This is a comment I had posted some time ago concerning the probability that Christopher Hitchens is now in hell. I thought I’d re-publish it because in my eyes it makes a rather valid blog post in itself.
…we don’t know, and therefore we can’t be certain. It would be a sin of presumption for us to do so. Still, a Catholic is not allowed to pray for souls of whom he thinks they are very probably – very probably – in hell, because the Church doesn’t pray for the souls who are in hell.
The issue here is, I think, an issue of attitude: it can’t be that one behaves in that way and after he dies an army of people run to the keyboard to tell us that he was passionate, therefore he might have been saved. Well he was a great bastard and blasphemer enemy of God until the end of his public life, and therefore he very probably wasn’t.
Best wishes to him and to his guardian angel, but don’t bet your pint.
Hitchens must be mentioned as a cautionary tale, not as a way of showing that however wicked you are you can still make it. This would lead further souls to perdition, and he has already lost enough, and many more will his books lead to hell.
I wonder how many people write blog posts saying “Pray for the repose of Adolf Hitler”. To be coherent, they should. We can’t judge, the all-merciful God, and all that.
If they do, they are at least coherent.
I don’t, because I think so probable that Hitler (and Hitchens) are in Hell, that it would seem to me out-of-place to pray for them after the first two or three “eternal rest”.
If you want to know, my conduct when such bastards (oh sorry, let me rephrase it: bastards; he is dead after all) die is as follows:
a) Three “eternal rest” for the deceased, even if I think it very likely that he is in Hell. This both because the mercy of God and the efforts of his guardian angel might have fished him out of hell at the very last moment (improbable, unless we want to reducve ourselves to kindergarten level; but still possible), and because I think of how much his poor guardian angel must have prayed for him. I try to do my best on that, reflect that we all need God’s mercy, and all that. If you look my post when Obama died, I go more in detail there.
b) let the thing be a cautionary tale for me: that Hell is real, people really go there, and they don’t need to be a Pol Pot to do it; albeit, frankly, I can’t see a big difference between the two either, other than the fact Pol Pot had possibilities Hitchens never had.
It is my conviction that goodism and soppy theology lead people to hell as effectively as open blasphemous attacks. Hitchens specialised in the second, it is astonishing how many seem to want to specialise in the first. They must feel good, no doubt.
Think of the Church of 100 years ago, and tell me how many priests would have used this death to remind people of the concrete possibility of hell, and of the very concrete – though not certain, God pleasing – possibility of him having landed there, and how many to reassure his fans about his salvation chances.
Death + Mortal sin + no repentance = Hell.
The Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il has died and, of course, his death has been saluted with regret and sadness from Catholics all over the world. Countless Catholic bloggers/ tweeters/ whatever-ers have expressed their opinion that the Korean dictator might be “surprised” and might “see the light of God”. It is easy to understand why they would say so: on the one hand there can be no doubt that the man was absolutely persuaded about the Communist ideology, and we all know by now that God likes conviction a lot and will therefore probably want the chap near Him for his celestial Afternoon Teas. On the other hand, it is clear to everyone that if there is someone for whom invincible ignorance could apply, this is a chap born and bred in North Korea and most certainly sheltered since his tenderest age from every Christian influence in the same uncompromising way as a Western child is sheltered from child rapists.
As to the opposition – which has come from some oh so uncharitable corners, who can’t even spell the word niceness – that the chap be directly responsible fro the brutal repression of his people, and indirectly responsible for the starving unintentionally, but certainly caused by his own mad ideology we – the charitable Christians, who are oh so good – can certainly reply that the chap was passionate even in that, and his government action can certainly not be counted against him, surely?! If we start to count inhuman cruelty against people who wanted to improve the lot of humanity, where will it end? We might have to criticise Che Guevara! He was also able to execute people by the dozen in perfect cold blood, and look at all the t-shirts!!
The uncharitable, ruthless Catholics may obviously say – and some of them will say, gloating in their desire for revenge – that there is something like natural law, and a chap like the unfaithful departed trampled it under his boots day in, and day out. Tsk, tsk, we reply to them, they have it all wrong! Being a blasphemer and an outspoken enemy of God goes against natural law on a much bigger scale than merely trying to make a better world! If we are therefore sooo charitable and nice with Christopher Hitchens, why shouldn’t we extend the same niceness to Kim Jong-Il? Therefore, Twitter is ablaze, and the blogosphere is awash….
No. Wait a minute. It just… just.. isn’t! Not in the least!
