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Fr. Barron comments on Why I Loved to Listen to Christopher Hitchens
How utterly beautiful, respectful and right. Rest in peace Mr. Hitchens.
12/28/2011 9:59:51 AM
fr.barron is such a wonderful speaker,truly blessed.
12/28/2011 3:14:34 PM
Thank you so much Fr Barron for your beautiful comments about Christopher Hitchens. I totally agree with you, CH was a very Religous man - whether he knew it or not ! - his passion for justice is a benchmark for Religosity in my book. He had no time for 'fairy stories' that's true, he wanted earnestly to get to the crux of the matter, to the kernel of truth. he was a great human being and as you so correctly point out why not pray for him ? Would Jesus have turned him away ? Surely not! Jesus loves CH just as much as he loves a devout Christian, I'm certain that if CH had a vision of Christ a vision of infinite love wouldn't he be moved to unite with it ? very sad he has left us, so sad. May God keep him in his arms. JSC
12/28/2011 4:09:20 PM
Ralph Michael Stein
An outstandingly moving, apt and beautiful eulogy.
12/28/2011 4:30:42 PM
I have often written elsewhere that those who are fortunate enough to receive the grace of faith and persist in it and finally attain to Paradise, will be pleasantly surprised at the number of avowed "atheists"there, waiting to greeet them.
12/28/2011 5:46:24 PM
This is a nice tribute or sorts, but I think Fr. Barron trivializes Christopher Hitchens when he claims that the "sky fairy" was central to his critique of religion. The core of the Hitchens critique is that religion leads people to believe ridiculous things, and armed with those beliefs they are inspired to act in brutal, inhuman, or simply uncaring ways. I can't find any fault with that argument, and it doesn't rest on any sky fairy assertion. If you really want to pay tribute to Hitchens, dispense with magical thinking for a week and see where your thoughts take you.
12/28/2011 6:14:26 PM
I picked up a copy of "god is not Great" two days before he passed away, and was half-way through it when he passed. I couldn't put it down. I never laughed so much reading a book, nor agreed so often with many of an author's points, nor appreciated an author's compassion more. And although some of his arguments against religion, and Chirstianity in particular, made me shake and lower my head in sadness for there curt, and dismissive portrayal of religion I never could lose sight of his motivation and concern for humankind. So although I had never read any of his books before this one, and I had only listened to him on You Tube, I would've liked to have met the man.
In short: Ditto Fr. Barron's commentary.
12/28/2011 7:47:03 PM
I've never read anything by Christopher Hitchens, but it sounded as though he had a great mind. He had his own BELIEFS, we have ours, everyone has beliefs. You either do or don't believe in anything, so I don't argue beliefs. However, when anyones says they don't believe in God, they are saying that there IS a God not to believe in. I also will never understand why someone could or would be angry at anything they believe does not exist - makes abosolutely no sense to me. I think I've only met one true atheist in my life, and that man never allowed the word GOD to leave his mouth, i.e., why talk about something he didn't believe existed - this to him was rediculous. What I have discovered about atheists is that most I've met are former Christians, that at some point in their lives were treated very badly by others who called themselves Christians. I recall Jesus addressing the issue of those who cause others to loose their faith, and what happens to them. I personally would prefer the company of a thoughtful kind atheist than a thoughtless unkind "Christian"... this would neither take me to heaven or send me to hell... if we are to imitate Jesus, we should avoid playing favorites. "Forgive THEM Father for they know not what they do." THEM = all, does it not? We are responsible for what we know not for what we don't, are we not? I could be wrong, please God forgive me if I am, but that is my belief.
12/28/2011 8:19:05 PM
I have watched many of the Hitchens debates and always wished that Father Barron could have had an hour and a half with Hitchens solely on the issue of the existence and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Hitchens, without fail skirted this question at all times in every debate. Second, he was above all, by the end,a Celebrity with a capitol c who worshipped money and famous people.I doubt that one of his books will remain in print very long. Yet as Father, and others in the comments have noted, Mr Hitchens fate is with our loving God who just may find him good company. Plus, i have no doubt Mother Theresa put in a good word for him after introducing herself.
12/28/2011 8:23:10 PM
One of the things I find most attractive about Catholicism, the faith not the series, is the respect for those with different points of view. What kind of country, and world, would we have if we all could listen respectively to those with whom we disagree while looking for things to appreciate about the other as Fr. Barron obviously dis with Mr. Hitchens.
