Comments

  1. GordonWillis says

    A light has gone out. And his beautiful living voice will not be heard again. Well, at least we have many of his words, and recordings like this. Something to be grateful for.

  2. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    It’s a poisoned chalice

    No no no. The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true!

  3. says

    I’ll close on the implied question, “why don’t you accept this wonderful offer?” [of Salvation, I suppose] Wouldn’t you like to meet Shakespeare, for example. I don’t know if you really think that when you die, you can be corporeally reassembled, and have conversations with authors from previous epochs — it’s not necessary that you believe that in Christian theology, and I must say it sounds like a complete fairy tale to me. The only reason I want to meet Shakespeare, or might want to, is because I can meet him any time, because he is immortal in the work’s he’s left behind. If you’ve read those, meeting the author would almost certainly be a disappointment! But when Socrates was sentenced to death for his philosophical investigations, and for blasphemy, for challenging the gods of the city, and he accepted his death, he did say, if we are lucky, perhaps we’ll be able to hold conversation with other great thinkers and doubters too. In other words, the discussion about what is good, what is beautiful, what is noble, what is pure, and what is true, could always go on. Why is that important? Why would I like to do that? Because that’s the only conversation worth having. And whether it goes on or not after I did, I don’t know. But I do know it’s the conversation I want to have while I’m still alive. Which means that, to me, the offer of certainty, the offer of complete security, the offer of an impermeable faith that can’t give way, is the offer of something not worth having. I want to live my life taking the risk all the time that I don’t know enough yet. That I haven’t read enough, that I can’t know enough, that I’m always operating hungrily on the margins of a potentially great harvest of future knowledge and wisdom. I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I’d urge you to look at those of you who tell you, those people who tell you at your age, that you’re dead until you believe as they do. What a terrible thing to be telling to children. [Applause] And that you can only live by accepting an absolute authority. Don’t think of that as a gift — think of it as a poisoned chalice, push it aside however tempting it is, take the risk of thinking for yourself. Much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way. Thank you.

    Christopher Hitchens’ closing remarks (extemporized) at a debate against William Demski at Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas, November 18, 2011

  4. lt says

    I love that whole quote, Peter. I used to listen to it several times a day for weeks, and still keep going back to it occasionally. It’s just so beautiful. Goodbye Hitch, someday I will introduce children to your immortal works.

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