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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. Ben

    There are 2 possible scenarios that occurred when Christopher Hitchens died

    a) he died, his heart stopped and he ceased to exist.

    b) He died, his heart stopped and his spirit was whisked away to face judgement. Where do you think god will send him? heaven or hell. The answer is obvious.

    December 16, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
    • sck

      Hitchens died. That is the end of the story.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
    • RillyKewl

      The obvious answer is, his remains went to the cemetery, just like everybody else's. Beyond that its all conjecture.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
    • Ben

      It is like taking a bet. Hitchens bets god does not exist, if he wins he gets nothing. If he loses he will burn in hell for eternity. If Larry loses his bet nothing happens, If he wins he will spend eternity in heaven. So Hitchens loses either way

      December 16, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
    • Jim

      Hellfire is a logical answer.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Ben

      You said, "It is like taking a bet. Hitchens bets god does not exist, if he wins he gets nothing. If he loses he will burn in hell for eternity. If Larry loses his bet nothing happens, If he wins he will spend eternity in heaven. So Hitchens loses either way"
      You may want to google "Pascal's wager". There are quite a few gods that don't look kindly upon non-believers in them. My guess is that you are one of those non-believers. Better prepare to spend eternity in agony.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @Ben, better to burn in hell than be an eternal slave to a murder ordering, jealous overlord. Who wants to spend eternity with a child murderer or one who orders the murder of children?

      December 16, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
    • Ben

      @LinCA Even if what you say is true, I will still have better odds than Hitchens because there is a good probability Jesus Christ is the one and only true god.

      December 17, 2011 at 12:00 am |
    • LinCA

      @Ben

      You said, "I will still have better odds than Hitchens because there is a good probability Jesus Christ is the one and only true god."
      I realize that you have to keep telling yourself that, but lying to yourself isn't going to make it true. Your odds of being right are roughly zero percent, give or take a fraction of a percent.

      If you take all the delusions of all the believers in the world, yours is but one out of millions. All are roughly equally unlikely. Equal evidence yields equal merit, none to be precise. Sweet dreams.

      December 17, 2011 at 1:57 am |
    • Jesus

      Ben, you simpleton! Studies have shown that no "spirit" leaves the body and floats up or anywhere. Once death occurs the body commences to decompose. That's all! No magical trips anywhere.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
  2. charlybrains

    The only thing that separates a point of view from another is the difference that each other don't see but, moreover, to see the truth on each point of view deserves respect from everybody who is not part of that difference.

    December 16, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
    • Bob Crock

      Religion is nothing but one huge fraud. Definition of fraud? "Something intended to deceive; deliberate trickery intended to gain an advantage." All religions promise people something they can't have in real life ("eternal life at a wonderful place"), freedom from awful situation (hell), and even random help in real time (you get what you pray for, sometimes, maybe). Of course nobody ever came back after death to report how wonderful things are in heaven, as far as I know.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • Russ

      @ BC: the heart is deceitful above all things and wicked beyond cure...
      are you ever skeptical of your skepticism?

      December 16, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
  3. Atheist 1#

    we're all going to die one day! Some people just need myth's and fables to make the inevitable into a more pleasurable experience.(Unlike Atheist who take Death for what it is ,The Unkown.)

    December 16, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • Bob Crock

      Could you repeat it again?

      December 16, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
  4. Atheist 1#

    we're all going to die one day! Some people just need myth's and fables to make that inevitable into a more pleasurable experience.(Unlike Atheist who take Death for what it is ,The Unkown.)

    December 16, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • Bob Crock

      More like – "the fuse" is blown.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
  5. Ronda

    For Taunton to assume that people lined up to see Hitchens after the debate out of a "macabre" desire to have a photo taken with" a dying man" (while Taunton's own Christian fans greeted Taunton "excitedly"), is silly and pathetic. Taunton finds it unsettling that people showed up to see Hitch and have their books signed by him because he thought it was unfair to Hitchens? Could it be that the unsettling part to a Christian is the idea of an atheist having a fan base? Let me assure you that a great many of us loved Hitch long before cancer became part of his life story, and we supported him through his illness, not because of it.

