Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Is Christopher Hitchens Roasting in Hell?

A distasteful subject...

... especially during Christmastime, when we celebrate the birth of our savior.  It is made only slightly more palatable by the though of Hitch decking the Korean pot-bellied pig upon the face to face encounter, while Saint Peter busily checks the rolls in front of the pearly gates.

I do not enjoy such speculation.  I have my own salvation to work out "in fear and trembling," but Bill Bennett started it by going out of his way and off topic during a CBS interview, to say this...

"He was left and I was right.  We had great debates, great drinking bouts...  And I hope that, being the big atheist that he was, he's in for a big surprise."
Pretty ungracious for a man who extols the Socratic virtues of intelligence, candor and goodwill.

Granted, Christians have a duty to rage against the slouching, pablum-powered It's-all-good-universalism that completely ignores The Bible, but that statement was particularly harsh.

Bennett's apparently premeditated outburst sparked Allahpundit to explore three possible fates for our beloved writer:

1) He's damned.
2) He secretly converted, which he pegs as an insult to a man of strong and clear atheistic convictions who made his deathbed and unblinkingly laid down upon it.
3) “well, maybe God will cut him a break.”

Allahpundit marvels at how many Christians who loved Hitch's work fall into the third category.  He concludes...
"... he’ll go down in history as a blasphemer of world-beating vehemence — and yet there are still millions of believers who so love and admire him for his art that, in spite of it all, they’re straining to somehow get him off the hook with God anyway. Now that’s a legacy."  (Allahpundit)
Ross Douthat explores the third possibility in Hitchens and Hell, giving us a thumbnail sketch of theological thought that supports the salvation of Christopher Hitchens, concluding...
Rather, the point is that we just don’t know. As Henry James had it: “Never say you know the last word about any human heart.” Or in the words of Saint Paul: “For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face.” Both the goats and the sheep are surprised by God’s judgment. And even for the most confident believer, the plain words of the New Testament suggest that Christopher Hitchens’ ultimate fate will count among the least of the next life’s many surprises. (Douthat)
Doctoral candidate in theology Kevin Considine asks a provocative question about the eternal fate of Kim Jong Il, a rapist dictator responsible for the death of millions.  It could just as easily be asked about the fate of Christopher Hitchens, or any one of us...
So, we are forced to live in ambiguity. We have no way of knowing. So maybe the better question to ponder is this: should we want there to be salvation for such a brutal man, even if justice is somehow achieved as a prerequisite? And what does it say about me (and us) if I prefer a “pound of bloody flesh” to trump God’s ridiculous love for all human beings? I’m not sure I want to answer that question. (Considine)
If that statement intrigues you, follow the link and read the short article. Also, read the comment threat; it contains some thoughtful responses.

But more importantly, what do you think?

Link:  Considine - Is there salvation for Kim Jong Il?


Always On Watch said...

I believe that each of us is the creation of a sovereign God.

Just as writers create and can tear up their work or publish it, then so can a sovereign God do as He wishes with each of His creations. That we think that we are so important as to be able to discern the ways of the Lord is proof that humans have too high a view of themselves

The wonder is that He loves us so much and saves even a few of us! Grace that abounds is what I'm thankful for, so I don't indulge on speculating as to the eternal destiny of any other human being.

As my father advised me: "I have enough trouble tending to my own soul. YOUR soul is your business."

None of us knows what happens with any other individual's soul in those last few moments of life on this earth. I also believe that God can reach into a coma and save whomever He wishes.

In my view, none of us are worthy of God's grace -- no matter what good deeds we've done this life. What each of us actually deserves on our own merits is eternity in hell.

"All we like sheep have gone astray."


"There is none worthy -- no, not one."

"The wages of sin is death."

Only Enoch was righteous enough not to have to pass through the veil of death.

Jersey McJones said...

It depends on what your particular sectarian beliefs are when it comes to what you think will happen to Hitchens' immortal soul. I'm sure some would say his neocon attitude toward the GWOT would be even worse than his atheism. Other's would argue it is his more liberal leanings. Most Protestants would probably be more concerned with his atheism itself.

