Hitchens

By | June 20, 2007

Here’s a much more interesting challenge to C. Hitchens..his own brother Peter. Fast forward to about 20 minutes. Its a short piece but achieves more than we did at the Gate…

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8 thoughts on “Hitchens

  1. PaddyAnglican

    Sarah : interesting clip. I had already read a review of Hitchens book in the ST culture section this past weekend. The reviewer, Christopher Hart saw through the circular nature of most of his arguments (“All wicked rulers are in essence religious, and therefore all religion is wicked”) but bizarrely in my opinion seemed to swallow the portrayl by Hitchins of Jesus as anti-Gentile, otherworldly and focussed on what I call the “I’m a Christian : Get me out of here!” attitude to the World.

    Sadly this ‘evacuation theology’ is what Christianity has for the most part presented to the World and one can hardly blame Hitchens and the like for reacting against it. But it is soooooo wrong! Jesus was not about pie in the sky when you die! When he was asked to show his disciples how to pray he said “thy kingdom come ON EARTH as it is in Heaven! In other word’s this world is not simply a waiting room for something better : this is it! As Rob Bell a contemporary writer and Christian pastor put it when speaking in Dublin last week: “Nobody gets beamed up!”

    And as for being anti-Gentile…..what Bible was he reading?…..This is the Jesus who was so radically inclusive and contemptuous of barriers and boundaries that he got up enough noses to get crucified! Tax collectors, prostitutes, Samaritains, lepers, all the unwanted people on the margins were the ones Jesus hung out with : despite what the Christian Right might like to tell us.

    The problem is not so much with Jesus but with Christianity as a religion and how it presents (misrepresents) Jesus and in that sense Hitchens is justified in much of his criticism. As Mahatma Gandhi famously said: “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

    If you want a great read on the Church’s misrepresentation of Jesus, which is as much for atheists as Christians can I suggest “A heretics guide to eternity” by Spencer Burke which manages to pull Jesus out from under all the shit the Church and Religion has heaped on top of him through two millennia! Its on amazon at http://tinyurl.com/2zeutd and well worth checking out.

    Just to give you a flavour some of the points he makes are as follows: “Nowhere does Jesus call his followers to start a religion. Jesus invitation to his first disciples was to follow him”….”religion at its most basic, provides a way of understanding the relationship between humans and the divine…for centuries, religion generally developed along the arc of human progress, but it no longer seems to be the case. At some point, religion dug in its heels and stopped advancing………..Religion works best in fixed societies…where ideas are static and boundaries are clearly defined. But this is not the postmodern world……Religion by nature always tries to divide…Spirituality seeks common ground……….What if God’s primary occupation isn’t punishment for sin?………….The role of religion is to point the way to God, not to control the flow. The goal is not to make people forever dependent on the Church………..Maybe the greatest gift the Christian religion can offer the world right now is to remove itself from the battle for God……In our current culture, it isn’t the local church or pastor that is providing a compelling vision of the afterlife but musicians, filmmakers and authors……….The message of Jesus is about making connections with each other and rooting the world in the love of God………part of faith’s role in society is to inject a vision of another way of being human…..grace is a miracle because it is not controlled, structured, shaped, or handed out by human beings or their religions”

    Many in our churches today would dismiss this as ‘heresy’ and they would be right but they forget that the one who we wrongly call the ‘founder’ of the Church was the greatest heretic of all. And ironically I think Christopher Hitchens would be much more comfortable in Jesus’ presence than many of those who are a part of that institution we call Church.

    Sorry to be so long-winded Sarah but this confusion of Jesus with Christianity really gets me wound up!
    Thanks for providing a safety valve! 

  2. joseph

    What a load of old tosh! You make many good points but undermine it by the simple fact that you still are just another superstitious person who surrenders your critical faculties now not in the name of “religion” but some guy called “jesus” who may or may not have existed at all.

    You go on about he said this this and he said that good grief! More of the same religious nonsense dressed up/reconstructed as some sort of guise as “spirituality” or goodness knows what else.

    HOW ABOUT Tir na nOg AND any number of stories and legends of old down the ages. Of course there is always some Kernel of truth to them in the sense that yes most likely there was some figure who we know and understand as a guy called Jesus floating around the middle east. So what?

    We are supposed to believe some of the rubbish that is written in the new testament by four authors many years after the guy was even around? Gimmie a break!

