On Wednesday the 15th of December, 2011, the world lost one of the leading intellectuals of our time, Christopher Hitchens, who died after a unwavering battle with esophageal cancer. He was 62.
Hitchens was an atheist who felt totalitarian religion deserved nothing less than to be ridiculed at every juncture, and engaged in some of the most delusion-devastating debates of the century with the advocates of a wide variety of religions. Ironically he himself was half Jewish/Christian by birth.
He was also the possessor of a razor-sharp wit, novelist, essayist, war correspondent, critic, proponent of the Iraq war, polemicist and shamelessly disputatious.
The actor/author Stephen Fry said of him “He was one of very, very few people on earth whom I would have missed just as much had I never had the pleasure and fortune of knowing him.” That sentiment is, I am sure, echoed in the hearts and minds of a countless number of both atheists and believers alike who have come in contact with his work.
I have spoken to many people familiar with Hitchens’ work, and the over-riding feeling is the deeply “personal” way in which it is received by the reader, almost as if he allays those doubts and fears unspoken of, with his rational, secular and intelligent approach to the questions regarding a “creator god”
The term “Hitch-slap” appears in the Urban Dictionary, with the meaning entered as “The process of utterly obliterating an opponent’s entire (usually religious or political) argument, usually in one or more succinct or terse statements, orally or in writing; employed almost exclusively by Christopher Hitchens.” Speaks for itself really, although, I have never witnessed anyone “hitch-slap” anyone with such style, detachment, indifference and panache as Hitchens himself, and I probably never will.
I know you don’t believe in heaven or hell Christopher, but your immortality is assured through the words you gave us, so thank you, and save me some scotch, where-ever you are.