Top Leaderboard, Site wide
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines
June 26, 2017 Disclaimer: Please read.

Statements and opinions expressed in articles are those of the authors, not Truthdig. Truthdig takes no responsibility for such statements or opinions.

Truthdig Bazaar more items

Arts and Culture
Email this item Print this item

Peter Stothard on Christopher Hitchens

Posted on May 27, 2010
book cover

Editor’s note:

When Robert Scheer asked me three years ago to be Books Editor for Truthdig, I was granted sole authority to choose the books and pick the reviewers. Not once has either Scheer or the editors or the staff of Truthdig sought to influence my decisions. That continues to be the case and is emphatically so with regard to today’s review for which I bear sole responsibility. In the world of book reviewing, relationships between reviewers and authors should be disclosed. That would, of course, include any relationship between the assigning editor and the author under review. In the case of today’s book review, readers should know that I have been Christopher Hitchens’ literary representative for the past five years—years which have seen the publication of his “God Is Not Great” and now his memoir, “Hitch-22.” I believed Truthdig readers would be interested in a review by someone of stature and so assigned it, despite the appearance of a conflict of interest that might ordinarily have warranted my recusing myself. Peter Stothard, the former editor of The Times of London and the current editor of the distinguished Times Literary Supplement, is such a reviewer. He is familiar with the English milieu out of which Hitchens emerged, able to expertly parse the literary and political worlds Hitchens has made his own on both sides of the Atlantic over the past 40-odd years. That Stothard was at Oxford at the same time as Hitchens and would later come to know him concerned me less than the intimate advantage he would bring to bear on assessing the book’s literary merit. Whatever his take, pro or con, I was prepared to publish it. These are facts readers will wish to consider and which we wish to declare forthrightly.

—Steve Wasserman

By Peter Stothard

Since there is so little surviving poetry by Christopher Hitchens, consider briefly the following:

I Am the King of China,
I’m a Patron of the Prize-Ring.
And Every Time My Man’s on Top –
I Can Feel My Boxer Rising.

You don’t like it? Well, you may not be the only dissenter. Why am I asking you to read it? Surely, you say, I wouldn’t begin a piece about Susan Sontag or Edward Said with a bawdy invention from their sophomore years. Why does a review of “Hitch-22,” an opportunity for an essay on one of the most vigorously examined political writers in America, require an opening verse quotation about homosexual voyeurism in the Orient? Well, the answer lies here in a wonderful life story, glitteringly told by its author and subject. Stay with me.

First, there is the date of this particular Boxer Rising (circa 1969); and then the place (Oxford, England), and last, the occasion of this fine quatrain, the opportunity taken to contribute to a series of such “King of China” poems, each one written to strictly imposed rules set by a fellow International Socialist, one of the main Trotskyist groups at the time. A good many of what we now know as Frequently Asked Questions About Christopher Hitchens may be answered by a reflection on these themes of metrical respect and perpetual adaptation, principled fixity and mercurial art. 


book cover


Hitch-22: A Memoir


By Christopher Hitchens


Twelve, 448 pages


Buy the book

You still don’t get it? OK. True connoisseurs of politics and literature in our times—the readers who most of all will delight in this book—may like now to compare the Hitchens contribution to the poetic model set by James Fenton, that great poet then and now, to which ’60s followers of the “King of China” invitation had to adhere.

I Am the King of China
And My Court Is Crammed With Sages.
But When I Want a Bit of Bum,
I Ring Around the Yellow Pages.

Better, perhaps you’re saying. But, before we get on to the rest of the Hitchens life and its fearless search for the correct side in any argument whatever the consequences,  what exactly were those rules? Rules for the poetry, I mean. There were, we are told, only three. The first line, “I Am the King of China,” could not be changed. The second line had to be mildly obscene. And after that almost any sort of seriocomic point could be made. (If anyone still has the Sycamore Press edition from the time, the TLS editor’s library would much like to acquire it.)

These poems, filling less than a page of “Hitch-22,” are a vivid reminder of my own student days (normally an attractive thing once the golden days of one’s youth have had time to separate themselves from the dross). They are a useful reminder too that in the late ’60s and early ’70s there was both a greater seriousness and a greater comedy than you will find in Oxford or any other British city of students and workers today. A vast variety of Trotskyist thought was alive and well practiced alongside styles of life that, except for the introduction of sexually liberated women alongside the men, had changed only patchily since “Brideshead Revisited.” As well as all the fun that was to be had composing “King of China” variations on Magdalen Bridge, there was very much “a war on,” many wars, most notably in faraway but frequently rather close-seeming Vietnam. Washington versus Hanoi is one of a range of potent conflicts in “Hitch-22.” It even features obliquely—but only obliquely since business and pleasure must not be mixed too much—in the third and finest of the stanzas.

I Am the King of China
And I Like a Tight Vagina.
It Lets Me Show the Things I Know -
Like the Prose Style of George Steiner.

Why professor Steiner? In comparison with the placard-waving, picket-line protests of the local industrial estates that engaged much Trotskyist energy at the time, a proper Oxford response to American policy in Southeast Asia was of more significant concern to the famed polymath with an equally famous lack of fear for the heavily laden sentence. In Hitchens’ account here, the great man had challenged over dinner Fenton’s insouciant claim that “there were no great unifying causes left any more, no grand subject of the sort that had sent Auden to Spain or China.” Steiner had snapped back that Vietnam was worth a hard look. Fenton admired Steiner and had a copy of his book of essays “Language and Silence,” including the one titled “Trotsky and the Tragic Imagination.” From that Hitchens “realized that my new chum had suggested to me a possible relationship, which was that of politics to literature but this time beginning at the literary end and not at the ideological one.” It was a relationship that has lasted a lifetime, bringing a powerful purpose to literary criticism on George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh and a rare literary vigor to his political attacks, whatever their target.

To see long excerpts from “Hitch-22,” click here.

“Hitch-22” is the story of its author’s youthful opposition to the Vietnam War, his later more direct involvement in other wars, his perpetual even more direct confrontations, against former comrades as well as more permanent foes in the ideological debates of the past 40 years. But it is also comic, self-deflating and sexually frank, epigrammatic well beyond the pages in which the “King of China” poems occur. Those who want to know the details of a lusty Italian lad’s most likely experience in the shared embrace of Gore Vidal and Tom Driberg will find their every desire met. In the George W. Bush years Hitchens’ support of the administration’s policy toward Iraq spawned a minor industry of questioning as to how so dedicated a man of the left should become so potent a spokesman for the neoconservative cause. For those who find these worthy works somewhat hard-going, for those whose early study of Trotsky was either nugatory or unleavened by Steiner, this book is an easier, gentler way.


New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

Join the conversation

Load Comments
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, June 2, 2010 at 1:35 am Link to this comment

Manni, having heard this before on the old Hitching Post, not sure if the timing is correct, but Hitchings shifted his politicked posture from progressive to what he is now, so I guesstmated a theory. 

I suspected it had something to do with his becoming a citizen of the US and a possible deal with the administration then for a huss??

Hitchens became a citizen about the time his book came out “God Is Not Great” I concocted my theory for conveyance sake,  only to answer the question. Really why do people write what they write. For Money, to get lucky or piss off others?

An other idea may be conservatism is much more lucrative then Progressivism? One only need Look at Beck, Limpjaw and Palin. These are assumptions on my part and one could construe Hitchens as a Mercenary of sorts.

Report this

By Maani, June 1, 2010 at 10:18 pm Link to this comment


“What gives the idea that Hitchens was always militaristic, especially when it comes to the Middle East?  Where is the evidence for that?”

Actually, the evidence does not support that.  And that is the problem.

I was a big Hitchens fan when he was writing progressive (or at least semi-progressive) articles for The Nation back in the 80s and 90s.  However, when he “betrayed” the progressives by supporting the war (among other things) - for reasons which even many Hitchens supporters here admit they found difficult, if not impossible, to agree with - I, like many others, abandoned him to his new-found conservatism.

BTW, I too have read God Is Not Great.  And although I obviously disagree with much of it, I found it interesting and well-written, with many supportable points.


Report this
prole's avatar

By prole, June 1, 2010 at 5:37 pm Link to this comment

Hitch is a bitch,
Stinking of gin;
and Iraq’s godless sin:
Hitch-22? Hitch-4Q!

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, June 1, 2010 at 2:54 pm Link to this comment

What gives the idea that Hitchens was always militaristic, especially
when it comes to the Middle East?  Where is the evidence for that? 
I wonder how many on this particular thread has actually read his
book God is Not Great?  I see nemesis2010 has, but who else?
I’ve read it and am reading it again because of all the arrogant
condescending and scornful comments that abound on this forum.
Which is almost   Seems like the entire herd of lemmings stopped by
this forum for a moment on their way to oblivion.  Must consult the
Great Unyun about all of this.

With no intention to give a chapter by chapter synopsis (I’m sure some
of you said , whew!  Hell maybe a lot of you, too bad), this astute book
about the nature of irrational belief and lethality of religion through
history, particular 20th century pries open the can of virulent
religiously-baked thought.  He does not take Christianity itself to task
for it, or even Islam or Judaism, but he does hold religion and
religionists accountable for the dangerous force religion has been and
the distortions it has promulgated on its existential behalf throughout
history.  His arguments are clear, historically referenced, substantial
and broad-based.  And he provides copious reference notes.  Only
other historians would be able to judge the actual veritability but one
can if interested research every word he says about the actions and
activities of religions in every culture in every age. 

