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December 16th, 2011
04:45 PM ET

My Take: An evangelical remembers his friend Hitchens

Editor's note: Larry Alex Taunton is the founder and executive director of the Fixed Point Foundation. This article is adapted from his book “The Grace Effect: How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief.”

By Larry Alex Taunton, Special to CNN

(CNN)– I first met Christopher Hitchens at the Edinburgh International Festival. We were both there for the same event, and foremost in my mind was the sort of man I would meet.

A journalist and polemicist, his reputation as a critic of religion, politics, Britain's royal family, and, well, just about everything else was unparalleled. As an evangelical, I was certain that he would hate me.

When the expected knock came at my hotel room door, I braced for the fire-breather who surely stood on the other side of it. With trepidation, I opened it and he burst forth into my room. Wheeling on me, he began the conversation as if it was the continuance of some earlier encounter:

“The Archbishop of Canterbury has effectively endorsed the adoption of Sharia law. Can you believe that? Whatever happened to a Church of England that believed in something?” He alternated between sips of his Johnnie Walker and steady tugs on a cigarette.

My eyebrows shot up. “‘Believed in something?’ Why, Christopher, you sound nostalgic for a church that actually took the Bible seriously.”

He considered me for a moment and smiled. “Indeed. Perhaps I do.”

There was never a formal introduction. There was no need for one. From that moment, I knew that I liked him. We immediately discovered that we had much in common. We were descendants of martial traditions; we loved literature and history; we enjoyed lively discussion with people who didn’t take opposition to a given opinion personally; and we both found small talk boring.

Over the next few years, we would meet irregularly. The location was invariably expensive, a Ritz Carlton or a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. He disliked cheap restaurants and cheap liquor. In his view, plastic menus were indicative of bad food. I never ate so well as when I was with Hitch.

Christopher Hitchens, standing, debates his friend Larry Taunton.

More than bad food, however, he disliked unintelligent conversation. “What do you think about gay marriage?” He didn’t wait for a response. “I don’t get it. I really don’t. It’s like wanting the worst of both worlds.” He drank deeply of his whiskey. “I mean, if I was gay, I would console myself by saying, ‘Well, I’m gay, but at least I don’t have to get married.’” That was classic Hitch. Witty. Provocative. Unpredictable.

Calling him on his cell one day, he sounded like he was flat on his back. Breathing heavily, there was desperation in his voice.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, anticipating some tragedy.

“Only minutes ago, I was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.” He was almost gasping.

I didn’t know what to say. No one ever does in such moments, so we resort to meaningless stock phrases like, “I’m sorry.” Instead, I just groaned. I will never forget his response:

“I had plans for the next decade of my life. I think I should cancel them.”

He asked me to keep the matter private until he could tell his family and make the news public. Hesitatingly, I told him that while I knew that he did not believe in such things, I would pray for him. He seemed genuinely moved by the thought.

“We are still on for our event in Birmingham, right?” He asked. I was stunned. Sensing my surprise, he continued. “I have made a commitment,” he insisted. “Besides, what else am I going to do? I can’t just sit around waiting to die.”

Hitchens brothers debate if civilization can survive without God

As time approached, he suggested a road trip from his D.C. apartment to my home in Birmingham, Alabama.

“Flying has become a humiliating experience, don’t you think?” He said. “Besides, I haven’t taken a road trip in 20 years and it will give us a chance to talk and for me to finally take you up on your challenge.”

Arriving in Washington some five months after his diagnosis, I was shocked by his appearance. Heavy doses of chemotherapy had left him emaciated, and hairless but for his eyelashes. His clothes hung off of him as though he were a boy wearing a man’s garments. He was, nonetheless, looking forward to our journey, having packed a picnic lunch and, predictably, enough Johnnie Walker for a battalion. After breakfast with his lovely wife, Carol, and his sweet daughter, Antonia, Hitch and I headed south on an eleven-hour road trip.

“Have you a copy of Saint John with you?” He asked with a smile. “If not, you know I do actually have one.” This was a reference to my challenge of two years before: a joint study of the Gospel of John. It was my assertion that he had never really read the Bible, but only cherry-picked it.

“Not necessary.” I was smiling, too. “I brought mine.”

