Hitchens Hell, Purgatorio and Merry Christmas


And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. – John 1:14

Third Century Christian theologian Origen deemed the celebrations of birthdays the work of sinners, not saints; and so opposed the celebration of the birth of Jesus as if he were a pharaoh or king.

Seventeen hundred winter solstices later, we wonder if he would more vociferously bemoan the attention given the passing of the most celebrated atheist of the 21st Century. (Especially given Scriptural references to the Son of Man as “King of kings”, but we understand that Christ’s realm is “not of this earth” and that we are not qualified to cross theological swords with the distinguished Alexandrian scholar.)

Christopher Hitchens, the author of God is not Great: How Religion poisons Everything, died ten days before Christmas and it has been curious to see how his passing has been received by our divided culture, especially given his excommunication from The Left over his support for the war in Iraq.

For instance, last night on Hugh Hewitt’s talk radio show, the self-described catholic evangelical conservative re-broadcast a three-hour interview he conducted with Hitchens soon after the release of his Hitch-22 memoir in 2010. Why would such a strong Christian develop such an attachment to the author of such venomous diatribes against Mother Teresa and celebrate his passing just two days before Christmas Day?

Yes, we conservatives were thrilled to have him join us in compassion for the Kurds and other victims of Saddam Hussein and in opposing the radical Islamist threat generally; and we appreciated his contempt for the corrupt acts of Bill Clinton. But let us weigh the glory of a liberal partially mugged by conservative-converting reality with this polemic on Mother Teresa and the Roman Catholic Church:

This returns us to the medieval corruption of the church, which sold indulgences to the rich while preaching hellfire and continence to the poor. MT was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction. And she was a friend to the worst of the rich, taking misappropriated money from the atrocious Duvalier family in Haiti (whose rule she praised in return) and from Charles Keating of the Lincoln Savings and Loan.

As to the latter, we are reminded of Aunt Esther’s “I’ll take money from the Devil to do God’s work” after discovering that Nephew Fred Sanford’s contributions to the church were gambling winnings.

But what are we to make of Hitchen’s vitriol against a woman that chose to live and serve with the poorest of the poor of her own free will. There’s more:

One of the curses of India, as of other poor countries, is the quack medicine man, who fleeces the sufferer by promises of miraculous healing. Sunday was a great day for these parasites, who saw their crummy methods endorsed by his holiness and given a more or less free ride in the international press. Forgotten were the elementary rules of logic, that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and that what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. More than that, we witnessed the elevation and consecration of extreme dogmatism, blinkered faith, and the cult of a mediocre human personality.

Clearly Hitchens’ conservative epiphany is incomplete if he thinks there is a “cure” for poverty and that the ONLY cure was made manifest only after man first utilized rubber trees to form Trojans. Surely the British-turned American scholar had read Adam Smith and Milton Friedman, but I digress.

I think the key to Hitchens’ contempt for God, religion and Mother Teresa and so much of the chattering class’s indulgence of him lies in his above-expressed resentment of the “elevation of…the cult of a mediocre human personality.”

The Apostle Paul warned us:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;… – 2 Timothy 4:3

The Hitch made our ears itch and we loved to scratch them, especially when the scratching was a shared contempt for liberals and their blindness to mass murder.

But aren’t we all partially blind, and can’t said blindness be, ironically, traced to the opening of our eyes:

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. – Genesis 3:5

Ah yes, to be as knowing gods! Feels right doesn’t it. Feels so good to scratch the itch we share, that we ignore the contempt for God and his servants.

Yes, Eve bit the apple. God knew she would do so before he created a world in which he could grow sons and daughters that could choose to live with him forever. God knew that he would have to become flesh (See Christmas), dwell among us and give his only begotten son to make this miracle come true from those that believeth on him.

God knew we would fall and that the only way to pick us up would require that he do what to us would be the equivalent of us becoming a dog to save the souls of dogs.

I’m not a Roman Catholic and so don’t pretend to speak for them on beatification or purgatory. I am a Christian, though, and so share what matters most with my fellow Christians, including the flawed Mother Teresa, and can safely say that someone who on their life’s journey finally sees the light and departs from the political left over the persecution of the Kurds, had no business regressing to hate on Mother Teresa.

In his Divine Comedy, Dante describes his Purgatorio, as life’s journey in surrendering our life to God and letting him help us overcome deadly sins like pride, greed and envy. In this regard, Christians and atheists share the journey of life and the overcoming of, or succumbing to, such sins.

Christopher Hitchens was a life in progress. I don’t pretend to read hearts and souls; and while the utterances of his lips bespeak unbelief, he also reminds of God’s admonition in Revelation 3:16 to the ambivalent that, “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”

Clearly then, Christopher was too cold to be spued out from God’s mouth and so I pray that Dante’s vision extends to the after-life, for Hitchens’ sake. Meanwhile, I am reminded to “Go ye” and bear witness to Scripture that admonishes us to rely not on any such purgatorial wishes, and to make more Christmases merrier by turning people hot for Christ before they leave this earth.

Mike DeVine

Atlanta Law & Politics columnist –  Examiner.com

Editor – Hillbilly Politics

Co-Founder and Editor – Political Daily

“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson

More DeVine Gamecock rooster crowings at Modern ConservativeUnified Patriots,  and Conservative Outlooks. All Charlotte Observer and Atlanta Journal-Constitution op-eds archived at Townhall.com.

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Mike gamecock DeVine
A trial lawyer for two decades in South Carolina; owner of Ati Vista LLC since 2002 now associated with Lupa Law Firm; VP & Counsel for Buddy Allen Roofing & Construction Inc. since 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia; and a freelance writer, DeVine was the conservative voice of the Charlotte Observer from 2006-8 and has been the owner of HillbillyPolitics.com since 2009.

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December 24, 2011 2:31 pm

Every once in a while, I read something that grabs me by the shoulders and gives me a good shake. This is one of those, Mike.

Lady Penguin
December 24, 2011 6:46 pm

You have an extraordinary way of seeing bad, analyzing and still making something good come out of it, GC. Very insightful.

December 26, 2011 1:28 pm

I think William Buckley hated Stalin more than any man who ever lived. But as a devout Catholic he also said it was in God’s power to forgive any deed. Back in the early 80’s I wrote him and asked, What if, when you crossed over, the first man to reach his hand out to you was a big smiling Joe Stalin? He wrote back, “well I admit I never thought of that. I will now.” Hitchens had a loving brother who was no doubt with him when he passed, and had worked on him for year to recant his… Read more »