What a way to open a new blog! I get to respond to a condescending asshole.
So, let’s begin by saying that I try very, very hard to assume people have the best of intentions. I don’t believe most people get up in the morning looking to punk their intellectual rivals (thankfully in the case we’re about to examine as I suspect it’s a Sisyphean task for him). Generally people want others to be happy, content, and kind in equal measure. Ignorance plays a huge role in this, but that’s an entirely different post.
And that is why I don’t believe that Mark Judge was looking to poke a stick at a dying man when he wrote his article for the Daily Caller of all places about how Christopher Hitchens might use this opportunity to abandon years of principal and reason and follow Christ.
Now, I will concede that there’s a chance that Judge had his heart in the right place even if he was attempting to get a good look at it by sticking his head up his ass. However, I think this very well may be the problem.
When confronted with a dying man, an intellectual who has spent a lifetime arguing rationally against some of the worst excesses of faith, who has time and again demonstrated that he has no need for supernatural intervention to demonstrate goodness, thought, and genuine concern for humanity, Mark Judge thinks that it’s a compassionate thing to do to suggest that he abandon all of it, throw reason and accumulated knowledge out the door, because he happens to be in pain? What sort of faith does Mark Judge believe in that it’s best acquired when somebody is least able to stave it off (at least in his estimation: Hitch’s mental faculties still seem top-notch)? Judge would reduce what he seems to think is belief in the creator and lord ruler of all the universe to “that thing you do when you don’t want to hurt any more.” Belief to Judge is nothing but a thief, attacking the infirm and beating them into submission. And he seems to think that this is ok.
Unsurprisingly, it is this hollow faith that Judge embraced when he was suffering from cancer. I say this is unsurprising because it is only from a close-minded perspective in which one sees faith as the only escape from death that a person assumes that embracing that same ethos remains the only way for others to react to similar situations. The moment Judge accepted Catholicism, all other approaches were dismissed, and the very notion that somebody could be suffering and *not* follow the same path that he did is both astounding and befuddling to him. It is a lack of empathy bordering on projection wherein he not only refuses to put himself genuinely in Hitchens’s place, basically reducing Hitch to a caricature of humanity (the same one that wrongly asserts that “there are no atheists in foxholes”), but he also engages in some incredibly insulting assumption while trying to praise the man.
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 (sorry, saying “love for your fellow mammals” doesn’t require religion, as Hitchens did once, doesn’t cut it).
Excuse me? Are you really so endlessly deluded that you think that without a God to tell him what it is that Christopher Hitchens doesn’t know love? Or the even more ludicrous idea that love can stem only and exclusively from God and those who deny its existence are somehow devoid of it? What remarkable arrogance! Mark Judge knows love and he just hopes that Christopher Hitchens might be able to learn about it before he dies! Well, thank you, Mark, on behalf of all of us who only thought we knew what love was. Also on behalf of thousands of years of philosophers who tried to suss out that particular question and failed. You’ve got it! You win! Your prize is in the mail.
Now, there will be those who argue that he didn’t say *he* knew what love was, only that he encouraged Hitchens to explore it and its “origins.” However, this is one point on which I’m not willing to give the benefit of the doubt. The article specifically suggests that Hitchens might somehow find religion, it hopes for it fervently. If Judge is not suggesting that he already knows the “origin” and is wishing that Hitchens would come to the same conclusion, then this is nothing but a ghoulish non sequitur. Judge seems to think he knows what love is, that is stems from God, and now that Hitchens is weak that he might come to the same conclusion for no other reason than that he is suffering.
Have you ever been in discussion with a Christianist you don’t know well and it ends with “I’ll pray for you”? It’s not usually in response to “my dog died” or “I’m scared I’m failing my family.” While the prayers in this case are convoluted at best, they at least make sense if you believe that prayer changes the mind of an omniscient being who already knows what will happen (a contradiction I can’t get past and have stopped trying). However, these genuine if misguided actions aren’t often why strangers tell you they’ll pray for you. Rather, it’s usually in response to “I’m homosexual,” “I don’t believe in what you do,” “I’m polyamorous,” or something else that the Christianist in question finds distasteful. They’re not praying because they hope God will do anything good for you, they’re praying because they’re hoping God will change you to better suit their liking.
Judge spend a lot of this article speaking of his admiration for Hitchens. I believe that it’s heartfelt in one way or another. However, he ends up making himself into a condescending jackass by suggesting that he hopes that the qualities he supposedly admires in Hitchens be unceremoniously defenestrated now that an appropriate opening has been made.
Mark Judge is a moron, more concerned about his idea of what is right and true than about a man he claims to respect. It’s like looking at the star player of an opposing team and claiming to admire his skill when all you really wish is that he was playing for your side. It is cheap, it is unmoving, and Mark Judge needs to consider whether he is more concerned for the suffering of another person or that he may not be spreading his faith far enough.