A friend passes along this lovely essay by the British journalist Peter Hitchens, a political conservative and a mid-life convert to Christianity, in which Hitchens writes at length (and with gratitude) about how he and his famously atheistic brother finally reconciled. Fantastic! (And P. Hitchens reports that C. has quit smoking — surely a minor miracle, that). I did find compelling Peter’s discussion about how he lost his atheist convictions. Excerpt:

My own, slow return to faith began when I was 30, in 1981. By this time, I was doing well in my chosen trade, journalism. I could afford pleasant holidays with my girlfriend, whom I should nowadays call my ‘partner’ since we were not then married, on the European continent.
I no longer avoided churches. I recognised in the great English cathedrals, and in many small parish churches, the old unsettling messages.
One was the inevitability of my own death, the other the undoubted fact that my despised forebears were neither crude nor ignorant, but men and women of great skill and engineering genius, a genius not contradicted or blocked by faith, but enhanced by it.

And then he saw a famous religious painting while on holiday in Burgundy, and had a terrifying epiphany, which sparked his repentance and embrace of the Christian faith. But, he says, he’s been mostly quiet about it … until now:

It is a strange and welcome side effect of the growing attack on Christianity in British society that I have now overcome this.
Being Christian is one thing. Fighting for a cause is another, and much easier to acknowledge – for in recent times it has grown clear that the Christian religion is threatened with a dangerous defeat by secular forces which have never been so confident.
Why is there such a fury against religion now? Because religion is the one reliable force that stands in the way of the power of the strong over the weak. The one reliable force that forms the foundation of the concept of the rule of law.
The one reliable force that restrains the hand of the man of power. In an age of power-worship, the Christian religion has become the principal obstacle to the desire of earthly utopians for absolute power.

I completely agree with this, and laud him for saying it. It cannot be said often enough these days! But I would add that certain modes of modern thought — including, but not limited to science and secularizing aspects of the law — have become the principle obstacle to allowing earthly utopians within religious institutions from acquiring absolute power. Divorcing church and state, for example, was a great gift to both.
Anyway, I am thrilled to learn that both these formidable men have found peace between themselves.

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