A few hours later we were wending our way through the Shenandoah Valley on a beautiful fall morning. As I drove, Hitch read aloud from the first chapter of John’s Gospel. We then discussed its meaning. No cameras, no microphones, no audience. And that always made for better conversation with Hitch. When he referenced our journey in a televised debate with David Berlinski the next day, various media representatives descended on me to ask about our “argument.” When I said that we didn’t really argue, they lost interest.

But that was the truth. It was a civilized, rational discussion. I did my best to move through the prologue verse by verse, and Christopher asked thoughtful questions. That was it.

A bit put off by how the Berlinski event had played out, Hitch suggested we debate one another. Friend though he was, I knew that Hitch could be a savage debater. More than once I had chaired such engagements where Hitch went after his opponents remorselessly.

Hence, I was more than a bit anxious. Here he was, a celebrated public intellectual, an Oxonian, and bestselling author, and that is to say nothing of that Richard Burton-like, aristocratic, English-accented baritone. That always added a few I.Q. points in the minds of people. With hesitation, I agreed.

We met in Billings, Montana. Hitch had once told me that Montana was the only state he had never been in. I decided to complete his tour of the contiguous United States and arranged for the two of us to meet there. Before the debate, a local television station sent a camera crew over to interview us.

When he was asked what he thought of me, a Christian, and an evangelical at that, Hitch replied: “If everyone in the United States had the same qualities of loyalty and care and concern for others that Larry Taunton had, we'd be living in a much better society than we do.”

I was moved. Stunned, really. As we left, I told him that I really appreciated the gracious remark.

“I meant it and have been waiting for an opportunity to say it.”

Later that night we met one another in rhetorical combat. The hall was full. Christopher, not I, was of course the real attraction. He was at the peak of his fame. His fans had traveled near and far to see him demolish another Christian. Overall, it was a hard-fought but friendly affair. Unknown to the audience were the inside jokes. When I told a little story from our road trip, he loved it.

The debate over, I crossed the stage to shake Christopher’s hand. “You were quite good tonight,” he said with a charming smile as he accepted my proffered hand. “I think they enjoyed us.”

“You were gentle with me,” I said as we turned to walk off the stage.

He shook his head. “Oh, I held nothing back.” He then surveyed the auditorium that still pulsed with energy. “We are still having dinner?” he asked.

“Absolutely.”

After a quick cigarette on the sidewalk near the backstage door, he went back inside to meet his fans and sign their books.

There was something macabre about it all. I had the unsettling feeling that these weren’t people who cared about him in the least. Instead, they seemed like a bunch of groupies who wanted to have a photo taken with a famous but dying man, so that one day they could show it to their buddies and say, “I knew him before he died.” It was a sad spectacle.

Turning away, I entered the foyer, where 30 or so Christians greeted me excitedly. Mostly students, they were encouraged by what had happened onstage that night. Someone had spoken for them, and it had put a bounce in their step. One young man told me that he had been close to abandoning his faith, but that the debate had restored his confidence in the truth of the gospel. Another student said that she saw how she could use some of the same arguments. It is a daunting task, really, debating someone of Hitchens' intellect and experience, but if this cheery gathering of believers thought I had done well, then all of the preparation and expense had been worth it.

The next day, the Fixed Point Foundation staff piled into a Suburban and headed for Yellowstone National Park. Christopher and I followed behind in a rented pick-up truck. Accompanied by Simon & Garfunkel (his choice), we drove through the park at a leisurely pace and enjoyed the grandeur of it all.

The second chapter of John’s Gospel was on the agenda: The wedding at Cana where Jesus turned water into wine. “That is my favorite miracle,” Hitch quipped.

Lunching at a roadside grill, he regaled our staff with stories. Afterwards, he was in high spirits.

“That’s quite a - how shall I put it? A clan? - team that you’ve got there,” he said, watching the teenage members of our group clamber into the big Chevrolet.

“Yes, it is,” I said, starting the truck. “They enjoyed your stories.”

“I enjoy them.” He reclined his seat and we were off again. “Shall we do all of the national parks?”

“Yes, and maybe the whole Bible, too,” I suggested playfully. He gave a laugh.

“Oh, and Larry, I’ve looked at your book.” He added.

