To some Christians, Christopher Hitchens getting struck by cancer seemed to be a clear message from the God he had spoken against in his book, “God Is Not Great: The Case Against Religion” (or God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything), but to Hitchens it’s simply “just not a good cancer to get”. In the beginning days of his ordeal, Hitchens unfortunately had to cancel his book tour for Hitch-22, a new memoir that has already made its way into the rankings of the bestsellers.
Doctors discovered esophageal cancer had spread to Hitchen’s lungs and lymph nodes causing terrible pain. Despite his predicament and ongoing treatment, Christopher Hitchens has made public appearences through his writings and physical being on Vanity Fair, Slate, and on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 with, obviously, Anderson Cooper.
The other recent images of Hitchens originated from The Atlantic’s clip showing Jeffrey Goldberg having a short conversation about cancer and religion with the acclaimed atheist writer. The video showed startling changes in Hitchens’ physical outlook; loss of hair and a more gaunt face had replaced the jolly look of the author who had strided in debate and penned famous critiques with dignity just a couple of years ago. Observers were quick to point out that while Hitchens may have lost his hair, he certainly hasn’t lost his intellect and witty personality.
A few seconds into his sit-down with The Atlanic’s Jeffrey Goldberg at Dupont Circle HQ, Hitchens blatantly stated he was “dying” and later added “I would be a very lucky person to live another five years”. Hitchens had expressed that one of his desires was to witness one of his children marry before his life expired. As the conversation went on Christopher Hitchens was asked one of the most common questions given to atheists: would you ever convert to a religion on your deathbed?
The Hitch-22 author said he was very unlikely to make a deathbed conversion, however he said that in the case he does convert in his deathbed, it would most likely not be him as the Christopher Hitchens many know but as a ”terrified person whose cancer has spread to the brain”.
On Monday, shortly after The Atlantic’s clip was released, Jeffrey Goldberg responded to incoming mail from those who actually prayed for the death of Christopher Hitchens:
“As for the few of you who wrote to Goldblog to say they were praying for Hitch’s death, I can say that he does not care one way or another what you do or think or pray, but on behalf of myself and the entire team at The Atlantic, let me just say, Go fuck yourselves.”
Goldberg elegantly finished off with “I believe God will forgive me for that one.”
When asked how he felt about people praying for his wellbeing, Hitchens answered he took it “kindly” and expressed his bewilderment at the sudden appearences of Hitchens-prayer groups but held prayers as “meaningless” since “souls and bodies can’t be changed by incantation”.
A few rumors in religious circles have already declared Hitchens a convert. On CNN, Hitchens dismissed these announcements as propaganda by the religious community as they “love to spread these rumors”. Regarding his condition and treatment, Christopher Hitchens ominously recalled that his father also fell victim to esophageal cancer at the age of 79 whereas Hitchens is currently 61. Hitchens emphasized he was a “realist” and mentioned that “statistics in my case are very poor” meaning he may not be able to survive for a long time.
But he hopes and so do others.