Christians, especially conservative ones, often go out of their way to speak well of people who loathe them. I do think that sometimes this is done out of a conscious desire to appear likable and avoid being tagged as a boorish danger to the civilized world.
So it is that many Christians have reacted to news of the death of Christopher Hitchens with deference. I did, asking that Christians not gloat over his death. Hitchens, the journalist, was a fierce opponent of religion, particularly Christianity.
In 2007, when Jerry Falwell died, Hitchens made sure his audience understood him clearly, in an interview with Anderson Cooper. Calling Falwell an “ugly little charlatan,” among other things, he also speculated that in duping believers with an Elmer Gantry-like phoniness, Falwell went about “giggling and sniggering” as he conned people out of their hard-earned money.
Hitchens’ recent bestseller, god is Not Great, caused a firestorm of controversy, of course, which sold books. Although he moved away from many of the leftist ideologies he once embraced, Hitchens remained militantly anti-religion.
I was saddened to see Jonathan Falwell’s Twitter message about Hitchens’ death. While he did not characterize the dead writer the way his father had been savaged after his death, he still felt led to mention at the beginning that Hitchens had really trashed his father. Falwell the Younger then went on to say he’s praying for the Hitchens family.
In the end, all of us leave this world in a solo flight. Some are ghastly, some appear peaceful. Hitchens once said in a lecture that he didn’t believe the Bible’s claims about our ultimate destiny are true. I do believe in these instances, the weaknesses of his arguments were most pronounced (he simply, dismissively, “didn’t believe it”).
I am simply sad that he is gone. A great thinker, right in so many areas (yes, I know about his anti-Israel stances), he has passed from the only life he knew.
At least, no one I know is giggling and sniggering.
(More tomorrow on Christopher Hitchens and his views of eschatology, or, Bible prophecy)