Friday, December 16, 2011
More Musings on Hitchens
Christopher Hitchens loved to debate Christians, and one of those Christians with whom he sparred has written this lovely, grace-filled obituary about the man.
When I linked to this article on Facebook, one of my (actual, not virtual) friends had this to say...
A terrible loss of one of the great thinkers of our time. I'm not well-read on Hitchens, but two of my favorite quotes from him follow: "My own view is that this planet is used as a penal colony, lunatic asylum and dumping ground by a superior civilization, to get rid of the undesirable and unfit. I can't prove it, but you can't disprove it either."
"Religion makes kind people say unkind things: 'I must prove my faith, so mutilate the genitals of my children.' They wouldn’t do that if God didn’t tell them to do so. And it makes intelligent people say stupid things: Condoms are worse than AIDS, for example. Things they wouldn’t dream of saying if the pope didn’t tell them to do that."
We need voices like his in this world.
Many folks don't take the time to understand their belief system or to think about it. Most pulpits are not used as platforms to enrich the intellect of parishioners, but as stages to engage their emotions for continued loyalty to that organization. Furthermore, the context of most Biblical passages is thrown aside in favor of bullet-point doctrines or sacred snippets or legalistic rules that satisfy predisposed prejudices and fears.
If one is going to put their faith in a belief system or trust in a man who professed to be God, it behooves them to devote time to studying what they are putting their faith in. That's difficult. The Bible is damned hard to understand. Jesus said a lot of things that make me wince, especially when I don't understand the historical or the cultural context in which He was saying it. It's much easier to have faith spoon-fed within a community of like-minded worshipers.
However, there are few things more dangerous than practicing an uninformed faith...
Follow-up thought...I think one of Hitchens' lasting contributions was his willingness to directly confront and debate the Christian community. From my perspective, he didn't dismiss all of us as rubes or morons. Instead, he challenged our core beliefs, made us question our absolutes, and in so doing, deepened our commitment to being ready to answer for the hope that lies within us.
At least those of us whose first reaction to his atheism and provocative statements wasn't to say, "Oh, man, that guy doesn't believe like I do. I *hate* him." :-/
Yeah, I know...Facebook is meant to be shallow, time-wasting fun, and I've made it heavy, deep, and philosophical with a touch of "annoying" for good measure. Hey! It's how I roll... ;-)
Posted by Pete Fernbaugh at 8:28 PM