I read this piece from Fr. Sean Salai on Chris Hitchens with some interest. I never had the pleasure of meeting Christopher Hitchens and that is one of my regrets as a person who has dipped a toe in the water of reporting.
One had to like Hitchens even when one disagreed violently with him for several reasons. I liked him for his willingness to call Radical Islam what it is when everyone on the left wanted to pretend otherwise. I liked him for his bravery getting beaten up for defacing a Nazi like symbol in the Middle East saying such things should be defaced.
But most of all I liked him for his honesty, right or wrong he was honest. He said what he thought, was willing to back it up and didn’t care a fig if other people thought otherwise which is how Screwtape described both the great saint and the great sinners.
But why I really liked about the piece is how he gets it right
It’s hard to fathom how such a person meets the end of his life. I only know Hitchens suffered a lot in his final illness and I’m sorry he’s gone. When I think of him today, I still recall him as the quick-witted journalist I met at Wabash, rather than as the conflicted atheist he later became. But I also know they were the same person: a frustrated idealist who was filled with much bitterness despite also being a deeply compassionate man.
Sometimes, I even find myself praying for Christopher Hitchens to the God he said he never knew. Why Hitchens? I suppose I do it because he was the last good American atheist.
Note what he didn’t say, it didn’t say he “hoped” Hitchens made it to heaven or that God gave him a mulligan, he simply says he will pray for him. This is entirely proper and correct.
Now Hitchens had until the his final breath to repent of his hatred of God and the Church teaches that we can not know if he did in fact do so as such represents merely needs to be in the mind, not stated aloud but my statement at the time of his death still stands.
Would any believer trade places with Christopher Hitchens right now?
Show me a professed Christian of any stripe who is willing to make that trade and I’ll show you a person who is lying about his belief.