And why is it that whilst hordes of Catholics ran to their keyboards to express the most unbelievable theories about the – very probable – destiny of Christopher Hitchens – Christianity being too hard to them to let it be without the most improbable distinguos – the same behaviour did not apply to Kim Jong-Il, who at least has chances of invincible error infinitely higher than the ones of a chap born in a Christian country and who lived in the most Christian country of them all for more than a quarter of a century?
Where’s the army of people praying for him? Where are those saying that they will continue, yes sir, to pray for him now?
Strangely, the Catholic blogosphere appears to be utterly devoid of that wave of saddened sympathy expressed for the other deceased.
Perhaps is it so, that Christian rules are re-fashioned according to whether we liked the deceased? That our need to feel good is at a premium over the most simple rules of Catholicism, whenever we feel like it?
P.s. I hate commies on a scale you will rarely find. Still, I have said my three eternal rests for him too, and for the same reasons.
Par condicio, as they say in Italy…..
Brilliant video from, I rather think, a Protestant.
Note that his take on the matter is perfectly consistent with Catholic teaching: “by all accounts”, Christopher Hitchens died an unrepentant atheist (worse than that, I add: a serial blasphemer, and hyperactive enemy of Christ); therefore, “if we take the Scriptures seriously” (we Catholics would say:” if we take Christianity seriously”; “if we think the Church hasn’t been giving us a load of cruel lies these two thousand years”) this means that “Christopher Hitchens is in Hell today as we are speaking”.
Still, he says – also very Catholic, this one – that salvation is possible up to the last moment, and it would have been enough for Hitchens to change his mind – and his entire life, and all that he always was and fought for – at the last second and sincerely repent to reach salvation anyway.
The main point, though – and also one that a serious Catholic clergyman would make to you – is about love: God expresses his love towards his creatures by allowing them what they absolutely want, even if it is not His will for him. Not differently, in fact, than a mother who would not keep her wayward son locked in his room his entire life in order to avoid him getting into trouble.
All this is traditional Catholic teaching, and I must have posted about all this in the past (Monsignor Pope has written beautifully about the last point, if memory serves).
Surprisingly, whilst everyone agrees with what Catholicism teaches about Hell in theory, many seem not to want to get the implications when the theory is put into practice. The present company is, of course, always excluded; so are our relatives and friends, because they have “their heart in the right place” (they love animals so much, you know); the departed are now – and how could it be otherwise – looking at us from heaven, or dancing with the angels, or doing some other soppy thing (therefore, we don’t need to pray for them; which in turn allows us not to think of our own sinfulness and saves time on top; all very convenient, nicht wahr?). As to people we know only by hearsay, it will largely depend whether we liked them: if we did, then God surely will do our bidding and we are not supposed to “judge”, but ready to judge that God’s rules are not applicable in this case, surely… The rules will, then, only apply to those very few people who are unknown to us, or absolutely disliked by us, or generally considered evil incarnate without any detriment to one’s own feel-good needs. Hitler comes to mind. No one seems to pray for the chap, whom God loved too.
Alas, the reality is different and alas, reality is nothing to do with our own wishful thinking, and all to do with the Word of God.
Before I leave you to the video (around eight minutes, but not boring at all), I ‘d like to linger on one comment left on the site:
Eight minutes of complete bullshit. Eight minutes of nonsensical mental gymnastics and logic that doesn’t sound at all peaceful or loving. Fuck religion.
This short, inordinate rant exemplifies what is wrong with so much of the modern (alas, even from people who tell themselves Christians ) mentality: in order to have credibility, the argument must “sound” either “peaceful” or “loving”. The idea that there be hard truths somewhere in Christianity requiring to be told straight (in which lies, by the way, the real charity, and peace of mind) does not enter the mind of the anonymous, and rather coarse commenter. The “f” word is the result of him not being able to make things up according to his own wishes, and calling this “Christianity”. Frock religion, then, if I can’t feel better about myself.
This explains very well what is going on with Hitchens’ matter these days: removal of hard truth instead of rational and orthodox thinking of what behaviour was put in place, what the consequences of this behaviour would be without final repentance, and how probable it is such repentance (which, remember, must be perfect contrition) took place in reality rather than in the kindergarten-fantasies of the Hitchens fan club.
A well-spread Italian saying teaches finche’ c’e’ vita c’e’ speranza (“as long as there’s life, there’s hope”). The flip side of this is once life has gone, hope gives place to knowledge, and then it’s either one side or the other, forever. This is exactly where Hitchens is now, and if your grasp of reality is that he saved himself I do not want you to be my financial adviser, or my driver, ever, but you should apply for the Pollyanna Prize 2011 at once.
