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Christopher Hitchens: Don't Trouble 'Deaf Heaven' With Prayers for Me
Christian Post ^ | 04/01/2011 | Eric Young

Posted on 04/02/2011 7:04:30 PM PDT by SeekAndFind

With less than two weeks before “Everybody Pray for Hitchens Day,” cancer-stricken Christopher Hitchens is encouraging believers to hold off on praying for him.

“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,” the atheist author wrote in a first-person article for Vanity Fair’s October 2010 issue.

“Unless, of course, it makes you feel better,” he added, echoing a past comment.

Last month, in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Hitchens said he was well aware of the prayer groups that have formed since he announced late June that he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer – the same cancer his father died of.

When asked if he told people not to pray for him, the devoted atheist told Cooper, “No,” but said those who feel better in doing so “have my blessing.”

In an interview days later with The Atlantic, Hitchens also said, “I take it (prayer) kindly on the assumption that people are praying for my recovery.”

Now, about a month after the interviews, Hitchens appears to have decided to discourage prayer – particularly on Sept. 20 – noting in his Vanity Fair piece that it would present him with another “secular problem.”

“[W]hat if I pulled through and the pious faction contentedly claimed that their prayers had been answered? That would somehow be irritating,” he wrote.

Author of the New York Times bestseller God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Hitchens is one of the most prominent figures in the “new atheism” movement, though the English-born author describes himself as an anti-theist.

Hitchens contends that organized religion is "the main source of hatred in the world" and has appeared in a number of debates with Christian theologians and pastors, including Pastor Douglas Wilson, who Hitchens engaged in a series of written debates on the question "Is Christianity Good for the World?"

In his Vanity Fair piece, Hitchens said Wilson was among those praying for him and that the Moscow, Idaho-based pastor was praying for three things – “that I would fight off the disease, that I would make myself right with eternity, and that the process would bring the two of us back into contact.”

“He couldn’t resist adding rather puckishly that the third prayer had already been answered,” Hitchens remarked.

To date, Hitchens says he’s received an “astonishing and flattering” number of correspondences from people regarding his illness.

And “very few,” he said, failed to say one of two things.

“Either they assured me that they wouldn’t offend me by offering prayers or they tenderly insisted that they would pray anyway,” Hitchens shared.

He also noted that there are some “quite reputable Catholics, Jews, and Protestants who think that I might in some sense of the word be worth saving,” including renowned geneticist and believer Dr. Francis Collins, who Hitchens described as “one of the greatest living Americans.”

“He has been kind enough to visit me in his own time and to discuss all sorts of novel treatments, only recently even imaginable, that might apply to my case. And let me put it this way: he hasn’t suggested prayer, and I in turn haven’t teased him about The Screwtape Letters,” Hitchens wrote.

But not all, unsurprisingly, have been praying for Hitchens’ well-being. Some have been praying for him to die “a horrible agonizing death,” while others have been praying for him to burn in hell.

Some even believe the tumor in his esophagus is “God’s revenge for him using his voice to blaspheme him,” though the cancer has yet spread to his throat.

But, as Hitchens noted, cancer is “quite evenly distributed among saints and sinners, believers and unbelievers.”

Furthermore, he says, “even if my voice goes before I do, I shall continue to write polemics against religious delusions, at least until it’s hello darkness my old friend.”

Even if he developed cancer of the brain and became a “terrified, half-aware imbecile” who near death would call for a priest, Hitchens insists “while I am still lucid that the entity thus humiliating itself would not in fact be ‘me.’”

“[T]he god who would reward cowardice and dishonesty and punish irreconcilable doubt is among the many gods in which (whom?) I do not believe,” he said, calling out those who “ditch” long-held principles “in hope of gaining favor at the last minute.”

While not mentioned, some have interpreted Hitchens' "entity" remarks to be a subtle reference to the late Professor Antony Flew, who became a deist six years ago after championing atheism for most of his life.

Flew, who died this past April, was one of the best-known atheists of his generation. And to this day, his conversion remains contentious as there were doubts over Flew's mental capacities after 2004.

