I’m not sure that there is ever a time of year that people enjoy talking about death and even if you’re on Santa’s “naughty list” Christmas maybe the least likely time to bring up the subject. Just over a week ago (December 15th) Christopher Hitchens went to meet his maker. I say it with no joy. Although he was a protagonist of much of what I believe about God, I highly valued his voice. Over the years I have to recognize that I learn as much (and sometimes more) from people who hold views that oppose and challenge my own as I do from those that affirm what I tend to believe. One of the gifts that Hitchens used so well, was his ability to bring clarity to the objections that so many people have about the existence of God. His questions are not easy to dismiss. They are the kind of questions, that although many people can’t articulate like he can, roll around in there own heads and rarely, if ever have answered by Christians satisfactorily. There lays his gift to us. He challenged us to reason and offer sound answers to difficult questions that thinking people all want some answers to. So thank you God for people like Christopher Hitchens.
In life and with his passing it’s clear he was held in high esteem. What was interesting to note was who that esteem was held by. Its of no surprise that was remembered warmly by promoters of atheism and secularism. To some it may seem odd that he’s not only been remembered well by those of like mind but by those who he debated and held little in common with. Take his own brother who (author of: The Rage Against God) was not blinded by bitterness that often comes with family tension of deepest held opposing philosophies. Aside from his brother many other christians wrote well of him as well. I think that speaks well of those who believe God.
I wonder if in his last days if he had any change of heart and mind about the reality of the God he was hostile towards. Thats where christmas comes in. Christmas offers some insight about God and answering some of the questions most of us have asked (read the closing quote from Dorothy Sayers below). Because in Christmas we find that God came to us. He entered into the world. He became a baby (figure that out… the infinite God became a dependant baby). He didn’t direct things from afar. In the mess that often is our lives he didn’t spared himself the same troubles we all experience. God did all this to help us all (Christopher Hitchens too) know he really is there, he really does care and he was willing to go to the ultimate length to help us see, in the most tangible way, that he was serious about reconciling our broken relationship with him.
In Christmas we are reminded that its never to late. Suppose your lived though 65 christmas but never celebrated the one that Christmas is all about. You can have lived as antagonized against God all those years. Yet even in your last moments you can make peace with God (example: the theif on the cross). As long as your here, its ok to wrestle with God and ask the big questions of life. While your here its not to late to make peace with the God.
What do you think?
1. Why was Hitchens so well liked, by atheist and christians alike?
2. Peter and Christopher grew up together and went to the same schools and lived in the same house together. How do you explain that the two brothers could come out in such opposites not the evidence regarding the existence of God?
Dorothy Sayers: “For whatever reason God chose to make man as he is— limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death—He had the honesty and the courage to take His own medicine. Whatever game He is playing with His creation, He has kept His own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that He has not exacted from Himself. He has Himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair and death. When He was a man, He played the man. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought it well worthwhile” (Dorothy Sayers, Creed or Chaos? New York, Harcourt Brace, 1949, p. 4).