As I have written elsewhere, we weren’t there and therefore can’t know. We can have a modicum of hope, because we know that the Holy Ghost tried to the last second. But we can’t really draw any specific, realistically grounded comfort from that, because we know that in the end it was the chap’s choice, and we know what the chaps’ choice was because he shouted it so loud for an entire lifetime, even when terminally ill, even when at an advanced stage of his illness.
Good luck to him and to his own poor, long- suffering Guardian Angel, of course; but reason, logic and all probability all say Hitchens is in Hell, at the start of a torment that will never end, and not looking very smart at all.
No, seriously: let us stop the soppy dreaming and let look at this like sensible adults. Some people go to hell. Actually, many do. This was a prime candidate, unrepentant to the last – public – moment, and so violently stupid every talk of him “seeing the light of God” should prompt only one answer:
give me a break.
I do not like quoting from the CCC (a text that can be defined fallible in his worst parts, and sprinkled with populism and VII-ism in all his parts; google “Abbé de Nantes” for instructions on the matter ) but on this day it seems to me the CCC tells us in a concise and rather easy way what happens to those who die in mortal sin and without repentance.
CCC1033 […] “To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.””
If you do not accept God’s love you remain separated from him forever. It is your choice. You have time for as long as you breathe. After that, time’s up.
CCC 1034 : “Jesus often speaks of “Gehenna” of “the unquenchable fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.614 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he “will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,”615 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!” “
Pretty clear, too. Hell is not a place where the wicked drink themselves to death before launching themselves in the next blasphemous rant; nor is it a place where soi-disant intellectuals can discuss all the shortcomings of creation whilst sipping cocktails, and explain what they would have done better or why this proves that there is no God. No, it is rather a place of serious physical and spiritual torment.
CCC 1035: “The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, “eternal fire.” ” […].
Yep, more of the same. Hell exists, and after death there is no “if” and no “but”. Immediately after death, one knows. Hitchens once said he liked surprises. I wonder if he would like this one.
CCC1037: “God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want “any to perish, but all to come to repentance” “
Willful turning away from God, and persistence until the end are sufficient – and actually, not so easy to achieve – to be punished with eternal damnation. Notice that it doesn’t say “unless of course you are famous and a lot of people like you”, or “unless you have said one or two phrases in your entire life which might lead someone to believe that one day you might, perhaps, repent”.
I could go on, but you get my drift: Hitchens was the very image of those who inflict hell on themselves. He did so insistently, violently, ruthlessly. His every action made clear that this was not one at risk of, so to speak, slipping into hell by giving in to his temptations, by being weak and frail. No, this was one clearly headed for hell head on, and at vicious speed. I shiver at the thought of how many souls he has contributed – and will contribute after death – to send to hell.
The simple fact is, Hitchens’ death didn’t improve any treat of him in any way. Apart from being dry now almost two days, nothing has changed in his moral state. The contrary is the case: death crystallises one’s moral state, and makes it permanent. When the wicked die, they do not become less wicked. Not a bit. They might see the consequences of their wickedness, but they will not repent of it. Unless Hitchens repented – which is, let’s face it, highly improbable – he is the same little son of a bitch now as he ever was, without the vodka.
It is, therefore, extremely surprising that this wicked, evil man be “adopted” by curious “helpers”, thinking that his own personal qualities (he certainly had some, and no one is completely wicked. Hitler loved Blondie, his dog, and was an extremely nice host and conversationalist with those whom he liked) might have helped him in the end even if he did not want to help himself.
Come on, this is not Christianity anymore. This is soppy “candle in the wind” Elton John-ism, kindergarten fables, and acute self-delusion.
Still more surprising is what you read in some corners, that for reasons unknown to us – or, as Protestants love to do, citing some Bible verse out of context and out of Catholic truth; which you can always do; always, without exception – Jesus would save a man who wants to be lost, who absolutely insists in being lost, because being a ruthless blasphemous bastard be in some way better than being a frail, somewhat lukewarm Christian as, alas, the vast majority of Christians are. The idea here is that the vast majority of frail people are less worthy of salvation than an unspeakably blasphemous, wickedly fanatical man, because the wicked man was passionate in his wickedness and a lot of people seem to have found this, in some way, entertaining. I found it disgusting but hey, I’m not the “nice” type.
This mentality, this “he will be saved because Christ loves blasphemous bastards who don’t do anything to save their soul more than weak believers” is pretty much the negation of everything Christianity is and stands for.
