The talented Mr. Hitchens seems impervious to the power of story, of myth, of narrative in our lives, especially The Story. He writes as if Scripture were just some kind of archaeology textbook that could be tested by field studies. Unable to understand the religious impulse, he prefers to deride it. The result is an attack on faith only a little less childishly simplistic than his idea of it.
Brother Hitchens is the kind of critic who can take apart each note of a song vociferously, repetitively, contemptuously, but is deaf to the music. He'd doubtless claim the Greek myths are meaningless because Mt. Olympus can't be climbed by rope and ladder, or that Shakespeare is a fraud because, you know, the sea-coast of Bohemia he mentions in "The Winter's Tale" doesn't actually exist! Case (and mind) closed.
Mr. Scrooge came around at the end of Dickens' Christmas carol, which springs to life again every year at this season. One of these days, I dare to suspect, an aged Christopher Hitchens is going to look back with wonderment at how he could have so missed the obvious -- the music all around us. And he'll be worse than any fresh convert when it comes to sharing his newfound faith and the glory he's seen at last.
It happens every time to writers. See Malcolm Muggeridge, Oscar Wilde, Evelyn Waugh, C.S. Lewis, Graham Greene, Edith Sitwell, Siegfried Sassoon, Hilaire Belloc, G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy Sayers, T.S. Eliot, J.R.R. Tolkien ... the list is long and impressive. One day all their words lead them -- irresistibly, inevitably, ineluctably to the Word.
One of these days it just might happen to Christopher Hitchens, too. Yes, I actually believe that. Now that's faith.
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