    December 16, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • RillyKewl

      Agreed. I've followed Hitchens very enthusiastically for years. What I can't follow is religious people.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • Dan

      Ronda – You sound like a groupie "I liked them BEFORE they were famous!"
      You misinterpreted his message... he acknowledges his fans and followers but at that point, fame blotted out the real Hitch. People WERE there for the novelty instead of the substance. Not all of them, but some of them. Relax.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • Ronda

      I was an admirer of his intellect, his facility with language, his knowledge of culture and history, his unsentimental interpretation of the world around us, his dry humor and his ability to pull it all together into glorious prose. I think it's really silly to think that anyone who was not otherwise a true fan of his work would buy one of his books and attend one of his debates or talks. What circle do you travel in that saying "I was a fan of his before you" or even "I got this book signed the month before he died" will score points of any kind? Most people in the US still don't know who he is, sadly.

      December 17, 2011 at 8:39 am |
  6. Bob Crock

    One way to eliminate religion in the world – stop brainwashing the kids with the religious nonsense! That will eliminate religion in a hurry. Look at Vietnam, where religion was not taught during the Communist era. I believe the number of atheists are around 90%. It really is that simple.

    December 16, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
    • georgex

      Education helps a little also.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • Bob Crock

      Teach the kids the factual knowledge, not nonsense.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
    • Jesus

      Atheism also thrives as a predominant point of view in Europe. Only in backward America is thatr nonsense accepted.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
  7. Furgishhinhin

    He thought he was going to live forever. He cursed God and trash talked every religion as if he was a creation of his own. He thought that he was one of the most intelligent people because of his self-admiration. What he didn't know is that he was intelligent for all the wrong reasons. What kind of intellect can you claim when you ignore the question of who created you when you were nothing. God created man out of nothing,and without their say, and ultimately men will return to God without their say. So at the end, it boils down to, what have you prepared for judgement day. And ifyou don't believe in judgement day, well then wait and see. Because when death takes your soul, there is no repentence. You will enternally pay the price of your decision. He rediculed God and his servants and now he faces God.

    December 16, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
    • fda

      Goes back to that saying, "What does a man gain if he owns the whole world and loses his own soul."

      December 16, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • Bob Crock

      God is not doing his job! I propose we start a little uprising, "Occupy Heaven" and throw the rascal out.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
    • fda

      Hey Bob, is that you're evidence, he's not doing his job because your life sucks? Was that the great proof everyone was waiting on?

      December 16, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • Bob Crock

      fda – he is not doing his job because life on Earth sucks for 90% of the people.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • Keith

      Nonsense.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • Earthling

      Where the blazes do you get the idea that he thought he was going to live forever? Making stuff up and pretending it's true does not make it true. Just like those bronze age fairy tales in the bible. WANTing them to be true, because you can't deal with the realities of the universe you live in, will not bring them any closer to reality.

      I am never surprised at how happy people like you can be, submerged in your religion and isolated from the real world. It only goes to prove the old adage, that ignorance is bliss.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • fda

      So thats what we are waiting for? That America's greed and defence budget is Gods fault that 90% of the world is poor. Jesus was poor. In fact he once said,
      Blessed are the poor is Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
      Justice will be found, just not for atheists.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
  8. fda

    This man questioned the care mother Teresa gave care to the poor.
    Today Mother Teresa probably prayed for Hitchens.
    That is the definition of class.

    December 16, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
    • Bob Crock

      Mother Teresa was a selfish, cruel b... that liked to be important.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • fda

      You're a phony Bob. Anyone who hands the poor a sandwich is okay in my opinion.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • Observer

      Mother Teresa also believed that suffering was good for people because it made them more religious.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
    • Earthling

      Mother Theresa has been dead for years. She didn't pray for anyone today.

