December 18th, 2011
Truth be told, Hitchens’ charm was mostly lost on me, but you’re not supposed to speak ill of the dead. So I’ll just say that I found Steve Sailer’s notice to be slightly more in line with my thoughts.
That said, I was very interested in the little epiphenomenon of Christians saying that they hoped Hitch had a pleasant surprise at the Pearly Gates. (Which is to say, that rather than fearing his surprise might be unpleasant, they seem to charitably assume that everything worked out well for him.) Allahpundit summarized this oddness pretty well. The two best explanations for it that I’ve seen are these:
The first comes from Ross Douthat, who has a really funny (and clever) line about the nature of Hitchens’ blasphemy in an essay slugged “The Believer’s Atheist”:
Recognizing this affinity, many Christian readers felt that in Hitchens’s case there had somehow been a terrible mix-up, and that a writer who loved the King James Bible and “Brideshead Revisited” surely belonged with them, rather than with the bloodless prophets of a world lit only by Science.
In this they were mistaken, but not entirely so. At the very least, Hitchens’s antireligious writings carried a whiff of something absent in many of atheism’s less talented apostles — a hint that he was not so much a disbeliever as a rebel, and that his atheism was mostly apolitical romantic’s attempt to pick a fight with the biggest Tyrant he could find.
The second comes from Galley Friend X:
The most charitable explanation: humans have a natural aversion to speak ill of the dead; Christians consider hope a theological and spiritual virtue; Americans tend to be optimistic.The least charitable explanation: humans have a natural aversion to avoid unpleasant things; Christians lost the fear of hell in April 1954; Americans tend to be dullards.
There are many things I admire without otherwise enjoying them. Citizen Kane, for example. Also Formica.
Speaking for no one else, I’m guessing that Hitchens was widely considered the one public intellectual who put himself into the world physically and was always eager to do battle with the conventional wisdom; in the process he at various times flattered those of all intellectual stripes.
Here’s hoping that the Big Fella isn’t the type to require a belief in Him before admission.
Just read the Sailer. He makes a remarkably silly deduction–that Hitchens’s support of the Iraq war “helped grease the skids for [his] conversion to neocon invade-the-worldism.” All Jews were for the war? All neocons were Jews?
To me, Hitchens always seemed like he was angry at God more than anything else.
These obits seem to fall in 2 categories: Beltway machers trying to associate themselves however desperately with the late “Hitch” and his aura, comprising about 90%; or the rabid sour-grapes type in your 1st link.
I kinda loved Hitchens, the guy could write, almost certainly better than Sailer gives him credit for.