“And?”

“Well, all that you say about our conversation is true, but you have one detail wrong.”

“And what is that?” I feared a total rewrite was coming.

“You have me drinking Johnnie Walker Red Label. That’s the cheap stuff. I only drink Black Label.”

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Larry Alex Taunton.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (1,648 Responses)
  1. Chrism

    Observer, Im growing tired of your dishonesty. My reference to St Paul is accurate. Go ask a catholic priest. As for hypocrisy look in the mirror.

    December 16, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
    • Observer

      Chrism,

      I have been 100% honest in my comments. Now tell me EXACTLY, what you so IGNORANTLY claim I was dishonest about.

      Calling someone a liar on here is slanderous. Put some facts where your IGNORANT mouth is.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • Praise God

      No slander at all. You're the most weasly liar I've come across today on the boards and that's saying something. I gave one relevant and accurate comment from the bible. You pulled the classic, sir. Just come in and in so many words say "wrong" which was not only wrong but it was intentionally said by you as you well know just to say "wrong." You obviously had no clue regarding the accuracy of the comment regarding the old covenant and didn't bother. All you cared about is saying wrong. And you know what, that's just about a complete disassociation between your words and meaning. That's called dishonesty, intentionally, and that's a lie. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
    • Observer

      Praise God,

      I have been through all 3 pages of this blog, and this is the ONLY comment I find from you. As long as you are going to call someone a "liar", explain whatever basis you have for that. You owe me at least that since you likely have the wrong person or wrong idea.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
    • Observer

      If you guys are going to call someone "dishonest" and a "weasly liar", at least have enough integrity to supply any reasons for your delusions.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • Jesus

      There are many different versions of the Bible and Chrisrianity that existed before the First Council of Nicea. It was as if a dozen or so very different Christian type religions abounded. Constantine tossed out so many books of the Bible including my favorite – the Book of Giants. You can't say what is true and what is not. It's all a collection of rambling myths and stories put together to keep the masses at bay and in their place.

      December 17, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  2. CJ

    This was a brilliantly crafted article of deception. It would not be surprising to learn that it was written well in advance of Christopher's death.

    December 16, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • CJ

      It's no surprise that Hitchens was a friendly man, and no surprise that Taunton would cherry pick Hitchens like he does the bible.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
    • CJ

      What a disgraceful man Taunton is to use this sad occasion to try and portray his supposed friend, Christopher Hitchens, as a character on stage who was sympathetic to religion off stage.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • Spuriousd

      I also found this aspect of the article unsettling. Are we to believe that the forcefulness of his objection to religion was not genuine?

      December 17, 2011 at 1:24 am |
    • CJ

      it is truly amazing what lengths religious leaders will go to in order to protect their depraved inst.itutions.

      December 17, 2011 at 8:48 am |
    • CheeseSteak

      I can't disagree. Since CH was an very intelligent man, I would expect that he knew how to get along with people that he respected. People that could support their arguments for Theism in a competent way. But to focus even a few sentences on the expressions of admiration that CH presented to him is more than a little self-serving.

      December 17, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Jesus

      Actually, he was 5 years old when it was written.

      December 17, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  3. Snow

    The believers who regularly comment on this blog should learn how to present an opinion from the author of this story.. He kept his beliefs to himself and respected his friend's beliefs enough to not shove his down his throat at every opportunity. Eventually that friendship is what matters and is kept alive in the author's heart.. not that this dude disagreed with him.

    One believer I can respect.

    December 16, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
  4. CJ

    CNN is screening my post. Guess they've not learned of the "Streisand Effect"

    December 16, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
    • LinCA

      @CJ

      You said, "CNN is screening my post. Guess they've not learned of the "Streisand Effect""

      Nobody at CNN is reading your posts. There are no human censors. CNN uses automated censoring that looks for words, or fragments of words, that are considered offensive. My guess is that your post had had a forbidden word in it. Posts that contain too many URLs will also get rejected.

      Repeat posts, even those that were previously censored and not displayed, will show a message stating that you posted it before.