On the contrary, Hitchens’ death shows us how Satan tries to snatch souls through him even after his death, letting simple or deluded people believe they can be as wicked as he was, not repent, and get away with it.
As the news went around the world this morning, the eulogies about Christopher Hitchens began to flood the blogosphere. We were treated to a long series of articles telling us how intelligent, brilliant, abrasive the chap was. Particularly, it appears, when his ready – and brilliant – wit was fuelled by alcohol, which seems to have happened on such a scale as to let old Winnie appear a teetotaler.
As I perused the vast amount of more or less boring, banal bla-bla (a bla-bla whose banality Hitchens would, methinks, have been the first to recognise, and largely reduced to hints of “I got drunk with him”, “I spent entire nights quarrelling with him” and “how oh brilliant I must be if Hitchens considered me worthy of his time”) I couldn’t avoid noticing that no one of the authors I read asked the real question: what has become of Christopher Hitchens?
My answer, dear reader, is the one you imagine: bar a last-minute repentance for which there isn’t really any reasonable hope, and whose possibility we only consider because of the “ways of the Lord”, Christopher Hitchens has now discovered that God is actually infinitely Great, and he is actually infinitely screwed.
If we lived in a Country with half-decent bishops, we would now hear sobering words from our shepherds, warning us of the day of reckoning that will come for all of us as it has come for the freshly deceased; but with the important caveat that whilst the man had months to consider repentance and snatch salvation from the jaws of hell, we might not be given the luxury of such a long notice and might, actually, not be given any notice at all.
I have said many times that if it is true that salvation is infinite, then whatever achievement one may obtain in this life is infinitely small and, if he is not saved, utterly insignificant.
Therefore, today – in the middle of the choir of the champagne-sipping intellectuals dying to letting you know what brilliant minds they are – I allow myself to say that the humble, illiterate peasant in the most isolated, miserable village in Peru, who has lived a life of simple faith and obtained salvation, is infinitely smarter than all those – like, very probably, Christopher Hitchens – who bask in their intelligence and do not get that in the end they are, literally, infinitely stupid.
Whenever you read the next praise of Christopher Hitchens, please remember this: that on the day Hitchens has experienced today many who were thought intelligent will be exposed as stupid, and many who were thought stupid will be revealed as intelligent. On which side Hitchens has very probably landed is, alas, not very difficult to imagine and no amount of feel-good, let-us-be-nice-to-everyone wishful thinking will change the fact that irrespective of how many people go to Hell, if Christianity makes sense at all this was a prime candidate.
Say an eternal rest for him, if you can, nevertheless.
The ways of the Lord, and all that…
One gets a bit tired of reporting of another escursion into the popular land of heterodoxy from a member of the Catholic clergy; still, oportet ut scandala eveniant and it is at least a consolation to see that whilst members of the clergy do everything possible to pander to the secular mentality, courageous laymen have no problems in telling it straight.
The last example are the contradictory declarations of Mgr. Carrasco, Head of the Pontifical Academy for Life about the recent and controversial announcement of the Nobel Prize for Dr. Edwards, the inventor of in vitro fertilisation.
Mgr. Carrasco appears not to be entirely bad and his official declarations, on several occasions, have struck the right tones; still he seems -like many others – unable to resist the temptation of making compromises with his interlocutor when representing an unpopular position and as a consequence ends up talking nonsense. Let us read his words again :
[Dr. Edwards] “ushered in a new and important chapter in the field of human reproduction in which the best results are visible to everyone, beginning with Louise Brown.”
“New and important chapter?” “Best results?” What is this, Christopher Hitchens talking the Church down? And this, from the Head of the Pontifical Academy for Life? It truly sounds like a spoof, but unfortunately it isn’t…
Thankfully, the Vatican has immediately recognised the blunder and has rapidly corrected the imprudent Monsignor, promptly stating that Carrasco’s declaration was in answer to a journalist’s question (read: he was imprudent and wrong, but without malice) and does not represent the opinion of the Pontifical Academy for Life. I do think that he was the victim of the “agree-itis” so typical of these times; of a mentality in which no one wants to say it straight, lest he appears rude and no one dares to deny some kudos to his opponent, lest he is considered a bigot.
No one? Well, apparently not. It would appear that there are people out there who don’t tarnish their criticism of Dr Edwards with …….. a resounding praise of how good his work was.
The International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations does not leave any merit to Dr. Edwards’ work. They merely recognise as factual the joy given to the misguided parents, but clearly criticise the work of Dr. Warner in itself. No trace of “new and important chapters” here….