12/28/2011 8:31:57 PM
Does this not show that at heart the atheist is irrational?
If Hitchens is as brilliant as some claim him to be, how come he can't see how completely irrational his position was vis a vis justice and compassion? How come he feels compelled to make strawmen ( the fairies and flying spaghetti monsters)and proceed to ridicule them.
Surely a man with such a capacity to think would have seen the untennability of his belief. And yet he failed to. Because at the bottom of it all it was about I/Me/Myself deciding and being god. Sad that a man gifted with such intelligence did not put his heart to seeking the Truth when it can so easily be found.
12/28/2011 9:05:14 PM
Denny McGraw said:" The core of the Hitchens critique is that religion leads people to believe ridiculous things, and armed with those beliefs they are inspired to act in brutal, inhuman, or simply uncaring ways. I can't find any fault with that argument"
Yes, it is true that man has killed in the name of religion. However, the greatest goods have also been accomplished in the name of religion - Christianity in particular.
As for behaving in brutal, inhuman and uncaring ways - the best examples can be seen in societies where atheism is lived to the full - think Mao's China, Stalin's Russia, Hitler's Germany.
That atheists are moral is in fact in direct contradiction to what they believe. One may say that they are hypocritical and thank heavens for such hypocrisy.
12/28/2011 9:14:15 PM
There is no doubt that Mr. Hitchens was a gifted and excellent writer. But a choice he made when he rejected his Creator though he was endowed with such brilliance. What I found most disturbing was this brilliance in writing and speech has led many young and impressionable minds away from God. Let us be careful of today so call benevolent thinking about souls like Mr. Hitchens lest we give the impression he was okay in his brand of religion.
12/29/2011 6:22:02 AM
I pray for Mr. Hitchens soul and I hope, to his delight, he discovered he was wrong about God. However, I am struggling with all the praise he has been receiving for his intellectual honesty and passionate pursuit of justice. His behavior often betrayred those qualities and he wast often both hateful and cruel. When Ronald Reagan died, Hitchens called him a "stupid lizard," "dumb as a stump" and "an obvious phony and loon." On Mother Teresa: "The woman was a fanatic and a fundamentalist and a fraud, and millions of people are much worse off because of her life, and it's a shame there is no hell for your ***** to go to."
Fr. Barron help me reconcile those comments with intellectual honesty and the pursuit of justice.
12/29/2011 6:46:51 AM
Thank you Father for your words. I can't stop watching your video clips... You are what I wanted the Catholic Church to be in todays skeptical and frivolous world. I can answer my children's questions with your words, and most important, I can refute the arguments of my atheistic, lapsed catholic husband, with this clip about C. Hitchens. They apply to him so well... Stay well and keep arming us with the richness of your arguments! Merry Christmas!
12/29/2011 7:38:05 AM
Barron is contradicting himself. When one speaks of a god of the gaps, it is not just referring to scientific gaps. Theologians have moved out of this argument because they know that science is in a constant path of discovery. God being the reason "why there is something instead of nothing" is in fact another God of the gaps. Basically they have found a philosophical question that is still unanswerable. Of course as Aquinas did, they moved their God to Metaphysics as Aquinas did; a realm of linguistic immeasurable concepts; concepts that could very well be a side effect of how our cerebral frontal lobes are. Yet again, it's a Gap that needs filling.
I do not expect such an old chestnut from Barron. It was not Dostoyevsky that said that, but the words of his character, the evil brother Karamazov. Why would we care for justice? Because justice is part of the nature of Homo sapiens. Burden sharing and justice is found in other species in the animal kingdom, more so in ours. I also think everything is permissible, but by that I mean that we are the architects of our own actions and society and must live by the consequences. Even from a consequentialist ethics arguments, we value justice because we value the good consequences it brings. It is a fallacy of Barron to refer to a secular world as unethical and valueless.
12/29/2011 8:27:40 AM
We pray for Christopher Hitchens and ask the Lord for mercy on his soul because it's our Christian duty and because "you can't be any poorer than dead".
And so, it's very noble of Fr. Barron to want to see "good" in everybody (and how hard and impossible it is at times!), and especially those who can't defend themselves anymore - no matter how brilliantly.