Instead of slinging slurs and hostile epithets that is the usual reward
for excellence on these forums, if there is any argument for his account
of religion, then it ought to be made. Otherwise the term ignoramus is
appropriate and sheep and goat mentality rules.

In the first chapter, “Putting It Mildly,” he asks “How much effort [does]
it take to affirm the incredible!?”  That is probably the seminal question
every human being ought to ask.  Giving such examples as the Aztecan
practice of ripping open a human’s chest cavity every single day to
make sure the sun would come up!  That’s a lot of human chests!  Or
the amazing number of times a day some monotheists must prostrate
themselves to their deity in order that their deity might possibly
that they are prostrate for I don’t’ believe the adherents are
allowed to ask for anything, since the deity, who is omniscient and
omnipotent, and omnipresent, allegedly, might be hard of hearing?  Or
about the vanity a deity must contain that it must be supplicated so
much, so often.  The question that comes to mind has to do with the
Biblical tale that says God created man in his own image!  Looking
around at the specimens of men in the world today, at least American
men, who are so impotent that daily advertisements for sexual
enhancement drugs are so frequent that it makes one wonder if the
entire world of American men isn’t sexually incapable!  It must be the
water!  I counted 6 times in a half an hour on Saturday past and 35
times in the few hours I was watching the news!  Oh yeah, the news will
make anyone impotent!  Even women.  Well if that’s the case, what
does that say about that god who made men in his own image?
That is a fair question.  And if the god is impotent, then if men are to
emulate the god, then shouldn’t they remain impotent?

He states it most correctly and succinctly, “we secular humanists and
atheists and agnostics to not wish to deprive humanity of its wonders
or consolations. Not in the least.” Religion is one of its consolatory

Report this

By nemesis2010, June 1, 2010 at 1:32 pm Link to this comment

As an owner of two of Hitchens’ books—“The Portable Atheists” and “God is not Great”—and a fan of his ripping a new one to the theists every time he debates one, I can only wonder why in the world anyone would want to purchase his autobiography.

As much as I admire his debating and writing skills that is where it ends. I cannot understand why most adhere to the illusion that just because someone is capable in one area of expertise that he must be capable in all other areas of expertise. It simply isn’t the case.

Hitchens has his reasons—not at all unsound—about why he backed the Iraq invasion. I personally disagree with his conclusions with regards to that matter. What I don’t do—like so many here—is throw out the baby with the bathwater. Just because Hitchens is wrong—IMO—with his stand on Iraq policy doesn’t mean he’s wrong on everything else. That’s absurd!

One should always glean that which one thinks is good and consider what one thinks plausible or reasonable and throw out that which one considers absolutely wrong. You can always change your minds later. I was once an evangelical and believed all that insanity to a degree that most here—upon realizing the degree to which I believed—would be left absolutely speechless. But I became sane and as a result have a non-delusional world view because of it—and I’m much happier!

As for the Bible, it’s all pretty much gleaned from other secular and pagan sources, forged, reedited, redacted, made up, and invented, unadulterated and syncretistic bullshit. Anyone who can—in face of all the evidence—deny that, has a serious problem in dealing with reality.

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, June 1, 2010 at 6:57 am Link to this comment

Omygodagain, thanks, your comment is more like what I have been trying to get across,  possibly not coherently well.

Obscurantist review a good discretionary accounting of the article,  I also found the King of China un-amusing and, juvenile, I thought the authors point was to make it so and gathered the author really did not have great love for Hitchens?

If indeed Hitchens was a Trotskyist who morphed into a militaristic neo-con I am unaware, actually I do not know or care of Hitchens autobiography.  I had supposed Hitchens was always militaristic, especially when it comes to the Middle East?

Again, I enjoy reading Hitchens and I find his writing refreshing even in full disagreement, Hitchens is much more palatable to accept in disagreement than many posters here on Truth Dig who I find in partial agreement. Of course this may only be for me,  I find when disagreement is presented with a degree of enlightenment, then it provides some food for thought.

Not sure, but seems some people find any disagreement a hard slap in the face or as contentious cause for a food fight or war instead of a great opportunity to form supportive arguments against or even new opinion for ideas?

Report this

By omygodnotagain, June 1, 2010 at 5:51 am Link to this comment

I was hoping that the discussion would be on Hitchens and this obscurant review of him.The reviewer presumes we relate to the left wing Oxford sensibility of the early 70s, the King of China routine is plain dull and unfunny.  It would help if the writing were more direct and coherent. The thing of interest to me is why Hitchens like many other Trotskyist became militaristic neo-cons. Explain the totalitarian “I’m right your wrong” know-it-all attitude that goes with that. One of the many things that made the odor of Marxism unbearable
Its a pity not to have had a reviewer up to the task

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, May 31, 2010 at 7:25 pm Link to this comment

Diamond, you have me at a disadvantage for it must be my burden to prove the existence of something I commented on as my opinion, but not quite my belief, in this case the existence of my opinion of Hitchens ability to be ‘Coherent’? and he portrays ‘Comments of substance’?

So far I have not seen or even heard that Hitchens has preformed any miracles nor, far as I know has he walked on water or turned silly putty into stone.

Simple fact is I agree with a large part of Hitchens opinions and I disagree with a smaller part, for some reason this does not make him a half wit, though from some peoples perspective I suppose this would make him a quarter wit?

The difference may be when I find disagreements with someone, this does not automatically make them a halfwit, a moron or a putz, unless I find a need to say so, for instance some posters who post fictions as facts and opinions as truths with gusto of an energizer bunny!

Evidently Hitchens pushes some peoples buttons, as Hedges may occasionally push mine, though I have never called Hedges a half wit, well now that I think about it, at least I hope not!

Simple fact is I enjoy Hitchens writing and commentary and find it entertaining, as to coherent and substance, seems this may be up to the beholder. I could go dig up some of Hitchens work which I find supporting my comments,  but then I am still busy attempting to prove the existence of the Great Unyun!

Report this

By Maani, May 31, 2010 at 7:17 pm Link to this comment


“First, I’m a 75 year old Agnostic Atheist Activist, Airborne Vet, a former top 100 Corporation member of management, a deep sea diving, beach volleyball playing Son of A Beach who is not only much more experienced & knowledgable than nearly all my age, much less anyone younger, I’m also smarter than over 97% of the world.  Plus tests prove I use my IQ nearly double as effectively as most, read at nearly double the speed of college grads and my tested listening skills are four times better than most peoples.  Thus, Child I have much more than just a clue about what I speak.  (The odds of me being proven logically, or factually wrong on any subject I choose to comment on is about ZERO!).”

You are also refreshingly humble…LOL.


Report this

By Maani, May 31, 2010 at 6:44 pm Link to this comment


I stand (well, actually, sit) corrected.  LOL.


Report this

By diamond, May 31, 2010 at 3:05 pm Link to this comment

‘Coherent’? ‘Comments of substance’? When? Where? Point me in the direction of this miracle, Leefeller. This halfwit has never made a comment of substance in his life. He’s like Thomas Friedman: he can write but he chooses to write shit. His choice. But don’t expect me to praise him for playing with the truth as if it was silly putty and then wrapping his lies, distortions, prejudices and idiocy up in good writing as if that justifies all of the aforementioned. It doesn’t. There were brilliant writers who justified Hitler’s activities but they were wrong and so is Hitchens. Basically I wish he would just 1. either do some research, develop a moral outlook and get his facts straight or 2. shut the fuck up.

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, May 31, 2010 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment

Manni I was not referring to anyone in particular, but for some reason a picture of wanted poster comes to me mind first and foremost, showing the mug shot of a clown, who should have the words written below stating:

WANTED for compounded stupidity of the highest order and carnal acts against logic.

Mannie, I disagree with Hedges on many things including the war, though I do not use this as a means to attack his person, (I may have done so on Hedges, but his deservedness to be chastised, drawn and quartered feels good); just because one disagrees with something does not mean they are right and this goes for agreement also possibly being wrong!

Report this

By Maani, May 31, 2010 at 9:37 am Link to this comment


“From the number of apparent small minded moronic people posting here who seem to have a hard time finding their ass from a hole in the ground, and then if one compares this to someone like Hitchens who can smoke a whole pack of ciggys while polishing off a bottle of Scotch all the while being coherent and provideing comments with substance, says much about the state of our nation and the state of moronic brain cells!”

The cigarette-smoking, hard-drinking “coherent” and “substantive” Hitchens supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and had dangerously proto-totalitarian viewpoints.

This apparently “moronic” believer (me) vehemently opposed both wars and has been arrested engaging in civil disobedience actions against those wars and the evisceration of civil liberties.

‘Nuff said.


Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, May 31, 2010 at 8:48 am Link to this comment

I used to think it sad that morons were allowed to vote with out any requirements or providing any degree of conscious thought, well outside their mono scoped lives.  Now I realize voting has nothing to do with it, for it has been proven morons can even run for Congress!

From the number of apparent small minded moronic people posting here who seem to have a hard time finding their ass from a hole in the ground, and then if one compares this to someone like Hitchens who can smoke a whole pack of ciggys while polishing off a bottle of Scotch all the while being coherent and provideing comments with substance, says much about the state of our nation and the state of moronic brain cells!

