The new issue of Vanity Fair includes a brief and eloquent piece by the inimitable Christopher Hitchens on his cancer diagnosis and treatment; it is a must-read for anyone who loves (or hates) Hitchens' musings on any number of subjects.  The prognosis sounds grim, and Hitchens does not flinch from what seems from his own admission to be simply a matter of moving medical pawns around in the endgame.  I was reminded despite myself in reading it (dare I say?) of the way that Cardinal John O'Connor and Cardinal Joseph Bernardin handled their cancer diagnoses--not shrinking away from the facts but using their final years as a teaching moment on the often-taboo subject of the realities of a terminal diagnosis.  Hitchens remains, of course, an avowed and truculent atheist, and rejects any attempt (even his own) to find poignancy or larger meaning in this most unfortunate news.

It is classic Hitchens--in one graf, the reader can be moved to tears by his honesty and eloquence; mere lines later, one can be dismayed by an absurd and irrelevant linking of Joseph Ratzinger to Henry Kissinger (as if clumsy mismanagement of an unwieldy church were the moral equivalent of illegally carpet-bombing sovereign nations).  And yet there is something in that honesty, in his rejection of cliche (Martin Amis is surely proud), that should be moving even to those (including myself) who have rolled their eyes at every clever but vicious bon mot and logical fallacy that ever came out of the rascal's mouth.

He concludes with an intriguing suggestion that in a future issue he will take up the subject of the many Christian groups who have offered prayers for his recovery; that, I am sure, will be the essay of the year...

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James Lindsay
8 years 5 months ago
Of course, the interesting thing is that if he has led a charitable life to "the least of these" when he comes upon them, he will be taken into heaven whether he believes in it or not, and frankly whether he likes it or not.  More proof that Jesus of Nazareth has a sick sense of humor.
Dale Rodrigue
8 years 5 months ago
At least we have to try praying for him, maybe a miracle?
It would take a miracle to convince him but the Good Shephard leaves the 99 and goes after the one lost sheep. 
Wouldn't that be something!
Bill Collier
8 years 5 months ago
I sometimes wonder exactly how deep-roooted Hitchens's claims of atheism are. I saw him being interviewed on TV a few years ago, and he mentioned that his wife had had their children baptized, in the Greek Orthodox Church, if I remember correctly. The interviewer seemed surprised, and he asked Hitchens if he had objected to the baptisms. Hitchens said that he had not objected, but rather than say that he had not objected because he wanted to honor his wife's wishes, he replied instead, somewhat indignantly, that he wanted his children to have the insurance of salvation in case there really is a God. Doesn't sound like a 100% true believer atheist to me. 
Molly Roach
8 years 5 months ago
Christopher Hitchens is not my favorite commentator but he is one amazing writer and his reflections on his illness are moving and I will pray for him.  I do think that characterizing Benedict's calamitous mismanagement of allegations of sexual abuse as "clumsy mismanagement of an unwieldy church" ignores the anguish that will take two generations to absorb.  
James Lindsay
8 years 5 months ago
Hitch doesn't believe in Hell. That's kind of the point.  Hell is actually someplace you send your enemies - or the place you live every day if cursed with some affliction while not finding salvation in love (aka God).

Profession is not as important as the actions one takes.  People see their lives flash before their eyes at death - they don't hear them.  We who are on the intellectual side of Catholicism shouild keep that in mind.

If Hitch led a loving life to those in his immediate orbit and spoke out for justice, it is less important that he toe the party line.  God knows his heart and those who wish him some kind of death bed drama don't.

We don't practice relligion for God's sake - we do it for ours.
8 years 5 months ago


Prayer to Saint Peregrine

O great St. Peregrine, you have been called "The Mighty," "The Wonder-Worker," because of the numerous miracles which you have obtained from God for those who have had recourse to you.

For so many years you bore in your own flesh this cancerous disease that destroys the very fibre of our being, and who had recourse to the source of all grace when the power of man could do no more. You were favoured with the vision of Jesus coming down from His Cross to heal your affliction. Ask of God and Our Lady, the cure of the sick whom we entrust to you.
(Pause here and silently recall Christopher Hitchens)
Aided in this way by your powerful intercession, we shall sing to God, now and for all eternity, a song of gratitude for His great goodness and mercy.


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