It's all moot though.


Ducky's here said...

Speaking of people roasting in hell:

"If they gave Jerry Falwell an enema, he could be buried in a matchbox."
--- Christopher Hitchens

Ducky's here said...

The right wing fascination with Hitchens still perplexes.

dmarks said...

"I'm sure some would say his neocon attitude toward the GWOT would be even worse than his atheism."

He was too smart not to support actually fighting back against the terrorists when they attack us. A lot more sane than rolling over and letting them keep engaging in aggression.

Silverfiddle said...

Ducky: We love him for reasons that include that quote about Falwell.

dmarks also explains it. Hitch's problem with militant Islam was its threat to classical liberal ideals.

Anonymous said...

I think it's a bit pointless to speculate about the fate of his soul.

To be frank, it's pointless to speculate about the fates of our own immortal souls, let alone someone else's.

Religion everywhere would do well to just forget about the idea of heaven and hell. The whole reward/punishment thing taints every action by someone who is super religious. If you're going to do good things on this earth, then do it for the sake of it being good, not just because you think it will help you get into heaven.

And if you believe that accepting Jesus as your savior is enough to get you into heaven, and that what you do in this life doesn't matter, then isn't that sort of spitting in the face of his ministry? Jesus spent his time on earth in service to others, not to trick them into converting, but to show them how they should treat their fellow man.

What I find funny is the fact that there are atheists who do more to alleviate the suffering of others than their super-Christian counterparts, who will protest funerals and claim that death is somehow God's punishment for immorality. I think living up to the example Jesus set is more important than believing that you have to be dunked under water to get into heaven.

I mean, do we really think that only Christians will get into heaven, while the other billions of God's beloved souls are going to burn in hell forever? What about people in cultures that were never exposed to Jesus? Do they suffer for eternity, or do they somehow get a pass?

When you start asking those questions, I hope you can see how silly the discussion actually is.

Silverfiddle said...

Ducky: I've found some answers to your perplexion.

From HuffPo, by a writer named Roger Housden, himself apparently no fan of Hitchens but nonetheless a grudging admirer:

This supports my suspicion of why he was more famous in the US than in Britain:

That cast of Englishman lives in an environment where droll wit, cutting irony and the infamous put-down were requirements for survival, at least in the class of his generation.

Hitchens mastered them all, and put them to work, not on the English cultural stage, where they are part of everyday life and thus nothing out of the ordinary, but in America, which remains as yet something of an innocent in these dark arts. This is doubtless why their novelty still thrills here.

I also think this is common among people of all stripes who mourn his passing...

He was courageous enough, too, to take the contrarian view against both right and left sides of the aisle, and to prise open many people's minds, including my own, to ways of thinking about a subject or idea that they had never considered before. We all need our assumptions questioned, and Hitchens did a public service in being willing to oblige.

Jack: Of course its useless to speculate on the ultimate fate of others, but it's an interesting non-political topic.

Z said...

I wouldn't wish my worst enemy eternal hell.
Bill Bennett's quote worries me for him, not so much for Hitchens.

I will say that I believe the Right's affection for Hitchens reflects our desire to hear all sides when presented clearly and articulately; we don't write someone off and hate him offhandedly because he doesn't agree with us. Nearly every blog I saw after his death was Conservative, and probably mostly Christian, and was in agreement that the world lost a great thinker.
I'm proud of that.

Ducky's here said...

Silver, I don't think anyone sane is supporting religious extremists, Muslim or otherwise, so Hitchens isn't
unusual in that regard.

Face it, what the right clings to is his support for the Iraq fiasco (the Kurds are immediately behaving as predicted) and a belief it might give the venture legitimacy if someone like Hitchens supported it.

An operation you at least feel was badly mismanaged if not outright foolish.

Yeah, he had a wit. Gonna take more than wit to overcome our inertia.

Anonymous said...