"With his powers in decline, Antony Flew, a man who devoted his life to rational argument, has become a mere symbol, a trophy in a battle fought by people whose agendas he does not fully understand," wrote New York Times Magazine writer Mark Oppenheimer after meeting up with Flew in England prior to the professor’s death.

To guard against such an occurrence and to dispel potential rumors, Hitchens has insisted that any story about him making a death bed conversion should be quickly rejected.

“If that comes, it will be when I'm very ill, when I'm half demented, either by drugs or pain where I wouldn't have control over what I say,” Hitchens told Anderson Cooper last month.

“I can't say that the entity … wouldn't be me,” he added. But while he’s still “lucid,” Hitchens said he “wouldn’t do such a pathetic thing.”

“So if there is some story that on your death bed …” Cooper began to ask.

“Don't believe it,” Hitchens quickly responded.


TOPICS: Current Events; Prayer; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics
KEYWORDS: atheism; christopherhitchens; deathbedconversions; flew; hitchens; misotheism; prayers

1 posted on 04/02/2011 7:04:34 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

We are told in Proverbs not to cast our pearls before swine.

I am not sure this is such a case but I tend to think it is.


2 posted on 04/02/2011 7:05:43 PM PDT by Persevero (Homeschooling for Excellence since 1992)
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To: SeekAndFind
LATEST PHOTO OF CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS:

3 posted on 04/02/2011 7:05:55 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind
Don't cry for me, Argentina.
4 posted on 04/02/2011 7:09:08 PM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum ("...crush the bourgeoisie... between the millstones of taxation and inflation." --Vladimir Lenin)
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To: SeekAndFind
When asked if he told people not to pray for him, the devoted atheist told Cooper, “No,” but said those who feel better in doing so “have my blessing.”

Isn't that ironic.
I wasn't aware of this until now but will pray for him. What a testimony he would have!

5 posted on 04/02/2011 7:09:38 PM PDT by Past Your Eyes (You knew the job was dangerous when you took it.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Poor guy.


6 posted on 04/02/2011 7:11:24 PM PDT by gorush (History repeats itself because human nature is static)
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To: All
Hitchens contends that organized religion is "the main source of hatred in the world"

Mans religion causes problems, Gods does not.

7 posted on 04/02/2011 7:11:36 PM PDT by BipolarBob (I'm madder than a Charlie Sheen hatter about ObamaCare.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Boy this lost soul needs our prayers.


8 posted on 04/02/2011 7:18:51 PM PDT by ncalburt (Get Even on Election Day)
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To: Persevero

There isn’t any thing “swinish” about praying for the soul of another man. The Holy Spirit keeps working on him.


9 posted on 04/02/2011 7:19:30 PM PDT by InvisibleChurch (If your PC is running slowly then it will be easy to catch.)
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To: SeekAndFind

why are you now posting an article from last september 7?


10 posted on 04/02/2011 7:22:36 PM PDT by dep (all that is necessary for liberals to triumph is for honest people to do nothing)
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To: SeekAndFind

Me thinks he doth protest too much.

God is most glorified in saving the worst of sinners.
I’m not saying Christopher Hitchens is the worst of sinners, but he would like us to think so.


11 posted on 04/02/2011 7:37:54 PM PDT by WestwardHo (Whom the gods would destroy, they first drive mad.)
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To: BipolarBob

The sad thing is that he apparently doesn’t understand the difference between religion and a personal relationship with God.


12 posted on 04/02/2011 7:39:13 PM PDT by skr (May God confound the enemy)
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To: SeekAndFind

I used to think him to be quite a handsome young man. But then, I’m no beauty queen myself these days.


13 posted on 04/02/2011 7:48:46 PM PDT by Mean Maryjean
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To: SeekAndFind

“Hitchens’ “entity” remarks to be a subtle reference to the late Professor Antony Flew, who became a deist six years ago after championing atheism for most of his life.”

Deist - well, isn’t that special. Not. Deism is agnosticism lite.

I can’t help but feel sorry for people like Hitchens who have no hope (even if he doesn’t view it that way). I’ve often heard Hell described as the total absence of God. So CH’s been living his life in Hell already, for a long time.