    HOW BLOODY CONVENIENT THAT CNN were not around then eh? Or that we didnt have phone fax or email! Pity eh? Just think how well we might better understand Jesus then!

    All these various belief systems are ULTIMATELY rubbish but have come from a time when they served many purposes. Even now we as a species cannot expect that people such as Hitch will be in the majority for that takes time and some preoccupation with the subject. Most ppl just get along with their lives and leave the “theology” [codology more like – philosophy by contrast can be taken seriously] to those who have the time and inclination to study it and the finer points.

    If ppl in a modern rich developed country like ours still can vote in ppl like B Flynn and M Lowry despite it being obvious who and what they are do you really think it is even a blip to think same or similar populous have any problem going along with years and years of tradition and indoctrination of the religious kind?

    Not bloody likely to be a problem at all.

    anybody who believes in JC is someone who wants to and or has been indoctrinated through culture etc etc. Ghandi BTW was also a bit of a fool too on many fronts [just read his DOCUMENTED views about the dealing with the Nazis] and has been lionized the same way humans tend to do with various figures in history. Its part of our nature – just look at the power of celebrity nowadays! In Gandhis case if ne wanted to get a real hint at the CONCEITED arrogance of the man one only has to recall his famous quip when asked about western civilization = it would be a good idea! Ha ha very funny coming from a man whose culture and country was and is so much more backward than just about any in the western world.

    Notice Indias wonderful caste system its poverty in the face of acquiring atomic weapons which is frankly as sick as it gets. By contrast the USA spends a fraction of its wealth of weapons and can well afford to have the big toys it has.

    Hitchens Brother done very poorly in my view and made an incredibly stupid assertion about morality which flies in the face of all evidence. Human beings get their morality from themselves! As thinking creatures we are able to observe and act upon our thoughts and actions.

    ALL RELIGION IS MAN MADE thus flawed and totally aspirational. NEXT TIME THEIR IS A DEITY IN TOWN how about it makes a video tape with detailed instructions and a manifesto. NEVER GONNA HAPPEN IS IT?

    The idea is that religion does indeed poison everything but that does not mean or destroys everything. In the book it is used in the sense of TAINTING everything it touches. Whereas the HYPE in the media distorts that meaning to suggest it destroys everything – which it clearly does not manage to do – though sometimes not for want of trying!

    Smoking cigs is TOTALLY STUPID THING TO DO yet people have been doing it for hundreds of years! [very intelligent ppl too at that!]

    Intelligent people can be stupid! Hence some great people allow themselves the delusion. In the same way as cigs have become part of human history so has religion and in the modern world this, as per the capitalism model has meant the mergers of religions into the main ones which have mass adoption by many millions and billions of ppl each having had it handed down form the previous generations and so on it goes.

    Technology changes things remorselessly but culture takes virtually forever to change from it core. Unless it is wiped out first [as in destroyed or marginalized – think aboriginals or American indians etc etc] which has frequently happened throughout human history.

    Eventually religion as we see it now and in the guise of Islam Christians etc etc etc etc will all become a thing of the pasta and religion will take the form of something very different. For example what would happen if intelligent beings from another planet made contact with us in say 5 thousand years from now? Would we ask them about allah or jesus or other such local superstitious nonsense? Well we would if we wanted to embarrass ourselves!

    Tell them they are gentiles. infidels or such like!

    The real point is that if ppl want to be superstitious and call it religion then that is fine. Just keep it separate and distinct from the operating of and functioning of society and government. By all means be religious and believe what you will. just keep it to yourself and don’t abuse my tolerance for your superstitions..

    “Jesus said” nah nah na na GOOD CHRIST SUCH “UNTHINKING” REALLY DOES MY HEAD IN

  3. PaddyAnglican

    Joseph – thanks for response – you said: “some guy called “jesus” who may or may not have existed at all………….Of course there is always some Kernel of truth to them in the sense that yes most likely there was some figure who we know and understand as a guy called Jesus floating around the middle east. So what?”

    Agreed – identifying the historical Jesus is not straightforward – but I think that the tradition/movement that grew up around him must have at least in part reflected his values which are indeed far removed from contemporary religious institutions. I am not a literalist when it comes to the Gospels – they do as you say come from a period somewhat removed from the events they relate and they are not history in the way we understand history. If our media had been around then I suspect we would still have had a very conflicting picture as to what was going on – compare Sky News and the Guardian Newspaper and the coverage they might give of the same event – some things don’t change – perspective and prejudice does largely determine our experience of anything. Theology is no more speculative than philosophy and Christian theology is grounded in Greek Philosophy (part of the problem).

