Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Is Christopher Hitchens offended by prayer?

When we found out from Mr.Hitchens that he was struck by cancer some of us responded spontaneously, the only way we could, by offering our thoughts and prayers for his recovery. For those already suffering from the disease and the inevitable side effects of treatment, our understanding and appreciation of what he is going through these days would be even more personal, even more immediate and real.
I was diagnosed with lymphoma in late March and the response from family, friends and even strangers to this day, in terms of prayer and positive encouragement, has been overwhelming and humbling.
As one of the many followers of Christopher Hitchens I have responded on Twitter with offers of prayers when I heard the news. Mr.Hitchens joined some of my sick friends and relatives for whom I spend a few minutes of silent prayer daily. Of course, as everyone who followed his writings and debates I knew full well that he was an ardent atheist. However, that I would be committing a grievous crime by praying for an atheist never occurred to me. Until I have received the first of several, at first mild then increasingly nasty tweets, taking me to task for “inflicting pain on a very sick (atheist) man” with my prayers. The self-appointed atheist zealot who so indignantly lashed into me for “prayers”, a Brazilian woman living in DC, carried on with her hateful tweets for a couple of days,literally tried to deny my right to thought and concern, if it included the notion of prayer.
Prayer is thought dressed in love and concern.
While I strongly believed in my inalienable right to pray for whomever and whatever I choose, a distant and somewhat nagging self-doubt crept into my mind. What if Christopher Hitchens, would find out and indeed resent, even feel hurt by my prayers?
Thankfully, and so timely for me, the Hugh Hewitt Radio Show, just today, aired a superb interview with Mr. Hitchens, where one of the very first questions from Hugh was concerning prayers for an atheist and how would Mr.Hitchens respond. Predictably, decent men are not necessarily defined by their religion or lack thereof.Mr.Hitchens said that he was touched by people offering prayers, even though he was not convinced they would help, but certainly could not hurt.
That was enough for me.
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