Friday, December 16, 2011

A Loss -- A Terrible Loss

This morning I clicked on my computer and saw two messages informing me of what had happened during the night.
One was from a commenter on my blogpage, the other, an email from my Reading Partner.
I felt an instant shock on both counts.
Of course, I knew that the days of Christopher Hitchens were numbered.
I guess I was somehow hoping that he could beat the odds.
But this writer, this amazingly astute thinker, a man I greatly admire -- he has slipped away from us in the night.
Christopher Hitchens was someone I think I would never tire of listening to. Someone who would so gamely point out to me that the sentence I had just written was grammatically incorrect.
I wish that just once in my life I could have sat and had a drink with him.
Hitchens, an atheist, taught me more about my current concept of "god" than probably anyone else in the world.
And so, I thank you for that, Mr. Hitchens.
What manner of words can I arrange, to summarize -- to eulogize such a man?
The attempt seems blasphemous to me.
The very word so many levelled at him.
Hitchens once said that he and a friend, contemplating their demise, had mused that there would come a day when the newspapers would come out and they wouldn’t be there to read them. “And on that day, I’ve realized recently,” he went on, “I’ll probably be in the newspapers, or quite a lot of them. And etiquette being what it is, generally speaking, rather nice things being said about me.” He shrugged. “Just typical that will be the edition I miss.”
You've missed today's newspaper Mr. Hitchens.
But not as much as I already miss you.



Anonymous said...

Pursuing the prayer thread through the labyrinth of the Web, I eventually found a bizarre “Place Bets” video. This invites potential punters to put money on whether I will repudiate my atheism and embrace religion by a certain date or continue to affirm unbelief and take the hellish consequences. This isn’t, perhaps, as cheap or as nasty as it may sound. One of Christianity’s most cerebral defenders, Blaise Pascal, reduced the essentials to a wager as far back as the 17th century. Put your faith in the almighty, he proposed, and you stand to gain everything. Decline the heavenly offer and you lose everything if the coin falls the other way. (Some philosophers also call this Pascal’s Gambit.)

Ingenious though the full reasoning of his essay may be—he was one of the founders of probability theory—Pascal assumes both a cynical god and an abjectly opportunist human being. Suppose I ditch the principles I have held for a lifetime, in the hope of gaining favor at the last minute? I hope and trust that no serious person would be at all impressed by such a hucksterish choice. Meanwhile, the god who would reward cowardice and dishonesty and punish irreconcilable doubt is among the many gods in which (whom?) I do not believe. I don’t mean to be churlish about any kind intentions, but when September 20 comes, please do not trouble deaf heaven with your bootless cries. Unless, of course, it makes you feel better.

See a slide show of CH at

Miss you Hitch


Beth said...

His picture made it on the front page of The Globe today...
And, yes, it is a terrible loss.

Cipriano said...

Lorin -- thank you for reminding me of these words of The Hitch. I had read them before, and now, they are so apropos.
It will be great to see you at the soiree tomorrow.

Beth -- we both grieve.