    You then say: “By contrast the USA spends a fraction of its wealth of weapons and can well afford to have the big toys it has.”

    My response to that facile statement is CAN WE?

    and further: “Human beings get their morality from themselves!”

    Well that might explain the morality you display in your advocacy of the US playing with Nukes!

    and: “Eventually religion as we see it now and in the guise of Islam Christians etc etc etc etc will all become a thing of the pasta”

    No argument there!

    and: “The real point is that if ppl want to be superstitious and call it religion then that is fine. Just keep it separate and distinct from the operating of and functioning of society and government.”

    I’m so glad Martin Luther King didn’t follow your advice !

    and finally: “”Jesus said” nah nah na na GOOD CHRIST SUCH “UNTHINKING” REALLY DOES MY HEAD IN”

    See even you can’t get jesus out of your head – even invoking his name to dismiss him! He He :-)

  4. joseph

    cults have always been around so this guy jesus hit the jackpot! He made it very big thats all. The ideas attributed ton him are indeed great ones – or at least the ones we [HUMANS] PICK OUT are. Elsewhere there are similar figures.

    In the middle east its some gobshite going by the name of Mohamed wjo made equally absurd claims.

    further a field one can find other blokes going by various names doing similar things

    buddha [by far the best religion coz it actually is not really a religion at all!]

    confucion and many others etc etc

    I invoke all srt of things out f figure of speech. I often find myself saying OMG and such like but it is just a legacy of how language is used n the culture – NO MORE!

    Here is something amusing to check out http://www.thegodmovie.com/

    as for the usa

    ur words are lame coz u know well or should know that the atmic weapon was developed only after the USA found itself in a major war and race with nazi germany

    this in turn led to an arms race with another totalitarian state in the form of the ussr

    So if the usa liked it or not the usa found itself in the position it did not by design or choice but mainly circumstance

    having nukes became part of the reality of the international landscape

    It is a developed country which can afford to waste money and resources like this – INDIA AND PAKISTAN can not! They are a disgrace

    The best measure of nations is possibly the UN human development index – Have a look at how the USA does and then get back to me!

    USA is by no means perfect but thank jasus for it WARTS AND ALL

  5. The Crewser

    Give up those magic mushrooms Joseph or you will confound yourself completely

  6. brian t

    The words “can” and “worms” spring to mind. I’m still amazed how many preconceptions and assumptions (of the prosaic variety) people bring to any religious debate.

    As a minimum, how about acknowledging the way Catholicism pervades Irish life, and warps Irish perceptions of anyone who doesn’t share that particular brand of delusion? It’s a big world, and parts of it get along just fine without any of this Judeo-Christian-Islamic brainwashing…

  7. jon r

    Paddy,

    I really hate to do this without actually being able to provide the passage (but I will once I get my hands on a bible), but the author/editors of the scriptures actually have Yeshua, a believer of the Yaweh faith, telling the disciples to not go unto the Gentiles. So (I just got it – Matthew 10: 5-6) maybe Hitchens ( I don’t mean to be an apologist here) did have his hands on a bible at some point.

    But you are bang on with the nobody gets beamed up bit. I mean, yeah, Yeshua was not a Christian (although in 1st Testament blood sacrifice, resurecction, and immortality of the individual soul are introduced) and could no way be held responsible for the institution’s later ideologies and dogmas.

    Joseph,

    You sound drunk and come off arrogant. Your points are valid but you rip them off from the “Hitch”. Settle down and your arguments will seem more lucid. We are all indoctrinated by culture, whether you quote “Jesus”, Chomsky, Billy Graham, or brian t. Althusser thought he existed outside of culture’s collection of ideas but he was a maniac.

    I would like to comment on Hitchens treatment of Mother Teresa. During a symposium on religuous education I brought up some of the criticisms directed towards her. The response was less than warm. Nobody challenged the allegations, or attempted to disprove them (eg., her ties to the Duvalier Family of Haiti, criticisms by Indian citizens that she did nothing to alleviate poverty), but rather they challenged the very idea of challenging her. This to me is problematic. The notion that there are some people who are infallible (despite what they do) worries me, and ought to be worrisome, especially when they are people held in such high esteem.

    Jon R

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