Hitchens and the Subversive Liberty of Prayer

Over at Hot Air, yesterday’s quotes of the day were all about the oddly controversial issue of whether or not Christians, or any people of faith, have any business praying for Christopher Hitchens as he battles cancer.

The topic has generated a great deal of surprising commentary, even here on this blog; at Hot Air, they are highlighting quotes from Fr. Robert Barron, whose Word on Fire videos i sometimes post here, and from this really excellent exchange between Hitchens and Hugh Hewitt.

They also highlight quotes from this article, which provides quotes from an atheist, and a believer.

As an atheist, I find it objectionable that anyone should feel the right to pray for me because I don’t believe as they do. That’s as bad as that idiot church who thinks its a good idea to baptize dead Jews or protest at military funerals. It’s the worst kind of pandering.

Well, the atheist is certainly entitled to think what he wishes, and even to tell people not to pray for him. And I suppose if someone asks you not to pray for him, you shouldn’t. But then again, how could he ever stop you? Prayer is the subversive liberty; the one thing that no one can take from you or prevent you from engaging in, unless they lobotomize you or kill you. Except, one never knows fully what is happening with the brain. Perhaps a lobotomy might end vocal prayer, even overtly conscious prayer, but it may still exist elsewhere in the chambers of the body and soul. My severely brain-damaged brother was still able to pray. I have volunteered with brain-injured patients who have indicated through various and surprising means that prayer is still alive within them.

And as a Christian, I know that physical death cannot end my prayers, because my soul is eternal; if I am a member of the great cloud of witnesses, what could stop my prayer? Nothing on earth.

Perhaps that is what secularism and “new” atheism so despises about religion in general, and the very notion of prayer having power; prayer is a force utterly outside of their control. When totalitarian regimes come into power, one of their first orders of business is to close the monasteries–those powerhouses of prayer–and disperse or imprison their inhabitants. It gives them an illusion of control, although the prayer goes on, completely out of their reach.

Atheists often argue that prayer has no power, that “studies” (which, dependent on methods and parameters, can “prove” or “disprove” almost anything) have debunked the efficacy of prayer. But if they truly were secure in that belief, they would not feel the need to try to suppress it.

The comments of the believer were interesting, too, but I thought just a tad narrow and door-shutting. See if you agree:

Rev. Barron’s main point is right on target. As Christians, we should, indeed, pray for and love those who oppose, ridicule and even persecute us. However, Rev. Barron states and uses as his basis for praying for Mr. Hitchens that Hitchens is “a child of God.” For a reverend, a ministry founder, a host of a religious program and a religion professor, I am astounded at Rev. Barron’s ignorance of the Bible. According to the Bible, as an atheist, Mr. Hitchens is NOT a “child of God.” That description is reserved for only those who receive and believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (John 1:12).

I am always uneasy when someone takes one verse of scripture, and tells the world that because of that line, a certain thing either is or is not, and therefore implies that God’s mind and intention can be limited by it. It would be like me saying that because Jesus says in John 6:53 “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you,” a non-Eucharistic life is invalid, or that Christ cannot live in anyone who worships outside of the Eucharist.

That would go over well, do you think?

Catholics see all of God’s creation as belonging to Him; its fullness resides in Him. Human creation is His, and if God is Father, the rest follows. Whether created creatures claim their birthright or not is another thing. They needn’t claim access to God’s love or mercy, either; the choice is always theirs to make. But those gifts are always there–exuded by the constant God who is Love–awaiting them, even before they want it.

One could argue, and I suppose I shall, that whether he is currently a believer or not, Hitchens has been baptized in the Anglican Church, and that means he has been claimed for Christ, just as surely as was Lydia’s entire household in Acts 16. That portal of grace opened via the sacrament does not close; Baptism is no mere symbolic washing. Adults I know who have been baptized tell me it is much more than that. For that matter, so does the catechism of the Catholic church:

Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.”

Born again in Christ.

I wonder if the believer who, based on a line of scripture, says Christopher Hitchens is not a child of God would dare to challenge God on that point.

But I do not wonder at CNN’s having quoted him.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://amba12.wordpress.com amba (Annie Gottlieb)

    This will freak you out, then (it did me): @lesliecarbone argues at some length that “God loves some people, but not all.”

