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Old 07-02-2010, 10:12 PM   #1
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Christians are Compassionate

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Christopher Hitchens, the famous atheist and author of “God is Not Great,” abruptly cut short a book tour this week to begin chemotherapy treatments, and news outlets reported that he has cancer.

It seems against common sense to say this, but might I suggest that this turn of events shows that God is kind even to those who spend their lives fighting against him.


How does that make sense? And how does my suggestion show any compassion? I’ll explain in a moment. But first, Hitchens’ announcement:
“I have been advised by my physician that I must undergo a course of chemotherapy on my esophagus,” Hitchens, 61, said. “This advice seems persuasive to me. I regret having had to cancel so many engagements at such short notice.”

In response, I would like to extend my heartfelt empathy to Hitchens. Whatever his (or your) thoughts on the afterlife (or lack thereof), chemotherapy is no fun, and he’s facing a rough road ahead. Almost no one is exempt from troubles in this life.

Christopher Hitchens would probably hate me for saying this (or merely pity me for being a deluded rube), but I’d like to ask believers to pray for him.
Interestingly, Hitchens’ brother, Peter Hitchens, two months ago published a rebuttal to Christopher Hitchens’ long-held denial of God. A former atheist and recently converted Christian, Peter Hitchens has released “The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith.”
Wouldn’t you like to listen in on those family discussions?

But to our question: how can cancer be an example of God’s grace to this suddenly stricken intellectual, who has made a career of arguing the case for atheism? A cancer which God didn’t “give,” but certainly permitted.

The short answer is this: if God really wanted to “get” Hitchens, God would just ignore the man, and let him go his blissful way, unchallenged, to a peaceful death.

At which point Hitchens would stand, face-to-face and unreconciled, with that very God.

Of course, Hitchens doesn’t believe a word of that scenario I just outlined. He might explain that he is, after all, a heavy smoker. And in his 2008 book, “god is not Great,” Hitchens goes to exceptional lengths to explain why he rejects theistic belief.

Now, Hitchens, who also writes on other topics, is a smart guy. In addition to writing books, he is a contributing editor for Atlantic magazine and a columnist for Vanity Fair.

Unfortunately, a lot of Hitchens’ non-belief has a whiff of the village atheist about it. First off, there’s the title of his best-known anti-God book: “god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.” Why the little “g” for God? It’s his name, after all, and we capitalize proper names. The little “g” feels like the gratuitous disrespect rebellious small children are fond of.
And does religion really poison … everything? For example, I’m not really fond of rock music, but even that is not all bad.

As with many atheists, Hitchens’ non-belief got its start in childhood, when he heard a religious person say something that, even to a child, came across as dumb. With Hitchens’s mentor, it was something about the color of the sky and human eyeballs.

For me, there’s something inane about an adult beginning to base their adult worldview on something wacko recalled from childhood.
But now, let’s talk, one grownup to another.

To illustrate why Hitchens’ getting cancer is an example of God’s grace, let me point to an example from the movies, a mafia movie. The example is fiction, but well-known, and similar circumstances are played out in real life every day.

The aged Don Corleone, the godfather, is playing in the garden with his grandchild. After a life at the head of a criminal enterprise, he is a survivor, basking in the sun with family at the end of a long and happy life. Suddenly, he keels over, and the frolicking toddler is unaware that the grandfather has just died.

I’ll wager that the director was making a comment that this man’s life, wicked by some estimates, ended well. After all, the Don didn’t really “pay” for his alleged sins.

But from a biblical perspective, that quiet death is the very worst thing that could happen to the Don. He has slipped into eternity unreconciled to God.
It is a cliché that there are no atheists in foxholes -- or in cancer wards. It is a cliché because, human nature being what it is, there is a lot of truth to it. People do tend to wait until they are in big trouble (foxholes) or until the last minute (cancer wards) before they get serious about spiritual, end-of-life, matters.

But better to suffer for a season now, as a prod to get serious, than to go the way of Don Corleone.

