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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sympathy For the Devil's Advocate

This is about the latest I’ve posted a blog and with my keyboard slowly deteriorating, the spacebar especially troublesome now, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless. It will be a bit shorter I hope with the lateness as a factor. I wasn’t aware Christopher Hitchens had been diagnosed with throat cancer about 2+ weeks ago, but now that he has, certain Christians, Catholics in particular I’ve noticed, have made an effort to actually practice the virtue of love and compassion for one’s enemies and the like by praying for Hitchens’ recovery. There is a certain irony to this in that there are Catholics that find him especially troubling, William Donohue, president of the Catholic League. Maybe even he’s praying for him, but his attitude is hardly like the writer of the first of the two articles on Christians praying for the Brit turned American’s cancer treatment he started. There are atheists that find it offensive that Christians would pray for someone who doesn’t believe in God and in Hitchens’ case, finds the God thesis reprehensible and downright evil. I could sympathize if I didn’t have a more apatheistic perspective. God’s existence to me is very low on my religious and metaphysical priorities. My ethical behavior as well is not so strongly affected by whether God exists or doesn’t exist, but whether people are suffering and my own responsibility to aid them in whatever way I can.

There is, as usual, the opposite of the group of Christians who want to pray and be willing to forgive Hitchens, that being the group that thinks that God punishes people in such purely natural or accidental fashions, striking them with diseases or plagues or natural disasters, for whatever sins they may have committed. Not unlike the late Jerry Falwell who thought 9/11 was a punishment from God for, among other things, feminism and abortion. The Catholic community apparently seems more likely to take that teaching of Jesus seriously, though it may be similarly so for a variety of Protestant denominations as well. In any case, the point which Christians seem the most divided on with Mr. Hitchens is regarding him as a “child of God”. Now I’m not certain as to the amount of detail a Christian wants to get into with the use of the term, since some argue that unless you are saved by Jesus then you aren’t a “Child of God”. But I’d prefer the Catholic’s use of the term, even if it’s a bit of a lazy attempt to say what is a bit more of a mouthful, a creation of God and loved by it by association.

In that sense, I could sympathize and agree with that aspect of Christian teaching, regarding all humans as equally deserving of love and compassion, regardless of how they treat the one who gives it to them. Hitchens is more known for his drinking and smoking habits, and I’m not sure of how he’d behave in relation to the Christians and Muslims he has been debating as of recently. With Christians at least (not sure about Muslims), it seems more likely a friendly drink between fellow humans could be had afterwards with no hard feelings, like the relationship that allegedly existed between George Bernard Shaw, agnostic, and G.K. Chesterton, Christian, after their debates. The primary point of agreement that could be found between everyone involved here would probably be a simple principle of fairness and conscientious disagreement where there is little negotiation to be found. All in all, a live and let live position, without the solidarity and isolation that can alienate and disrupt the exchange and debating of worldviews that enhances our considerations of how we approach the world we experience and live in every day. Until next time, Namaste and Aloha.

1 comment:

  1. While their intentions may be good, I still don't think their prayers are going to do much good to Mr. Hitchens' health. I hope to a full recovery for my favorite loud-mouthed, drunken atheist, but the best I can do is trust that he is taking advantage of the best treatments that medical science has to offer.

    If he dies, however, I will erect a memorial statue of him. It will consist of just his hand, with a giant middle finger rising out of the ground, pointing in the direction of the Vatican (not unlike the way Muslims pray towards Mecca).