So, I powered on my computer after lunch today, and was greeted by my homepage, thegospelcoalition.org (it’s a great resource, by the way). An article on this page caught my eye:
Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) – http://www.dennyburk.com/christopher-hitchens-1949-2011/
So Christopher Hitchens has passed away, aged 62, after battling unsuccessfully with cancer. I’d heard of Hitchens before, but never really encountered or engaged with his work. Along with Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris, Hitchens was one of the Four Horsemen of New Atheism – as they then branded themselves. Curiously therefore, why was this ‘news’ on an evangelical Christian resource?
I guess the best way to answer that question is to actually read Denny Burk’s blog post (linked above). And to go on to read some of the articles that Hitchens himself wrote on his battles with cancer. Some of them are linked in Burk’s post, but the two I found most riveting I’ve linked here:
Topic of Cancer (http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2010/09/hitchens-201009)
Unanswerable Prayers (http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2010/10/hitchens-201010)
These two pieces give real insight to atheism in our culture today, but more than that; of particular interest to me was how atheists (or the world generally) view death and/or cancer. Hitchens writes lucidly with unnerving candour regarding his helpless condition, but with an underlying resignation and futility which seems to permeate every sentence.
I suppose my (morbid) interest in this topic was piqued by the latest Joseph-Gordon Levitt movie 50/50 which I watched two days ago. To the world, in our secular culture today, death is the great leveler, the final endpoint. But as Christians, we know that our physical existence is merely temporal. As C.S. Lewis writes:
You don’t have a soul. You are a soul; you have a body.
However, many Christians are preoccupied with the here and now, rather than with eternity; I would be the first to admit my foolishness in this regard. We are so attached to the things of this world, things which do not last and will fade away – the latest gadgets, fashion trends, and innumerable other fads. How much do we care about things which endure – souls, relationships, the Word of God?
Ok I must stop my ranting. But perhaps I shall conclude with the words of Paul from Romans 12:2:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.