    [hmmmmm....well...if God is love, he's 100% love, not 99.947% But I wonder who she thinks he does not love-admin]

  • Peregrine John

    I suspect that many prayed for Saul of Tarsus; and that Saul considered such prayers deeply offensive.

    And yet that story ended fairly well.

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  • archangel

    Faith is a gift, freely given by God. It must be sought. It must be asked for. And like all gifts, it can be returned from whence it came… ie rejected. Hitchens clearly rejected the gift of his own accord. That does not make him less a “child of God”. What it makes him is the “LOST LAMB”. He is the “PRODIGAL SON” rejecting his Fathers consolation. Perhaps his cancer becomes his personal wake-up moment.

    We pray for him like we pray for all non-believers of various stripes to recognize we are all created in God’s image and we are to see the face of Christ in all.

    God doesn’t assign Hell to any human. Those so inclined freely CHOOSE it. Even the Fallen Angels chose it.

  • GeronimoRumplestiltskin

    How on earth does someone “reject” a prayer said by someone else?

    Oh, well. If a Christian prays for the conversion of an atheist, he will be criticized for presumptuousness; if he does not pray for the conversion of an atheist, he will be accused of not being really convinced of his beliefs.

  • Ken in Kansas

    How interesting that an atheist who does not believe there is a God and so must believe that prayer is a mere human folly would ask me to not pray for him. Why not ask me to not think of him or speak of him to someone else or even to not regard his existence.

  • Joe

    I like Christopher Hitchens a lot, consider him a great mind and writer, and wish him a speedy recovery (even if I disagree with him on some significant issues). He is an athiest so if you feel you want to pray for him, do so in private. That should between you and God. Why upset him if you are wishing him well? He is suffering with cancer and needs to focus on his recovery. You can pray for his physical recovery and his soul and hopefully God intervenes. Grace is a funny thing and stranger things have happened than a beloved but curmudgeon Hitchens changing his postion on things. Is the prayer about you or the person you are praying for?

    As for that church that baptizes Jews. I am not LDS, but the concept is if it you join the LDS Church you can bring your dead relatives along for salvation. Hardly a hateful position. If true, don’t you think those deceased relatives would enjoy and be thankful about getting a get out of hell/puratory card from a thoughtful converted relative? If nonsense, what harm has this doctrine caused? Especially for a guy like Hitchens who thinks when you are dead you are dead and there is nothing happening anyway.

    As for Fred Phelps and his protests of military funerals, that is just terribly misguided hatred by Phelps and will be judged accordingly by a just God. Or if Hitchens is right, merely condemned by most in this life.

    [If you read his interview with Hewitt, you see Hitchens is NOT upset that people are praying for him. He finds it touching, actually -admin]

  • http://www.savkobabe.blogspot.com Gayle Miller

    I find it amusing that Mr. Hitchens is so uncomfortable with the numerous prayers being sent heavenward on his behalf. Doesn’t make me want to stop. He isn’t the boss of my prayer life!

  • Colin Gormley

    “Atheists often argue that prayer has no power, that “studies” (which, dependent on methods and parameters, can “prove” or “disprove” almost anything) have debunked the efficacy of prayer.”


  • Last Sphere

    Atheists cannot have it both ways:

    On one hand they paint prayer as a ridiculous fantasy. An act of delusional worthlessness based on absolutely nothing more substantial than superstitious wishful thinking by silly simple-minded people whose inherited culture of a flying spaghetti monster in the sky renders them incapable of true scientific reasoning and rational thought just like their parents, and their parents and their……

    Yes indeed- prayer is a meaningless act of fantasy fostered by a blind adherence to superstitious traditions left over from our primordial simple mindedness.

    It’s harmless and silly.


    Don’t you simple-minded mouth-breathing believers dare try to make atheists the focus of your delusional pointless act of ridiculous fantasy!

    After all, such a silly pointless and meaningless act may result in…. well……..absolutely nothing…….



    I submit that the real outrage that atheists feel in this matter is self-generated.

    In reality it is the result of the subconscious conflict of their very real, very personified hatred towards God.

