December 19, 2011

If there is a heaven...

... Christopher Hitchens gets in.

ADDED: You may remember the religion I proposed.


Mark O said...

As I recall, Thomas didn't believe until he actually saw Jesus. Thomas get in. Hitch gets in.

Christopher in MA said...

Does everybody get into heaven?

The concept of final impenitence is a hard one for Christians to wrap their heads around, as is the concept of eternal damnation. Why would you choose everlasting torment? Why would an all-merciful Creator sentence you to it?

Some ponderings on hell posit it as not so much a place of torment as a place of emptiness. God has offered you forgiveness, but your heart has hardened (like Pharoah) and you reject Him. So you spend eternity with an aching loneliness far greater than any sorrow you experienced when mortal.

There's also the view that there is no hell, as an all-good God would never sentence one of His creatures to damnation. It's a view seized on by quite a number of modern Christians and has it attractiveness. It does mean, however, that - for a Catholic - you have to ignore various saints and mystics' visions of Hell as being delusions. But that's an entirely different kettle of fish.

Still I should like to think that God glories in the use Hitchens made of his intelligence and welcomes him to the bliss that passeth all understanding.

ironrailsironweights said...

This has been a pretty good year for deaths: Qaddafi, Osama, Kim Jr. We've still got almost two weeks of 2011 remaining, maybe if we're really lucky we can have more good-for-humanity deaths. Fidel Castro and Robert Mugabe are pretty old and not in the best of health. Bashir Assad, Ahmadinejad and (to a lesser extent) Ali Khamenei are young enough that we'd have to hope for violent deaths.

traditionalguy said...

Why would Hitch even want to spend eternity with persons that he hates?

It seems that a place called Outer Darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth is for those who merely turn down their invitation.

But in Matthew 25: 31-46 the appointed Judge Himself added that there is a lake of fire prepared for the Devil and his angels that is also the likely place for those who have turned aside and refused to aid, when in need, "the least of these brothers of mine."

And He was clearly speaking of his Hebrew brothers from the tribe of Judah...the Jews.

So how was Hitch's attitude towards the Jews?

Dave said...

If God doesn't want to be believed why would you expect He would want our company at all? Heaven is His turf. I'd speculate that the detached God you describe would close the doors of heaven, perhaps with celestial version of "get off my lawn!" as would be his right

singleton said...

According to Revelation 20:11-15 he will be judged by Jesus (John 5:22-23) at the Great White Throne Judgment after the Millennium, and Jesus will be looking at the "Books of Man's Works" as long as his name has not been blotted out of the "Book of Life". His name clearly is not in the Lamb’s book of life referred to in Revelation 21:27, but everyone's name was written in the Book of Life referred to in Psalm 69:27-28. And if Jesus finds redeming works in the Books of Man's works he can allow him in, and it would not violate John 14:6

Lyssa said...

There's also the view that there is no hell, as an all-good God would never sentence one of His creatures to damnation. It's a view seized on by quite a number of modern Christians and has it attractiveness.

I went through a stage in young adulthood where I believed that one very strongly. After all, loving and merciful God, etc. Then, I thought a little bit more about the ways of the world (particularly in Old Testament times), and thought check your assumptions.

Now, I just plain don't know what I think.

Anne B. said...

In C.S. Lewis's "The Great Divorce," his character George Macdonald says at one point (and I'm quoting from memory):

"There are only two kinds of people in the end. Those who say to God, "Your will be done," and those to whom God says, "YOUR will be done."

It's not hard to imagine an angry, prideful Hitch turning his back on God and going his own way - wherever it leads.

LarsPorsena said...

Hitch gets his seat in heaven right next to Mother Theresa....

edutcher said...

The Catholic Church (reflected in the Divine Comedy, IIRC) holds a place in Limbo for virtuous pagans. I guess Hitch qualifies.

William said...

C.S. Lewis said that the Christian idea of heaven is an acquired taste. Amen to that. My own idea of heaven centers around seventy pornstars, BBQ, luxury hotel suites, and an occasional round of golf without a single blown shot. In short, something like the life of Tiger Woods. I'm thus faced with the conundrum that the venality of my wishes for heaven condemns me to hell.

Henry said...

But there isn't a heaven. Hitchens goes to seed.

William said...

One of the early Church fathers claimed that one of the greatest joys that the blessed in heaven enjoyed was looking down upon the torments of the damned. I regard it as not a remarkable coincidence that in Dante's vision the lowest circles in hell were occupied by those who type of sin was most disruptive of Dante's happiness on earth. The highest circles were for those who had engaged in illicit loves. Lust, especially when directed at us, is not a sin we condemn overmuch.

