Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Unhitching Hitchens

Don Quixote goes at a Windmill, art by GA Haqher,
flickr photo by DevelopmentCorporate


I have friends who admired Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) for his acerbic wit and fearless views about everything from religion to culture to politics.  He was a master of the English language and he wielded it like Don Quixote  attacking the windmills of injustice wherever he found them.  I didn’t follow Hitchens closely, but I did read some of his rather outrageous, in the broadest meaning of that word, essays on Mother Theresa. Gutsy irreverence, for sure, which he carried even to the hallowed walls of the Vatican.  No one was sparred.  Few took freedom of speech and religion as seriously as Hitchens.   He devoted his too-short life and unmatched talent to them until the very end.  He died of cancer last week, writing and unbelieving unto death, believing only, and as strongly as ever, in his own beliefs.  


Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten put his sentiments into a poem for Hitchens for ArtsPost (quoted in Cara Kelly, “Remembering an Icon,” Washington Post, 19 December 2011):
Christopher Hitchens ceases to be;
A remarkable life he led.
He isn’t in heaven; he isn’t in hell — 
He is simply, emphatically, dead.
   


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