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MORNING WITH CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS
July 8, 2008
 
Early this morning, the birds woke me, as on every summer day. I lay and listened for a long time. It seemed to me that their song spoke to me of the One who made them: their miraculous tiny bodies, the aerodynamic elegance of their flight, the intriguing possibility that they might be directly descended from the dinosaurs. To me, God's involvement in the birds' coming into being need not be the painstaking involvement of a superhuman craftsman. Evolution is more than blessed enough for me.

I wonder if Christopher Hitchens awakens to birdsong? Maybe -- his books do extremely well, and I'm sure he can afford a country house. I wonder what he thinks in response to their chorus -- Damned birds!, maybe. But maybe not. Perhaps Christopher Hitchens lies in bed near an open window, too, and marvels at what he hears. An atheist need not be devoid of wonder.

As a believer need not be without intelligence and common sense. That the scriptures are inspired by God need not mean that every line of them is true in the journalistic sense of truth which we think exhausts the term, that measurable Cartesian array of who-what-when-where-how which allows us to describe and understand so many things in our world, but leaves us just short of apprehending mystery. We are embarrassed by the holes in our knowledge, by our failure to master mystery, and so we prefer to make short and tidy work of it by declaring that there is no such thing. There's no mystery, we say. Just things we don't know yet.

And it's true that some of today's mystery is tomorrow's science. Some of it just stays mysterious, though. I wonder if Christopher Hitchens has a set of logical reasons for loving his wife? His children? Is he devoted to them because they are better children than other people's children? If so, how? Or is his passion for them more like mine, that wild love that shocked me when it came into my life to stay, so long ago -- I had not known I could love like that. It was beyond anything sensible. It was animal, yes; I was a lioness, for sure. But it was mystery, as well, and is still, in its ongoing life over the decades that have elapsed since they were born. I am fairly sure that it will survive even the death of my body, a conviction I don't imagine the lioness shares about her cubs.

I suppose Hitchens gets around to the paper sooner or later, as I do. He has to; he's a writer. It is full of news, from the important to the trivial. Much of the news is bad news: death, cruelty, war. Typhoons and hurricanes. Corrupt governments. I believe he thinks that the whole dreary round of it does as much as anything else to disprove the existence of God. I believe the thinks that people of faith don't know that life is hard. Actually, we do know, and it doesn't disprove God for us in the simple way he suggests it should. It only reveals the absence of the powerful but obedient genie some have confused with God. Not the same thing,not at all.

It's a safe bet that Hitchens understands a great deal more about a lot more things than I understand. But I can see my way to a trans-rational oneness with the power that animates the universe, which doesn't depend on life being either trouble-free or explainable, and he cannot. It may well be because he is smarter than I am. Or it may be just because I want to.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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