Christopher Hitchens, writer, raconteur, and contrarian, is gone.
This was no surprise; he announced that he had terminal cancer in 2010. But it saddens me greatly that he won't be around to make people angry.
I didn't agree with all of his positions, especially his support of the war in Iraq. But his positions were well thought out and beautifully delivered. I respected them.
Some hoped that Hitchens, an atheist, would have some sort of deathbed conversion. (Convert to what, I always wondered? His father was Christian, while his mother hid the fact that she was Jewish - Hitch didn't find that out until after she died.)
But he stuck to his non-belief. And I respect that, too.
In regard to his atheism, he wrote:
"The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more." – The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Non-Believer
I don't drink much any more, but I'll drink a toast to Hitch this holiday season, with the best liquor I can afford. After all, at Hitch said, "Cheap booze is a false economy."