Skip to comments.Christopher Hitchens: Don't Trouble 'Deaf Heaven' With Prayers for Me
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 dont 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 Fairs October 2010 issue.
Unless, of course, it makes you feel better, he added, echoing a past comment.
Last month, in an interview with CNNs 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 couldnt resist adding rather puckishly that the third prayer had already been answered, Hitchens remarked.
To date, Hitchens says hes 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 wouldnt 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 hasnt suggested prayer, and I in turn havent 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 Gods 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 its 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 professors 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 hes still lucid, Hitchens said he wouldnt 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.
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.
Isn't that ironic.
I wasn't aware of this until now but will pray for him. What a testimony he would have!
Mans religion causes problems, Gods does not.
Boy this lost soul needs our prayers.
There isn’t any thing “swinish” about praying for the soul of another man. The Holy Spirit keeps working on him.
why are you now posting an article from last september 7?
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.
The sad thing is that he apparently doesn’t understand the difference between religion and a personal relationship with God.
I used to think him to be quite a handsome young man. But then, I’m no beauty queen myself these days.
“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???
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.
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.
His brother is a faithful Christian, who, I’m sure, is praying hard for Christopher.
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.
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.
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.