Cancer takes a horrible toll on the body, so perhaps we can crack a smile when we find examples of the soul remaining defiantly intact — even if it is the potentially-damned soul of someone who doesn’t believe in such nebulous things?

Check out notorious atheist Christopher Hitchens’ love letter to the fire-and-brimstone responses he’s heard and read — the kind some of you have written on this very blog — since revealing that he’s battling esophageal cancer, in this Vanity Fair column: “Unanswerable Prayers.”

An excerpt:

Devout persons have died young and in pain. Bertrand Russell and Voltaire, by contrast, remained spry until the end, as many psychopathic criminals and tyrants have also done. These visitations, then, seem awfully random. While my so far uncancerous throat, let me rush to assure my Christian correspondent above, is not at all the only organ with which I have blasphemed …And even if my voice goes before I do, I shall continue to write polemics against religious delusions, at least until it’s hello darkness my old friend. In which case, why not cancer of the brain? As a terrified, half-aware imbecile, I might even scream for a priest at the close of business, though I hereby state while I am still lucid that the entity thus humiliating itself would not in fact be “me.” (Bear this in mind, in case of any later rumors or fabrications.)

(Politics Daily’s David Gibson has also had some fun with this column.)

What do you think? Share your thoughts — who knows, Mr. Hitchens may be reading! — in the Comments section below.

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