“You don’t so much as become an atheist as find out that’s what you are. There’s no moment of conversion. You don’t suddenly think ‘I don’t believe this anymore.’ You essentially find you don’t believe it.”
Christopher Hitchens said the above in an interview with Sally Quinn. Like so many of his words, this really hit home for me. On Dec. 15, freethought lost a giant. Christopher Hitchens died at age 62. He leaves a hole in FFRF’s Honorary Board that no one can fill.
Hitch is one of my three favorite writers, along with Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain. I started each week by reading his Slate.com articles and eagerly awaited any Vanity Fair pieces or new videos of his debates. His article on the Ten Commandments inspired me to write a law review article comparing the Decalogue to our Constitution.
He was prolific, witty, brilliant and a whole host of other adjectives that writers with more talent and more knowledge of Hitch as a man will use to describe him. When I read Hitch, I wished I could write like him. When I heard him speak, I wished I could sound like him.
Though I never met him personally, it was hard not to feel like Hitch was a friend. His writing demolished the crumbling walls of my religious cognitive dissonance. Thousands of people realized that they were atheists and gathered the courage to say so because of his words. Without a doubt, that will be his greatest legacy. Though he died, his ideas will endure and help free thousands of future readers from the mind-forged manacles of religion.
The only immortality any person can hope to have is in the minds of our friends and family and in the words we pass on. Hitch had an almighty gift for both writing and speaking. Fortunately, he left us a library of literature and debates. Tonight, I’ll watch you trounce the Catholic Church, raise a glass of Johnny Walker Black and toast you, Hitch.
Thank you for all you have done. I’m going to miss you.
Andrew Seidel is the newest member of FFRF’s legal team and our first constitutional consultant. He joined FFRF in November. Read or listen to Hitchens’ “God Is Not Great” speech at the 2007 FFRF convention: