I so wanted to go to Hitch’s memorial, and back in December knew that I would try to attend; but in my slackard way, didn’t notice as the date approached.
So thank you, Ms. Blue, for allowing this to be shared out to us, and to Vanity Fair for posting the marvelous readings and speeches from the service. All who were there know better than I that anything we now say about him, anything of his that we read aloud, pales against hearing it directly from him. But the mind is a wondrous place, where you can actually hear the person’s own voice as you silently read the printed word. Marvelous, isn’t it?
I’ve transcribed a short piece from the memorial video of Hitch by Alex Gibney that I posted here this past weekend, and that Vanity Fair has posted. There are so many Hitch gems in this video. Here is a favorite (they all are, I confess), where Hitch, with his delicious wit, points out one of the improbable bases upon which the whole of the Judeo-Christian belief system is grounded.
At about 6 minutes in:
A hundred thousand years people have been, our species has been, around. For the first ninety-seven, ninety-eight thousand of this, heaven watches with indifference. “Ooh, there they go again.” They’ve all, that whole civilisation has just died out. “Wha! What are you gonna do?” Three thousand years ago, at the most, it is decided that, “No, we’ve got to intervene now.”
You have to believe it. You have to believe it.
“And the revelation must be personal. Must appear . . . So we’ll pick the most backward, the most barbaric, the most illiterate, the most superstitious, and the most savage people we can find, in the most stony area of the world. We won’t appear to the Chinese, who can already read.”
And of course, there’s the part of the video at about 8 minutes in where he considers the practice of churches – clerics and lay-people alike – of going to visit the sick and dying in hospitals. He asks whether it isn’t a bit unfair, these attempts at deathbed conversions, and points out that good taste prevents its happening in the reverse sense. You know, where atheists show up at religious hospitals to call on persons who have but a few days of life and suggest to the ill one that he/she has been duped into serfdom.
Fuck. Surviving Christopher Hitchens is a bitch.