Why do such supposedly “enlightened, intellectual” people rail so vehemently against even the possibility of a Higher Power???


14 posted on 04/02/2011 7:58:40 PM PDT by llandres (Forget the "New America" - restore the original one!!!)
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To: SeekAndFind

Hey. At least this guy is consistent to the end. If the mans last wishes are no prayers, I see no reason why I would disregard them. I always thought him a thoughtful man, even if I disagreed on points. I hope him all the best.


15 posted on 04/02/2011 7:59:14 PM PDT by Lazlo in PA (Now living in a newly minted Red State.)
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To: SeekAndFind

This guy is defiant and principled to the very end. Respect. Look, he doesn;t want your/our prayers, so be it. At least he didn’t change his tune like some liberal.


16 posted on 04/02/2011 8:03:35 PM PDT by max americana ( NF)
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To: SeekAndFind

His brother is a faithful Christian, who, I’m sure, is praying hard for Christopher.


17 posted on 04/02/2011 8:08:35 PM PDT by SuziQ
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To: SeekAndFind

Hitchens and many of the people he argues with think of religion as something very specific, backed up literally by some holy book. But religion in the most general sense is a lot more fuzzy and squishy than that.

There is no reason for Hitchens to believe in an actual heaven and/or hell to be a Christian religious person. All of you who think otherwise, just continue with your viewpoint, in peace.


18 posted on 04/02/2011 8:09:49 PM PDT by Tax Government (Democrat: "I'm driving to Socialism at 95 mph." Republican: "Observe the speed limit.")
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To: llandres

Pride and vanity. Hitchens has always been too brilliant for his own good. It’s a shame, he could have been a great force for good. He’s one of the great writers of our time.

I will miss him. But I’ll respect his wishes and reserve my prayers for the innocent. He’ll have his answers soon enough.


19 posted on 04/02/2011 8:16:05 PM PDT by WhistlingPastTheGraveyard (Some men just want to watch the world burn.)
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To: SeekAndFind

So he gets all these Christians praying for his recovery...does he still believe that religion causes most of the problems in the world?

That’s not exactly a logical conclusion.


20 posted on 04/02/2011 8:17:05 PM PDT by Soothesayer (smallpox is not a person)
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To: Lazlo in PA

He’s been consistent, belligerently so, for his entire career. That consistency has made him many enemies on his side of the aisle. And it’s why so many of us have so much respect for him. I never had a favorite Trotskyite until I started reading Chris Hitchens.


21 posted on 04/02/2011 8:25:00 PM PDT by WhistlingPastTheGraveyard (Some men just want to watch the world burn.)
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To: WhistlingPastTheGraveyard

Yes, he’s a great writer and has a wonderful mind. I just pray for his heart and soul.


22 posted on 04/02/2011 8:40:37 PM PDT by llandres (Forget the "New America" - restore the original one!!!)
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To: SeekAndFind

I will pray for him.


23 posted on 04/02/2011 8:42:57 PM PDT by freekitty (Give me back my conservative vote; then find me a real conservative to vote for)
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To: SeekAndFind

It makes me feel better - prayers for Hitchens...


24 posted on 04/02/2011 8:46:02 PM PDT by GOPJ (http://hisz.rsoe.hu/alertmap/index2.php - It's only uncivil when someone on the right does it.- Laz)
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To: Persevero

Christopher Hitchens...who the heck is he? ANSWER: a pipsqueak.

He doesn’t come close to either thief on the cross....forget him


25 posted on 04/02/2011 8:52:01 PM PDT by Tribemike1
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To: SeekAndFind

Dear Christopher, (whose name means “Christ-bearer”) prepare to be surprised.


26 posted on 04/02/2011 9:28:58 PM PDT by SuzyQue (Remember to think.)
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To: SeekAndFind

He has been a man of consistent and honest beliefs - even though such consistency and honesty has brought him condemnation from former friends who hoped he would join them in hypocrisy.

This is rare and it’s to be respected.

I wish him well, though if it isn’t to be, then I wish him a dignified and painless death.