If anyone should want to run for Congress, the fist thing they should do is stick their head in a Taxi door and and slam it shut a few times, then they could fit in and run the nation as it is being run. 

Seems we have some potential Congress material right here in Truth Dig City!

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, May 31, 2010 at 8:11 am Link to this comment

How about all those free bibles that are found in hotels and sleazy
motels (which don’t seem to do anybody any good)? And how about
all the ones given to residents by the door-to-door JWPs? Are JWs
really rich?  WOW It never occurred to me but makes sense.  So that
is where all the money is going?  Free bibles?  Do I make a leap of
logic here?

Oh yeah.

JWP=Jehovah Witness Program.  Just in case you didn’t know.

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, May 31, 2010 at 8:05 am Link to this comment

Leefeller, are you also saying P-ewe?

I think my plan to bring out the gas mask is a good one to wear when
reading this forum. Maybe an oxygen tank too.  Maybe some air
freshener too! 

Thanks Leefeller. 
Guess no one is breaking our arms to visit here. Yuk yuk Yuk.
Havana nice day.

Report this

By Maani, May 31, 2010 at 8:04 am Link to this comment


“All bibles are published by the rich…”

You have now repeated this comment ad nauseam.  Please provide some solid support for it, since you have used it to defend yourself against any and all claims by other believers with respect to Scripture.


Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, May 31, 2010 at 7:42 am Link to this comment

As a goat header in my own right, I have little use for a goat headers manual written 3000 years ago. Now I do not belittle goat headers in general, only those who seem to feel they can promote their manual offering nothing of substance!

Absolutely nothing to my life, of course unlike many here, I cannot speak for others.

Maybe thats it…... speaking for others, I wonder is that what is going on?

You, YOu,...... Uew! Now I see the problem it is not a goat manual after all, instead it is a 3000 year old sheep headers manual, what the flock!

You see that Billy! Difference between a sheep header and a goat header is UEW!

If someone dost not like Hitchens or what he has written, post what he said not to your liking please! Oh yeah,.... that would be as impossible as explaing the existence of something which is not possible to exist!

Report this

By Neil C. Reinhardt, May 31, 2010 at 4:01 am Link to this comment



Report this

By Neil C. Reinhardt, May 31, 2010 at 2:26 am Link to this comment

It seems all Programmed Religious Robots really are so totally clueless as to think their posting Bible verses will somehow:

A. Prove their book of myths true.

B. Prove their little make believe and NON existent
god is real.

C. Make their one of 25,000 Named Gods (all of which are make-believe) more valid than the other 24,999
phoney gods are.

D. Cause the NON-programmed to actually start believing in things as stupid as any


Report this

By Novelista, May 31, 2010 at 1:43 am Link to this comment

Notate Bene

1. This review of (Bitchin’) Hitchens’ book is the definition of an inside job. Is it
impossible or merely improbable that a site like Truthdig will find a younger or
even youngish person to locate Hitchen’s relevance to those of us who have not
yet arrived at the Sunset Cocktail hour? Hitchens does not need someone to
cheer him on while he makes a victory lap, cigarette in hand.

2. Ok, I note the usual scabrous invective and god damning to hell, kill them all
postings. Standard stuff, anywhere on the web. However, I must ask the
religious and anti-religious minded, if they really think their endless speeches
are all that fascinating and so worthy of taking up All the Known Space in the
Universe?  Whether one believes or not is at this point irrelevant - Yes, you
read it here first. It is what one does about it that matters.

3. If you have never lied to get a friend 1) out of jail, 2) out of the clutches of
the police 3) away from a parent or 4) out of a bad relationship, then I suggest
that you should stop talking to your pet raccoon and get a life. Yes, read
Augustine on lying first, and then as quickly as you can, turn off your computer
and get a life. 

Be well all, with or without faith.

Report this

By Maani, May 30, 2010 at 8:59 pm Link to this comment


“Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.” (Isa 5:14)

“Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.” (Isa 14:9)

“Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”  (Isa 14:15)

“And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.” (Isa 28:18)

“And thou wentest to the king with ointment, and didst increase thy perfumes, and didst send thy messengers far off, and didst debase thyself even unto hell.” (Isa 57:9)

“I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to hell with them that descend into the pit: and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be comforted in the nether parts of the earth. They also went down into hell with him unto them that be slain with the sword.” (Ezek. 31:16-17)

“And they shall not lie with the mighty that are fallen of the uncircumcised, which are gone down to hell with their weapons of war: and they have laid their swords under their heads, but their iniquities shall be upon their bones, though they were the terror of the mighty in the land of the living.” (Ezek. 32:27)

“But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” (Matt 5:22)

“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” (Matt 5:29)

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt 10:28)

“And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell.” (Matt 11:23)

“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt 16:18)

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” (Matt 23:15)

“Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matt 23:33)

“Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell.” (Luke 12:5)

“And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” (Luke 16:23)

“He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.” (Acts 2:31)

“And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” (James 3:6)

“For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment” (2 Pet 2:4)

“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” (Rev 1:18)

And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” (Rev 20:13-14)

Report this

By Maani, May 30, 2010 at 8:43 pm Link to this comment


“Below is the only text in Scripture that refers to hell, which is actually non-existence. “And the devil who locked the world in darkness, he will
be thrown into the lake of flaming and burning sulfur, as will also the beast and the false prophet.  And the torrent air in the hot smoke of their cremated ashes shall go up day and night, unto the time eternal, the eternity of existence.”
Revelation 20:10 Greek manuscript”

Not quite.

“For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.” (Deut. 32:22)

“The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me.” (2 Sam 22:6)

“It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know?” (Job 11:8)

“Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering.” (Job 26:6)

“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” (Psalm 9:17)

“For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” (Psalm 16:10)

“Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.” (Psalm 55:15)

“For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.” (Psalm 86:13)

“The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell got hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.” (Psalm 116:3)

“If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.” (Psalm 139:8)

“Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.” (Proverbs 5:5)

“Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.” (Proverbs 7:27)

“But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.” (Proverbs 9:18)

“The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.” (Proverbs 15:24)

“Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” (Proverbs 23:14)

Report this

By Neil C. Reinhardt, May 30, 2010 at 8:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

First, I’m a 75 year old Agnostic Atheist Activist, Airborne Vet, a former top 100 Corporation member of management, a deep sea diving, beach volleyball playing Son of A Beach who is not only much more experienced & knowledgable than nearly all my age, much less anyone younger, I’m also smarter than over 97% of the world.

Plus tests prove I use my IQ nearly double as effectively as most, read at nearly double the speed of college grads and my tested listening skills are four times better than most peoples. 

Thus, Child I have much more than just a clue about what I speak.  (The odds of me being proven logically, or factually wrong on any subject I choose to comment on is about ZERO!)   

Diamond?  If youre referring to your mind being nothing other than a very hard rock, I can see your point. 

Look Child, anyone who compares the torture Saddam Hussein employed with any “torture” at Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantanamo Bay is displaying ignorance of the highest order.

You are so illogical you must think lighting a match is of the exact same magnitude as the oil rig fire in the gulf which melted the steel oil rig platform.

Of course Diamond, you do prove that it Ignorance actually is Bliss, you and all liberals must live in a constant state of ecstasy as you sure as hell do not live in the REAL World!

Report this

By Neil C. Reinhardt, May 30, 2010 at 7:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Anyone who is so uninformed, illogical & irrational enough to call “Atheism” a “religion” proves their poorly functioning minds are so totally befuddled by their religious programming, it would be a total waste of time to present any logical, rational & factual information to them as they are incapable of absorbing it.   

(Who says? I do and I will bet the millions and millions and millions of Former Christians like me who have rejected the Christian myth & who are now Atheists would.) 

While these poor Programmed Religious Robots may be able to use logical and rational thought on any subject other
than their own religion (and/or anything connected directly there to) they lose their ability to do when discussing their own religion. 

Hitchens, Child is correct on both religion and the Iraq War!

Report this

By firefly, May 30, 2010 at 6:45 pm Link to this comment

John Ellis,

Chris Hedges and Christopher Hitchens’ debate on
religion is fascinating and I wish I could get hold
of the whole thing. Do you know if this is possible?

I actually thought Chris Hedges made some excellent
point: it was interesting to hear someone support the
spiritual aspects of “religion”, and not the biblical
ones. Like Hedges, I do believe that religion or this
thing we call God, is an intangible sense within each
of us. I think the concepts of heaven and hell are
simply deep sensations we feel as a result of how we
conduct ourselves and live our lives. I don’t believe
they are places you go after you die. For example,
it’s known that murderers can go through a form of
tortuous despair that they only describe as hell.
Doing wicked things can bring about a feeling of
total terror which is analogous to hell. Conversely,
the utter joy of living, being in love, being loved,
and being content are forms of heaven.

Hedges describes this really well.
Hitchens is his usual self.

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, May 30, 2010 at 3:13 pm Link to this comment

Why in hell did I all of a sudden think of Monte Chesterfield? Something about blow hards?

Now I remember, it is coming to me, I may elaborate later, when I have more time, I have to check on Billy the Goat.  You know it seems real strange, Billy the Goat shows a degree of intelligence which exceeds some
of the blow-hard posters her on Td.

Report this

By Joan, May 30, 2010 at 1:45 pm Link to this comment

Maani and Shenonymous,

Regarding the purported violation of Hebrew law with repect to Christ healing on the sabbath, see Mark 2:27.