    You see- you can not hate, what you do not believe is real. To do so would be….truly delusional.

    Why on earth would they be so outrageously outraged towards a meaningless act of fantasy?

    In summation: their outrage lies in the reality that a small glimmer of warm belief smolders in the cold ashes of their atheistic faith.

    And their hearts (in complete betrayal to their beliefs) innately recognize the beauty and compassion of prayer. In fact, it acts as a spiritual fuel that gives flame to the small ember that refuses to die.

    And why should it die easy? After all, our hearts are made in His image.

    Conflict = Hope.

    And so, let us continue to love one another in prayer.

  • Joe

    [If you read his interview with Hewitt, you see Hitchens is NOT upset that people are praying for him. He finds it touching, actually -admin]

    Thanks, I missed that. Good to hear. I want Mr. Hitchens in good spirits to take on his disease.

    As for handling the affairs of those who passed on, Glenn Reynolds had this link on more pragmatic advice.

  • Joe

    HH: The number of people I’m sure who are praying for you, including people who come up to me and ask me to tell you that, people like Joseph Timothy Cook, how are you responding to them, given your famous atheism?

    CH: Well look, I mean, I think that prayer and holy water, and things like that are all fine. They don’t do any good, but they don’t necessarily do any harm. It’s touching to be thought of in that way. It makes up for those who tell me that I’ve got my just desserts. It’s, I’m afraid to say it’s almost as well-founded an idea. I mean, I don’t, they don’t know whether prayer will work, and they don’t know whether I’ve come by this because I’m a sinner.

    HH: Oh, I…has anyone actually said that to you?

    CH: Yeah, oh yes.

    HH: Oh, my gosh. Forgive them. Well…

    CH: Well, I mean, I don’t mind. It doesn’t hurt me. But for the same reason, I wish it was more consoling. But I have to say there’s some extremely nice people, including people known to you, have said that I’m in their prayers, and I can only say that I’m touched by the thought.

    I am hoping and praying for Hitchens recovery too.

    - – – -

  • Bender

    If Hitchens is welcoming of it, then by all means, pray all out for him.

  • greggo

    Some of my best friends are atheists. Their sacreligeous jokes really are funny and make me examine my own beliefs. I think it’s just a “stage” they are going through. Of course I pray for them. My heart goes out to those adults who were not exposed to religion as youngsters,whose parents would let the children decide for themselves what religion to choose when they’re grown up. It’s like letting children decide if they want to learn how to read.

  • newton

    I’d like to submit one reason why Hitchens is not that bothered with any Christian’s prayers for his recovery: his brother, Peter, is a Christian.

  • Last Sphere

    We should never be afraid to “offend” the unbelievers with open prayers of true love.

    If they feel real anger about the very act that they deem pointless, meaningless, and imaginary-

    Then let the “offense” be a matter between their intellect and their soul.

    Their Cognitive Dissonance can only broaden their mind by realizing the reality of their soul.

    Conflict = Hope

  • Alex

    Prayer being an appeal to supreme power, it seems people who reject the prayers of others for them are admitting their unease at being drawn to the attention of the supreme power — i.e. they are acknowledging the supreme power.

    Hitchens in no atheist.

  • ScurvyOaks

    Doesn’t the dialogue in John 8:31-47 also pose a problem for the notion of the universal fatherhood of God? Especially verses 41-44: “‘We are not illegitimate children,’ they protested. ‘The only Father we have is God himself.’
    Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire.’”

    God’s ownership of his creation and role as author of all life is a different concept from that of fatherhood; I think your effort to stretch the former to cover the latter fails in light of the scriptural problems it encounters.

  • DrD

    Your link to the Book of Common Prayer was for the US 1789 BCP. I would assume Hitchens was baptized in the UK as an infant, wasn’t he? If so, then the applicable book would be the Book of Common Prayer 1662. It probably says almost exactly the same words.

  • Bender

    LS, really now. Let’s not go down that road again. Let’s not use prayer like a sword. And while we are called to be a light to the world, let’s not have that be light from the flash of bombs.

