Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens has died. I just wanted to say that although the words were relatively few, I enjoyed almost all of his in which I partook. It was Hitchens who convinced me of the evil of water-boarding. It was Hitchens who convinced me not to take solace in the temporary rise of the serial-liar Hillary Clinton. It was his frankness about the war in Kosovo that helped me to revise my thinking on the role of religion in postmodern life. That I need to explain. He had no patience for those who refused to acknowledge or consider the role sincerely-held doctrine could play. If he thought we were buffoons for believing it, at least he didn't view it as an accessory in those he mocked. In this way, he respected us. If I or anyone else had a tendency to compartmentalize or live as de facto secularists, he would remind us that he took such claims seriously, even in denial. I never finished God Is Not Great. Whether it was fear or anger, I can't recall. But the truth is, even if his righteous indignation was uneven, even if the very fact of it denied his atheism at a level he could not acknowledge, he mattered, as puny specks of dust go. He was a pleasure to read and think about. In politics, he shattered the worthless facade of pretended civility. If he thought you were a moron, he'd say so, in no uncertain terms. But it was never at the cost of ideas. If you earned such a label, it's because he judged you deficient in the consideration of some fact, or beholden to some irrational notion.
I would have loved to meet him. I'd have preached the gospel to him if he'd allowed me. We'd have a drink,--though surely not as much as he, I'd wager--and toast to civilization, or what's left of it. I'd have to admit that his hawkishness on Iraq got his foot in my door, and if I failed to see that as the natural progression of a socialism that never left him, I at least have to admire the desire to save the West, who does indeed have much to offer humanity. Even today, my strong inclinations toward an absolute military non-interventionism stem from that same desire, not the self-hating nihilism that stands in perpetual readiness to rebuke previous generations. Indeed, this society has had such an influence as to make the tag "West" geographically meaningless and misleading, a result both of us would cheer. Lord, have mercy on Christopher. Your image in him gave me food for thought, and gladness of heart.

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