Appealing to the moral actions of King David, one of Yahweh’s favored, who fed sacred bread meant only for the priest to the hungry, Christ explains his actions by pronouncing, “The sabbath was made for man and not man for the sabbath.”

Seems to me like Christ has the right idea about what’s important, people not rules. In other words,  the law is made for man, not man for the law.

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, May 30, 2010 at 8:33 am Link to this comment

When I sees someone acting like real blowhards, I is always reminded of Monte Chesterfield (May have been a nick name) he seemed to like his name because he loved to tell people it.  Monte was always found if happened to be looking for him,  sitting under a large shady oak tree in front of him and his wives road side store on a large cushioned dusty (when it was not raining) couch shoved up in the shade.  Monte always had a paper bag hiding his bottle of choice and he was like a greeter dog, especially when people pulled up in front of the store he didn’t know or did not remember ever seeing before.

Anytime as a car pulled up and stopped Monte would saunter or stagger depending on time of day, up to the people and reach them just about the time they were near the steps going into the store and there he would always introduce himself like at one of these fancy Hotels in the big city   “Hi! My names is Monte Chesterfield”  and it never failed every time Monte would greet someone,  his wife a little old women who had a slight Swedish or Dutch accent, would be standing in the door would say very loudly for all to hear; “Yeah ~ Mr. Big Shot”!

Report this

By humina, May 30, 2010 at 6:23 am Link to this comment

I was going to post something, but then noticed a more important phenomenon. John Ellis, starting at 4pm on the 28th and continuing through all of the 29th, got into arguments/discussions with everyone that posted.  I noticed that he took a break on the 29th from 6am to 1pm, hopefully to eat something.  John, I think it’s time to let this one go.  Take a walk.  Talk to someone not through the computer.  Get some sun.  I’m not saying you are right or wrong here, I’m just saying that your attachment to this comment section is excessive, and possibly unhealthy.

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, May 29, 2010 at 9:06 pm Link to this comment

As for religion I have tried a few religions in my time, one I liked was the Jedi may the Force be with you Jedi. Everything was going okay until I pulled my back practicing with a light saber, anyway I got tired of getting my arse kicked by little kids, though I liked saying “May the Force be with you”.

You know in disagreement, I find Hitchens more
palatable then many posters here on TD in agreement. Arguing with people who I agree with dost get old, just because my comments were not acceptable to some moronic standard of perception of an other or it could have been a matter of degrees?

Over all I enjoy reading Hitchens, for me it does not matter if in agreement or disagreement. Hitches always seems knowledgeable and well stipulated and his work seems researched, so he dose not make me crazy like some loons.

Report this

By Joe, May 29, 2010 at 7:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There’s been a lot of talk about whether Hitchens is on the left or right.  He is clearly on the right.  And it has nothing to do with what policy he advocates, its about how someone defines conflict

Someone on the left, will usually define conflicts through the lens of rich vs poor.

Someone on the right will usually define conflict through the lens of civilized vs uncivilized.

In Hitchen’s case he somewhat inverts the classic right wing ideology;  Whereas historically the religious have represented the “civilized”, Hitchens instead views western style secularism as civilized and religion uncivilized.

Report this

By firefly, May 29, 2010 at 5:38 pm Link to this comment

You say ”…….Wolfowitz, Pearl and others do have a
coherent and intellectually honest reason for going
to war against Iraq. They were terrified of another
Munich.  They believed that the US and Britain, in
particular, should never have allowed Hitler to gain
power and should have invaded Germany much sooner. 
Had the allies done so, it might have prevented the
Holocaust.  I think Hitchens adopts a similar view. 
I don’t agree with it, but it’s a rational basis for
a decision………………………”
The point isn’t whether or not Wolfowitz had a
coherent and intellectually honest reason for going
to war. No one in the Bush administration ever gave
an honest or coherent reason. They supported the war
based on the threat of WMD’s and Al Qaeda. There was
no threat; that was totally fabricated. In fact, it’s
now more and more evident that any country that has
WMDs, is actually LESS likely to be attacked by the
US. The justification for war had to be a perceived
threat; otherwise it would have been illegal under
international law. So the fear of another Munich
didn’t carry much sway.

To suggest that the allies should have prevented
Hitler’s rise to power is typical of modern day US
intervention (interference), a concept that didn’t
exist before WWII in the US. The US didn’t believe in
telling other nations who they were allowed to elect
(they do now of course) and Hitler was democratically

In fact, at that time, the majority of people in the
US, supported Hitler for his overwhelming aversion to
communism which seemed a greater threat than fascism
at the time, as there was little knowledge of what
Hitler would ultimately become.

Report this

By ralph, May 29, 2010 at 2:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Many of the comments are nothing more than invective, with an unbecoming tone and self-indulgent rhetoric, sprinkled with abusive epithets. No arguments but harangues.

Report this
Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, May 29, 2010 at 2:16 pm Link to this comment


Would you mind producing some proof of that dubious assessment? Or is it that for you only atheists can act that way? I suspect the latter. As for being thrown out of churches well if you don’t fit whatever splinter group or make a scene, that is to be expected. Regardless of how religious they may be. Your rigidity blinds you to other possibilities.

And your attacks on the Catholic church are well founded as many do including Catholics who see it as a huge, rich, unaccountable business organization run by fallible and weak humans. Many in need of therapy and incarceration.

You can always set up your own splinter group church if you like to “get it right” as all the others do. Its the American Way!

Report this
Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, May 29, 2010 at 2:07 pm Link to this comment

You do know you are expected to follow them but will inevitably fail as expected. Hence the whole reason for redemption and a “second birth.”

How do you expect to find perfection if you are imperfect and have an imperfect brain? It is a solipcism or false idea to consider such. If you come across perfection in your mind it would be no different than all the others you would come up with at random. (How would you even know?) One would suspect others would not like such a creature. Especially if real perfection (hypothetically) doesn’t meet with your expectations and criteria.

The best we can do is our best and be the best to the optimum. But “perfection” isn’t one of them.

I being a secularist would easily accept all those commandments not specifically religious but would discard those of a direct religious nature. However I would not honor my father because he left my family after fathering 3 children then couldn’t handle it. So I am condemned there. Fine. Just so long as your holy writ stays out of secular law we will be fine.

As for being born? Of course I deserved it. If one doesn’t then why should one continue to live? I am against slavery of all kinds and many (not all) religions at their core are slave based. It is just who is the ultimate master that differentiates them.

Report this
Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, May 29, 2010 at 1:41 pm Link to this comment

We as individuals can control “deadly force” so that is too vague. There are different levels of authoritarianism leading to totalitarianism. There are plenty of countries as much or more corrupt like Zimbabwe. The difference? The USA is the most powerful and deadly country on the planet and many of those in charge think they are doing right. At least for themselves and their investors, not you and me. They want a Holy American (Corporate) Empire to prepare the earth for their Lord’s return. (Their particular take on the mythos.) Who knows how many of them think they are on a holy mission that god allows them to be free from the normal constraints of sin and law in order to “take care” of those they deem enemies of their state & church.

Report this
Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, May 29, 2010 at 1:33 pm Link to this comment

Maybe you should look into buying in bulk or finding another source? Or maybe consuming less or quitting. See if there is something else to drink that you haven’t tried yet that costs less and you may like as much or better. There are other means to fix your dilemma. If you want them. If you are being serious that is. Otherwise “never mind.”

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, May 29, 2010 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment

My problem is the price of Tequila is going up faster than gas!

Report this
Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, May 29, 2010 at 12:49 pm Link to this comment

My goodness, but your “authoritarian structure” is so absolute it does not allow moral principles to even be discussed.  Even worse then cart before the horse, for you propose a cart without a horse.

I must say John Ellis you are devilishly good at twisting meanings when it suits you. Just because authoritarian structures of gov’t tend to happen it doesn’t mean I advocate them which is what you implied just now. I don’t for the record. Nor did I even specify to what degree it was authoritarian, you made that leap all on your own. You would definitely deserve the “Silver Forked Tongue Award” should they ever be given out, for must under handed mis-statements in a sentence.

You asked for remedies, I gave you a few. Instead of commenting on them you impugn me. Why not start by telling which is the “cart” in your view? Just so you won’t get to play with any ambiguity you may find.

We must balance what we each want with those of our neighbor and those of our society at large. Separation of church an state along with money and corporations from our state would move us a long way toward a better gov’t for us. Would you agree? And how about some concrete ideas from you on the subject
John Ellis? I am for dialog and colloquy. Sniping is for the birds. Interested?

Also including Hitchen‘s in it would keep it on track. Truth in gov’t is a good idea too. But we need to use the idea of euthenics or good environment to help to promote what we want and to keep down those things we don’t want. Like greed, malice, turpitude, cronyism, various other abuses etc.

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, May 29, 2010 at 12:17 pm Link to this comment

Now!... If one is labeled a liar according to the village idiot, and the alleged liar just happens to be in fact right in most every thing said or written,..... would the village idiot ever know?

To be in agreement is right, to be in disagreement is a lie!


Report this
Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, May 29, 2010 at 11:45 am Link to this comment

I agree and it must be done through mutual aid and fair business practices with union formation and open books. The power structure as it stands benefits the few over the many with the gov’t riddled with their kind making sure it works, and gives them money to survive. No matter how much the corporation fails as a business or mistreats it workers they get paid 527 times their lowest paid worker.