I’ll repeat what I said about Mr. Hitchens the other day:

I loved Hitchens for his beautifully modulated voice, polished diction, uncanny eloquence and courage to spit directly into the faces of those he thought unworthy. Unlike most prominent American politicians, political analysts and professional commentators he was a great master of the language -- possibly one of the last to exist in this sad degenerate period of Western Decline. 

I disliked him, however, for his everlasting contentiousness, cynicism and perpetually pissed off, accusatory stance -- and especially for his sullen, sour-mouthed campaign against Mother Teresa of all people -- a figure I can only believe he denigrated in order to draw attention to himself and secure his reputation as "The Premier Bad Boy of Journalism." Hitchens was not above ostentatiously playing the hypocrite in order to aggrandize his career and further secure his self-defined, self-created position.

Shortly before his untimely death he announced that he was reasonably certain his lifelong addictions to alcohol and tobacco were responsible for the emergence of the esophageal cancer that destroyed his life. He was unrepentant about it, and said he would do the same thing all over again, even with foreknowledge of the tragic results, because he credited his abuse of alcohol and tobacco with releasing his capacity to think and write as he did, which was all he really cared about.

Addicts no matter how brilliant and accomplished are very selfish people. It's a thankless task to be married to one, and too often a wounding, inhibiting thing to have one as a parent or a teacher. The same may be said of artists. Very brilliant, highly creative people are loners by nature, and too frequently make servants and sacrificial victims of all who get close to them. 

The hideous irony is that Addict-Artists most often become the greatest victim of their own willfully perverse, self-destructive nature.

Openly declaring war on Almighty God is sure to cast one in the role of Big Time Loser no matter how smart or brilliantly accomplished one might be.

I respected Hitchens a great deal, despite all that, for having the wisdom and integrity to abandon his former position as radical leftist after being confronted with the bumper crop of poisonous fruit that demented, delusive philosophy has produced.

That he remained always unpredictable and never became a typical knee-jerk Conservative after gradually abandoning his devotion to Marxism gave him a great deal of credibility and kept one reading and listening to him with interest-if-not-approval right up to the end.

I like to think his militant atheism was not so much an expression of hatred toward God as it was of the hateful, hellish, hypocritical, hash organized religion has made of The Word. In that I would have to say I agree with him -- and with Thomas Jefferson before him -- and all other thoughtful men of good conscience who seek always to separate Truth from Falsehood and Reality from Illusion.

I hope God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, will see fit to smile upon Mr. Hitchens now that he has crossed over to The Other Side, gently chide him for his lack of faith, thank him for his devoted pursuit of the only kind of Truth he could comprehend, and welcome him into the Realm of Eternal Light and Love much as the father welcomed the Prodigal Son when he returned home. 

It gives me a peculiar sense of satisfaction, however, to imagine Christopher Hitchens being properly humbled, enlightened, then purged of belligerence and cynicism after seeing God face-to-face, and finally knowing as he has been known throughout his fractious, nettlesome, perennially questing pursuit of honesty, fairness, kindness and -- yes -- decency here on earth.

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

You're quite wrong, Ducky, as is so often the case.

I just posted what I -- an avowed Libertarian and Paleo-Conservative of the Old School -- think of Christopher Hitchens, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with his support of the Iraq war, which I have realized for a long time was colossal blunder.

Our persistent Post- WWII determination to engage in an endless series of no-win wars is undoubtedly part of the unholy movement to brankrupt our country, destroy her sovereignty and force her people to labor under the yoke of One World Quasi-Socialist Government administered by a self-anointed Oligarchy of Elites -- to their eternal benefit.

What I grew to love about Mr. Hitchens, aside from his wit, his erudition, his eloquence and his beautiful English diction, was his abandonment of naked partisanship in favor of an honest search -- and frank demand -- for moral CLARITY and intellectual INTEGRITY on all fronts.

~ FreeThinke

Z said...

FT, over the years, I can see that people like Ducky have a very difficult time understanding that it's the Right with open minds and appreciation for clarity and erudition. Hitchens hasn't written about the Iraq war for a long time; who remembers that? Who'd judge someone for ONE thing we agreed with?
We've all, every one of us, given other instances for which we admired him, and still we're told that our admiration is because he supported Iraq. Many of US didn't either, as you say.

