook first? Throw him to the mercy of corporate racketeering calling itself health insurance but revealing itself as evil?

Wikipedia says HItchens retained his British citizenship when he became an American citizen at age 58. Was that perhaps from something else Jesus did, to be sure the divinity-doomed infamous atheist would get Christ-worthy care from the same secular “socialized medicine” that his equally infamous American Christian soldiers were refusing to apply the Golden Rule to, fighting dirty to prevent? I think this way lies madness, not just meanness of spirit . . .

14 08 2010
JJ

Interesting that the Hitchens wikipedia article says he consider religion to be “totalitarianism.” Is that what Christians really believe Jesus would do then (and what Muslims believe Mohammed would do, etc etc) — make himself the Sole Authority of everything, everywhere and destroy anyone, anything, any system or institution that resists in fealty to actual individual human freedom instead?

Maybe salvation lies only in humans finally removing the mote of religion from our own eyes and speech, economy and politics and governance, long enough to see totalitarianism for what it is, even when Jesus does it in the American GOP:

Totalitarianism (or totalitarian rule) is a political system where the state, usually under the control of a single political person, faction, or class, recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible.

Totalitarianism is generally characterised by the coincidence of authoritarianism (where ordinary citizens have no significant share in state decision-making) and ideology (a pervasive scheme of values promulgated by institutional means to direct most if not all aspects of public and private life).

Totalitarian regimes or movements maintain political power through an all-encompassing propaganda disseminated through the state-controlled mass media, a single party that is often marked by personality cultism, control over the economy, regulation and restriction of speech, mass surveillance, and widespread use of state terrorism.

14 08 2010
JJ

16 08 2010
JJ

Something I wrote in May ’07 about what I knew as Dr. Jekyll prayer and religion before destructive, evil Mr. Hyde WWJD was hammered so far home I lost the ability to be sanguine about either of them:

Since it is National Prayer Day and all, I will do my part here instead of down at the Capitol. A little reflection and personal meditation —

In another thread we are talking about the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, how the little boy and his stuffed tiger play a spirited, collaborative AND competitive, everchanging game of “calvinball” where they lose themselves in that loving, playing power of story together. That’s pretty much how I experience religion/philosophy.

“Kurt Vonnegut who said . . . the only reason he needed to believe in the existence of God, was music.”

In my (formatively Methodist) life I felt free to construct my own rules and philosophy, so I grew up seeing music AS god, as part of that infinite connected wonder that literally and continually creates “us” as the complex thinking and spiritual animals we are. In my metaphorical mind that makes an inspiring AND perfectly scientific Creation Story — because without that spark we wouldn’t be “us” in either sense.

Thus I can understand “prayer” as staying connected with that which creates our higher existence.

I used to tell Favorite Daughter when she was little, that everything “GOOD” was God, just with an extra “OH!” So we would skip the churchy “god” and focus on the GOOD that made us go “OH!” Music, poetry, books and power of story (complex melodies and complex ideas) passion and compassion, health and natural beauty, love and friendship, flow and glow —
(and musical theatre which like worship, touches us with deeper truth only when we choose to consciously “suspend our disbelief” and immerse ourselves in the experience. Isn’t that literally what religious faith is, a suspension of disbelief by choice?)

I hope Christianity even in the throes of fundamentalism, is still correctly defined as philosophy, “love of knowledge”? No grief from me for that! 🙂

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