    Prayer is not an occasion for antagonism or spite or railing against the heathen pagans. Indeed, since it is so lacking in authentic charity (love), it is not prayer at all. It is a mockery of prayer.

    Besides, why would any nonbeliever want anything to do with a people that are offensive? indeed, who go out of their way to offend?

    Rather than offending and bashing the nonbeliever, why not try gentle kindness? Rather than rage, why not try patience? Why not try opening your arms and embracing them as brothers and sisters? You will not turn their hearts by force, you will only succeed in turning them against you, the faithful, the Faith, the Church, and God.

  • F

    Aw, poor guy. At first when I saw he had cancer, I sensed a flicker of one of my hell-embers. But then, since I’m an embered Catholic, my other embers sought to burn that bad one out. I’m praying for the guy because I love him tho’ I can’t stand his positions. He’s my brother in humanity, and, now that I see he’s baptized, my brother in Christ. Since I listened to Protestant radio for so many years ’til Catholic radio came long, I heard on Dr. Ravi Zacharias’ show “Just Thinking”, which teaches Christians to think critically, that some famous atheists have converted and come to rue their books and old positions. So, praying for this poor man, who to me is the spiritually poor, can only help me along my journey while helping him as well. God’s grace just might melt his heart. What a great conversion story that would be! Can you imagine how many might reconsider their positions. Like Judas, what if Judas had repnted? His story would have been the greatest story of redemption going. I work at the most atheistic health center, one of the nation’s top 10. Here, they actually cite peer reviewed studies and literature that shows that those patients who have someone or a group praying for them, do better. If you love Christopher as a fellow human, you might pray for him. If you either hate him, or worse, feel indifferent toward him, then don’t.

    I still wonder what would happen to him if millions of sweet, prayerful, get well cards landed at his address…

  • Last Sphere

    (Bender wrote – “LS, really now. Let’s not go down that road again. Let’s not use prayer like a sword. And while we are called to be a light to the world, let’s not have that be light from the flash of bombs.”)


    Seriously. What exactly is your problem here.

    My prayer (and the prayer of many others) for Hitchens, is that God bring comfort by way of meaning and redemption in his hour of suffering.

    What is wrong with stating that out loud?

  • Last Sphere

    (Bender wrote – “Besides, why would any nonbeliever want anything to do with a people that are offensive?”)

    And THAT is precisely my point Bender.

    Why are nonbelievers even upset at the notion of sincere prayers of true love, if prayers are meaningless fantasy in the first place?

  • http://westernchauvinist.blogspot.com Western Chauvinist

    Don’t mean to pile-on here, Bender, but I think you are the one fixated. It seems such a no-brainer unless you really are unable to rationalize a prayer for mercy for CH. I agree, if your prayer would reflect some hatred or desire for harm for someone you consider an ideological opponent (and he is), then it is best left unsaid. But, otherwise, your description of unsolicited prayer for CH as “rape” or “violence” or “like a sword” is a terrible misuse of language (characteristic of the Left), if not absurd.

    I don’t mean to be presumptuous. I almost always admire your take on the issues. But, I think perhaps some self-analysis is needed. Why do you seem to have more problems with prayers for Hitchens than he does himself?

  • Last Sphere

    I submit the ironic realization that Christopher would never have been moved by the prayers for his well-being-

    if those prayer intentions had not been stated publicly.

  • Pingback: I Do Pray for Christopher Hitchens. | Little Miss Attila

  • Ben Hartley

    Er… um… The Lord’s Prayer says sumpin’ like “…THY will be done.” So, if I make that request of God, then I’m accepting the fact that He’s in charge; all nitter-natter about the propriety of prayer for an atheist becomes irrelevant.

  • http://cartagodelenda.blogspot.com Matteo

    If we pray for atheists and they end up in heaven, they’ll be glad that we did. If we don’t pray for them and they end up in hell, they’ll wish that we had. If we’re wrong and they’re right about the big picture, it ultimately won’t matter to them in the slightest what we did or didn’t do, being that they will cease to exist at death.

    All of this being the case, the only truly rational thing to do is to pray for them even as they caterwaul about irrationality. The poor things will get over it, one way or another.