      The following words or word fragments will get your post censored (list is incomplete):
      arse
      bastard
      bitch
      cock
      coon
      cum
      cunt
      douche
      effing
      fag
      ftw
      fuck
      homo
      horny
      jackass
      jap
      jism
      kinky
      kooch
      nipple
      orgy
      pis
      porn
      poo
      prick
      rape
      sex
      shit
      slut
      snatch
      spic
      tit
      twat
      vag
      whore
      wtf

      To circumvent the filters you can break up the words by putting an extra character in, like: consti.tution (breaking the oh so naughty "tit").

      December 16, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • Thx to LinCA we are all wiser...

      "LinCA"...is this what the unbelieving world is producing...if so, then where are they evolving from...Charles Manson? Just proves a significant point. May be a good time to reflect on the origin or source of evil...within.

      December 17, 2011 at 1:15 am |
    • MJ

      "LinCA"...is this what the unbelieving world is producing...if so, then where are they evolving from...Charles Manson? Just proves a significant point. May be a good time to reflect on the origin or source of evil...within. God warns the scoffer.

      December 17, 2011 at 1:19 am |
    • LinCA

      @MJ

      You said, "...is this what the unbelieving world is producing...if so, then where are they evolving from...Charles Manson? Just proves a significant point. May be a good time to reflect on the origin or source of evil...within. God warns the scoffer."

      What is this "significant point" that you think was just proven? That atheists are on average smarter than theists? Check. That atheists will try to help their fellow posters get their message posted, even if the disagree with them? Check. That atheists aren't afraid of an imaginary friend punishing them for writing "bad" words? Check.

      December 17, 2011 at 2:04 am |
    • How?

      How did you get all those forbidden words into your comment without being blocked?

      December 17, 2011 at 2:37 am |
    • LinCA

      @How?

      You said, "How did you get all those forbidden words into your comment without being blocked?"

      Exactly as I mentioned in the post above. But instead of using the period as I suggested, I use characters that don't show when the comment is posted. They break up the naughty words and allow them to pass through the filters, but put them back together when posted.

      December 17, 2011 at 2:46 am |
  5. Chrism

    Elliot, it's called God honors the first covenant. So if your "ignorant" you meant accurate, you'd be right. Otherwise, you'd be ignorant. Really liked the use of exegesis though. Nice effort.

    December 16, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
  6. eyeson

    I love God, Hitchens and atheists!!!

    December 16, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • Jesus

      Is that a version of "Thank God I'm an atheist"!

      December 17, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  7. IndyNC

    believe it or not the average non-christian in america is very calm, very quiet and more often than not very well educated. They are usually versed in some of the traditions, beliefs and scripture of multiple faiths (and usually have dealt with several denominations of the Christian faith)

    Sadly most of them remain fairly quiet because of persecution. I know many pagans (wiccians and shaministic types) Usually, espcially in the south, you tend to get very strong feelings in both directions.

    Ultimately just like christians, non-christians just want to live their life... preferably without someone preaching hellfire and damnation over their shoulders should they observe a non-christian tradition or choose not to observe a christian tradition.

    Sadly that strife is even within the ranks of the Christian church. I grew up Evangelical Lutheran, with a church that was so traditoinal and conservative that the local Catholics looked like "hippies" by comparison.

    You wore your best clothing, you where quiet and reverant in the house of the Lord and lead by example outside of the church.

    Imagine my suprise as a young teen being told by a over-zealous southern baptist that I was "going to hell" because I wasn't also a southern baptist.

    Needless to say, I definitely see the viewpoing outside the Christian church. What's ironic is the ones who scream that THEY feel persecuted...

    Why because you aren't allowed to hold a full on inquisition? Because the same rights that grant you the freedom to belive as you see fit are also extended to others? Because Freedom of religion should pertain to ALL religions (or even the lack thereof)

    I hope that Mr. Taunton remembers what he learned from Mr. Hitchens... that reguardless of what you believe in, that every life has a purpose in this universe and we are all part of the greater mystery of life.

    December 16, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • SoCal

      Best post I've read today.

      December 17, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  8. Elliott Carlin

    It's too bad, for Hitchen's sake, that Rob Belll's "Love Wins" isn't true.

    Hitchens is learning that Truth Wins.

    Eternity is an awful long time.

