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Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Priest who Loved the Atheist...

Christopher Hitchens
I wouldn't think a priest could be a fan of a notorious and controversial atheist, but that appears to be the case with Word on Fire's Fr. Robert Barron and well-known atheist author, columnist, and speaker Christopher Hitchens, of God is Not Great fame.

Hitchens died earlier this month at age 62, after a battle with esophageal cancer (see here and here).

As a matter of fact, when I posted that Hitchens had died on my Facebook page, a good friend and fellow blogger commented that he hoped that Mother Teresa would get a one-day furlough from heaven to go down to kick his defamatory butt (to use a milder term).

That's the kind of response that Hitchens' death probably invoked from many theists who knew him, except maybe Fr. Barron and the hundreds of friends and thousands of fans, including Christians, who tried to persuade him and prayed for him to convert during his illness.

Hitchens was a contradiction.  He supported President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq, often criticized Michael Moore and Bill Clinton and his brother Peter Hitchens, is an atheist turned Roman Catholic and a renown Conservative political and social writer in England.

Yet, he was a "reformed" socialist, who supported globalization, the legalization of drugs and relentlessly attacked religion, with a special disdain for the Catholic Church, the Pope and Mother Teresa. 

In fact, he was part the "New Atheist" movement and was involved in a group of atheist intellectuals, that called themselves The Four Horsemen after the Apocalyptic characters in the Gospel of John, whose mission it was to try to eradicate God from contemporary society and culture.

Nevertheless, if we reflect on it deeply, we realize Fr. Barron is right. 

As Christians, who worship the God of love, we must love, even when it's a devout atheist (although easier said then done).  We believe in redemption and will never know if before taking his last breath, Hitchens asked God for mercy and forgiveness, or maybe, as Fr. Barron suggests, Hitchens was a religious man all along...   

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