  • Jennifer

    Acts 16, I think. I just looked it up. :)

    I have to say I’d probably pray for someone even if they asked me not to. Especially if they asked me not to! What clearer indication that they need the mercy of God? They can take it up with me in eternity, assuming when they find out I prayed they’re still upset.

    [Thanks. Working too fast on too little sleep. -admin]

  • J.

    Prayer is between you and God; in reality no one has any right to tell you what to pray for or what not to pray for. And certainly no one can stop your communication with God.

    As you said Anchoress, it appears Mr. Hitchens did not request people not pray for him and is genuinely touched they seem willing to do so.

    Don’t you find it funny (in the ironic sense) that Mr. Hitchens’ first name is “Christ Bearer”?

    This little controversy has certainly caused more people to think about God and what they believe that most of what Mr. Hitchens has written regarding religion….again ironic. I like irony–it’s God’s way of seeing if we have a (gentle) sense of humor.

  • ABQ Methodist

    I would agree that we become children of God through faith in Christ and letting Him be Lord of our lives. The Biblical evidence of this adoption as children of God is not just one verse. This is the point of nearly the entire 8th Chapter of Romans. In Romans 8:23 Paul speaks of groaning “inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” In Romans 8:29&30. Paul states, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Our adoption as sons and daughters of God is one of the great promises of scripture. Paul also discusses this promise in Ephesians 1:4-6 and Galatians 3:26 & 27 and 4:4-7.
    However, the great promise of adoption as sons and daughters of God is little known because of our sloppy language in which we call all people children of God. As Paul points out, our natural state is children of wrath (See Ephesians 2:1-3 and Colossians 3:5 & 6). The promise of adoption means that, by God’s grace and Christ’s sacrifice, we are redeemed to a state much better than that enjoyed by Adam before the fall. God promises to conform us to the image, power, and glory of His Son, Jesus Christ. (See 1 Corinthians 15:42-49)
    Unless we are redeemed by Christ’s sacrifice, we are beloved creatures of God, mad in His image, warped by our sin, deserving only God’s wrath. Considering that to be a child of God is like considering Pinocchio to be a true son of Geppetto.

  • Bender

    WC — please actually read what I have said. Everything you wrote in response is a total non sequitur. I’ll repeat what I said — love and pray for Hitchens.

    Seriously. What exactly is your problem here.

    My problem is that you are being obnoxious. You were being obnoxious before, doing nothing but antagonizing a couple of non-believers the last time, with the effect of alienating them, rather than showing to them the love that a Christian should show. And you are being antagonistic now.

    And now you are suggesting that if the non-believer is alienated by what you say, it is their problem. No, it isn’t. It is your problem. There are plenty of ways to engage an atheist without being offensive. But your expressed attitude is that offending is perfectly OK. It isn’t.

    It is true that there are times when we must show “tough love,” but in our calling to be a witness for Christ, the calling is to be an effective witness, one that actually draws the other in, not drive him away.

    When dealing with atheists and agnostics, we cannot be harsh, we cannot be argumentative, we cannot be uncharitable. Rather, we must exercise the greatest delicacy and gentleness. Their error stems from ignorance, they don’t know any better. But those that do profess a faith in Christ do know better. And because you do, fraternal correction is called for.

  • JuliB

    When I was an atheist, the idea of someone praying for me wasn’t upsetting. I was happy that they were living true to their faith. Of course, I thought it was silly, but certainly within their rights.

    After I converted, I think that some of my friends must have been praying long and hard for me! For that I was, and remain, thankful.

    I now pray for my whole family to be enlightened by the Holy Spirit (they are all atheists and agnostics, with one pagan), as well as those far from God to come Home.

  • MB

    CH reminds me of Malcolm Muggeridge. Perhaps, in God’s good time, he will follow in Muggeridge’s steps.