Joe Schmoe said...

Do we value Hitchens for his goodness or simply for his literary contributions? If it's the latter, which seem to be the wellspring of this goodwill, then do we equally value the contributions of our other favorite raconteurs regardless of expressions of faith (or lack thereof)?

Frankly I'm a little tired of the ongoing speculation about Hitch's celestial ascension or descension. Yay, Hitch hated organized religion, so now let's torture his memory by imagining him, either way, completely enveloped in the religious milieu he deplored!

I doubt the same was imagined when Hunter Thompson removed himself from the gene pool.

Pastafarian said...

Whatever makes you feel better, you go ahead and believe that.

I'd point out that Hitchens has said in the past that he wouldn't worship a god capable of as much evil as he'd seen; capable of, for example, allowing (or causing) small children to die in hideous ways. He's stated that even if the existence of such a god were proven to him, he'd spit in the sadistic son-of-a-bitch's eye; that an afterlife of bliss for those children didn't make their torture and death right.

And I don't think he'd be swayed by the idea that an omnipotent, omniscient being isn't responsible for evil -- any more than I'm not responsible if my toddler gets his hands on my loaded revolver.

I'd point this out; but that would be a bit of a buzz-kill. Carry on, believe what you will. It's the ultimate moot point anyway.

Paddy O said...

German theologian Jurgen Moltmann had this to say: “The Spirit reveals that Christ is the Lord. Jesus is the Christ. This is the center. Who doesn’t want that, is not yet involved.”

He didn't end it with that, but pushes further in a way that I think very much defines his whole approach to theology.

“But this is not the real question” he continues. “The real question is what Christ wants. Christ wants a person to come to him, to those people who don’t want him. We shouldn’t take an atheist more serious than Christ who died for them.”

We tend to take people’s opinions more seriously than God, and it is this perspective, what people think, that defines so much of our approaches to theology and church.

Moltmann adds, “I’m not sure if we serve the same God as the Muslims or the Buddhists or other religions, but I’m very sure the same God believes in every person whether they are Muslim or Buddhist.”

Maybe God wants to believe in people more than he demands that people believe in him. God, in Christian theology, isn't passive and aloof. God is active and seeking.

That God really wants people not to believe in him is too Derridean for my tastes, but I suspect that most traditional approaches place too much emphasis on the decisiveness of a specific response, given in an oft culturally conditioned way.

I really do like the idea of emphasizing God's gift and at least entertaining the perspective of prioritizing God's belief in a person more than a person's belief in God. That can be election or universalism of a sort, I suppose.

Ultimately, though, I think God seeks our response, but he seeks our honest response and our honest relating. The "Israelite in whom there is no guile" is a preferred character to the deceptive, and self-seeking, religionist. So, I can see an honest Hitchens being convinced by that which is wholly convincing.

Saul, that persecutor of Christians, after all was only convinced after being knocked down and blinded, and he's considered one of the good guys now.

Kim Jong Il, on the other hand, goes to why I still believe in Hell.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...


You don't recall Dante quite correctly. The virtuous pagans get, not Limbo, but the First Circle of Hell. Which always struck me as a bit unfair, as Dante's Limbo is populated by people who never much believed in anything or did anything, whereas one level down you have the likes of Saladin. In a perfectly nice castle, but forever cut off from the sight of God.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

edutcher, I always wondered, as well, what Cleopatra was doing flying around with the lustful in the Second Circle, rather than doing duty as a tree in the Seventh Circle with the other suicides.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

If Hitch went to Heaven, would not that, for him, be Hell?

WV= sitclize ... apparently the same word form as the bathing nun who has "hoap in her sole"

Tertium Quid said...

It is Gnostic heresy for me to pretend I know the eternal state of someone's soul. That is the Almighty's business.

G.K. Chesterton noted that Christianity is the only religion in which God allowed himself to be an atheist: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

We are not in control of when and where we are born or how we will die. Give mercy. Receive mercy.

SunnyJ said...

I trust the process...not worried a lick about way or another. The all knowing and seeing Father sees all of Hitchens, and you and me. There's no hiding from we think we get by with in our human experience.

Nope, Hitchens got what he we all will...and only God knows what that turned out to be. Personally, I hope he came right face to face with the Good Lord and he looked and sounded a bit like Wm F that would be something Hitchens could appreciate. But, if he BS'd around too much, that's on him, and he sure as hell won't be alone.

TTBurnett said...
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