Monday, December 19, 2011

Well, no one can say ...

... I'm not thorough: 3quarksdaily: Remembering the Foolish and Brilliant Christopher Hitchens. (Hat tip, Cynthia Haven.)

But to reiterate my original point about all this. Hitchens was not always right -- who is? He was often gratuitously nasty. I confess to having been such myself from time to time, especially when I was young. My wife thought I was gratuitously nasty in my recent review of Ed King.
That Hitchens had grievous faults does not give anyone warrant to emulate those faults regarding him now that he is dead, least of all if one calls oneself a Christian. Our obligation as Christians is to display charity, not malice.


  1. I suppose he would have been content to say with Belloc

    When I am dead, I hope it may be said:
    "His sins were scarlet, but his books were read."

    For the rest, if one has not promised the grieving family to deliver a eulogy, then I think one should write the truth as one sees it. Yes, without gratuitous nastiness, but also being as clear on the limitations as on the achievements.

  2. Here's something by Olivia Cole from last month in GQ of UK: Words from the wise. Now that he's dead, Olivia's article can be read as an obituary as opposed to the profile/book review that it is. She does not get into the negatives.

    That said, I like Morgan Meis' article. He walked the tight rope with ease and successfully. If I have a problem, it is with Morgan's picture being there at the top, where a photo of Christopher Hitchens belongs. Morgan's pic can trail the item.

  3. I wish I could write well enough to be gratutiously nasty...I don't think it necessarily a bad thing because the line between judgment and opinion is so thin...Christ said too that if they don't listen shake the dust of your sandals and move, and don't bother with those who are dead etc....It seems, Frank, in order to make any of the decisions as to who we should offer our pearls, we must make some evaluation of them but cannot judge them...hmmm, what a difficult line.

  4. I don't think gratuitous is called for either, although I do think honest assessments are. None of this seems particularly nasty to me, though, in comparison with some other things I've seen online. (Like certain online poetry boards. Oh my. LOL)

    But you have to admit, Hitchens is guilty of bringing some of it onto himself, from his own frequent usage of gratuitous nastiness. I suspect that, in some cases, even if it seems cowardly, some folks are getting their licks in now that he can't directly reply to them, when they may not have been willing to do so when he COULD reply to them. Cowardly, yes, but BECAUSE of the history of gratuitous nastiness, not surprising. Hitchens did like to argue, and he did like to fight—and that was why he sometimes went out of his way to be gratuitously provocative. In the tradition of Jonathon Swift, after all, but I sometimes felt just because he wanted to take out his own pain on others. Wit, as Oscar Wilde, might have said, is a defense against the world's suffering.

  5. I didn't send this one to Frank because I thought it was gratuitously nasty but rather because, despite its hand-wringing, it's a provocative, confessionally honest (sometimes to the point of clumsiness), and astute appraisal of a legend.

    The point about Weil is a good one, and made too rarely. Hitchens was always more comfortable taking on the T.V. evangelicals rather than Weil, Shestov, Kierkegaard, Aquinas, or Edith Stein.

  6. Cynthia's point is extremely well taken. Weil, Shestov, Kierkegaard, Stein, Aquinas. One wonders if Dennett or Dawkins and, yes, Hitchens, ever bothered to read any of them. One of the things that disturbed me when I read The God Delusion was that Dawkins simply never engaged any major thinkers. Then again, if they did read such writers, I doubt if they'd grasp that these are thinkers coming at the subject from an intensely personal angle. The real problem with Dennett and Dawkins -- and, I fear, Hitchens -- is that all of them are (or were) deep down even shallower than I am.

  7. I know you are all sick of this...but do look at this article

    it is on point -- and ignore th4e label satire at the top