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Salman Rushdie Symposium @ Emory w/ Christopher Hitchens February 28, 2010

Posted by rationalskeptic in Christopher Hitchens.
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Salman Rushdie, Deepa Mehta, and Christopher Hitchens in discussion

On Friday February 26, 2010, I attended the Salman Rushdie Symposium at Emory University for the opening of the Salman Rushdie archive at Emory.

If you have read this blog at any length, you have realized that Christopher Hitchens is an enormous influence of mine, and on Friday I was finally able to see him in discussion and meet him afterwards.

The discussion was titled “The Only Subject Is Love: Imagining Better Worlds,” and they stayed on topic at the beginning of their discourse, but Rushdie and Hitchens took the talk to different areas of interest.  Christopher Hitchens talked about how compulsory love from an authoritarian dictator was an evil concept while simultaneously commanded to fear him. Hitchens talks about these issues in many debates, articles, speeches, etc but it resonated more so considering the topic of discussion, which was love.

Christopher having a post symposium cigarette (My wife Lesley, Hitchens, and myself)


One interesting comment made during the discussion, was when Rushdie said that he offered up the title of “Hitch-22” for Hitchens’ forthcoming memoir, which I thought was an interesting little factoid.

Emory University had the event filmed and should be available on their website sometime next week.

All in all it was an incredible event, and I will be posting a more thorough review soon.

Christopher Hitchens' autograph


Hitchens and I talking about Chomsky and Christianity



1. rama0999 - April 16, 2010

What’s it like talking to Hitchens 1 on 1? Feel a bit overawed?
Great blog by the way.

2. JSL - September 10, 2010

Part of the problem with listening to Hitchens on religion is that he rarely has a deep or even superficial understanding of his biggest gripes with it.

Case in point:

“Christopher Hitchens talked about how compulsory love from an authoritarian dictator was an evil concept while simultaneously commanded to fear him.”

Well, how about some stern, honest talk from a father to his snotty nosed brat of a son about how the gift of life should compel him to love, gratitude, and respect? And how about a sharp warning that failure to honor the father by breaking the house rules, whether he likes them or not, will result in punishment to be feared?

Hitchens cannot see the worth of God, God’s glory, or His majesty. The qualities of God that make Him irresistible to believers and compel them to love Him are utterly hidden from the eyes of such pride and arrogance.

God’s purity and holiness are such a consuming fire that when human corruption meets His righteousness face to face, those who denied Him will actually “amen” their own damnation as just.

Hitchens and his disciples (who revere the man as a god, and he seems more than willing to accept the affection) see God as an authoritarian dictator because they are would be dictators themselves…only too powerless to assert themselves in any real way.

Is God cruel and unjust? I’ve been listening to hate and murder subtly flow from Hitchens mouth for years, and shudder to think of the consequences should heaven’s throne ever be handed to him. Would be a totalitarianism too terrible to consider. Such is the anger and fury of little men with self-promoting ideas and no power to force them upon the rest of humanity.

Wait…I thought such attitudes were strictly the province of religion. Think again. Such attitudes are rather the province of men who would dethrone God to place themselves in His seat.

I deeply disagree with Hitchens, but hope for his recovery and wish him a long, happy life. I was at the debate in Birmingham and bought his memoirs. I had no lecture for him in the autograph line…just a word of appreciation for his commitment to the debate considering his circumstances.

But he doesn’t understand, I don’t believe, the totalitarian and dictatorial spirit that itches right beneath the surface of his own skin. And I believe it is this – not God’s poor character and egotistical demand of sovereignty – that eats at him so much. God has what He wants, and its intolerable to the man.

3. Robert - October 18, 2010

What did Christopher have to say about Noam Chomsky?

4. Martin - December 8, 2010

To the fool who wrote the long melodramatic piece about how listening to Hitchens is a problem because… “Part of the problem with listening to Hitchens on religion is that he rarely has a deep or even superficial understanding of his biggest gripes with it.” You haven’t been listening to Hitchens if that’s what you got out of any one of his speeches or novels. Go hug your bible, it’s worth nothing to the rest of us.

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