  • WIlma

    I am an atheist. I have the luxury of not being in the public eye and therefor have the space to have my own journey, doubts, changes of heart and beliefs. I don’t know where this journey is going to take me, maybe one day I will end up a believer again.
    The saddest part of having gradually become an atheist is losing the ability to pray. I miss that, even though I ended up feeling there wasn’t anyone who listened to my prayers. I miss believing that there was someone to whom I could confess all my burdens. When I knew in my heart I didn’t believe and was honest with myself about that I felt sad and alone.
    It’s not easy being an atheist when you’re not as sure as other atheists about what is and isn’t there. I don’t know, I’m just trying to be good to other people.
    I still love it when people pray for me and my husband. When my husband had a livertransplant there were a lot of people praying for us and that felt good. Most people will feel the force of knowing that other people are thinking of you and asking for your well-being as a very positive thing.

  • JJM

    I’m amused when certain atheists get all huffy and brittle about religion. They always remind me of George Orwell’s line:

    “He was an embittered atheist, the sort of atheist who does not so much disbelieve in God as personally dislike Him.”

  • http://l Hantchu

    That was so terrific when you talked about the subversiveness of prayer. My thoughts exactly.

    Jewish tradition, by the way, supports the idea of the prayers of the departed not ceasing to be efficacious. TAhere is a great idea going back to the Patriarchs that the sould sof the righteous live on, and after leaving this world are unencumbered by the limits of a physical body.

  • Last Sphere

    Bender wrote – “My problem is that you are being obnoxious.”)

    How exactly am I being obnoxious here?

    I’m a former atheist Bender. When people told me they were praying for me my response was similar to JuliB’s.

    I rolled my eyes and said ‘whatever’, or occasionally I would thank them for the ‘thought’ and I reminded them that it was pointless but I was never offended.

    HOWEVER, I can now admit that I had a certain begrudging respect for the courage of their convictions. And now looking back, I could see that that respect was borne out of a longing, an envy, an emptiness in my heart.

    The Christians I most respected were often the ones who infuriated me the most. They wouldn’t back down. They responded with logic and reasoning. They provided counter arguments that challenged my assertions that they were unthinking robots trapped by their inherited traditions.

    And when a Catholic friend responded to my sarcastic tone with an acerbic wit and matched cynicism- I was stunned to the point of speechlessness.

    We were enjoying a beer by a lake one evening and I made a remark about the beautiful sunset reflecting off of the calm water, and his response was something like:

    “Yeah, what an unremarkable alignment of the sun’s rays colored by their trajectory through the atmosphere, all of which just happened to come about by mere random chance and unintentional design and noted by us as a result of our silly primordial sentimentality that has no other purpose other than it’s evolved and outdated coping mechanisms.”

    Of course I had no other reply but to eventually laugh. We both laughed. And from that day on, whenever I remarked about, beauty, love, or anything sentimental he would continue the running joke by responding with a cold cynical atheistic analysis of the situation.

    His cynical tongue-in-cheek responses stuck with me. They beat me at my own game. They caused an internal conflict between my head and my heart that began to shake my atheistic belief system. That was the beginning of my life back towards God.

    As far as my “obnoxious” behavior towards atheists in here- I suppose I am guilty as charged.

    I admit that it’s a little difficult for me to take their condescending attitude when their arguments are clearly falling apart and running in long circular diatribes that are designed to obfuscate rather than to clarify with a pointed response.

    I don’t suffer fools lightly.

    And atheists are not used to being forced into a defensive argument. When that happens, they quickly become hyper-arrogant to mask their inadequate positions.

    I should know. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I instantly recognize it.

    But I confess I am admittedly a hypocrite. And I have been the biggest fool of all. I was once one of their ilk.

    Still- a little pain and humiliation for an obnoxious and condescending atheist is not necessarily a bad thing. Their pain and anger can actually be used to transform their closed-mindedness because those seemingly negative responses are in reality cries from the soul.

    And when the soul cries out- it is very difficult to ignore it’s existence.

    My methods are admittedly flawed. This is true because I’m flawed. So Bender, do me a favor:

    Pray for me. Pray whatever prayer you feel I need. State it out loud. I welcome it.

    But don’t ever be shy or timid in your expression of prayer. And by all means- show the atheists the same measure of tough love that you have shown me.

    Christ needs the voices of disciples right now imperfect as they are.

    Silent deaf mutes who pray quietly with sweaty palms and squishy political-correct tolerances swamped in over-sensitivities to everything anti-Christian- He doesn’t need.

