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Christopher Hitchens Meets Lady Hope?

Someone I’ve never heard of named Mark Judge writes a profoundly silly article at the Daily Caller speculating that Christopher Hitchens may be headed toward converting to Christianity. The argument he offers for this conclusion is, shall we say, less than compelling.

Could Christopher Hitchens become a Christian?

It’s a possibility that doesn’t seem laughable anymore. Hitchens, the celebrated British journalist, angry atheist and roué, has a very powerful piece in the January issue of Vanity Fair. Hitchens has been in Houston undergoing treatment for esophageal cancer, which he was diagnosed with in 2010.

In his essay, Hitchens rejects a popular aphorism attributed to Nietzsche: “Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” Hitchens had thought of the phrase at different points in his life where he narrowly escaped death — experiences told well in his memoir “Hitch-22.” After enduring chemotherapy and radiation treatments that made swallowing unbearable and left his entire body a rash, Hitchens rejects Nietzsche’s slogan. “In the brute physical world,” Hitchens writes, “and the one encompassed by medicine, there are all too many things that could kill you, don’t kill you, and then leave you considerably weaker.” Hitchens speculates that some maladies are so devastating that it may be better to have not lived, while acknowledging that sometimes we push through the pain and reach the other side glad that we hadn’t given up.

Rejecting one of the more sophomoric of Nietzsche’s aphorisms may seem small, but out of such moments are great conversions made…

Perhaps Hitchens’s admission that Nietzsche might have been wrong, even about something small, will lead him to a healthy curiosity about Christianity.

Really? That’s it? Yep, that’s it. Perhaps Judge is preparing to cast himself into the role of Lady Hope, who invented the story of Darwin’s deathbed conversion. Throughout history, few prominent non-Christians have been allowed to die without someone inventing such a story. Such stories hold no currency with intelligent people, of course, any more than the notion that there are no atheists in foxholes should be taken seriously by anyone (even if it was true). But such is the feeble wishful thinking of far too many people.

The weirdest thing about this is that someone actually published it. I can’t imagine why.

Comments

  1. eric says

    Vultures. The guy isn’t even dead and they are already trying to claim him.

    Although I’ll admit to finding a bit of gallows humor in the thought of the Mormons pissing off the Protestants and/or Catholics who are trying to claim Hitch, by converting Hitch to Mormonism after he dies. That would make for a very Vizzini moment – “You’re trying to kidnap what I’ve rightfully stolen!” :)

  2. d cwilson says

    Judge seems to be falling into the logical fallacy that many in fundamentalist circles fall into: There are only two possible schools of thought: Christian and Other. If one rejects Other, than they must by default be ready to adopt the Christian worldview.

    You see this a lot in creationist camps where, instead of trying to find evidence to support their view, they constantly try to poke holes in evolutionary theory in the hope that they can win by default.

  3. jamessweet says

    As Daniel Fincke pointed out, what makes this doubly-weird is that Hitchens had already voiced numerous criticisms of Neitzsche in the past. I believe he even alludes to it in the article in question. WTF?

  4. says

    Wishful thinking indeed. A couple of years ago (ie. even before Hitchens’ cancer) one local wingnut blogger I occasionally skim said she was praying for his conversion. Her admiration for the man seemed based mostly on his having adopted certain conservative positions dear to her heart, therefore he must be close to rejecting godlessliberalism in favour of christianconservatism holus bolus (spaces deliberately omitted to make the point). IOW: it’s a sort of variation on the “enemy of my enemy” fallacy.

  5. Randomfactor says

    Why did someone publish it? It’s the online presence Tucker Carlson, whose journalistic ethics were choked off years ago by a too-tight bow tie. It’s not Glenn-Beck crazy, but there’s a certain loss-of-oxygen-to-the-brain quality there, for sure.

    Current front-pager: candidates’ favorite firearms.

  6. Aquaria says

    Newsflash for poor Mark, the moronic christtard:

    Rejecting Nietzsche does not make the genocidal scumbag in the sky real.

    Carry on.