However, I can't be seduced by the wit and "style" of Christopher Hitchens' rhetoric since it was employed for wrong reasons (his love for Trotsky, hatred for Mother Theresa, etc). He remained arrogantly defiant and stubborn to the end, shunning the "Light".
PS. The subscription to "Vanity Fair"? Really? That does boggle my mind.
12/29/2011 8:55:02 AM
Dear Fr Barron
I bless and thank you for your youtube video clips and the Catholicism series. Yet i can't help but wonder if you are being too "nice" to Christopher Hitchens. I will pray for him to be sure and i will wish that he found salvation and peace at last. Yet he is also the man who wrote a diatribe against mother Teresa and responsible for the loss of faith of many through his books. Not to mention his womenising etc. Literary skill alone does not justify a person.
I think i will agree with Fr Raymond d'souza when he says that "Christopher Hitchens was disinclined to show mercy to others, let alone ask for it. Yet the hope remains that he knows it now."
12/29/2011 11:16:36 AM
In response to Denny McGraw, Christopher termed the notion of a god as equivalent to a "celestial dictator". From that false notion of God rather than that of Exodus 3:14 "Ehyeh asher ehyeh", ridiculous thoughts may occur. Barron aptly contrasts the notion of a celestial dictator to God as "being itself" which means the whole of creation is rooted in God and therefore one another.
Maria, there were/are many totalitarian dictators who professed a Christian faith also. Franco, Batista, Mugabe, Trujillo and others. It's not enough to argue secular vs religious. The notion of man's humility and need for God's grace is pivotal.
Finally, Agnieszka asserts Fr. Barron is noble because he "wants to see good in everybody" but his commentary didn't specify a forced aspect to enjoying Hitchens. He allowed himself to enjoy him which is vastly different. If we think we can love our friends and enemies through our efforts then we are in fact saying we can achieve grace. If you think you can achieve grace you're not talking about any monotheism much less Christianity. Grace comes to us as pure gift which permits us to love and understand one another. This is exactly what Fr. Barron is doing. Torah scholar Emmanuel Levinas said "Love to the point where we truly understand the other person renders murder impossible."
I'm aware this post comes accross as high handed and I am certainly with error. However, I respectfully think it's important to try and frame Barron's remarks into a larger context. Best....
12/29/2011 12:15:04 PM
What is justice? What is good? What are good consequences?
Who decides if the consequences as good or bad, the pyschopath or the guy named Roger who posts comments on a religious website?
Is justice found in our human nature because it is an evolutionary by-product or because it is something designed by God? (Which came first the Chicken or the Egg?)
Mr. Hitchen's rantings longed for perfect unconditional justice - not just any old justice. I can think of a more religious longing? Will our desire for justice ever be quenched on this planet, in this world, in this universe? Will science be able to devise a drug to satiate this all-too-human longing? Will satisfaction of that desire be just or unjust? Who will decide? If we all get plugged into the Matrix, will the Truth of our existence be discovered or avoided?
12/29/2011 1:50:12 PM
The point I was making was that brutal, inhuman and unjust behaviour follow perfectly from atheistic belief.
The so called dictators with Christian beliefs can be said to have acted not according to Christian tenets.
However, atheistic dictators acted in perfect consonance with atheist belief. Which is the reason why the evil is so much more widespread.
So we can say that the Christian who does wrong while professing to be Christian is a hypocrite. The same can be said of the moral atheist. The only thing is the atheist hypocrisy is in fact a good thing. With the steady increase of atheism, if all these were not hypocrites and lived their beliefs to the full it would indeed be a hellish and tragic world.
12/29/2011 5:17:14 PM
Thanks for the thoughtful response. I'm with you and am better from your insight.
Good 2012 to you!
12/29/2011 6:23:49 PM
I'm not sure we understand each other, but I definitely agree that "[Father Barron] allowed himself to enjoy [Ch. Hitchens]" -- and way too much.
12/29/2011 7:42:10 PM
Forgive me for saying that this commentary has a slight scent of catholic condescension. You make a tribute to a man and in the same breath cut him down. You musn't mock a man's attire and then admire his shiny shoes. It's just not nice.
12/29/2011 9:21:56 PM
I am inclined to think that if Chris Hitchens was so intelligent and honest then he should have seen that his passion for justice was inconsistent with atheism. He should also have practiced justice himself, by being more careful with the truth in his attacks on other people.