Also that the lowest wage is a living wage paired to the cost of living index. Right now about $13 an hour would be right to survive the cost of living. That would be a good start. What say you?

I wonder what Hitchens would say on the subject. Oh an being wrong doesn’t make one a liar.

Report this

By Maani, May 29, 2010 at 10:13 am Link to this comment


It may be that you missed my “mea culpa” re the lie issue.  I did say that John is far more absolutist in this regard than am I.  I do admit to saying, and stand by my claim, that there are some principles worth dying for, whether vis-a-vis oneself, or re others.  Still, as a general matter, your comparison to National Socialism is a tad overreactive.

Re lying, dying, sacrificing for principles, etc.  There is only one passage I can think of that has even a modicum of relevance to support your point, though it is obviouly not “direct”:

“There was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked Jesus, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days?, that they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?”

One could argue, by extrapolation, that if it is “lawful” to break the Sabbath in order to save a sheep, it would be “lawful” to lie in order to save a person.  Definitely food for thought.  (As an aside, this is yet another case of Jesus showing how the “spirit” of the law is more important than the “letter” of the law.)

Also, a word about prayer, based on your previous post.  Nothing Jesus says or promises suggests that prayers are answered immediately, or in exactly the way one expects.  Prayer is not about “immediate gratification.”  I may pray for financial help, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to look down and find a $100 bill the next moment.  Prayers are answered on “God’s timetable,” not man’s.  Second, prayers are not always answered in the way we, with our human minds and expectations, might want or expect.  Often our prayers are answered and we don’t even see it.

Nor do I think Jesus was suggesting that we can simply ask for ANYTHING and it will be given.  Heck, I would like a million dollars just as most people might.  But that doesn’t mean God is going to give everyone who wants a million dollars a million dollars.  Although prayers for tangible things can be and are answered, it would seem pretty obvious that prayer is about “spiritual” things, which would include such things as comfort(ing), (personal) peace, spiritual strength and perseverence, and, of course, forgiveness.  To suggest that Jesus was promising to give believers anything and everything they asked for - no matter how ridiculous or selfish the request - simply defies common sense.

Also, let me put something to bed here: I do not believe the Bible to be “inerrant.”  Indeed, the absolute inerrancy of Scripture is a relatively recent claim, one which has always puzzled me.

Finally, I do appreciate the kind comments you offered.  You and I have one of the longest histories on TD of any two members.  The fact that we are still discussing and debating is a testament (pun intended…) to our respective personalities, and our willingness to engage without rancor, no matter how intensely we disagree much of the time.

Peace.  (Truly)

Report this
Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, May 29, 2010 at 10:04 am Link to this comment

John Ellis;

“Hitchens main argument is that, the concept of God or a supreme being, is a totalitarian belief that destroys individual freedom.”

I agree and one can be secular and still want an authoritarian structure of governance. It is a human condition as is the need to believe in a colossal benevolent (most of the time) dictator god(s).

“For a state of war is there between us and those who oppose our darkness or are in anyway harmed by us.”

But doesn’t that also apply to you and your soldiers of Light? In your eternal battle with those you perceive as darkness, like myself? Just replace “darkness” with “lightness” in the above quote. See my meaning?

Again you prove my earlier observation about your absolutism blinding you. You are in that box with very sharp edges that cut off anything that doesn’t fit within its narrow confines. To you it is light vs dark with nothing else in between. Black/white no nuance, no exceptions, not other colors no shades or tints. As stark as a machine language made up of 000’s & 111’s. And just as limited.

To you extenuating circumstances do not exist in any situation, you are a rock that will not ever move. You would crumble before rolling to the side.

Remember you rule ideas but ideologies rule you. It is obvious that your theology is of that status. Rather like Hitchen‘s who is so blinded by his own ideology to see that war can be good even if it is never so. A secular version of the so-called good war. A travesty. As are you John Ellis.

Report this

By Deeplip, May 29, 2010 at 9:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Big Enchilada (Monotheism For Dummies)

God is male. He’s old, he’s white.
His beard is long, his asshole’s tight.
He watches everything you do.
And then he throws The Book at you.

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, May 29, 2010 at 9:06 am Link to this comment

Yeah! Hitchens is a beast, he writes stuff I don’t like so he is a big fat slob boozer who makes me sick to my hypocritical stomach.

Where in hell, did I put that Tequila?

Report this

By John Badalian, May 29, 2010 at 8:40 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

FAUSTUS, Ah Faustus
  Now hast but one bare hour to live,
  And then thou must be damned perpetually!
  (Note: And So On & So Forth…Till——)
  O,  it strikes, it strikes!  Now, body turn to air,
  Or Lucifer will bear thee quick to hell!
  O soul, be chang’d into little water-drops,
  And fall into the ocean, ne’er to be found!!

Report this

By David Ehrenstein, May 29, 2010 at 6:19 am Link to this comment

As these comments have degenerated into yet another meaningless discussion of The Big Invisible Bi-Polar Daddy Who Live in The Sky there’s no point in continuing it.

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, May 29, 2010 at 5:19 am Link to this comment

As a defender of the faith, Maani, I do not blame you for
your wanting to give a pristine cast to the scripture that shows
an unerring vitality particularly to the very one for which the entire
religion was constructed.  I would expect no less from you, who so
far, at least up to this forum, showed what seemed to be deep
reverence for what you see and believe to be the truth of your
Christianity.  However, when you said you would sacrifice your
beloved family members for the price of a lie, that sort of changed
my entire perception of the man I thought you were. If you had no
loved ones, would that extend to a dear friend?  Eleftheria i thanatos!
“freedom or death!” including the freedom to lie when necessary.  It is
inconceivable that the love that is said Jesus represents would force
one to allow the slaughter of one’s own beloved family for a perceived
abstract principle!  It is too remindful of, too similar to the heinous
philosophy of the National Socialists that had family members betray
and renounce their immediate family for the glory of another idea.  I
have to say I found your admittance disgusting.  I’m sorry to say that
for even though you and I have had differences over the years, there
was never a time when I would have said that.  I think if I were a
Christian, and the situation turned up where my beloved family’s lives
were at stake, I would pray and ask Jesus to allow a lie be told.  I can
think of many situations where this prayer would be answered in the
affirmative if Jesus truly were the gentle and benign third part of that
Divine Trinity.  If I believed I would be confident an answer would be
forthwith coming because Jesus said if you asked of him, he would

The more or less catalog of what I perceived to be discrepancies in the
scripture (I did not list all of them) is a matter of interpretation.  And
my interpretation may be entirely wrong, or partly wrong, or maybe
mostly right.  If even only one were right it would attenuate the
veritableness of the written Word.  How shall either way be proved? 
Your interpretation or mine?  Why would yours be more true than
mine?  But even that wouldn’t matter so much.  For I could live with the
idea that translations can and often do transmute what in the original
language has come down to us in the 21st century far removed through
the translators from Hebrew, to Greek, to Latin, to what we have today. 
I mean look at how plastic are the interpretations that they could be
used as a basis to justify killing people.  It is impossible to know what
indeed the goat herders wrote is what actually happened or what was
said.  There is much controversy which translations are more correct,
often they widely and importantly disagree.  Else we would not have
over 38,000 splintered sects in Christianity.  Occasionally a new ancient
text is unearthed that puts an entirely different slant on what was the
real history and the case.  Does that mean the entire Christian
community must then revise its raison d’être?

The fact is we see what we want to see, and I admit that I want to see
Jesus as an ordinary fallible man.  You would see him as your apodictic
Savior. I also admit that in “discussing” this subject with you, I have to
revisit what I had not for a very long time, and tighten up my own trove
of recollections.  I should not get anything past the likes of you!  I have
always respected that quality about you, Maani.  May more
Christians be like you in your toleration.  And unlike the blathering
nonsense that is copiously appearing here.

To even begin to discuss the de facto truth of the New Testament, the
life of Jesus and the Words of Jesus, to even make any sense of it at all,
an account must be made of the book from which it gets its origins,
the book of Judaism.  I’ll linger more at this forum to take that look
that we may move toward a de facto truth.

Report this

By Maani, May 28, 2010 at 8:54 pm Link to this comment


Your errors in Scriptural understanding are so numerous that it would take a dozen posts to correct all of them.  I address the ones that are most egregious, particularly where I can combine multiple errors.

With respect to Matthew 24 - and passages that deal with the Second Coming - you, like so many others, take things out of context in order to support your point.  When Jesus says, “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled,” He is clearly talking about the generation that would SEE THE SIGNS OF WHICH HE SPOKE - which is NOT necessarily the generation to which He was speaking.  If you read the entire passage, this is as clear as can be.  Indeed, this is so basically understood that, having missed it, you show a dangerous propensity for doing exactly what the so-called Christian Right you so despise does: taking Scripture out of context to support a narrow view.

You say, “To Christians, Moses’ writings are the five books of the Pentateuch, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  In these is given the law of Moses which includes…the…Ten Commandments.  Jesus either ignored or actually broke many of them as we have seen.”