27 posted on 04/02/2011 10:42:20 PM PDT by spinestein (The answer is 42.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Poor bastard. Of course we should pray for him.


28 posted on 04/02/2011 10:57:46 PM PDT by RobbyS (Pray with the suffering souls.)
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To: SuzyQue

Love it. Harder cases have cracked under less duress. Praying that he lives to celebrate his change of heart.


29 posted on 04/02/2011 11:45:49 PM PDT by Mach9
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To: InvisibleChurch

“There isn’t any thing “swinish” about praying for the soul of another man. The Holy Spirit keeps working on him.”

I didn’t mean to imply that it is. The verse seems to imply the rejector is a swine, certainly not the caster of the pearls.

Similarly, when Jesus sent His disciples out to preach the gospel, if they were refused, they were instructed to shake the very dust off their feet as a testimony against that town.

So I think there is a consistent sense of discerning times to witness and pray and times to not witness and pray.

I don’t pretend to perfectly know when those times are. I don’t think we are supposed to continually hold up the Lord and His sacrifice for abuse, though.


30 posted on 04/02/2011 11:55:29 PM PDT by Persevero (Homeschooling for Excellence since 1992)
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To: llandres

“Why do such supposedly “enlightened, intellectual” people rail so vehemently against even the possibility of a Higher Power???”

Pride.


31 posted on 04/03/2011 1:39:55 AM PDT by Boogieman
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To: SeekAndFind
“[W]hat if I pulled through and the pious faction contentedly claimed that their prayers had been answered? That would somehow be irritating,”

Wow, he's saying he'd rather be dead than see God get any credit for his recovery. He'd rather die than be wrong in his atheist beliefs. Thus, essenstially, he'd rather be dead than have to live with God. It's a shame he will very probably learn the eternal implications of that mindset the hard way.

32 posted on 04/03/2011 3:05:45 AM PDT by circlecity
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To: SeekAndFind

When in disgrace with Fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess’d,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least.
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.


33 posted on 04/03/2011 4:25:39 AM PDT by solzhenitsyn ("Live Not By Lies")
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To: Persevero

Thanks, I understand. I guess I have a hard time letting any one go regardless how they behave.


34 posted on 04/03/2011 4:43:42 AM PDT by InvisibleChurch (If your PC is running slowly then it will be easy to catch.)
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To: Persevero

He calls Heaven “deaf”. This hints at anger and self pity. It is not the statement of an unbeliever.


35 posted on 04/03/2011 6:02:45 AM PDT by TalBlack ( Evil doesn't have a day job.)
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To: dep

RE: why are you now posting an article from last september 7?

1) Is there any reason why I should not ? I did not post it in the NEWS section did I?

2) It was posted in the RELIGION section. Religious issues are TIMELESS and can be discussed ANYTIME.

3) I have posted articles that are over a year old that have never been posted in FR. Is there a rule in this forum that tells us we can only post articles that are most recent?


36 posted on 04/03/2011 8:43:45 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: circlecity
Wow, he's saying he'd rather be dead than see God get any credit for his recovery. He'd rather die than be wrong in his atheist beliefs. Thus, essentially, he'd rather be dead than have to live with God.

Yeah, that line stuck me the same way. Hitchens has got himself into the sort of lethally ironic situation in which the only way he wins is if he loses--only he won't be around to gloat about it when he does. And if (may God will it despite him) he does live, it will be under conditions that he at least fears will serve to undermine everything he's been going on about--if not in the minds of his targets, then--perhaps most unbearably of all--in his own mind. To save face, he's already pre-emptively ruled out any effect that a death-bed conversion might have on popular opinion by claiming that it would be the result of failing mental powers, drug-induced dementia, or mortal terror, which are apparently the only motives he can conceive of for a belief in God--which is part of his problem. (Not that mortal terror can't be a good place to start--it's just not a good place to still be at a couple of years down the road.)

It's a shame he will very probably learn the eternal implications of that mindset the hard way.