However, I must admit that I too am a "Herod" when it comes to Hitchens. That is one of my favourite insights from Fr Barron. :)
12/29/2011 11:08:47 PM
I hope Christopher Hitchens repented before his death.
I just want to inform you, there are free saints' books available here:
Free Catholic Books
Books written by St Alphonsus Liguori, St Faustina, St John of the Cross, Sacred Music from the Vatican, and others.
They are in the public domain, so feel free to share them, or even publish them for the good of souls.
12/30/2011 4:06:41 PM
What a lot of philisophical chatter and bantering about an atheist! We seem hungry, almost deparate, to get to some truth intellectually, which has possibly escaped us. Do we all suffer from being a bit of an atheist ourselves? God Speed!
12/31/2011 12:03:28 PM
Edmundus wrote: "
I am inclined to think that if Chris Hitchens was so intelligent and honest then he should have seen that his passion for justice was inconsistent with atheism".
And that is precisely what boggles the mind. If truly intelligent how can he miss something so obvious?
1/1/2012 12:39:38 AM
I have known a few atheists in my life (although I am not one of them), and none of them have tried to kill me, to rob me of my personal goods, or otherwise harm me. When I ask them where their moral beacon comes from (if not God) they usually reply with something approximating "empathy".
BTW my dog (who is an atheist) does not kill me in my sleep either. For him I assume it is less about empathy and more about pragmatism, since I am his meal ticket. Nevertheless, even without a concept of God, my dog seems capable of love and loyalty, and he seems to enjoy his life. I would not call him a hypocrite, although I suspect he wouldn't mind if I did.
1/1/2012 12:49:06 PM
One big difference and distressing dilemma for a CH vs a Fr. RB: -- if a RB does everything exceptionally well in his faith life/discipleship life and is a well prepared and brilliant evangelist...but sadly convinces no one to become a believer in God and Jesus...that RB can be at rest and be totally at peace...because that RB knows that it is not his job...he is a vicar...a disciple and representative of God...the Great Other is truly in control of everything...and can make good come from all things. Now when a CH can't convince anyone to become an atheist or an atheistic-humanist...or to quit practicing his silly Christian faith...when a CH fails at this...he can't be at rest and at peace...because when he fails...there is no "great other" in control of anything let alone everything...there is no one else to get the job done...no one else to make "good" come from "bad"...its a totally failed endeavor...end of story. Yes, I too loved to listen to Mr. CH...have a beer and a cigar and listen to him, but I love my rest and peace of mind and hate my cynicism...so I never bought Mr. CH's "passionate" pleas for justice and truth. Lastly, my dear Mr. CH...RIP...yes dear God...let him RIP...he has earned it. Amen
1/1/2012 1:04:56 PM
I agree with Fr. Barron. Christopher had religious sensibility combining both justice and love. It is unfortunate he was never gifted with the faith to realize that his quest for love and justice was in truth a search for God. I pray for him and and somehow confident God will welcome him into his Kingdom because of all the good he did and the happiness he brought to those who loved listen to him. He was a modern St. Augustine despite himself. How ironic.
1/2/2012 10:45:18 AM
The book "Hitch-22" reveals much about Christopher Hitchens. Christopher Hitchens was far from perfect even as he desired perfection in others. GOD sets the standard for "perfection" not Christopher Hitchens. GOD Bless
1/2/2012 7:17:41 PM
I leave anyone who berates Mother Theresa to God's justice and mercy. Good writing and a "longing for justice" seem quite distant from religiosity. In any case, the basic weakness of atheism is that it is, of itself, a religion.
1/2/2012 8:45:31 PM
Excellent video. Thank you.
1/3/2012 7:19:18 PM
Atheism is incongruent with empathy.
That atheists cite empathy as the basis for moral values is just a confirmation that atheists do not really live what they believe.
Somewhere in their thought process they keep failing to see the disjoint between their religious belief (yes, atheism is a religious belief) and the moral precepts they follow.
1/3/2012 8:53:24 PM
Francis tan tc
Hitchens perhaps unwittingly, even unknowingly supports the notion of a Creator whose true essence is goodness. One who promotes justice stands on the side of good and therefore of God. No one understands the true nature of the creator, and therefore none can either prove or disprove his existence. It is, I submit, therefore excusable for Hitchens not to acknowledge or to profess him the way some of us do.
