My thoughts on the late, great Christopher Hitchens

(NOTE: I initially posted this on my Facebook page - you know, I've got to keep the outspoken, "out of the closet" atheist thing going ;) I decided I wanted to share it here as well, with people whom I respect and admire, friends and acquaintances whom I know are of like mind.)

I want to take a moment to honor an amazing man whom I greatly admired. Today, Christopher Hitchens died at the age of 62. He died from pneumonia, a complication of the oesophageal cancer he had. He died at Texas Hospital.

There is truly no short, neat sentence - or even paragraph... hell, maybe not even a book - that describes such a brilliant, complicated man. He was formally educated at Oxford, and began his career in journalism. Always outspoken and absolutely not afraid to speak his mind, Hitchens could convey his thoughts in the most eloquent, brilliant language you can imagine. If you've ever seen Hitchens speak, especially when participating in a group discussion or debate, you understand exactly what I mean.

Later in his career and life he became more broadly known and famous as an outspoken advocate for atheism; one could even argue that he was more INfamous to those who are of the religious persuasion.

As I thought more about this relatively recent, broader audience I realized that there are really three men who are widely recognized as the leaders of the "new atheism" movement. And as I thought about these three men I began regarding them as the Heathen Trinity. With my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, I define the Heathen Trinity as:

  • Richard Dawkins (the "Father") - Biologist and author of The God Delusion
  • Sam Harris (the "Son") - Neuroscientist and author of The End of Faith
  • Christopher Hitchens, who can now be regarded as the "Heathenly Spirit" (OK, bad joke, but I think he would have approved ;)  ) - author of God is Not Great

** Incidentally, all three of these authors have written followup works, but these are the books that thrust each of them into a broader, national/international spotlight.

There are a number of outstanding remembrances and obituaries out there, most of which are much more eloquent in summarizing this complicated, amazing man who had many facets to his career and life. In fact, one could even argue that many of those facets are paradoxical. I leave it up to you, gentle reader, to search out not only these remembrances, but also the hours of video available on the "interwebs" where Hitchens was regaling the audience and the world with his eloquent language, his quick turn of phrase, and his biting commentary.

So, in honor of Christopher, I offer a simple toast - and of course this toast is offered with his most favorite drink, which he once described as "the best blended scotch in the history of the world" - Johnny Walker Black Label.

Hitchens, you will be greatly missed; and as I look back at your life, I must say...

Well played, sir. Well played.

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