No, He did not.  What He did - indeed, what a large part of His ministry and “mission” were - was to show the “legalists” the error of their ways, and to bring an understanding that the “spirit” of the law trumped the “letter” of the law.  [N.B. In essence, He came to teach Jews how to be better Jews, not to start a new religion.  That religion only started because the Jews rejected Him.)  He did this in the “You have heard…But I say unto you…” passages in Matthew 5:21-48 - among the most crucial parts of His teaching.  It is where we are told to “turn the other cheek” and “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

As for prayer, false promises, etc., all of these require faith.  But once again you provide a “newer” re-interpretation of the underlying Scripture about having faith.  Here is the full text (Matthew 17:14-20):

“And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, BECAUSE OF YOUR UNBELIEF: FOR VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU, IF YE HAVE FAITH AS A GRAIN OF MUSTARD SEED, YE SHALL SAY UNTO THIS MOUNTAIN, REMOVE HENCE TO YONDER PLACE, AND IT SHALL REMOVE, AND NOTHING SHALL BE IMPOSSIBLE UNTO YOU.”

Given that the mustard seed is among the smallest seeds in the world, and that having faith that size would allow one to move mountains, etc., Jesus was underscoring that even His own disciples did not have a mustard seed-sized faith; i.e., that they could not cast out the demon (which is ultimately far easier than moving a mountain) because they lacked enough undoubting faith to do so.  And if His own disciples lacked such faith, what does that say about the general populace, even those who followed Him?

Prayers are answered, promises are kept, asking leads to receiving, seeking leads to finding, etc. ONLY - as Jesus clearly states - when one has UNDOUBTING faith - which even the most “faithful” of us has only rarely.  This is a measure of how faithless all of us are, not an indication that Jesus makes promises He doesn’t keep, much less that He lies.


Report this
JimBob's avatar

By JimBob, May 28, 2010 at 8:50 pm Link to this comment

I’m glad we have C. Hitchens in the world, but when I hear that his memoir is “sexually frank,” frankly…I don’t wanna know.

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, May 28, 2010 at 7:49 pm Link to this comment

M’thinks your mind, John Ellis, is really a small matter.  I am a
self-proclaimed atheist.  That does not make it impossible that
I do not know more about the Bible than you do. I’m not saying
that I do, but it is possible that I do.  Raised a Catholic and a
Baptist I’ve had plenty of bible thumping in my lifetime. 

Maani, you will cite where all your quotes come from won’t you,
book and verse. 

If you are going to quote give the all verses involved. 
—John 7:1-10, NIV
  After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from
Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. But when the
Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “You
ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the
miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in
secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.”
For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
  Therefore Jesus told them, “The right time for me has not yet come;
for you any time is right. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me
because I testify that what it does is evil. You go to the Feast. I am not
[yet] going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet
come.” Having said this, he stayed in Galilee.
  However, after his brothers had left for the feast, he went also, not
publicly, but in secret.

This, however, does not prove Jesus did not lie about going to the

In some early manuscripts, the word yet does not appear in John 7:8,
so some translations read, “I am not going up to this feast.” Some claim
that a copyist probably added the word yet to verse 8 possibly to bring
it in tune with verse 10 and prevent the appearance that Jesus lied and
that the original text would not have included the word yet.  But is it
honest to change the Bible for a personal perspective of propriety’s

There is a difficulty, apologists are always giving interpretations.  If the
verses are sufficiently ambiguous then that means the Bible is
ambiguous and not the word of an omniscient omnipotent being.

You act the hypocrite in your self-righteousness and feigned
indignance.  Shall we publish the entire bible on this forum? 

The following quotes confirm that Jesus deliberately lied to his
followers thereby leading them into false expectations.

Matthew 7:7-8 - Jesus tells the crowd “Ask, and it shall be given you;...
for everyone that asketh receiveth;...” This amounts to a false promise
if there ever was one.

Matthew 24:33-34 - After prophesying a wide assortment of events
including the second coming, Jesus said to his disciples, “... when you
shall see all these things, know that it (the 2nd coming) is near, even
at the door. This generation shall not pass till these things be fulfilled.”
Which was obviously him referring to the contemporary generation.

Matthew 26:64 - When brought before Caiaphas, the Chief Priest, Jesus
said, “I tell you, hereafter you shall see the Son of Man… coming on the
clouds of heaven.” According to this the second coming was to happen
during Caiaphas’ lifetime.

Mark 9:1 - Jesus said to the people and his disciples, ”Verily I say unto
you, that there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste
of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.

Luke 21:32 - to the congregation, “This generation shall not pass away,
till all be fulfilled.”

And more lies from Jesus:
Jesus promised his followers in no uncertain terms that he would soon
return in glory and vindication. He vowed to redeem their suffering and
to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.  He promised to heighten
their expectations and he assured his followers that most of them
would live to see all of this come to pass. His failure to do all of this or
even some of them or even one places Christians on the horns of a
serious dilemma by exposing him as a false prophet.

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, May 28, 2010 at 7:36 pm Link to this comment

Jesus’ idle promises work to seriously undermine his credibility.
If the credibility of Jesus is undermined, then so is that of the
church. However, if, on the other hand, it is argued that the
gospels and Paul reported incorrectly, which is what I think,
doesn’t that seriously question the credibility of the New
Testament? Even if one were to argue that God knowingly
inspired the contradictions, errors and broken promises in
the New Testament, as have some, why should anyone believe
any of its teachings if so much of it could be false?  Answer why
one should!

In the famous Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7:15,  Jesus ironically
warns his listeners to, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in
sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

In Deuteronomy 18:21-22, a “false prophet” is defined, “and if thou say
in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not
spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing
follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not
spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously. Thou shalt not
be afraid of him”.

In Matthew 7:19 Jesus predicted “Every tree that bringeth not forth
good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” Here is an analogy in
which Jesus condemns false prophets to hell.  Since he himself qualifies
as a false prophet isn’t he saying that he also should go to hell? 

John 5:47 - Jesus says, “If you do not believe his [Moses’] writings, how
will you believe my words?”  To Christians, Moses’ writings are the five
books of the Pentateuch, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and
Deuteronomy.  In these is given the law of Moses which includes,
among other things, the hallowed Ten Commandments.  Jesus either
ignored or actually broke many of them as we have seen.

John 14:13-14 - Jesus outdoes the false promise he made in the
sermon on the mount (see Matthew 7:7-8 above) when he said, “And
whatever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be
glorified in the Son.  If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.”

John 18:20 - When being questioned by the high priest, Jesus
answered, “I spoke openly to the world; I have ever taught in the
synagogues and in the temple, and in secret have I said nothing.” Here
he told two lies.

For example, the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:1.  is the first and
most obvious lie, perhaps his most famous sermon, delivered neither
in a synagogue nor in the temple but on a mountain top.

In Matthew 16:20 Jesus warns his disciples not to tell anyone that he
was the Messiah. In other words, “Keep it a secret.”

Revelation 22:7, 12, 20 - Jesus says, “Behold, I come quickly.”

Almost two thousand years have passed, all those who knew him are
long ago dead, yet Jesus’ promise of a quick return remains unfulfilled.
It is time to acknowledge that either the New Testament Gospels are
fiction or that Jesus flat-out lied. Or he had a strange sense of the
definition of ‘quickly.

And Jesus also lied about prayer:  Jesus is quoted many times in the
Bible saying that a believer may ask for anything through prayer… and
receive it.  He even went so far as to say that mountains and trees can
be thrown into the sea simply by praying for it.  This is obviously a lie,
and can be proven to be a lie by any believer.  Here is the proof: 
Simply pray for me to be converted to Christianity right away.  Or better
yet ask God to move the mountains behind my house.  He could make
a lot of converts that way.

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, May 28, 2010 at 7:34 pm Link to this comment

Here are nine more Biblical quotes from Jesus that shows that
he lied:

1)  (Matthew 21:21-22 NAS) And Jesus answered and said to
them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt,
you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even
if you say to this mountain, `Be taken up and cast into the sea,’
it will happen.  “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you
will receive.”

2)  (Matthew 7:7-8 NAB) Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you
will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who
asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who
knocks, the door will be opened. 

3)  (Matthew 18:19-20 NAS) Again I say to you, that if two of you
agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for
them by My Father who is in heaven.  For where two or three have
gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.

4)  (Mark 11:24-25 NAB) Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this
mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in
his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done
for him.  Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that
you will receive it and it shall be yours. 

5)  (Luke 11:9-13 NAB) And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek
and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For
everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the
one who knocks, the door will be opened. 

6)  (John 14:13-14 NAB) And whatever you ask in my name, I will do,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything of
me in my name, I will do it.  (John 14:13-14 NAB)

7)  (John 15:7 NAB) If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.

8)  (John 15:16 NAB) It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that
whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. 

9)  (John 16:23-24 NAB) On that day you will not question me about
anything.  Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my
name he will give you.  Until now you have not asked anything in my
name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

Report this

By Maani, May 28, 2010 at 5:47 pm Link to this comment


No, it is not just the admonition in the 10 Commandments that talks about lying:

“For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.”

“And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie.”

“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.”

“Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds.”

“For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner? And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.”

“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”

Satan is “the father of lies”; corollarily, one who lies is doing “Satan’s work.”  And as the fifth passage above notes, it is not permissible for a Christian to “do evil, that good may come.”

You also misquote the passage in John 7:8, leaving out the most important word: “Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up YET unto this feast…” (Emphasis mine)

With respect to your query as to whether “You too would sacrifice your children in order not to lie?,” I did not actually say that.  I agreed with John that there are some principles for which the deaths of others, even loved ones, may be “acceptable.”  Although I agree with John that lying is far more wrong than most people believe, I do not go quite as far as he does on this particular issue; i.e., I would PROBABLY not sacrifice someone if lying would save them (depending on the very specific circumstances of the situation).