Atheism is a fun game (and profitable, too) when you’re healthy, because there are no really serious consequences. No so when you might be terminally ill, because then you’re about to make an eternal bet.

Hitchens is a talented and creative writer. But I suspect that it is precisely his talent and creativity – and his awareness of his talent – that may make it especially difficult for him to fess up: maybe there is a God. (Of course, I don’t know that he will “fess up.”)

After all, how cliché would it be for Hitchens, a lifelong atheist, to undergo a “deathbed” conversion. Please! That’s a late-night television movie plot.
It would be a huge blow to Hitchens’ ego (as it is to any ego) to admit that he’s been wrong these many years. But Hitchens’ rebellion against God has been so public that God may require a very public humbling.

But maybe God is doing it this way because he desires that Hitchens give up his “god,” that is, Hitchens’ pride in being different from the run-of-the-mill mortal. Maybe God is doing it this way so that Hitchens can encounter the God he has been denying for so long, before eternity sets in.
God is great to Christopher Hitchens | NJ.com

There are plenty of examples of nonbelievers standing by their principles until the end, and I suspect that Hitchens will provide another one (hopefully later rather than sooner).
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Old 07-02-2010, 10:41 PM   #2
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An Update from Christopher Hitchens | VF Daily | Vanity Fair
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Old 07-02-2010, 10:48 PM   #3
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I enjoy the implication that atheism is a game played for money and nothing else. That's hilarious.
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Old 07-02-2010, 10:56 PM   #4
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But Hitchens’ rebellion against God has been so public that God may require a very public humbling.
This is why I find it increasingly difficult not to depise Christians as people (as opposed to just scorning the ideology).
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Old 07-02-2010, 11:02 PM   #5
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Whenever I read an article which says atheists are "arrogant" I think about who's making the accusation.

Condescension and hypocrisy are a potent mix
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For me, there’s something inane about an adult beginning to base their adult worldview on something wacko recalled from childhood. But now, let’s talk, one grownup to another.
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Old 07-03-2010, 01:43 AM   #6
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Plenty of real world examples of compassionate, generous Christians -- no need to make this editorial the barometer.

There are plenty of condescending, arrogant Christians out there, but there are plenty of condescending, arrogant atheists out there as well.
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Old 07-03-2010, 02:06 AM   #7
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They require warning labels on cigarette packages.

Why not warning labels on religious books?
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Old 07-03-2010, 04:14 AM   #8
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Why the little “g” for God? It’s his name, after all, and we capitalize proper names. The little “g” feels like the gratuitous disrespect rebellious small children are fond of.
I often use the word "God" in a sentence with the lower-case spelling, like when saying, "Oh, my god". No disrespect intended, just don't really think about it *Shrugs*. There's lots of people who type names of others, real or "possibly" real, out online without proper capitalization (or punctuation, or spelling, or what have you). So explain that? Hitchens, given his enthusiasm for atheism, may possibly be doing it for rebellious purposes in a way, but who knows, why make that sort of assumption, really?

Yeah, I have a REALLY hard time believing God (ooh! See? Capitalized it there!) gave him cancer as a means to bring him to reconciliation. That just seems a rather cruel method of getting somebody's attention. And to go with the Corleone example used, well, why didn't God get that guy's attention, too, with some illness or whatever? Why did he wind up dead without making spiritual amends, but Hitchens is getting his "second chance" (and yes, I know that one's a character in a film and the other's a real-life person, but there's lots of real world "Corleone"s out there, so to speak, so my question still stands)?

When I come across arguments this confusing and illogical, it makes me think the Hitchenses of the world have a point. I have much respect for people being as religious as they please, it's your life, to each their own and hooray to you for finding spiritual comfort and guidance, but seriously, I'd like to ask them to try and listen to themselves the next time they talk like this. They may mean well, I have no doubt this guy does wish good thoughts for the man in his plight (as do I, I'm very sorry to hear of his cancer battle, and I hope he fights the good fight and gets better), but that article seems a bit...unintentionally condescending, and is just full of arguments that don't hold a lot of weight.