  7. freemage says

    Judge seems to be falling into the logical fallacy that many in fundamentalist circles fall into: There are only two possible schools of thought: Christian and Other. If one rejects Other, than they must by default be ready to adopt the Christian worldview.

    You see this a lot in creationist camps where, instead of trying to find evidence to support their view, they constantly try to poke holes in evolutionary theory in the hope that they can win by default.

    Well, the whole mythology is set up that way, really–after all, anything not explicitly (and sufficiently zealous) Christian is invariably attributed to a single actor–Satan. So atheists, Muslims, pagans, homosexuals, liberal Christians, etc, are all ultimately answering to the devil.

  8. otrame says

    Throughout history, few prominent non-Christians have been allowed to die without someone inventing such a story.

    Not just prominent non-Christians. I’ve seen it done in two cases, both men I knew fairly well, who had discussed their lack of belief in the God of the Bible with me. Both were sort of not-specific deists. At both funerals, the preachers claimed that the men “accepted Jesus” at the end of their lives, using almost identical stories of how that had come about. Now, in one case, it is just possible that was not a lie, though I think the man in question would have said so to ease his very distressed wife, whom he loved dearly and who believed he would go to hell otherwise. In the other case, considering that the man in question was both fairly vehement in his contempt for “Christian morals” and the whole idea that a human sacrifice was necessary to save humans from the God who created them the way they were, it almost certainly was.

    Reminds me of Mark Twain, discussing preachers: “I wonder how they could lie so. The result of practice, no doubt.”

  9. Sastra says

    “Perhaps Hitchens’s admission that Nietzsche might have been wrong, even about something small, will lead him to a healthy curiosity about Christianity.”
    Really? That’s it? Yep, that’s it.

    Nope, that’s not it. It gets worse.

    Here’s where the good Mr. Judge expects Hitchens’ curiosity to lead him:

    “I would only ask him to entertain the notion that love — the love he has for his life, his wife and his children, the love his readers have for him and the love that the doctors and nurses are showing him — is a real thing whose origins are worth exploring without glibness …

    Yes, really. The writer apparently thinks that Hitchens should become curious enough to ask himself “where does love come from?” and — eschewing the “glib” answer referencing the evolution of mammals — arrive at the deep and profound realization that love “comes from God.” We get love from a Love Source, a Person made out of love who has always been like that … and who gives it to us through His love power because He loves us, cancer and all.

    Really. I bet Christopher Hitchens has never considered such a deep and profound explanation as that one, coming from such a thoughtful way of exploring the question. He’s always been so glib up to now.

  10. says

    @10: We get love from a Love Source, a Person made out of love who has always been like that

    Yep: Love doesn’t exist unless it’s a metaphysical substance. These people have a terminal case of neo-Platonism.

  11. rork says

    A more common somewhat related horror.
    I get something like angry when the world kills 6 year old kids with drawn-out cancer ordeals, though that might not be perfectly rational. The dignity and unselfishness of these kids can be very touching, for howling atheist or believer of any stripe, and provide interesting, useful perspective. I personally get an extra kick in the ass cause I do cancer research, and can highly resolve to do what I can – I can at least do something. But what can others win?

    The glory of the internet now sees these stories on the web, and can permit a train-wreck of comforting lies to appear in the comments (e.g. uniting with Grandma, or being comforted by deities). Comment policies are pretty weak about banning delusions in these cases. Injecting reality and moving past the liminal swamplands would be being a jerk though, so there’s no way to slow the bullshit train going to nowhere down. Maybe I will try to give my “highly resolve to do something about it” two cents next time it happens.

  12. walton says

    So… er… disagreeing with Nietzsche on something automatically means that one is about to convert to Christianity? News to me. :-/ I’m an atheist, and I’m entirely happy to say that Nietzsche was wrong about plenty of things. For that matter, I think Christopher Hitchens is wrong about plenty of things. Apparently, in the author’s view, this must mean I’m on the verge of getting baptized.

    (It seems to be beyond the author’s comprehension that not everyone in the world derives his or her philosophy from following an authority-figure whose opinions are assumed to be infallible, and that it is possible to agree with a particular philosopher on some issues and disagree with him or her on others.)

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