    December 16, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • A Wiser Carlin

      He's simply dead. The formerly brilliant man is no longer learning anything. Another wise man had this to say about religion.:
      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPOfurmrjxo&w=640&h=360]

      December 16, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
    • MJ

      1Corinthians...

      18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
      “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
      the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”[c]

      20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

      26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”[d]

      December 16, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
  9. MJ

    the atheist argues using a Christian worldview or presuppositions...must watch 10 min video

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30QoFTxc72o&w=640&h=360]

    December 16, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • Bob Crock

      Total bunc of crock.

      People are ethical because we have evolved as social animals. Being "ethical" helps everyone in a social pack of animals, so it dominates. This "revelation" didn't come from god or religion, but evolution.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
    • rafael

      Fortunately you did not waste a full 9:34 of my time.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
    • MJ

      replies expected...in an atheist worldview there is no reason for ethics or "being good"...answering re evolving seems to be arbitrary. Don't understand how that proves ethic...did not give a reason for good...just told me we get better over time is not a rational response.

      ...2nd post...you would not be wasting your time to care for your OWN soul instead of demonstrating Rom 1:18...you do not want to because (like us all incl ME) we are by nature enemies in rebellion toward God. You and I need a miracle to see clearly (i.e. Noetic effects of sin).

      With Charity for your Souls

      December 16, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • Jesus

      People tend to do what is in their best intrerests. Many do not murder for money because the risk of getting caught and spending the remainder of their lives in a 4' X 6" cell is unappealing. The criminal codes govern conduct for many as does the irrational fear of a judgment day by an invisible and imaginary guy who lives in the clouds.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
  10. Dave Vice

    That was a beautiful story. It was your love walk I took note of. You aren't easily offended. As I was reading along I thought the same thing, how God used Hitch. Hitch knew love. 🙂

    December 16, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
  11. Jack

    This is ridiculous. Regardless of whether he was friends with Larry, the tweets at the end of the video saying he knows the "Truth" now just goes to show how little these people understood the man. Hitchens would be disgusted that he is being used and presented as a man who doubted himself and had some sort of hidden agenda to help people get closer to God. You can't be serious if you're saying that, Chrism. He despised religion, make no mistake about it, and he did not repent or think otherwise when facing death. Give respects to the brilliant man as he was and leave it at that. Don't be pompous and tag on something about him meeting God now, that is quite simply the most disrespectful thing you could say about the man.

    December 16, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
    • Dave Vice

      Christians believe all men will meet God. Face to Face. For some it will be a good thing.
      And don't you propose to know Hitchens thoughts at his last breath, the issues of death belong to God.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
    • Martin

      well said...I too find religion based in blood sacrifice of a goat or a son appalling...will the Bronze age of religion ever pass

      December 16, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
    • A Wiser Carlin

      Don't you proclaim to know what happens after death. Of that, you have no proof, but the Christian story of god sure seems pretty ridiculous.

      "What can be asserted without proof, can be dismissed without proof. " -C. Hitchens. So, I dismiss your god stories just like all the previous ones that man has made.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
    • Jack

      Dave Vice

      The problem here is you simply cannot accept any question in your beliefs. It is your way no matter what, and you don't respect any one else's ideas because you think that your side is fact. I respect the possibility of pretty much anything when I die, but I don't respect the people who say they are certain of what will happen to us. Nobody knows, everything is speculation. This man was an atheist and a tremendous writer. Pay your respects for his brilliant mind and the contribution he made to the discussion and try not to include your own little tidbit that he would clearly find insulting. Religious arrogance has reared its ugly head in this thread, what a shame. You are all helping prove the point that Christopher Hitchens tried to make his whole life.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • SpiderWoman4

      "He did not repent or think otherwise when facing death."
      How do YOU know? Were you there when he died? Do you live inside his head? My guess, and it's only a guess, is that he DID speak to God as he was dying. There are no atheists in a foxhole, or on a deathbed. I'm sure even Christopher Hitchens thought about what would happen to him after he died, and in that context considered Heaven and Hell as possibilities.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • Jack

      Alright SpiderWoman you win, I give up. What is the point in trying to reason with people like you, whose whole lives and belief systems have no reason or evidence. Its like talking to a narcissist, completely delusional and full of.... just to make themselves feel better.