Angela
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Old 07-04-2010, 01:37 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by A_Wanderer View Post
God is great to Christopher Hitchens | NJ.com

There are plenty of examples of nonbelievers standing by their principles until the end, and I suspect that Hitchens will provide another one (hopefully later rather than sooner).
As a Christian, I'm quite embarrassed by that article. The word that came to mind while reading it was smug.

Also, I totally disagree with the analysis of Don Coerleone's death. I think view it as a statement about how in the end, even someone with the kind of power Coerleone had could come to an end in such a helpless and humbling way. After all the violence of his life, ironically, he went out without any kind of blaze of glory. I never got the sense that the message was supposed to be: "See he got away with it."

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This is why I find it increasingly difficult not to depise Christians as people (as opposed to just scorning the ideology).
I had no idea you felt this way. I always thought we got alonag alright.
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Old 07-04-2010, 06:01 AM   #10
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God is great to Christopher Hitchens | NJ.com

There are plenty of examples of nonbelievers standing by their principles until the end, and I suspect that Hitchens will provide another one (hopefully later rather than sooner).
I don't know. I am a 14 year cancer survivor, and at first, i thught, I better pray for my life . Instead I got this very calm feeling, to just do what I have to and not worry, so i didnt.

I cant say I saw God, but some of the people I would randomly come across just blew me away by their care, and just talking. I had a lot of strange things that happened over that time, from strangers , and it dawned on me that this wasn't coincedence .

The best one, is i was in another city for treatment , and I walked around a corner and someone yelled my name. That was amazing in itself, as I was bald, swollen from steroids etc, and this nurse that yelled my name across a crowded lobby was an ex-girlfriend from when i was 16. To me, I thought what are the odds of that?

Cancer changes you in many ways . Sprituality, whatever that means to an individual, was something heard from other patients over and over.

I saw it in strangers everywhere. So MY conclusion was that it had always been there, things had just blocked it from the plain view that I have carried since. Meaning, whatever it is, I see it all the time now.

1 cycle I think it said he had to have. That is hopefull for him to recover. No smoking though.
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Old 07-04-2010, 12:49 PM   #11
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I agree with Maycocksean. The article does sound like the author is glad Hitchens has cancer. I wouldn't wish cancer on anyone and I'm a Christian

Honestly, when an atheist angrily rants about theism and religion, I do feel anger towards that person because what they are saying is so hateful. But at the end, you really have to feel sorry for the person. He or she is so consumed with their anger towards theists and theism that they become such nasty people. I prefer talking about theology with the so-called "friendly atheists" rather than the New Atheists since the latter usually are what I just described.
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Old 07-04-2010, 12:51 PM   #12
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Old 07-04-2010, 08:10 PM   #13
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I agree with Maycocksean. The article does sound like the author is glad Hitchens has cancer. I wouldn't wish cancer on anyone and I'm a Christian

Honestly, when an atheist angrily rants about theism and religion, I do feel anger towards that person because what they are saying is so hateful. But at the end, you really have to feel sorry for the person. He or she is so consumed with their anger towards theists and theism that they become such nasty people. I prefer talking about theology with the so-called "friendly atheists" rather than the New Atheists since the latter usually are what I just described.

I have often thought that atheists are angry( not all, but seems like many ) because they lack anything that gives them faith. Faith, be it a door knob, or something else is an essential emotional element. If one has no faith, is there hope? Everyone has to believe in something, be it yourself, or whatever they choose.

The hate.... I can't stand. Hate is anger. If someone is angry , it usually means somethings missing, or one goes into the other emotions that result from Hate or anger. I wouldnt want to live that way. From what I have experienced and see, I couldn't.
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Old 07-04-2010, 09:20 PM   #14
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I would recommend the last chapter of God is not Great for its wonderful humanist appeal to the consolations of philosophy, art and science but it's probably too hateful.
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Old 07-04-2010, 09:25 PM   #15
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