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Dec 19 2011

INTRODUCING BLASPHEMOUS BLOGGING: THE BLOG OF EDWIN KAGIN.

This is my first blog from the front porch of my new blog home. I give thanks and appreciation to all of those who worked with, or worked around, my electronic ignorance and my behavioral eccentricities to make this blog actually happen. A number of my writings, and other postings, from an erratically fed former blog, have been added to this new blog. The address, or URL, is:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/kagin/

It is my intent to use this much appreciated opportunity to do some serious blogging. I haven’t written much, or done much for that matter, since Helen Kagin died on February 17, 2010. It is time for that to change. It is time to affirm life.
You can find out perhaps more than you may care to know about me by going to my website, www.edwinkagin.com and by putting Edwin Kagin into Google and hitting Enter.

There seems nothing more worthy of discussion within our world view of atheism, at this moment of what we understand to be time, than the life and death of Christopher Hitchens. To that end, I offer for my first blog on freethoughtblogs.com:

In re Hitch

Christopher Hitchens said of Thomas Jefferson:

“We make no saint of Thomas Jefferson – we leave the mindless
business of canonization and the worship of humans to the fanatics
-but aware as we are of his many crimes and contradictions we say
with confidence that his memory and example will endure long after
the moral pygmies who try to blot out his name have been forgotten.”

This statement, reportedly read at the Texas Textbook Rally when Hitch was too ill to attend, can now serve, by changing names, as a tribute to Hitch. For a long time he drank too much and he smoked too much. He could be belligerent, angry and hostile. I did not know him, although I heard him several times and met him once as he signed his book for me and I gave him my book “Baubles of Blasphemy.” Don’t know if he read it or not. Never heard.

I could have introduced myself to him at the bar of the hotel where he was drinking prior to giving a brilliant talk as one of the four “horsemen” who had gathered for the event. But when people are drinking, their actions are less predictable, and I did not want to be responsible for causing some theoretical problem before his address, so I missed the moment. I kind of regret that now, because I will never have that chance again.

That is because “Hitch” died of cancer. He knew he was going to die, and he confronted that reality fully and appropriately. He seemed a nicer person than he seemed before the reality of his death sentence diagnosis was made known. He was both jeered and praised by religious types who must have hated him for his eloquent destruction of their most deeply held beliefs. But many of them actually seemed to admire him. Some religious types announced they were praying for him. As Hitch observed, such was both appreciated as a sign of caring (maybe—maybe not) and seen as a somewhat foolish exercise.

Hitch made clear that no “deathbed conversion” proceeding from a dying brain should be given credibility.

Is Hitch in some non-material word of when? Probably not. Is he having chats with, and being oriented to his new thing by, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Ingersoll, and Helen Kagin? Probably not. It would be nice. No, these splendid persons, as well as Hitch, have ceased to exist in what we are pleased to call the natural world.

And the certain knowledge that each of us must go where they have gone should, I think, provide a certain sense of comfort. At least each of them now knows for sure what happens, from their point of view, after death. What is really going on with all of those places we can no longer clearly see in the night sky because of light pollution? If it were not for religion, we might have by now found out.

Perhaps the finest tribute to Hitch is the spontaneous happening that seemingly everyone in Freethought, and many outside of it, are talking about Hitch and his legacy. The discussions, memories and observations are close to uniformly positive. Some Fundies laugh and jeer at their understanding that Hitch’s soul is now being punished for eternity by an entity they are pleased to call a loving god.

What I will remember of Hitch is that he was perhaps the finest stand-up debater I have ever encountered or heard of. He was not restrained by fear that he might be offensive to his opponents. He didn’t care what they thought or felt when he was denouncing the crimes of their priests, and their teachings and commands that made a lie of the claimed benefits attendant to their religious good works.

It takes some serious moxie to call the beliefs of so many believers dangerous foolishness in public. But Hitch did just that. He happily challenged anyone to explain just how some beneficial act could only be done by religion, or to name a good thing a religious person can do that a non religious person cannot do. Or tell what good idea religion has offered. “Love thy neighbor” comes close, he thought, but that is not always a good idea. Sometimes such can be very terrible and destructive.

Hitch did not feel any obligation whatsoever to be nice to religious apologists. He did not respect their beliefs, and he said so. He did not respect the people who advanced these beliefs either. He felt that many such efforts to push for ridiculous beliefs, like the Creation Museum, were ultimately dangerous to society. Science has helped people live. Religion has helped them die. As forbidding by divine order the use of condoms in countries dying from AIDS.

Hitch was a mighty warrior.

Hitch was an attack dog for truth.

Edwin

30 comments

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  1. 1
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Welcome to the neighborhood. And thanks for the clear-eyed and eloquent eulogy. Hitchens was a complicated man. I’m glad he’s remembered that way.

  2. 2
    Spanish Inquisitor

    I guess I get to be the first to welcome you to FB. ;)

    Not a member myself, but a regular reader. You and I also spoke once, about a possible establishment clause case in Central PA.