It's shocking for some to see conservatives rallying around a non conservative, which is silly, but seems to be rather a characteristic of Conservatives more than the Left.

I remember when Tony Snow died and the Huff Post crashed for the number of revelers, happy that a young man had died a painful death...after all, he'd worked for BUSH.
And then when Ted Kennedy died, I was very proud and touched by ALL the Conservative bloggers I visited who admitted they didn't agree with the man but that nobody should suffer like he did and wishing his family well.
It's just the way it is......I'm proud of that.

We didn't always agree with Hitch, he certainly didn't always agree with us!, but because he supported philosophies based on the philosophy and not on ideology, we admired the man. Good for us.

Anonymous said...

All very true, Z -- and very well said.

Thank you.


~ FT

Trekkie4Ever said...

At this point, the man is dead, and it is officially between himself and God Almighty.

No one can honestly say if someone is going to hell or not, for all we know Hitchens had a change of heart and asked the Lord be his Lord and Savior at the very last minute.

Whatever the case maybe, it is in God's hands.

KP said...

"He was left and I was right. We had great debates, great drinking bouts... And I hope that, being the big atheist that he was, he's in for a big surprise."

When I read this I took Bennet to mean he was in for a big surprise when God greeted him. I didn't hear any malice.

Finntann said...

Agreed KP

I didn't take it that way when I first read it and after watching the video of Bennett on YouTube, I still don't take it that way.


Silverfiddle said...

KP and Finn: Interesting. I never thought of it like that...

Ducky's here said...

Why does his condition as an unbeliever merit a special concern?

Ducky's here said...

... were people as concerned about, say, Bertrand Russel?

Silverfiddle said...

Bertrand Russell can go to hell for all I care. I don't care if he was part of the French Resistance...

Anonymous said...

"He was left and I was right. We had great debates, great drinking bouts... And I hope that, being the big atheist that he was, he's in for a big surprise."

When I read this, I took Bennet to mean he was in for a big surprise when God greeted him. I didn't hear any malice.

That is exactly the way I took it too, KP. Funny how we unconsciously insert our own peculiar worldview into the way we interpret phenomena, isn't it?

Why would we assume that any "surprise" God has in store for us must, perforce, be unpleasant? I find that very "OT," myself.

"Eye hath not seen; ear hath not heard.
Neither have entered into the heart of Man
The things that God hath prepared
For those who love Him."


Silverfiddle said...

FT: Blasphemy is a mortal sin in the Catholic Church. That is why I read malice into Bennett's comment. I am a Bennett fan, so I was surprised by the comment. However, based on you, KP and Finntann, I am open to the possibility that perhaps I misinterpreted his comments.

Anonymous said...

Funny you should mention Bertrand Russell in this particular context, Ducky!

I vaguely remember a funny story about Lord Russell's astonishment when he met God face-to-face after crossing to The Other Side, and stood before Jehovah's Awful Throne on Judgment Day:

"Well, Lord Russell, what have to say in defence of your lack of faith and understanding?" asked Almighty God.

"Lord, you simply did not provide sufficient evidence to prove your case," said Russell unperturbed.

I can imagine Christopher Hitchens responding in a similar manner if put in the same situation.

And I suspect the Lord -- who must have a great sense of humor along with respect and admiration for Courage, Objectivity and Sincerity -- will let both of them get away with it -- at least I hope so.

It troubles me greatly that in the Fundamentalist Christian view Galileo, Newton, Shakespeare, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Mozart, Beethoven, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Disraeli, Darwin, Dickens, Mahler, Jonas Salk -- and so many others who aided mightily in advancing the cause of Civilization -- have all been rewarded for their great achievements with a One-Way Ticket to Hades.

That just could NOT be right.

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

FYI: The verification word for that last post was NOLOBBE.


~ FT

Infidel de Manahatta said...

Maybe he converted at the last moment, which at the very least means he'll have to spend some time in purgatory.

