Vanity Fair has said its own goodbye; even the Conde Nasties mourn at such a time.
This one is very, very hard; I’m trying to remember the last time I cried at the death of a public figure.
That man was made of class, and I say that as a Christian who read God Is Not Great all the way through, cover to cover. And liked it.
* * * * *
So much about the afterlife is intrinsically unknowable, but I’m pretty convinced that Mr. Christopher Hitchens did not go to the same place as those who perpetrated real evil in this world.
Does that mean that I believe in some type of purgatory?—a place wherein people can learn to know that God is real, and love God? I suppose I do.
And yet I cannot buy the Almighty as a dispenser of cheap cosmic justice, either.
One is left, at such times, with the inadequacy of what we can truly grasp about the larger scheme of things.
I believe absolutely in salvation by grace, and yet I believe that fundamental human goodness will not be disregarded in the Final Judgement. My theology thus balances on the edge of a very, very sharp knife. It must, as most of my near and dear have no particular religious beliefs, and my family is composed mostly of atheists—even the Unitarians are lapsed (if such a thing is even possible).
And, yes: Mr. Hitchens is no longer in a position to be annoyed by it, or ambivalent about it: So, please, pray for him. Light a candle if you’re Catholic.
This amazing writer was fearless. And smart. And from what I could see, a good, decent man who stared death in the face and remained just as decent as he had been before, albeit in much more pain.
Goodbye, Mr. H. You will be sorely, sorely missed.
UPDATE: I wrote to AllahP about this first, in case he hadn’t seen. But of course he had. This is his own goodbye. The money quote?
Hitchens being Hitchens, I wonder which he anticipated more eagerly — the end of the pain or finally knowing if he was right about you know what. I suspect he was right. I hope we’re both wrong.
It’s fundamentally unknowable, and at the same time I advocate for faith I’m deeply opposed to superstition. Which has me teetering on an even shaper blade, of course.
UPDATE II: Ace shares a couple of recollections about the hard-drinking, eternally smoking writer he went to Syria with several years ago.
UPDATE III: One of Hitchens’ finest—and raciest—essays concerned the link between Americana and . . . um, male-recipient oral-pleasuring. (I am trying not to be a hypocrite, and I’m always nagging the guys about using indelicate language, especially on front-page stories.)
UPDATE IV: The Memeorandum thread.
UPDATE VI: More from The Anchoress, who has apparently spaced on all that good advice she once gave to a hapless convert; she forgot that I’m Roman Catholic.
I suppose, given how interdenominational I try to keep my spiritual writing and my Bible Studies, it’s a sort-of compliment that she forgot. But why, if I weren’t Catholic, would I have suggested that people light candles for Mr. H? Oh, Lizzy Lizzy—what am I to do with you?
UPDATE VIII: And now Gerard has made me cry all over again.
UPDATE IV: Do not miss this one: the great Rich Miniter shares his recollections with us, courtesy of Forbes.
UPDATE X: Peter Hitchens, who found out first via the radio—a hazard when one’s older sibling is that well-known, there is a large “pond” in the way, and the time zones are not favorable. And a nice piece by David Frum.
UPDATE XI: There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in my philosophy.