Friday, December 30, 2011

I discovered this morning that writer and atheist Chris Hitchens had died two weeks ago. I had intended to blog about him in November after reading some articles about him in the newspaper. Hitchens had said some outrageous things about Mormons and Mormonism that were responded to in the Deseret News [actually Mormon Times -- click on the image of Christ to the right to access Mormon Times] by a journalism and communications professor at BYU-Idaho, Lane Williams. I was familiar with Hitchens’ name because of having previously read David Berlinski’s book, The Devil’s Delusion, in which Berlinski took to task four prominent atheists (of which Hitchens was one), for their illogical thinking, and pointed out how laughable they and their “scientific pretensions” really were.

My afore-mentioned unwritten November blog would have actually been less about Hitchens than it would have been about my total surprise at my own feelings after reading Lane Williams’ thoughts. In his article, Williams mentioned that Hitchens was dying of cancer. He also quoted several of Hitchens’ statements that are complete falsehoods about Mormonism, as well as Hitchens’ outrageous condemnation of Mormon beliefs and practices as “weird” and “sinister.” Two things became immensely clear as I read what Hitchens had to say: first, Hitchens didn’t really know what he was talking about because he had obviously not studied any respected or unbiased sources of Mormon history, culture or beliefs; instead he had based his diatribes entirely on anti-Mormon screed and slanderous stereotypes; and, second – and most importantly – Hitchens was clearly not motivated by being an impassioned courageous speaker of truth (as he liked to be viewed), but by something else – his own irrational fears, anger, and hatred. Williams, however, kindly attributes Hitchens’ embarrassing failure at responsible journalism to mere laziness.

When I was done reading about Hitchens, how did I feel? I was surprised that I felt sorry for him instead of indignant that he had viciously maligned my beliefs. I not only pitied him because of the cancer that was ravaging his body, I grieved because of the spiritual cancer and spiritual death that he had either knowingly or unknowingly embraced in his mind and heart. I now understood what the Sons of Mosiah felt toward the Lamanites: “they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.” (Mosiah 28:3)

The reason that I never got around to writing that blog in November was because several ideas for blogs occurred simultaneously. I had hoped that I would eventually get around to each of the several topics, but life intervened. This morning, I decided that maybe I should just briefly summarize the main ideas of each topic as a single year-end blog. A summarized statement about the Chris Hitchens topic might have been something to do with feeling love for one’s "enemies" or perhaps it would have been something to do with Hitchens being the embodiment of a “modern Korihor.” That was before I knew he had died. When I knew he had died, I guess I felt, “what a waste.”  It is a pity that Hitchens, one so talented in turning a phrase and adept at stirring the emotions of his readers, wasted his gift and his life tearing down faith and vilifying believers, when he could have been a power for truth and righteousness for the Lord.