Harder still is Lucio Romano, the president of the Italian association Science and Life. Romano’s remarks are extremely damning as whilst he recognises that Edwards was a pioneer of the application of livestock methods to human beings, he also clearly says that this is no progress for humanity, at all.
Basically, what he is saying (though not with such words) is that every Nazi doctor can be said to have been trying to achieve some progress, but he was forgetting an elementary sense of humanity in the process. Dr. Josef Mengele was involved in seminal medical work, too.
None of the statements of the laymen organisations can be called unorthodox in the least. The words of the clergyman in charge of the matter had to be hastily corrected.
These are the times we live in.
It is getting more than slightly pathetic to look how Christopher Hitchens, now rapidly approaching the day of the redde rationem, continues not only to ignore the fundamental issue his disease poses to everyone else’s attention, but is even peeved that people pray for his conversion.
Mr. Hitchens writes on the Washington Post:
the offer of prayer can only have two implications: either a wish for my recovery or a wish for a reconsideration of my atheism (or both). In the first instance, a get-well card – accompanied by a good book or a fine bottle – would be just as bracing if not indeed more so. (Also easier to check.) In the second one, a clear suggestion is present: surely now, at last, Hitchens, your fears will begin to vanquish your reason. What a thing to hope for!
This man’s logic is gravely flawed.
In the first instance, the invitation to send get-well cards and bottles of wine instead of prayers is, beside looking very tacky, utterly dismissive of the sincerity of those who pray for his recovery. Love is at work here, and the man doesn’t see it. By the way, this is in contrast with a previous interview of him, in which he had said he was fine with people praying for his recovery; apparently, it must now be wine instead.
In the second instance, Hitchens forgets a great truth, that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. It is obvious that a faith solely based on fear is far away from the ideal of Christianity, but it cannot be denied that if fear can move this man (or any other man) towards the Truth, then fear is a welcome and powerful instrument for the salvation of souls.
All this escapes Hitchens. He is so much in love with his own love for himself that the idea of having to give away a bit of it seems repellent to him. “Better to slowly die in the terrifying conviction that I am right and complete annihilation awaits me than to bow to something greater than my love for myself”, goes his reasoning.
Mind, he still can’t escape the fear; he’ll just do his very best to refuse wisdom.
After this priceless pearl or arrogance, Hitchens proceeds to write a piece of so unbelievably massive tosh that one has to doubt his oh so often celebrated intelligence.
An intelligent man generally knows what he’s talking about and when Mr. Hitchens talks about Christianity he is supposed to know the first foundations of it; alas, this doesn’t seem to be the case.
Let us read what the man has to say:
“The deity whose intercession is being implored is claimed to be omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. It is fully aware of the situation. It can make me a believer if it chooses, or wave away my carcinoma. Why should it be swayed by the entreaties of other sinners?”
The mental confusion here is astonishing, and not due to medicines. It is a basic tenet of mainstream Christianity (and one which Hitchens, who writes about it, is not authorised to ignore) that Hell is a choice God leaves to every individual.
It is a bit too easy to wilfully choose Hell (as Mr. Hitchens continues to do) and then to imply that an omniscient God would make of him a believer if he wanted. Yes he could; but he won’t, and that’s the entire matter.
Mr. Hitchens continue to dodge the fundamental point: it is his choice and his responsibility, and it will be his freely chosen Heaven or Hell. He has written books about God, but he still can’t grasp the basics.
The last part, the “why God would be swayed by prayer” one, is of such ice-cold cynicism that it could only come from a man whose mother has committed suicide. Still, such an affirmation goes to show the absolute nothingness of these “thinkers”, unable to even conceive the infinite power of love and the way Love decides everything, and can change everything.
Mr. Hitchens may have some extenuating circumstances. Still, the tragic occurrences of his life are no excuse for such appalling refusal of love and for such appalling spreading of scandal and perdition.
One may have doubts, and keep them for oneself. One may have hard tests and be unable to pass them. But the spreading of blasphemies on a planetary scale cannot be excused by any personal circumstance. His stance is, in the end, his choice and his responsibility. His brother was born of the same mother and suffered the same drama, but he reacted differently in the end. The one chose the redemption of love, the other the coldness of self-deification.
Mr. Hitchens is receiving the biggest grace of his life. On the wretched platform of his disgraceful existence the last train patiently awaits, the fruit of love utterly unmerited and still freely given.
This train will stay there for a long time, months or perhaps years, patiently wait for him to make the step that would save him. Alas, he seems resolute in refusing to board salvation and in wanting to lose souls with his last breath.