Late Thursday night is when I learned of Christopher Hitchens' passing. I was heading to bed, and (as is my habit) I visited Facebook one last time via my iPod, and that's when I discovered Hitch was gone. Sleep had to wait. I had to write something. Anything. I wouldn't be able to sleep until I did. Even after I wrote it, I didn't sleep all that well.
The next day my Facebook was filled with tributes to Hitch: quotes, images, links to articles and blog entries, heartfelt expressions of gratitude for a man who meant so much to so many. We all knew this was coming, but that doesn't lessen our sadness or diminish our loss. A great voice is gone. And, in spite of the abundance of Hitchens-related posts that have hit the Internet already, I feel compelled to add yet another to the long list. Superfluous? Hardly. For someone of Christopher Hitchens' caliber, "too much" simply isn't too much. And, speaking on a personal level, what I wrote Thursday night isn't enough. There's more to my story as well.
I started blogging in October, 2009. That particular month of that particular year is a significant time for me for many reasons; among them, October, 2009 is when I wholly resumed the intellectual journey I had started years before, which led me from Christian apologist to atheist.
I knew who Christopher Hitchens was prior to October 2009, but I never read much of his works. I knew him only as "one of those famous atheists." As I continued down the path of truth-seeking, I learned more about the man. I began to understand his mind and his thoughts, conveyed to us via Mr. Hitchens' masterful wielding of language. Indeed, Hitch embodied the proverb that "the pen is mightier than the sword." Over time, Christopher Hitchens became my greatest inspiration as a writer. Every time I sat down to write, I wanted to emulate his greatness, even though I never felt I could quite reach his altitude, and even if I could, I wouldn't be able to breathe as easily as he could up there.
His passing comes with great sadness, not only because a great man is gone, but because I didn't really know him until after October 2009. I feel robbed of time. Two years isn't long enough. Not for me. Not for someone as awesome (in the original sense of the word) as Christopher Hitchens. Yes, he has left behind so much, but I still want more. I just arrived to the party, and he's already left. I feel sadder still for those who - whether by bad fortune or blind obedience to dogma - have not experienced or understood or appreciated the wit, wisdom and wonder of Christopher Hitchens.
I feel even more sadness for those who are so blinded by religious prejudice that they see the death of Hitchens as an opportunity to peddle their religious wares. I've already expressed what I think about Albert Mohler's recent comment on Twitter. Turns out that "purpose-driven" Rick Warren is just as classy as Mohler. Warren had his own douchebag moment on Twitter when he wrote: "Hitchens has died. I loved & prayed for him & grieve his loss. He knows the Truth now." Yes, Rick, use a man's death as a tool in your propaganda machine. If Warren truly "loved" Hitch, he would be honoring his memory instead of disgracing Hitchens for the sake of "the Truth" with a capital T.
Christopher Hitchens has left the world too young, too soon, and he left us too unprepared. We need more minds like his. We need more people with his courage to shake up the entire world in the hopes of changing the world for the better. I didn't agree with everything he said, but everything he said and wrote carried the weight of his convictions, which can be expressed best in Mr. Hitchens' own words:
[via Mike Treder]