      Cheers.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • MJ

      Hitch is sadly experiencing similar to this rich man...and so will you and others unless

      Luke 16

      19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in epurple and fine linen and fwho feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate gwas laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with hwhat fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by ithe angels jto Abraham's side.1 The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in kHades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and lsaw Abraham far off and Lazarus jat his side. 24 And he called out, m‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and ncool my tongue, for oI am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that pyou in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house—28 for I have five brothers2—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have qMoses and the Prophets; rlet them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, sfather Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear qMoses and the Prophets, tneither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

      December 16, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
    • Auroraborememalice

      "He despised religion, make no mistake about it, and he did not repent or think otherwise when facing death". .............. You don't know whether he repented or thought otherwise as the end neared. Only he knows.

      December 17, 2011 at 2:43 am |
  12. Chris

    RIP Christopher Hitchens, one time comrade of the international socialist movement and brilliant mind. You will be greatly missed.

    December 16, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
  13. Gabriel

    What we knew of Hitch is gone. The intellect has deteriorated, his thoughts, feelings. Some say that is a sad outlook but it is realistic.

    Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist.” Epicurus

    December 16, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
  14. HeIsGod

    “I had plans for the next decade of my life. I think I should cancel them.”

    God will not be mocked.....this man was a vessel for Satan preaching in his behalf, even though Hitchens did't believe in Satan, which worked well for his master. Our lives are but a number....we are like grass, we wither, fade, and than die. Christ said, "For tomorrow is NOT promised." Too bad Hitchens prefer to worship himself instead of giving Christ the benefit of doubt to realize that God is more real than he was.

    It's never easy to see a love one die and never gave Christ a chance to know Him. I have family who calls themselves Catholic and no doubt in my heart they some of them will end up in hell. We can't convert, much less convince that God is present. ALL MAN TO HIS/HER OWN DEEDS.

    December 16, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
    • Observer

      "Too bad Hitchens prefer to worship himself'"

      Always something to worship, right? You missed the point that people don't HAVE to worship anyone or anything.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Atheism is ALL about self worship....nothing more and nothing less.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
    • Observer

      HeIsGod,
      "Atheism is ALL about self worship....nothing more and nothing less."

      Nonsense. Atheism and agnosticism comes from realizing that believers have no proof in the existence of God and rejection of the errors, contradictions, hypocrisy and nonsense included with the morals in the Bible.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • TheWiz71

      Please, please, please, stop misrepresenting what Jesus taught, and what the vast majority of Christians believe. To presume on the state of anyone's soul is pride of the highest order. To declare that anyone is a "vessel for Satan" is likewise judgemental pride. Where is "love your enemies, bless those who curse you"? Where is "love your neighbour as yourself", which Jesus links to the greatest command of loving God? So, I hope you will remember the true Gospel message of love, and not the hatred you seem to be filled with.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • Jack

      You are a highly offensive individual. I'm not going to tell you what I think about your religious beliefs and how you press them onto others, but I will say that you clearly have no atheist friends or no real understanding of people who don't believe the same things you do. What a shame that must be that you must make such offensive, broad and baseless assertions with no evidence behind them. Perhaps you are used to that, so it comes easily...

      December 16, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • Elliott Carlin

      Hey Wiz, enough of the Hitchens defending. At the very least he was a fool. And don't get made at me...I'm just quoting The Lord.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • Jack

      "Hey Wiz, enough of the Hitchens defending. At the very least he was a fool. And don't get made at me...I'm just quoting The Lord."

      LoL, How adorable! You must be a genius.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • Dave

      @Wiz71 They mean well but they don't bring anything but division to the table, no room for Grace. Lets offend them into Christ forget about grace.
      You will be known by the love you have for one another as "humans". God judges the quick and the dead. Not man.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • A Wiser Carlin

      Elliot, you dare call Hitchens a fool and show that man no respect on his death day, yet you follow a god that is claimed to be loving but resorts to brutal torture and demands animal sacrifice. Seems you are the fool, a very stupid, pretentious, and pathetic fool at that.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
    • ron