    So, I look forwarding to reading you.

  3. 3
    Thomas Lawson

    Howdy, Edwin! Nice to see you here.

  4. 4
    John W. Loftus

    Nice tribute to Hitch, Edwin. Sorry about your own loss. Glad to see you blogging here.

  5. 5
    Sam Salerno

    Welcome Edwin to the FTB. You will be a grateful addition to a fine cast of free thinkers. I got to read about half of your book so far. But I love everything I’ve read so far. Thank you for all of the work that you have done for the Atheist community. It will be a pleasure to keep up with your blog.

  6. 6
    Paddy

    Welcome, Edwin.

    Always glad to see another voice for Freethought.

    Hopefully Hitch’s inspiration will keep us fighting, and will continue to move skeptics/atheists/freethought forward.

    I look forward to your posts.

  7. 7
    THE C

    Hey.. congrats on the blog!

    Good luck with it. ..

  8. 8
    THE C

    Is it ironic that the banner ad at the top of this blog is for a BIBLE study degree??? I just saw that you could take classes for bible study.. hmmmmm guess they don’t have their demographics right yet…

    or maybe they do..

  9. 9
    Grammar Merchant

    Welcome aboard, and thanks for the fine words on Hitchens.

  10. 10
    Stan Brooks

    Glad to have your reasoned and eloquent voice added to this ever expanding compendium of atheism and freethought. I too send my sympathy for the death of your wife, and applaud your thoughts on the death of Hitch. Agree with him or not, he was, as you so aptly put it, an attack dog for truth. Hope we hear from you often!!

  11. 11
    Jessee J.

    An eloquent tribute to Hitchens. It was good to get your e-mail, Edwin, and to see that you’re writing and indeed affirming life!

  12. 12
    Old Nick

    Grrrrr… Baubles of Blasphemy not available for Kindle??

    1. 12.1
      Markita Lynda—threadrupt

      Request it from your Kindle store! Maybe they’ll get the hint.

  13. 13
    RW Ahrens

    Welcome to the party! Glad to see more grist for the atheist mill. Nice eulogy to Hitch, I hadn’t seen those quotes.

  14. 14
    James

    Hitch was a war monger who supported the Bush Wars to the hilt.

    I am glad that hater is gone.

  15. 15
    hyoid

    Hello.

  16. 16
    Frank Lovell

    Welcome to Freethought Blogs, Edwin!

    And THANKS for your fine words on Christopher Hitchens — Hitch was my closest friend of all my friends whom I never met and with whom I never directly spoke or communicated, a World Treasure!

  17. 17
    Al Stefanelli

    Welcome aboard, Edwin!!!

  18. 18
    Jana TheVegan Piranha

    A proper and fitting tribute- leave the canonization to the fanatics. Hitchens was the embodiment of grace under pressure in that he handled his impending death with an elegance that was shocking to behold. I would expect far less of myself, and felt a sense of gratitude for simply being able to watch.

  19. 19
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Hello and welcome to FTB. I see that your blog already has older content. As if I don’t have enough to read. (And no, I can’t help myself, I’m a text addict, and the content is soooo good.)

    Cheers!

  20. 20
    Allen C. Dexter

    Welcome to the arena from me also. We need all the voices of reason it’s possible to get.

    You’re going to find it exhilarating. I started my own blog: http://theageofreason–21stcentury.blogspot.com/ several months back and find it so rewarding to get what I’m thinking off my chest and out to others.

    Have a ball!

  21. 21
    stubby

    Hello Edwin Kagin. I look forward to reading your blog.

  22. 22
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Edwin:

    -Glad to have you here!

    Tony (do you go by Edwin only, or Ed?)

  23. 23
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    What a bumper sticker this would make!

    Science has helped people live. Religion has helped them die.

  24. 24
    Martin

    Cheers Edwin. I enjoyed sipping your fine verbal brew. Looking forward to future tipples.

  25. 25
    GrahamC

    Sorry I can’t join in the congratulations. Why not? This is why not:

    No, these splendid persons, as well as Hitch, have ceased to exist it what we are pleased to call the natural world.
    And the certain knowledge that each of us must go where they have gone should, I think, provide a certain sense of comfort. At least each of them now knows for sure what happens, from their point of view, after death.

    What is this nonsense? No, they don’t know what happens. They have ceased to exist. They don’t ‘know’ anything. There is nothing apart from the ‘natural world’. What sort of atheism are we talking about here? Atheism with a supernatural flavour?

  26. 26
    Jack M.

    As to whether or not he read your book, read Julian Barnes’ recollections of Hitch.

  27. 27
    Joe t

    Greta Christina told me I had to say hi.

    Hi!!

    Ok, bye now.

  28. 28
    lordshipmayhem

    Welcome to FTB. I am enjoying your posts, and hope to real lots more.

    Keep up the good fight!

  29. 29
    JesseW, the Juggling Janitor

    While I can’t say anything particularly novel, I can add to the chorus of “Welcome!” — and thanks particularly for Camp Quest; that’s good work.

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