A few snippets:
May 1, New York City: An evening at the Union League Club…. A full house of upscale right-wingers who at least agree with me on the single issue of fighting Islamic jihadism…. I am interviewed by the publisher Peter Collier. He's just closed the meeting when a man in a clerical collar puts up his hand. In a magnanimous mood, I say, Fair enough—let's extend the event for a man of the cloth. This turns out to be Father George Rutler of the Church of Our Saviour, who announces that he's on the committee of the club and will make sure that I am never invited there again. There's some shock at this inhospitable attitude, but I think: Gosh. Holy Mother Church used to threaten people with eternal damnation. Now it's exclusion from the Union League Club. What a comedown. In a brisk exchange near the elevator, the good father assures me that I shall die a Catholic. Why do people think this is such a good point?
May 14, Austin, Texas: A phone-in with WPTF ("We Protect the Family"), a conservative talk-radio station in North Carolina. The questions are very civil until the end, when I am asked if I know the anti-Christian works of Friedrich Nietzsche…. Am I aware, inquires the questioner, that when he was writing that very stuff he was suffering from terminal syphilitic decay?... Do I think, comes the next question, that there is a similar explanation for my own work? Should have seen that coming. My response is that I obviously can't be the best judge but that it's very compassionate of him to ask.
May 15, Raleigh, North Carolina: At the airport, strangers approach to say, "Thanks for coming to take on the theocrats." Apparently the good folks at WPTF announced after my appearance on their show yesterday that I was going to hell. This doesn't prevent a huge crowd from showing up, which in turn means that Quail Ridge Books has to move the event into a neighboring Unitarian church. (The rector whispers to me, "I ought not to say this, but the church has never been this full before.") My opponent tonight is the very courteous Dr. Adam English, from the religion department at Campbell University. He's another Baptist, but when I ask if he believes Calvin's teaching about hell and pre-destination, he doesn't love the question. Southern hospitality is rightly famous, and he may think it would be rude to condemn a visitor to hellfire. Then again, he can easily tell that the audience is not with him. Many southerners are annoyed by the presumption that they are all snake handlers and shout-and-holler artists, and the most critical questions all go to Dr. English, who has unwisely told the local paper that he'll win the argument because god is on his team. Again I notice two things: the religious types are unused to debate and are surprised at how many people are impatient with them, or even scornful. Go HERE for the whole article, in Vanity Fair.
Heh. After Hitchens and others soften people up, I think the path will be open for the Goddess to gather them in. This is good!
thnx to Pele and Flickr.com for the foto of Chris Hitchens