1/4/2012 3:03:30 AM
I always felt guilty about appreciating Christopher Hitchens. People would look at me in dismay when I would say that he was my favorite atheist. But, he was eloquent, he could turn a phrase better than almost all in history and he was passionate. Fr. Barron put all that in perspective in this video. I will continue to pray for Mr. Hitchen's soul and thank God for allowing us to hear, see, and listen to this very special human being.
1/7/2012 12:53:44 PM
Thank you Fr. Barron.
1/8/2012 2:05:25 PM
A beautifully argued and cogent piece by Fr Robert on the religiosity of Christopher Hitchens despite his apparent opposition to the concept of religious belief. May Christopher Hitchens rest in peace and God Bless his soul.
1/8/2012 3:03:06 PM
I too have been a "secret" admirer of Mr. Hitchens and was saddened to hear of his death. The passion & truth with which he so often spoke could both inspire & frustrate. And while his "manner" may not have been the most polite, I wonder perhaps if that is how people felt about some (maybe most) of the Biblical prophets in their own times. I remember Mr. Hitchens & others like him whenever I pray the Gloria: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will." He was a man of good will, may he rest in God's peace. Requiescat in pace.
1/9/2012 1:33:06 PM
I think the point Fr. Barron is making -- and perhaps anticipating Denny McGraw's comments -- is that without God, by what meaningful measure can anything be called inhumane, brutal or uncaring? These adjectives presume an unconditional objective that one can measure the activity at issue against. That's where you lose me -- I too am shaken by what has been done in or under the name of God historically, but that's because of what I understand the God of the Universe to be. If I didn't think there was a God of the Universe, I'd be less scandalized by such actions than I would be baffled by why I care.
1/9/2012 1:44:42 PM
There may have been passion in Hitchen's speech, but truth? Perhaps some, ultimately not since his consistent denial of
God and denigration of religion can hardly be labelled as "truth".
The prophets of the Bible spoke for and about God which is hardly what Hitchens did. So no, Hitchens cannot be classed with the Biblical prophets unless those who deny God can now be called a prophets.
1/9/2012 8:25:05 PM
Good point Tom Hrdlick
1/9/2012 8:26:48 PM
And here in lies the problem in dealing with persons such as Mr. Hitchens, in stating that he spoke truth I am not of course stating that everything he said was all true. I quite suspect that you, Fr. Barron, myself and others also fall into this category on occasion. So in suggesting that prophets may have also been vilified for the manner in which they spoke, I am simply saying (and echoing I believe what Fr. Barron has said in his comments) that persons such as Hitchens (let's call them humanists, publicly avowed atheists though they may be), often require a different way of listening to in order to more fully discern what they are saying (whether they intended such discernment or not). The paradoxical question that Fr. Barron is implicitly raising here is: "Does God ever use persons like Hitchens to speak truth?" or are we to simplistically believe that truth is or may only be transmitted by "orthodox" methods and any "truth" in Hitchens' work is simply a happy accident. You can probably guess what I think. In the newly revised Second Eucharistic Prayer the priest prays the following: "Remember our brothers and sisters who have fallen asleep in the hope of the resurrection" - clearly a reference to Christians; but then he goes on to say, "and all who have died in your mercy." We know of course that the depth and richness of God's mercy and wisdom is capable of reaching everyone, everywhere, in everything; and that, of course, included Mr. Hitchens and yes even his work.
1/9/2012 10:30:27 PM
I don't think prophets were vilified for the manner in which they spoke. They were vilified for what they said.
God does use all kinds of people to communicate His truth but in saying that, we can only say that Hitchens spoke some truth because we already have basis for said truth - God. As for the Eucharistic Prayer, I don't think that even comes into the picture. God's mercy is unbounded but that has nothing to do with whether what Hitchens spoke was true and whether he can be classed as a prophet.
And this is what I find completely irrational about the atheist who puts pen to paper and tries to convince us of "their truth" when as far as atheism is concerned, there is no such thing. All of Hitchen's musings and thoughts are (according to atheistic precepts) nothing more than cellular excretions of the brain.