Swami Satchidananda, with whom I studied for almost four years, told a wonderful story in this regard.

A young woman is running through the woods, and sees a hermit outside his hut.  “There are men who are trying to kill me!,” she cries, and runs into his hut without asking permission.  Two men carrying knives come upon the hermit and ask, “Did you see a young woman come running through here?”  “Yes,” replies the hermit.  “Is she in your hut?,” they ask.  The hermit replies, “Do I look like someone who would have a woman in his hut?”

Yes, it is simplistic, and perhaps even unrealistic.  But Swamiji was simply pointing out that there are ways to do these things that don’t require lying.


Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, May 28, 2010 at 4:50 pm Link to this comment

So you who espouse a religion that allegedly is about love and
humanity and brotherhood (love thy brother as thyself) in your many
posts do not love anyone?  Interesting.  Well your commandment to
not lie is really a misreading of God’s word.  God did not say to not
lie.  God said do not bear false witness against your neighbor. 
Bearing false witness in a court of law. 

Exodus 20:2-17
Commandment 16 - You shall not bear false witness against your

Commandment 20 - Neither shall you bear false witness against your

But let us not forget in Exodus 34:11-27
Commandments revisited and finally at 34:27 “The Lord said to Moses:
Write these words; in accordance with these words I have made a
covenant with you and with Israel.”

Seems that all of commandments, anyway, were for the chosen children
of God, the Hebrews. 

Did Jesus lie when he said he would not go to the Feast and then later
he went?
  1.  (John 7:8) -“Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to
this feast because My time has not yet fully come.”

  2.  But Yes, He did go to the feast.  (John 7:10) - “But when His
brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up, not
publicly, but as it were, in secret.”

It is a matter of interpretation and whose interpretation is the truth?

So Maani, you too would sacrifice your children in order not to
lie?  WOW, do they know that?  Do you have any children? 

Report this

By ljd3t, May 28, 2010 at 4:34 pm Link to this comment

John Ellis Posted—-
A giving action that produces a grateful response.

To enrich yourself upon the misery of another.

Desire to enrich yourself upon the misery of another.

A liar’s pretense of good used to hid an intent to be enriched upon our misery.

Right on John, and it is true, a lie is a lie is a lie.

Report this

By David Ehrenstein, May 28, 2010 at 4:34 pm Link to this comment

I cna’t tell you the number of Trotskyites I’ve known who’ve ended up fascist shills like Hitchens, Commune115.

Once fossil feuls are outlawned the world will be a much better place—both ecologically and socio-politically.

Report this

By ecw, May 28, 2010 at 4:31 pm Link to this comment

I suspect I’ll get a lot of flack for this, and I
should note that I was appalled by the attack on Iraq
and Afghanistan and think Hitchens was very misguided
in his support fr the war. However, Wolfewitz, Pearl
and others do have a coherent and intellectually
honest reason for going to war against Iraq. They
were terrified of another Munich.  They believed that
the US and Britain, in particular, should never have
allowed Hitler to gain power and should have invaded
Germany much sooner.  Had the allies done so, it
might have prevented the Holocaust.  I think Hitchens
adopts a similar view.  I don’t agree with it, but
it’s a rational basis for a decision. Of course, had
Bush et al not bungled the war so badly, the
situation might be very different

Report this

By Commune115, May 28, 2010 at 4:27 pm Link to this comment

From the review one gathers that Hitchens supported the Iraq war because of Trotskyist principles, but seriously, would Trotsky himself have supported such a war and a figure like George W. Bush?

Report this

By firefly, May 28, 2010 at 3:53 pm Link to this comment

It’s an interesting review and gives a better insight
into some of Hitchens’ views. Nonetheless, it saddens
me that Hitchens continues to defend Bush’s attack on
Iraq even after the evidence shows what a sham it
was.  Bush didn’t attack Iraq because Saddam Hussein
was a despicable dictator. Bush attacked Iraq based
on lies about Al Qaeda, 9/11 and the intimation of a
possible WMD attack on the US. And that lie was to
cover his stand as an oil man, and his wish to get at
the oil that Saddam was sitting on and to provide
contracts for his Halliburton friend, Dick Cheney and
other creeps such as Eric Prince of Blackwater.

I once was standing behind Wolfowitz (with his
girlfriend) at Heathrow waiting to board a flight
back to Washington. I felt repulsed being on the same
flight as a man I consider to be a war monger and a
murderer by design, with the blood of many Iraqis
(and Americans) on his hands. It makes me sick to
think that Hitchens thinks of Wolfowitz as a good

Report this

By Maani, May 28, 2010 at 3:48 pm Link to this comment

John Ellis:

Shenonymous asked: “Wouldn’t you lie if it would save your loved one’s live? If not, then what kind of a person would not save their loved ones?”

You quoted the 9th Commandment (“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor”) and added:

“Darkness is a pretense of good hiding misery, a liar’s pretense of good hiding an intent to be enriched upon our misery, and without a lie no one deceitful could enrich himself upon our misery.

So, as lies are the root cause of all misery in government, as lies totally destroy all of society and government, tell any kind of lie and you destroy all your credibility and do more harm then good.

And so, if your loved ones must be martyred in this way to preserve the good of humanity and all future generations, then so be it.  For the purpose of this world is to prove the harm in it.”

Bravo.  I can readily understands why this sort of absolutism makes many here uncomfortable.  But I, for one, agree.  There are some principles worth dying for - and there are even some for which the deaths of others, even loved ones, is “acceptable.”

However, when you ask, “Did you know that all Bibles are published by the rich, and that not one has the word ‘gratitude’ in it?,” you are engaging in semantics: there are over 100 passages that talk about “thanks” and thanking, which is derived from the same root as gratitude: “gratitudo,” which translates as “thankfulness.”


Report this

By firefly, May 28, 2010 at 3:13 pm Link to this comment

I agree with the comments about Hitchens’ fabulous
use of the English language and he is amazingly well
read. His knowledge of history is phenomenal. And I
do agree with much of his arguments against god(s).

But, and this is a big but, he does have a way of
infuriating. His knowledge of current affairs is
abysmal. I really wonder where he got his information
about the Iraq war. I can only imagine that it has
something to do with his hatred of Islam (the worst
of the 3 main religions according to Hitchens).
Either he is totally ignorant of the affects of
American hegemony on other cultures, societies and
nations or he really is an imperialist of the worst
kind and supports global American supremacy, which
would go counter to any Trotskyite philosophy he
might have once had.

I haven’t read the book, but I may. I know I will
disagree with a lot of it, but I will also be
challenged, and that, is probably the only good thing
I can think of to say about Hitchens.

Report this

By David Ehrenstein, May 28, 2010 at 2:26 pm Link to this comment

“Example; my mother was told she had a fast type of cancer that appeared on her liver. My brother refused to tell her just how fast or how deeply spread it was. (Or that it was terminal.) Lying by omission. Does that pass or fail your absolutism?”

BushCo LIED about “Weapons of Mass Destruction”—a lie Hitchens was only too happy to support.

Not resemblance to your mother and brtoehr whatsoever.


Report this
Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, May 28, 2010 at 2:07 pm Link to this comment

I was speaking strictly in the personal realm I will not lie here for it doesn’t help anyone. But you see it as an absolute which is fine. But even the truth can give bad consequences. I see nothing like that here. Neither do you. Your absolutism is getting in the way of your thought processes.

Example; my mother was told she had a fast type of cancer that appeared on her liver. My brother refused to tell her just how fast or how deeply spread it was. (Or that it was terminal.) Lying by omission. Does that pass or fail your absolutism? I would be very interested if you would answer it as completely as possible. If you can.

By-the-way John Ellis how can I be “the liar” if I was telling the truth? For if I was then how was I lying? Unless I was lying then I was telling the truth…?

The final question. How does this fit with the topic? How about something direct and not just broad, general preaching?

Report this

By dpnelson, May 28, 2010 at 1:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What a load of claptrap! Those verses were bad, and this review is worse. Hitchens can be amusing at times—this review is anything but.

Report this
Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, May 28, 2010 at 1:18 pm Link to this comment

Well Ecw you have given us nothing but criticism of us. But nothing more concerning the subject. Have you read the book? We are going by what we have seen and read of the man. He is a boorish prickly sandpaper skinned man ready to sling barbs with little thought of its opprobrium. Think of a shock jock but with a wider education and you start to see the reasons why. But I don’t find calling names to be anything but an exercise in ego of those doing the calling. But not substantial in any way. Just heat but no light.

It is true that lies are bad but not all of the time in all cases. We must lie to keep things from being worse. Ironic but it tends to be true. One such story line is when the protagonist is forced to tell the absolute truth and truth can be very ugly. But that doesn’t mean it should be used as a reason to lie to protect ones position or to gain power over others. It is hardly a simple topic. I would rather know precisely where a person stands then for them to lie to me. One way they do it is by omission, as if that validates them from the letter of it. It doesn’t.

Report this

By David Ehrenstein, May 28, 2010 at 12:55 pm Link to this comment

“Well, judging by the comments so far, I sense a tad of a dislike for the honorable? Mr. Hitchens.”