    His Church is already filled with them. And it’s been showing.

  • Last Sphere

    (Bender wrote – “Their error stems from ignorance, they don’t know any better. But those that do profess a faith in Christ do know better. And because you do, fraternal correction is called for.”)

    Ah yes Bender,

    So it’s okay to acknowledge atheists as “ignorant” as long as I don’t actually use that word.

    I see.

    In other words- it’s okay to give them the proverbial spiritual backhand as long as we disguise it in the form of a hug….. thereby offending them by patronizing them, but alas- they’re too ignorant to know the difference that we have just tricked them.

    Thanks for clearing that up for me Bender.

    …..yeah I know. I’m being “obnoxious” again aren’t I Bender……..

  • http://runswithangels.wordpress.com/ Jan

    It’s sad that people who are usually on the same page are spitting and hissing at each other because of semantics. In fact, the written gymnastics are getting kind of tiresome – aren’t we all just clever? This has gone way beyond debate and is borderline malicious.

    I don’t think it matters a whit if someone knows we are praying for them. The prayer itself is what’s important; that we pray with a contrite and cheerful, hope-filled heart for God’s justice and mercy is what matters.

    If we find it necessary to pray for atheists or agnostics or apostates; if we need to pray for believers, those who are sick, friends, relatives, criminals, bloggers; whomever we feel the urge to pray for, just do it. Whenever we talk to God we are the better for it, regardless of how He chooses to answer the prayer.

    And while I do think it’s important to be mindful of what we pray for and how, that is less important than actually praying. God, who knows everything, knows what is in our hearts and what our intent is.

  • Janice

    Sort of like ABQ Methodist, above.

    If someone denies God it is a bit of a stretch to call them a child of God, doncha think?

    The Bible states we are made in the “image of God.”

    That has great value — but in not the same as “child of God” (adopted, born again …)

    As for praying for atheists or anyone… It always tickles me that someone who disavows God would make such a big deal over being prayed for. After all since God doesn’t exist … doesn’t mean a thing. ;-)

  • http://runswithangels.wordpress.com/ Jan

    If we deny our parents, we are still their child, no?

  • maureen

    I am [very] late to this thread…but it occurs to me that Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko might be an appropriate intercessor for Hitch. Not that CH will do it himself: but he needs a lot of help with his illness now.

  • Andrew B

    Jesus commands us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. Now, Christopher Hitchens does not fall into either of those categories, but I believe the path is clear. We are not to “love those enemies who want us to love them” and to “pray for those who persecute us, but don’t really mean it.”

    God commands us to pray for both those we love and for those we don’t. I have many disagreements with those in power in this country, but I pray for them every night. I don’t know–nor care–if they want me to or not. Jesus told me to, so I do it.

    I pray for Christopher Hitchens, for the healing of his body and his spirit. I would like to think that he would think kindly of me for doing it, but I will do it regardless. I am simply doing what God requires.

  • Beatrix

    If God is influenced by prayer, is it not terribly unfair that a person – say Hitchens – should attract prayer simply because he is famous?

    If God is not influenced by prayer, why have the debate?

    If God wil do what He wants in the end, and all for the best etc., then really isn’t prayer just a personal communion with the divine?

    I’m asking as a sympathetic agnostic, just curious.

    [That's why we are encouraged to pray for the whole world, not just people we know...and why we pray for people we disagree with, like Obama. Here is a little of what I mean -admin]

  • Last Sphere

    Thank you for your link on prayer, Anchoress.

    I had just been asking God about prayer and penance over the last couple of days and lo and behold- your post came along!

    That was exactly what I needed when I needed it.

    The longer I pursue a life in Christ, the more I realize- there are no coincidences with God………..

  • AntiObmaLush

    Hitchens was touched by people praying for him?

    must be because his brother is a christian

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  • Anisthenes

    Have any of you folks actually read Hitchens’ book, “God is not great,” or is all this criticism simply ad hoc?

    I wouldn’t actually recommend his book to you.
    It would shatter a lot of wishful thinking that probably doesn’t do you or anyone else any harm, so what would be the use?

  • Beatrix

    That’s big of you, Anisthenes.

    Anchoress, thanks for the link.