Praying for Christopher Hitchens
Should you or shouldn't you? That is the question of the moment at various websites. Sure, why not, if you think it will do either him or you any good. But boasting that you're praying for him? Either that's got to be a humorous tease (see Andrew Sullivan) or a nasty dig (see Cristina Odone). The nasty diggers are obviously lying about praying for Hitchens--or at least they're lying about praying for his health. ("Dear God, Please get rid of Christopher Hitchens as soon as possible. Amen.") The friendly teasers--well, maybe they're right. I'm sure whatever happens next for Hitchens, he isn't going to lose his love of confrontation and irony.
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Reminded me of Dan Dennett's reaction to finding out people had prayed for him.
My view is that praying for Christopher Hitchens is quite a passive-aggressive act and I'm reluctant to give the benefit of the doubt here. People who do this know it's going to offend him & it also suggests a certain smugness. Like they're pleased he's getting to experience what it might be like down the foxhole.
Good ol' Dennet.
Yes, it reminded me of that too. Dennett didn't like it one bit. I think people can say they're praying for Hitchens with different intentions--as a smug dig, as you say. As a friendly tease. But also as an expression of genuine concern (if they believe he won't mind they're saying it). Personally, I don't mind at all someone saying they're praying for me--if they genuinely do mean to be helpful. In fact, I appreciate the good intentions.
True - I wouldn't mind either. But it's pretty likely Christopher Hitchens would! Therein lies the offence.
As everyone is discussing, there's a distinction between praying for him and announcing it. The first might have good intentions - but would still be offensive, given CH's stated beliefs. Announcing it just seems ill-judged and quite nasty! (although of course each case should be taken on its merits).
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