KP said...

Purgatory, in a non specific way; if often viewed as any place or condition of suffering or torment, especially one that is temporary. Many of us can identify with that description as adults.

The KEY, I think, is to keep moving toward the light; making an effort to overcome ourselves. Do we have a positive impact on the people we have relationships with. Bennet would have answered yes about Hitchens.

KP said...

Happy New Year, FT!

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

I'd like to think Hitchens reincarnated, and we'll be hearing from him again in around 19 years.

KP said...

beamish -- I would enjoy that. As well, that means we might hear from William F Buckley in about 15 years. Equally endearing, interesting and entertaining.

KP said...

As well, we could enjoy Noam Chomsky again if and when he ever leaves us!

Buckley and Chomsky:

KP said...

Akthough I don't agree with everything Chomsky espouses I thought he hands down won the debate.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

I think Hitchens would live a little faster than he did the next time around.

Samsara ebbs and flows...

Anonymous said...

I knew a little kid -- my good Catholic cousin's oldest boy to be exact -- who used to call it PREGATORY.

He was duly corrected, of course, by or family of born "educators," but the more I think about it, the better I like the idea of calling it PREGATORY.

After all it's a place PREGNANT with hope that one day the torment will end, isn't it?

Hell is the place where the Damned part company with Hope once and for all. I like to believe Hell is reserved only for the very worst malefactors -- like Vlad the Impaler, the Conquistadors, Montezuma, Lincoln, Lenin, Trotsky, Hitler and perverse intellectual aggressors like Marx, Gramsci, Adorno, Marcuse, Alinsky, fiends like David Rockefeller -- and fools like FDR.

Even Hitler -- bad as he was -- was guilty primarily of OVER-REACTING to Marxist Aggression (proving yet again that "Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right.")

Those who deliberately make trouble, perpetually vilify others, and make a practice of bearing false witness against their neighbors for personal, political gain -- or to satisfy Sadistic impulses -- probably deserve Hell too. Mental, Moral and Spiritual malignancy are every bit as virulent and lethal a set of diseases as any form of physical attack.

Grim though our situation may appear, I wish everyone a GOOD New Year. Happiness is a natural by-product of goodness, so there's no need to wish for it. Do the right thing, and it will come.

What is doing the right thing?

Nothing more or less than doing unto others what you would have them do unto you. Very simple really.

Be of good cheer. The Lord is nigh.

~ FreeThinke

dmarks said...

"Even Hitler -- bad as he was -- was guilty primarily of OVER-REACTING to Marxist Aggression (proving yet again that "Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right.")"

Hitler was indeed a great socialist intellectual, expanding on the ideology of Marx and Lenin. That ideology is socialism, which is nothing more than a "scientific" justification of the age-old "divine right of kings", and a regressive refersal of all efforts to give the people rights that the ruling elites cannot take away.

As for Chomsky, isn't he just about the only person in the free world who supported the Khmer Rouge killing fields? Jersey McJones might: he has a real hatred of Southeast Asians.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia only fought each other for around 6 months long than America's participation in World War 2 against the Nazis. Before that, the Nazis and Communists were allies.

Hitler's brand of socialism was national, rather than international. "Workers of Germany, unite!" rather than "Workers of the world..."

Were there no confusion of languages, the Germans and Russians would have build quite a Tower of Babel in Europe... and then the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

Fascism and communism are just two siblings in the leftist family tree.

Anonymous said...

As Tonto frequently addressed The Lone Ranger, so would I address Noam Chomsky.

[The Lone Ranger and Tonto finally split up you may remember when the Ranger learned that Kemo Sabay means "BIG SHIT!"]

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

It is not Communism or Socialism or Fascism or Theocracy or Left or Right or Democrats and republicans we should fight against, it is the impulse present in all human beings to browbeat, bully, subjugate, "pacify," beat fellow human beings into submission, and otherwise exert Power and Control.

The desire to TYRANNIZE-- from any and all directions -- is our chief enemy.

Self-righteousness is father of any movement in the direction of despotism.

~ FreeThinke