      You say"Justice will be found, just not for atheists." and then later you say "Anyone who hands the poor a sandwich is okay in my opinion." Well guess what. I'm an atheist (because I actually took the time to THINK about my philosophy), and I have spent years of my life helping those less fortunate than me. I've built houses for them, fed them, taken them to the store to buy food, helped them to heat their homes, and listened to them cry. According to your imaginary friend, because I don't buy into the massive fraud that is and has always been organized religion, I'm doomed to spend eternity in your equally imaginary hell. But a complete jerk like (for instance) Oral Roberts, who spent decades stealing money from little old ladies to finance his lavish lifestyle, gets a seat in the other place. What a load of crap. The willpower you must have, to be able to completely ignore reality and subscribe to this utter nonsense is absolutely amazing.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
    • fda

      Your pride is amazing earthling. I was defending mother teresa and in the same breath you bash me for defending someone who did good for poor and give me a 1000 reasons why your selfish charity is better.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
  9. George

    Sin killed this man. If not the sin of disbelief, then the sins of alcoholism and nicotine addiction. The wages of sin are death.

    December 16, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      AMEN, MY BROTHER!!

      December 16, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • Earthling

      Honestly, you people amaze me. take your head out of the sand and look around. You're missing a wonderful world.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
    • sck

      The wages of life is death. The wages of sin is false guilt. May fairly tales cease to dominate.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • Observer

      George,

      Many "good" Christians die young. Death is obviously not determined by how religious you are.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
    • JDinHouston

      Sorry, you are mistaken – the wage of life is death This man lived life to the fullest, even maybe beyond. Did he get dealt death by God? No, he just burnt up his time too soon. Many do, it does not make them sinners, it makes them bold, and we read about them, and history remembers them. Hitchens is, was, an amazing man, who used his life completely. If there is a God, today He is happy to have time to now debate Hitchens in person. If there isn't a God, our soil becomes richer and may he nurture the ground for future talent like him.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
    • Adam

      Is this where I cast my stone too? Are you not a sinner as well?

      December 16, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
  10. yourmom

    It's lovely that they got along despite being on opposite sides of the religious/moral/ethical spectrum.

    Lmao, plastic menus mean bad food– that's priceless.

    December 16, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
  11. 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. Which is not possible.
    Faith has been said to be the belief in something without the necessity of proof. Hitchens required evidence and proof.

    December 16, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
  12. Emanuel Burgos

    I loved this article! Thanks CNN! It actually gave me hope that he was redeemed in the end. Prayers for his family!

    December 16, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
  13. jim

    I wish he will burn in hell for eternity. His trash talk of God and religion and the ignorance is spread through out the world is take forever to eradicate. May Allah make you pay the ultimate price.

    December 16, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • yourmom

      While I disliked that he denounced god and all that.(I'm a strong christian) Trust me, it made me sick. You should NEVER wish someone to just go to hell. It's a shame he was never reached; died not having turned his life around with god. However, he was brilliant in more ways then one to an extent; I respect his intellectual prowess.

      Oh and Allah doesn't exist.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
    • NightCelt

      Thanks for the laugh! Merry Xmas!

      December 16, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • Ryan

      Nobody knows exactly what will happen to him, maybe he will just rot in the ground at that will be it. Have you tried killing yourself to test the afterlife hypothesis?

      December 16, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
    • Jim

      yourmom:

      To allah we belong, to him we return. You call him god, I call him Allah. It is the same. But you are driven by ignorance and because of ignorance you only believe what you want to believe. You need to edcuate yourself about the Koran and the knowledge of the hereafter before you make naive conclusion. Allah took Christophers life without him having say about it. and He will definitely take your sould some day, so make sure you make the right choice and make sure to think out of the box. Because once you are dead, there is no return, no repentence and you will eternally live with the choices and the decisions you make today.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
    • Carrie

      Ahahaha! Allah doesn't exist and your god does...? Haha funny classic religious ignorance.