      "...no doubt in my heart some of them will end up in hell." This is a sad post. I grew up evangelical. Today I have evangelical relatives who worry about my salvation because my theology is not like theirs anymore. I used to try to protect my relatives from their worry about me, but I came to realize it is their beliefs that torture them, and only they are responsible for their beliefs.
      Yes, it is a heavy burden to believe everyone who doesn't agree with you is going to hell. But there is only one person who can liberate you from that burden of judgement–you.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
  15. MJ

    Would be good to check out Greg Bahnsen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErSlhFLiDZU

    December 16, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
  16. georgex

    While fighting the cancer Hitchens assured his listeners that if he was reported to have a death bed conversion it was because he had lost control of his mind.
    Faith is too often taken on just faith without examination. Everyone has their faith and even though there are differences and contradictions they all think that they are correct.
    Faith has been said to be the belief in something without the necessity of proof. Hitchens required evidence and proof.

    December 16, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
    • Mark

      – "While fighting the cancer Hitchens assured his listeners that if he was reported to have a death bed conversion it was because he had lost control of his mind".

      Sure hope he lost control of his mind.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
  17. Thor

    Sooo sad, that the US edition of CNN finally shows the story of Hitchens death.. BUT WAIT, the story is how an evangelical remembers him???

    CNN the biggest joke of a news organization next to Fox news, shame on you, shame on your coverage and shame on how you choose to pick THIS story as a main page story.

    CNN a once great news organization, now a utter and complete joke to any serious thinker in this world, thankfully you have lots of stupid people who watch your nonsense..

    December 16, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
    • GK

      I agree completely – CNN: what irony... You suck

      December 17, 2011 at 2:21 am |
    • Careful Reader

      Thor,
      If you search cnn.com using Google for the phrase "Christopher Hitchens" you will find at least five different articles about Hitchens' life and death other than this one.

      December 19, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
  18. latenite

    Great article. Wish I could have met him to have had those kinds of conversations. As a Christian, I'm sure we would have disagreed, but I have a lot of respect for him because his beliefs were well reasoned and thoughtful. We need far more of that and less knee-jerk nay-saying on both sides.

    December 16, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
  19. paul

    Chrism – Jew or Gentile MUST accept the Free gift of salvation. And apparanetly, from what we saw in public, Hitchens rejected it. Only God knows where he is, and what happened to him. Though he was a very outspoken Atheist, and spoke against all that I believe, I do hope he is in the good place.

    December 16, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
    • Chrism

      Of course, God alone is the judge. I'm very aware and I never said I know for sure. But St. Paul's message about the old covenant is very important. Many people seem caught up on whether Hitch is Christian. As you said God is the judge, and He made clear in the bible He honors the old covenant.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
  20. Chrism

    Hope people don't forget Hitch is Jewish and the old covenant is still valid. Read Romans. St. Paul had been distraught for his non-believer brothers but then says God will restore the natural branches to the tree of life. So Hitch has an "in."

    Great article. I think Hitch many times was keenly aware he was playing the devil and saw it as a way to bring people closer to God.

    December 16, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
    • 0/10

      0/10

      December 16, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • Chrism

      Lol, I take a low score from a dishonest judge as a compliment. Thank you!

      December 16, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Chrism: I believe Hitchens was born into an Anglican family. Not Jewish.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
    • Observer

      0 / 10 from an honest judge.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • Chrism

      Observer you're doubly dishonest for the dishonest score and the dishonest claim to have judged honestly! Gots to tell you buddy that I spoke the truth and God who would judge honestly can confirm it. Really I eat dishonest digs like yours for breakfast.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • Elliott Carlin

      "hitch has an 'in' "

      Wow, that's a fairly ignorant exegesis of Scripture. You sound like Rob Bell.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
    • Observer

      Chrism,

      I don't need someone of your mentality telling me I'm dishonest. You seem to the the typical Christian HYPOCRITE who passes judgement on others despite the Bible admonition not to. Why not just grow up?

      December 16, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
    • Chrism

      Elliot, it's called God honors the first covenant. So if your "ignorant" you meant accurate, you'd be right. Otherwise, you'd be ignorant. Really liked the use of exegesis though. Nice effort.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
    • Chrism

      Observer, Im growing tired of your dishonesty. My reference to St Paul is accurate. Go ask a catholic priest. As for hypocrisy look in the mirror.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.