By BJ Bjornson
Still a bit of a shock to wake up to the news this morning despite knowing the man�s condition.
The influential writer and cultural critic Christopher Hitchens died on Thursday at the age of 62 from complications of cancer of the esophagus. Hitchens confronted his disease in part by writing, bringing the same unsparing insight to his mortality that he had directed at so many other subjects.
In part, the shock was due to how active he remained until the end. Over at RD.net, they had just linked to a preview of an interview Hitchens had done with Richard Dawkins, which mentions his trip to Texas a couple of months ago to pick up the Freethinker of the Year award. The Vanity Fair piece on his passing notes the numerous articles he completed for them this year. He just never quit.
Recent days have also brought to light some of the more annoying religious figures gloating over Hitchens� pain and hoping that he�d renounce his atheism at the last minute, something he'd been dealing with since the announcement of his condition and something it seems a lot of non-religious folks have to go through in our society. Hitchens already had an answer waiting for them, and I don�t mind sharing it once again.
In the end, Hitchens remains a quite polarizing figure, even to myself. His cheerleading for, and unapologetic defense of, the Iraq War is something I am not going to forgive him for. He bears part of the blame for that mess and that shouldn�t be forgotten.
And it is certainly true that on the subject of religion, Hitchens could be quite abrasive, and while my own preferences on that subject didn�t often match up too well to what Hitchens would have to say, he remained one of the most able debaters of the subject for atheists in the world right up to the end. He will be missed.