Thursday, February 4, 2010

Hitchens' Spiritual Side--New Essay in Religion Dispatches

A couple of days ago, several posts on facebook alerted me to an interview/conversation between Christopher Hitchens and the retired Unitarian minister, Marilyn Sewell. Because I've explored with some care (in an earlier essay for Religion Dispatches) the parasitic and self-serving dynamic that characterizes Hitchens' engagement with religious conservatives such as Douglas Wilson, I thought it would be interesting to explore how Hitchens might engage with a self professing "liberal Christian."

As might be expected, one of Hitchens' early salvos in the interview amounted to strictly defining who qualified as a Christian and who didn't--with the apparent aim of disqualifying Sewell. It was this feature of the interview that put it on the radar screen of many religious progressives. But as I read through the interview, what emerged for me as the most interesting feature of it was just how close Hitchens was to being a Unitarian. The biggest difference was that Unitarians call themselves religious, while Hitchens calls all things religious "poison."

In any event, reading the interview inspired a reflection, "Christopher Hitchens, Religious in Spite of Himself?", that's the feature article in today's Religion Dispatches. It includes some early autobiographical material, for those who can't wait for the "spiritual autobiography" I have yet to compose.

1 comment:

  1. As a Atheist, I must agree with your impression and laughed thinking of Hitchens as a Unitarian.

    My wife (a more cynical atheist than I) and I entertained two Unitarian churches for a base for our family but couldn't for a few reasons:

    1) The oddly hung on to many things I dislike about the Protestantism I came from: Pews, Hymns, Collection Plates & Sermons.

    2) They are very political -- if you don't believe in democratic socialism, well ....

    3) They preach about what I should feel about social situations

    4) They almost hurt themselves twisting all over the place trying not to say "God" but gee, many of the sermons sure sound like a god that they are talking about.

    I wonder why Hitchens won't join up?