… in spite of himself, and in spite of themselves. Ourselves. In his great column today, Ross Douthat recalls a personal encounter with Hitchens demonstrating that Hitch’s commitment to atheism was as dogmatic and as closed-minded as any fideists. But unlike Hitch’s godless confreres, e.g., Dawkins, there was something human in the man that some believers were drawn to, even as he despised the things, and the One, that they loved. Ross identifies it:
In his very brave and very public dying, though, one could see again why so many religious people felt a kinship with him. When stripped of Marxist fairy tales and techno-utopian happy talk, rigorous atheism casts a wasting shadow over every human hope and endeavor, and leads ineluctably to the terrible conclusion of Philip Larkin’s poem “Aubade” — that “death is no different whined at than withstood.”
Officially, Hitchens’s creed was one with Larkin’s. But everything else about his life suggests that he intuited that his fellow Englishman was completely wrong to give in to despair.
My hope — for Hitchens, and for all of us, the living and the dead — is that now he finally knows why.