Friday, July 2, 2010

Praying for Hitchens!

Two things about the idea of Praying for Christopher Hitchens.

First... What Christian could ever seriously consider refusing the opportunity to do so?

Now, I don't like him. Then again, I don't have to to pray for him. I won't go listing his flaws here (except for one, in a moment), but I've for a long time not had a problem praying for any atheist. I pray for their health, their well-being, and their conversion (this tied up with well-being, and quite possibly health as well). How could any christian find this controversial?

I suppose the thought may go, 'If I pray for his health and well-being, aren't I praying for him to stay healthy and happy, which would enable him to continue mounting his anti-theist campaign?' Well, no. When we're told to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, it certainly doesn't mean anything like that. But we are told to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, and it makes tremendous sense, so... No hesitation.

Hard not to hesitate at times, I know. But I really think that's a personal failing, always. And it certainly afflicts me at times.

Second, though... Good God, First Things is really displaying that modern Christian inability to tell the difference between kindness and unwarranted ass-kissing/self-flagellation.

The Anchoress weighs in with a "great quote" about Hitchens: Reviewing the book in The Times, Dwight Garner wrote of Mr. Hitchens, “He has a mind like a Swiss Army knife, ready to carve up or unbolt an opponent’s arguments with a flick of the wrist.”

Really? That's funny, because I could have sworn "god is not Great" was intellectually vapid, desperate, ranting, and angry. Admittedly, there were some witticisms in there, and... oh wait. Now I remember.

Most people are seemingly incapable of telling the difference between a flair for rhetoric and presentation, and powerful arguments and reason. Which is why Obama is hailed as a brilliant president despite his presidency basically being a long string of cock-ups, and his habit of melting down whenever he gives a speech without a working teleprompter. Which is why Dawkins is praised as a brilliant scientist, despite the fact that he hasn't done any peer-reviewed research in what... over three decades?, and - to be dead frank - his lack of showing much interest in science as opposed to anti-theism for a long time.

Hitchens is demonstrably not a "swiss army knife, ready to carve up or unbolt an opponents' arguments with a flick of a wrist." He's a drunken, angry PJ O'Rourke (alright, I suppose drunken may be redundant there). He has a great way with words and little else, or at least little else that can be called a compliment. But apparently, little else is exactly what's needed to get most people to talk about what a brilliant mind you have.

Should I laugh at these people or cry for them?

Screw it. I'll just pray for them.


Ilíon said...

I'm so glad you've taken up blogging.

Drew said...

When Jesus said to pray for *your* enemies, I think he meant precisely to pray for their repentance. He did not mean to pray for the physical well-being of *God's* enemies so that those enemies would live longer lives in opposition to God's kingdom. In fact, if you believe in degrees of punishment in hell, keeping a rabid atheist alive longer is probably not helping him much, anyway.

It's certainly fine to pray for anyone's eternal salvation, but I just don't see any logical reason to pray for health alone. That would be like, instead of praying for President Obama to see the error of his ways, you instead prayed that Obama would be physical blessed amidst all his wickedness and would indeed go on to receive a second term in office. It just wouldn't make sense.

Crude said...


What a coincidence, I do have a belief in degrees of punishment about hell. I'll post about that sometime.

Actually, you touch on some interesting topics. What prayer is 'for', etc. All I wanted to stress is that there's plenty to pray for with Hitchens, and anyone else. Me, I pray for people's well-being, their spiritual development, their repentance. The sort of thing you mention praying about (with Obama) is precisely the sort of thing I'd never do. Hell, I can't even bring myself to pray for physical blessings for my own self.

Crude said...


Thanks, that's a tremendous compliment. Glad you did the same.

Ilíon said...

However! I have noticed a pattern! ;-)

Crude said...

I figured you noticed it when I saw the title of your post on your blog. What can I say? I'm predictable!

Ilíon said...

You mean the Skepticism! post?

That exclamation mark was more influenced by Matteo’s use of ‘Science!’ to mock scientism.

Crude said...

Oh? Coincidence then.

Ilíon said...

Call it, rather, 'synchronicity' or even 'serendipity.' ;-)