The notorious atheist died from pneumonia, related to his cancer, at 62. You can read the BBC’s obit here.
Last year, I wrote a brief post on this blog about Hitchens, who had just announced he was dying. I asked that we keep him in our prayers:
Prayer isn’t a chore, or a favor we do to bail out someone. It is an act of faith. And it is a gift. It engages the one who prays in a divine conversation that may do as much for the pray-er as it does for the pray-ee. The entire world is uplifted just a bit if even just one person takes a moment to whisper an “Our Father” with an intention of love and joyful hope.
So, pray for Christopher Hitchens. Whether he knows it or not, he needs it. We all do.
Hitchens, writing about that in Vanity Fair, was bemused:
“Of the astonishing and flattering number of people who wrote to me when I fell so ill, very few failed to say one of two things. Either they assured me that they wouldn’t offend me by offering prayers or they tenderly insisted that they would pray anyway. Devotional Web sites consecrated special space to the question. (If you should read this in time, by all means keep in mind that September 20 has already been designated “Everybody Pray for Hitchens Day.”) Pat Archbold, at the National Catholic Register, and Deacon Greg Kandra were among the Roman Catholics who thought me a worthy object of prayer. Rabbi David Wolpe, author of “Why Faith Matters” and the leader of a major congregation in Los Angeles, said the same. He has been a debating partner of mine, as have several Protestant evangelical conservatives like Pastor Douglas Wilson of the New St. Andrews College and Larry Taunton of the Fixed Point Foundation in Birmingham, Alabama. Both wrote to say that their assemblies were praying for me. And it was to them that it first occurred to me to write back, asking: Praying for what?”
The answer, of course, was healing. And mercy. And for a certain degree of light to pierce the darkness and, just maybe, affect change.
I doubt any of that happened — though, at his last moment, it’s impossible for any of us to say what thought scuttled across his mind.
I’ll remember him in my prayers today. It can’t hurt.
And who knows? Maybe this day he’s also praying for me.
There are things I do know. God loved Christopher Hitchens. Always has. He created him out of love. He died for him out of love. And I will pray for him out of love.