      So when your mother dies of breast cancer...are you guy going to say it was because she trash talked god too? Or was it just her time to go meet her maker...? Which is it folks? You can't have it both ways.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
  14. HeIsGod

    What profits a man to gain the whole world, but loses his soul? – God

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

      God is a lie. – Christopher Hitchens

      December 16, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Christopher Hitchens is lie – God.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
    • ashrakay

      We have verifiable evidence of Hitchens. What proof do you have of god?

      December 16, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • Russ

      The difference b/t Hitchens & Dawkins (last 3 minutes – start at 1:24:20). From his movie with Doug Wilson:
      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yU0Ue-Ki-mU&w=640&h=360]

      December 16, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      But wasn't this man, Hitchens, supposed to have proven that there was no God? He died without leaving any proof. What evidence did he have to prove that there is no God?

      He is NOW wishing he had believed in God. God hides from the blinded fools.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  15. URgodDOESNTexist

    That's how prayers work... they don't... there is no one to listen to them...

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

      How many times have you prayed....HUMBLY? If your prayer has never been answered, that's not our problem, but yours. You CAN NOT speak for us who's PRAYERS have been answered from time to time. If you want your prayers to be answered...LEARN TO LIVE FOR GOD FIRST.

      SEEK YE THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS AND ALL OF THIS THINGS SHALL BE ADDED UNTO YOU DAY BY DAY. – CHRIST

      See how this works?

      December 16, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @HeIsGod, How many amputees that humbly prayed got their limbs to grow back?

      December 16, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
    • Ryan

      They have done experiments where legitimate Christians prayed for someone and a control of patients without.: No effect

      December 16, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      ashrakay – LOL, WOW!!! God works internally, NOT externally of the body. God has healed me from cancer and a tumor....can you deny the HEALING that MILLIONS of people all over the world has received without doctors or medicine being involved?

      December 16, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • Adam

      You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
      (James 4:3 ESV)

      December 16, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
    • Earthling

      @HelsGod

      I suppose that you had absolutely no medical treatment of any kind for your cancerous tumor, right? Never went to the doctor, never had surgery or chemotherapy or radiation, right? The tumor just magically fell off one day. You are so full of crap I can smell it from here.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @Adam, what about people that pray for other people that they don't know and pray selflessly? Any limbs grow back that way?

      December 16, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • Joe from Indy

      Ryan, you're wrong. Those experiments actually proved that prayer is detrimental as it increases stress of the patient. Dawkins wrote about that.

      December 17, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
  16. paul

    What a fantastic article.

    It's a shame most people are hypocritically posting fanatical comments on a story devoted to a friendship between two men with different views, but that's their loss.

    Fantastically written Mr. Taunton, and rest in peace Mr. Hitchens.

    December 16, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
    • Andy Anderson

      Amen to both of those sentiments.

      My question is this, though: Does Mr. Taunton believe that Christopher Hitchens is now in Hell, being tortured forever?

      December 16, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
  17. ashrakay

    It's almost comical how even the death of a famous atheist gets a CNN article written from a religious perspective. CNN seems to be incapable of publishing anything that isn't injected with their own brand of fairy-tale spinning. Thinking people everywhere weep for a man who died, but weep so much more for the death of reason and the insanity that is alive and well in mankind.

    December 16, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • Skegeeace

      What religious spin? This is an article about a friend's best moments with Mr. Hitchens. He just HAPPENS to be a person of faith which, given the dichotomy of beliefs between the two men, was an integral part of the story. Mr. Hitchens, after all, was a well known proponent of atheism, so many people find it interesting and refreshing that such a person could be on friendly terms with someone who's viewpoints are so wildly different. It was well-told.