Probability and the history of the personality involved certainly suggest that this is the most likely outcome. But you never can tell--mortal terror has the effect of (in the words of Samuel Johnson} clearing the mind wonderfully, by displaying sharply antithetical (and absolutely final) alternatives and then demanding what might be called an existential leap. What happens under those conditions, no man--not even the one making the leap--may reliably predict until the moment is upon him, and he may not be consciously aware even then why he has chosen what he has chosen--only that some unsuspected and essential something has compelled him to leap one way or the other. Moments like this are hidden in glorious mystery, and are, I suspect, one of the reasons God created us with free will in the first place, and refuses to affect it directly--so that (in a sense) even He can be "surprised" by what happens next!

In our discussion of all this, I am afraid that we may forget that Mr. Hitchens is not a lay figure or a straw man in an idle philosophical debate--he is an actual man actually dying: and I would hate for any reluctance he might have about surviving after our prayers for him to be based on his very likely suspicion that he would be twitted and jeered at by many for changing his mind about God on the edge of disaster, or that our prayers would forever after be thrown back into his face as "evidence" that he was wrong about us after all. He is standing at precisely that point--in fear of his life--that most of us would do anything to avoid facing, but will nevertheless have to face eventually, one way or another; and whether he agrees with it or not--and especially if he doesn't--he needs our prayers.

What he does with the results of them is up to him. And the same goes for us.

37 posted on 04/03/2011 4:04:43 PM PDT by Dunstan McShane
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To: SeekAndFind

Hitchens is true to the template: every modern atheist I’ve met has been an arrogant selfish “intellectual” who fashions himself the smartest person in any room. Their arguments are delivered with an elitist sneer.


38 posted on 04/03/2011 4:14:48 PM PDT by moodyskeptic (Cultural warrior with a keyboard)
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To: SeekAndFind
I didn't know the type of cancer he had...that is what my father died from and it was a long, hard process.

I'll pray for him anyway...God doesn't pay any attention to whether we wish his grace or not..He gives it anyway.

39 posted on 04/03/2011 4:17:19 PM PDT by greyfoxx39 (White House war strategy 2011: Sun Tzu meets Barney Fife..H/T Iowahawk)
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To: greyfoxx39
I'll pray for him anyway...God doesn't pay any attention to whether we wish his grace or not..He gives it anyway.

The Holy Spirit has softened harder hearts than Christopher Hitchens'.

40 posted on 04/03/2011 5:22:57 PM PDT by CommerceComet (Governor Romney, why would any conservative vote for the author of the beta version of ObamaCare?)
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To: Tribemike1

Like Christopher, I’m a sinner deserving of nothing. I’ll pray for him.


41 posted on 04/03/2011 5:27:38 PM PDT by Larry Lucido
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To: SeekAndFind

He’s painted himself into a corner, a lose/lose situation. The only way out is for him to just forget everything that he’s ever said and start out fresh. It’s called being born again.


42 posted on 04/03/2011 5:45:41 PM PDT by firebrand (Impeach Obama.)
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To: TalBlack
He calls Heaven “deaf”. This hints at anger and self pity. It is not the statement of an unbeliever.

Good call--it sounds as if there was something he prayed for desperately that he didn't get. He sounds like C. S. Lewis in his atheist days, when he didn't believe that God existed, and was very angry with Him for not existing.

People like Hitchens are closer to being believers than they want to admit, or even suspect. The passion and vehemence with which they proclaim their disbelief often means that they are very invested in the idea of God, but sort of on the "dark side" of the subject. An anger because of failed expectations of God can indicate a strong need to believe.

Or it could indicate that he just enjoys yanking believers' chains.

43 posted on 04/03/2011 5:46:25 PM PDT by Dunstan McShane
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To: SeekAndFind
...please do not trouble deaf heaven with your bootless cries,”

If Heaven doesn't exist, how could it be deaf?

Prayers going up.

44 posted on 04/03/2011 5:48:24 PM PDT by Texas Eagle (If it wasn't for double-standards, Liberals would have no standards at all -- Texas Eagle)
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To: SeekAndFind

Oh my goodness, he looks terrible. Sure hope he turns around soon, as he is running out of time.


45 posted on 04/04/2011 1:17:37 PM PDT by MEGoody (Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.)
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