Pushy manipulative Bottoms love Power Tops.

Report this

By David Ehrenstein, May 28, 2010 at 12:53 pm Link to this comment

“Well, judging by the comments so far, I sense a tad of a dislike for the honorable? Mr. Hitchens.”

There is nothing honorable about Hitchens, Felicity.

Report this

By David Ehrenstein, May 28, 2010 at 12:51 pm Link to this comment

People are far more concerned with levelling phony rape charges agains Roman Polanski than dealing with actual U.S. governmoent sponsored rape, Psmith.

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, May 28, 2010 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment

“It is permissible to lie, if it is beneficial.”  Yes, and isn’t that what
men do?  Better to be honest and truthful than deceitful and a
hypocrite.  And wouldn’t you lie if it would save your loved ones’
lives?  If not, then what kind of a person would not save their loved
ones even for a lie?

Report this

By DasBoot, May 28, 2010 at 11:50 am Link to this comment

In my view, people find Hitchens interesting because he is eloquent and outspoken, in other words, a true character in a country that’s thoroughly lacking new, exciting thinkers and politicians.

I wish there were more competent and entertaining characters out there (cable news would not let them on, though), so I wouldn’t have to read a Hitchens column in order to get inspired to write an angry or amused response. But the sad truth is that Hitchens has the playing field pretty much for himself.

And yes, his support for the Iraq war discredited him forever as a political commentator.

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, May 28, 2010 at 10:17 am Link to this comment

A better critic of religion than Hitchens is the newcomer
Antichrist who appears on other forums.  He might be
cajoled to comment on Hitchens.  One must be able however
to separate the art from the man.  In his book God is Not Great,
Hitchens first claim to notoriety, brought with it a message of courage
for atheists everywhere to speak out, those who were too timid due
to the normal persecution nonbelievers are often dealt.  That does
not exonerate him for his political vehemence and cynical fanaticism.

One does not necessarily have to believe everything a man writes in
order to see the truth in some of what he writes.  Aristotle said
“everyman has a little bit of the truth.”  The rest is garbage. The trick,
then,  is for rational men to separate the garbage from the truth.  Think
about yourself, and whether or not you have the whole truth and
nothing but.  It is good that men like Hitchens are exposed for their
corrosive and caustic sentiments, if only because he is a celebrity who
has access to delivering his message to the masses via all the media
including this one.  He needs not name-calling though, but rationally
good arguments against his views.

Report this

By felicity, May 28, 2010 at 10:04 am Link to this comment

Addendum - On an occasion when Thatcher and Reagan were meeting in London, Reagan (whose poll numbers were tanking at the time) asked Thatcher for ‘advice’ on how to get them up.

She advised that when hers were tanking she launched the Brit’s attack on the Falklands and voila, up they went. She advised Reagan to attack Grenada (on the front burner at the time) to bring his numbers up.  He did and it worked.

I would find it difficult to ‘like’ the likes of a Thatcher, and I won’t even get into Reagan.  I’m curious as to why Hitchens found her attractive.

Report this

By ecw, May 28, 2010 at 10:02 am Link to this comment

As far as I can tell, none of the previous commenters
has read the book. They seem to have a vitriolic hatred
of Hitchens and enjoy being venomous. It’s unfortunate,
because one would hope for a more intellectual
discussion of the review as it pertains to the book. I
had hoped for better from Truthdig readers.

Report this

By felicity, May 28, 2010 at 9:55 am Link to this comment

Well, judging by the comments so far, I sense a tad of a dislike for the honorable? Mr. Hitchens.

Whether reading or listening to him, I’m unable to get past the reasoned feeling that I’m experiencing what it’s like to be in the ‘company’ of a confirmed cynic.  Given that the cynic doesn’t even believe himself, I’m comfortable (and guiltless) not believing what he’s talking about.

And then when he really ‘gets going’ on some issue or individual, I recall Churchill’s words that a fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.

So is Hitchens anything other than a cynic and a fanatic?  I don’t know. But I do find him hilariously funny.

Report this

By Dave Macaray, May 28, 2010 at 9:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Two quick things:  Commune115’s accusation of H’s “blind support” of U.S. imperialism is a bit nutty.  Agree or disagree with Hitchens (and I don’t agree with it), but the amount of thought and analysis he put into arriving at his (dubious) position makes it anything but “blind.”

Also, consider the virtue of reading a memoir written by the actual subject of said work for a change…instead of a ghost writer, as is the case in most memoirs.  Like him or not, you know that Hitch wrote every word of this thing.

Report this
Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, May 28, 2010 at 8:56 am Link to this comment

The only reason I can suppose for wasting space here is that Hitchens is such an eloquent drunk and has said and done things that make him a beacon in a literary darkness that some moths go to douse themselves.

Not I. Though as I recall one of his criticism of Mother Teresa was that she was given millions of dollars but managed to not comfort those in her care believing in suffering as a god given right and necessity to save pious souls.

I admit a guilty pleasure to his attacks on religion though I don’t share his hatred of it. Unproductive if not counter productive—-but at least he is sober there. No doubt the constant alcohol poisoning he indulges in does cause damage to his magnificent brain but some of it shines through sometimes. But then his support of imperial wars says to me he isn’t much of a Leftist if he ever was one in the first place unless in the authoritarian mold and would gladly debate him on that.

If I had an inclination I would purchase his book just to see if it would enlighten me to the psychological motives behind his actions. But I am not that interested.

Report this

By Mundt, May 28, 2010 at 8:39 am Link to this comment

Hitchens is a repulsive slug. He never dazzled anybody.

Report this

By lothianscot, May 28, 2010 at 8:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hitchens has an alcohol-muddled brain and the morals and ethical
standards of a tom-cat, but he is a master of his mother tongue and
a lovely writer.

Report this

By David Ehrenstein, May 28, 2010 at 8:32 am Link to this comment

What is the point of this review? Is it a review at all? I for one don;t think so. It’s an apologia for a sack of shit.

“Hitchens life and its fearless search for the correct side in any argument whatever the consequences.”

What “correct side” are you talking about? Hitchens’ vanity is all that’s ever been involved. And he remians impervious to “personal consequences.” Why shouldn’t he? He continues to be published and shallow fools continue to take him seriously.

“Hitchens and Bill Clinton share a student role as the “tethered goat” for a pair of Sapphic young Oxford friends who wish to attract fellow females into their den.”

Very Jackie Collins. Hitch and Elvis loved to “pull chain.” Big deal.

“He does not spend long on the failings and failures of the invasion;”

Gee, I wonder why.

“still less does he defend every aspect, becoming by his own admission “coarsened and sickened by the degeneration of the struggle” and arguing that there are limits, in the case of a political and literary commentator, quite extensive limits, to a writer’s knowledge of civil and military logistics.”

There’s no limit as to how much of his foot Hitchens can stuff into his mouth.

Our feet should be aimed squarely at Hitchens’ ass.

Report this

By tedmurphy41, May 28, 2010 at 7:16 am Link to this comment

I would rather read Webster’s Dictionary from beginning to end. At least my brains cells would get some stimulation with the discovery of unusual words and their definitions than they would by reading anything written by Christopher Hitchens.

Report this
skulz fontaine's avatar

By skulz fontaine, May 28, 2010 at 6:51 am Link to this comment

Hitchens, the world as seen through gin-colored glasses. ‘Drunken fop’ comes to
mind right off.

Report this

By ardee, May 28, 2010 at 4:37 am Link to this comment

I cannot possibly add to the accurate assessments of the three preceeding comments. Hitchens is a prime example of a wasted intellect poisoned by alcohol and fascinated with being accepted by precisely the wrong people.

It puzzles me as to why exactly this article appears here…....

Report this

By Commune115, May 28, 2010 at 2:37 am Link to this comment

Hitchens’ blind support for US imperial wars in the Middle East and his constant propagandizing (inventing stories of Hezbollah flags featuring mushroom clouds) have rendered him quite useless and tragic. If he wasn’t so eloquent and more in control of himself, he would be no better than David Horowitz, let’s be honest. I realize after meeting many fans of his that some people become Hitchens followers simply because of the man’s hatred of religion, and as much as I myself don’t like that particular institution, that’s no excuse for the man’s support for war crimes.

Report this

By diamond, May 28, 2010 at 1:02 am Link to this comment

This idiot wrote a book accusing Mother Theresa of being an Albanian gangster. It seems never to have occurred to this fat, pretentious, brain dead, fake leftist that gangsters don’t usually spend their time caring for lepers, orphaned children and the dying. I heard him on the radio just before flogging his wretched book and he was weeping and wailing and gnashing his teeth about how Saddam Hussein was a ‘torturer’ but did he mention Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Guantanamo Bay? No, he did not. The man is a complete flake and he also said in an interview, I swear it’s true: ‘None of my women ever have to work’. What the hell does he mean? They have to live with him, don’t they? I call that work with a capital ‘W’. He also preened himself in the most nauseating way over the fact that his children go to the same school as Barack Obama’s. AAAAAAAAArgh! I only have to hear his voice and I gag.

Report this

By GoyToy, May 27, 2010 at 11:49 pm Link to this comment

Frankly, Peter, I don’t give a damn about Hitchens—drunk or sober.

Report this

Page 2 of 2 pages  <  1 2

Right Top, Site wide - Care2
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
Right Internal Skyscraper, Site wide

Like Truthdig on Facebook