      The brick building down the street called- it wants the chip off your shoulder back.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @Skegeeace, There are many people who could have been asked to write about Hitchen's life... Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris... Yet CNN chooses the perspective of and evangelical. Do you really need this spelled out for you?

      December 16, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
    • travis

      This section of CNN is called Belief Blog. Which actually covers all religions and atheism. I really don't get why it surprises you or angers you so much.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
    • supreme

      The majority of CNN's articles pertaining to religion, are extremely critical of it. Particularly when pertaining to Christianity. This was a beautiful article, and it shows the commonality people can share together, the friendships and bonds they can make, despite being a christian or an atheist, it does no difference if you do not let ignorance blind you.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @supreme, Since the majority of articles on CNN on critical of religion, can please direct me to 1 of them?

      December 16, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Why is this surprising? Look what CNN did to the Higgs boson. (Not that they were the only inept news organization to do so.)

      December 17, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
  18. fda

    Its a hard line from Christianity. But this man was a blasphemy everyday of his life. He is partially responsible for all of the evils that are seeping into America, gay marriage, abortion, infanticide, euthanasia.
    His words were vial and incredibly disrespectful to God. He tried to destroy instead of build heaven on earth. I hope God forgives him and cures him like he did to some in the Gospels. I wish no one h3ll, but it is very clear that not everyone will make it. And no one can claim ignorance. The gift is there, free to read, the most available book in history. TO fight against the truth is to be a lie.

    December 16, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
    • KeepIgnoranceFromUSA

      you are such an idiot...

      December 16, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
    • Nate

      Please don't procreate if you haven't already.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
    • Santos

      In honor of Hitch: You are a fanatic and an imbecile fda. The belief in fairy tails and mumbo jumbo has weakened the mind of hundreds of millions of people worldwide, and opened the door for real evils – genocide, child molestation, corruption... not the harmless or natural things you listed. In short, your existence and way of thinking is a cancer to rational thought.

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

      You both have a horrible fate. You have no idea who I am. But I can see through you're insults. THose who result to such forms have already lost the argument.
      You cannot fight the truth so you resort to insults. Congratulations, but I still have no reason not to believe God does not exist. What is yours? Stand up and tell me what I am missing? Why should I believe you?
      I have 1000 reasons why you should believe me.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • NightCelt

      Well said, Santos.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Well said, fda!!!

      December 16, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
    • Mo

      @fda
      You will never show Jesus' light to others with the approach you are attempting here. Yes, people sin, yes people make mistakes, you included. The article is is clearly showing how an atheist and Christian can coexist through friendship. I've listened to some of Hitchens' debates and many Christians were quite fond of him. Not because of their differences, but because being a Christian actually means caring for your brothers and sisters, no matter who they are and what they say. We will never know Hitchens' true thoughts and real desires, we can only hope and pray he made the decision we believe is right according to our personal beliefs.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
    • Ze Pewp

      Hey there genius. That's a triple negative. You do realize you said you not believe in god. Happy Holidays.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • Earthling

      fda, you have ZERO reasons why anyone should believe you, unless you count reasons that are based in fairy tales. If you confine yourself to reality, you will discover you have nothing to stand on. Arguing against reality is the same as beating your head against a wall. You will accomplish nothing except giving yourself a headache. Reality does not go away, just because you don't like it.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
  19. travis

    What a great story! Too bad nearly everyone on this thread seems to have failed to get anything from it.

    December 16, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
    • travis

      I mean really. It is like everyone just skipped over the whole thing and scrolled to the bottom as fast as possible to post snide remarks. And this is coming from both sides.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
  20. Renee DeMartin

    I will always adore Christopher Hitchens. The world is sorely lacking in intellectuals with a biting, caustic wit. The man took on mother teresa for god's sake......

    December 16, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      The WORLD lost NOTHING!

      December 16, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
    • Emmanuel

      For God's sake? Clearly not.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • leeferg

      I really don't think he did if for God's sake

      December 17, 2011 at 12:25 am |
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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.