The Afterlife of Christopher Hitchens

Clint Margrave in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

On December 15, 2011, Comet Lovejoy plunged through the sun’s corona “coming within only 87,000 miles of the star’s surface.” Everyone had expected it to perish. Scientists who had been following the comet believed it would burn up. Meanwhile, at the same time, in a hospital in Texas, Christopher Hitchens was dying. For months, Hitchens had been public about his stage IV cancer diagnosis, preparing us and himself for this moment, as he liked to remark, “The thing about Stage Four is that there is no such thing as Stage Five.” It didn’t mean we wanted to believe it. But as Hitchens would have been the first to point out, belief and reality don’t always coincide. Still, we hoped for a miracle, of the scientific kind anyway. After all, Hitch had very publicly talked about the experimental cancer treatments he’d been given, which united many of his fans, most of us atheists, by a sort of reality-based faith, or was it just secular denial?

More here.