Christopher Hitchens, best known for many years as a journalist and author, achieved notoriety for his book God is not Great: How Religion Poisions Everything. It is essentially an extended tirade against faith in general (and Christianity in particular). He contends that religion is the main source of hatred in the world. Technically Hitchens refers to himself as a secular humanist rather than an atheist, though in practice the terms are mostly synonymous.
Hitchens has engaged in many debates with Christian scholars, including Douglas Wilson, William Lane Craig (our post about this debate can be read here), and even his brother Peter Hitchens (who is a committed Christian).
Recently Christopher Hitchens announced that he has oesophageal cancer. Many Christians responded by encouraging one another to pray for him, both for his recovery as well as a change in his mind and heart. Today CNN released an interview with Hitchens where he was asked what he thought about people praying for him. He says that, regarding people’s prayers, “if it makes you feel better, then you have my blessing [to pray]” but he himself refuses to engage in prayer; a dismissal as irrelevant rather than a condemnation.
The interview also reveals details of Hitchens’ life that I was unaware of, such as the fact that his father died of the same cancer he now battles, and about his mother’s suicide. It was a poignant reminder that, despite the vitriol a person may espouse and our negative reaction to the hurtful and untruthful things that they say, it is still coming from a real person made in God’s image (as defaced as that has become) whose seemingly intellectual arguments are not divorced from his life experiences.
Can you commit to pray for him? Even if he has no belief in the power of prayer, if we truly believe that prayer is actually effective, why would we not pray for those who seem furthest from knowing God? How do you think we can best pray for Mr Hitchens, and others that you know who have a similar mindset?