On the Possibility of Christopher Hitchens Finding Jesus

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Mark Judge at The Daily Caller senses a conversion in the making: "Could Christopher Hitchens become a Christian? It's a possibility that doesn't seem laughable anymore." Judge's paper-thin argument: Hitchens's just-published disavowal of the Nietzschean aphorism, "Whatever doesn't kill me makes me stronger." Judge writes: "Rejecting one of the more sophomoric of Nietzsche's aphorisms may seem small, but out of such moments are great conversions made. He goes on:

In his piece, Hitchens admits that the brutality of his treatment has made him reassess the bravado he showed about death in "Hitch-22," where he claimed he wanted to be fully awake and conscious at the moment death came, in order to enjoy the ride fully. Now that death has, if not arrived, at least driven by the house, Hitch is not so sure.

I wouldn't tell Christopher Hitchens that now is the time to get right with the Lord, or to pray or read the Bible. I wouldn't try and convince him of the resurrection. I would only ask him to entertain the notion that love -- the love he has for his life, his wife and his children, the love his readers have for him and the love that the doctors and nurses are showing him -- is a real thing whose origins are worth exploring without glibness...."

Very early in his cancer, Hitchens told me that there would come a time when someone, a charlatan, maybe, or perhaps even some presumptuous person of misdirected goodwill, would try to convince the world that he was undergoing a deathbed conversion. I didn't believe that such a thing would happen. "Watch," he said.

Hitchens also said that if information emerged that he had, at some late stage, made a statement of faith, or a religious confession, including but not limited to, "I accept Jesus as my lord and savior," or, "Muhammad, peace be unto him, is the messenger of God," or, "the Lubavitcher rebbe is the true messiah and currently living in Brooklyn," that his friends were to make it known that it was not the true Hitchens doing the confessing. This is what he told me once, during a video conversation we posted on this website: "The entity making such a remark might be a raving, terrified person whose cancer has spread to the brain," he said. "I can't guarantee that such an entity wouldn't make such a ridiculous remark. But no one recognizable as myself would ever make such a ridiculous remark."

So, just to be clear: Christopher Hitchens has not found God, and is not finding God. It is mischievous to suggest otherwise.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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