Since the mission of the Church is supposed to be to proclaim the Gospel that is Christ and to draw people to Him, I fail to see how Hitchens - who so passionately strives to rid the people of this "delusion" and draw as many people as he can from the faith - can be classed as a prophet much less an avenue of God's truth. It must be said though that God does bring good out of the bad and this just may be the case in this instance. God allows these things because in the end His Truth will triumph.
1/10/2012 6:45:39 AM
Perhaps it's time for Fr. Barron to make a comment on this discussion.
My opinion is that the reason religious people are drawn to Hitchens despite his atheism is that his evident mission in life was to root out injustice and other evils in the world some of which were caused religious intent gone wrong, a daily occurrence in our time. And he did this both a temperate, scintillating and even humorous way. For this he deserves praise and admiration and in that sense is doing God's work despite himself. May God have mercy on his soul.
1/10/2012 8:34:43 AM
While I am certain that Hitch could easily drink me under the table, given his "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" attitude towards life I think I would have *loved* to sit down with him over some drinks and just yap away, all night long. I love it when someone is that forthright about who they are, where they stand, etc. LOVE it. I didn't agree with a lot of what Hitch said, but I respected his strength of character a lot. :)
1/10/2012 10:48:41 AM
I very much liked your video and your thoughts, however I think the way you describe God makes him seem pantheistic, I know that is not your view of God but it does not seem very much like a personal God to me to simpy say that god is goodness, that God is justice etc I think he is much more than that. tell me what you think if you have time, thank you very much.
1/10/2012 8:21:29 PM
Christopher Hitchens had a sense of morality about him, that is true, and he concerned himself with injustice. But then so do many other middle class intellectuals. He drew his own conclusions also which weren't always consistent with popular belief; his dislike of abortion a case in point. So then like many people, he was a complex fellow, and not easily pigeon holed. At the same time, it is very easy for someone who is strong in their faith to listen to Hitchens with a wry smile, delight in his wit, identify the strands of truth within his arguments.....and point out his errors. I cry however for all those people whose ignorance and prejudices against the Christianity were cemented by his constant ridicule of Jesus and the Faith; and all those who were on a process of moral awakening and movement towards God, but whom he distracted by his unsophisticated misrepresentation of Christian ideas. As Saint Augustine wrote....."wisdom and folly can be clothed alike in plain words or the finest flowers of speech". Hitchens mastered the art of making folly sound good. I’ll give him credit for that.
1/11/2012 6:50:06 AM
That is an excellent summary. Kudos!
Christopher Hitchens is a house divided. I question his intellectual integrity because a seemingly brilliant mind must have seen the problem with his intellectual position vis a vis morality. And yet he remained in that position.
With regards Hitchens - the Emperor has no clothes.
1/11/2012 6:20:52 PM
On the notion of justice I'd add the following. In their own minds.... pro-choice feminists stand for justice, gay rights activists stand for justice, and islamic fundamentalist terrorists, if you asked them, would say they stand for justice as well. Hitchens talked of justice too. But his notion of justice ...like those groups I've mentioned, does not involve self-giving, self-denial or self-moderation. He like many people are all for justice, until justice asks that they give up or refrain from something, or else extend themselves, in order to give another what they deserve. Moderation, self-restraint and sacrifice were not the hallmarks of Hitchens.
Indeed, was he ever ‘just’ to Christ? I don’t think for a minute that he showed sufficient respect to the Christian faith as a non-believer. I don’t believe that he thought deeply about Christ’s words, nor engaged in considered exploration of Catholic teaching, as you would if you had even some minor respect for a tradition of thought which dates over 2000 years. If this man truly understood, for example, Catholic teaching on chastity in marriage he would not have seen the Church as 'responsible' for global poverty by ‘promoting’ in his words ‘compulsory reproduction.’ He would not have made the big error in thinking that 'being open to life’, for married couples equates to having intercourse constantly. For Hitchens, the notion of self-restraint in the pursuit of higher values was beyond comprehension.
1/12/2012 4:35:26 AM
Responding to the entry from Andrés Casares, I too felt a similar twinge when I first heard Fr. Barron's description of God. But after thinking about it some more, I had a bit of an epiphany when I thought that maybe he is saying that it is simply impossible to "prove" the existence of God in the sense that someone like Hitchens might be using that term, i.e., show Him to me, take me to Him, point Him out to me, the way you can with every other known thing that exists in the natural world, etc. You can't prove God's existence that way because God is Himself the very foundation of everything that exists in the natural world, as opposed to a distinct and identifiable part of the natural world. And unlike everything that exists in the natural world, God is not the identifiable effect of other distinct causes -- the essence of proving the existence of something as Hitchens might understand it -- but rather the unconditional, uncaused, eternal "cause" that underlies and creates and wills all of the identifiable "things" the existence of which Hitchens would admit to. God is not a "thing" to be shown to Hitchens, rather God is the source of all such things, and we come to an initial understanding that something like God must exist not because we can see or prove His existence in a material sense, but because we can recognize that a world full of "caused" things cannot possibly come from nothing. It must come from something, and that something must itself not be conditional upon the existence of other things, i.e., must be "uncaused." I think that's the point that might be implicit in Fr Barron's description -- but let's defer to Fr Barron on that. Once there, we then come to an understanding of who God not by our natural reasoning per se, but by turning to His revelation of Himself to us in Holy Scripture and in His Son, and we then go deeper by getting into a true and loving relationship with Him and His Son through the sacraments, prayer, etc. That is the personal God you refer to, and obviously that is the ultimate reality that the Church testifies to, but I think what Fr Barron was trying to respond to is the initial question that someone like Hitchens poses, which is "prove that God exists without simply pointing to the Bible and asking me to take that on faith."
1/12/2012 8:51:16 AM
Fr Barron is very charitable indeed in his assessment of Hitchens. But how does he reconcile Hitchen's 'burning justice' with Christ's own sense of justice 'But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea.' Can he deny that Hitchens' 'brilliant' words and writing may have led at least some of the little ones astray?
1/12/2012 11:34:39 AM
Renee Spiteri, once again a brilliant comment.
Carmel, an excellent point as well.
1/12/2012 6:40:31 PM
I have been down the road of convinced atheism myself. What led me down that road was not ill treatment from those purporting to be Christian. It was simply a lack of observable evidence that would require the existence of a God to explain it - in particular, evidence that I could personally observe. Yes, I read the New Testament, and what I saw in the Church up to that point did not square with what scripture said I should be seeing. "Greater works than these..." comes to mind, along with Mark 16:17.
I was searching for my own "unifying theory" to make sense of the world as I saw it, and those who say that God is not needed as an explanation for that world were winning the argument. Then I had a set of experiences that turned my internal arguments around to require there to be a God. This personal experience does not translate to "proving" to anyone else there is a God, unless that person has enough trust in what I say to trust that there is indeed a God.
I therefore pray that others may have personal encounters with God that they indeed recognize as such. For me, personal experience undid all of the arguments for atheism.
2/11/2012 11:22:58 AM
As Jesus said,
How I wish that you were hot or cold...
And proceded to condemn the "lukewarm".
There may be something to what Father says here, for certainly Hitchens was not lukewarm. There is always hope that he has found God.
3/10/2012 1:34:07 PM
you're so good Fr Barron. Chris Hitchens compelled you to act, did he not, when you'd listen to his speeches & read his magazine and news articles. You're seeing a spirituality in him and reflecting on it, something perhaps he did not do during his life. But you're right in saying that he cared deeply about his fellow human beings...so he was not egocentric, but came out of himself in his writings. This could be another sign for a buried belief in God. Your praying for him, an extension of your grief, also must help him along his journey to heaven. Our belief as Catholics means that when we pray for the dead and those in purgatory we are granted indulgences-and the hope that God will bring those who have died and those in purgatory closer into his embrace and in communion with His love.
5/21/2012 2:31:04 PM
Hello Father Barron
You seem to be a great admirer of the late Christopher Hitchens. I'm surprised by this! What do you think of Hitchens' treatement of God, the Church, and Mother Teresa?
6/26/2012 5:54:16 AM
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Answering the Skeptics
Book of Eli
calling of the disciples
Fr. Robert Barron
Of Gods and Men
Pope John Paul
To Rome With Love
Tree of Life
Word From Rome
Word On Fire
"Intentional Discipleship": A commentary by Fr. Barron
"The Fault In Our Stars": A commentary by Fr. Barron (spoilers)
Bill Maher and Biblical Interpretation: A commentary by Fr. Barron
Fr. Barron comments on the meaning of Easter
Noah: A commentary by Fr. Barron
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