There are those, of course, to whom the ultimate horror is the realization that we live in a godless universe. For me, this is business as usual and no more cause for alarm than discovering that Atlantis doesn’t exist or that the aether was an unnecessary hypothesis (though it has lately become fashionable to accuse atheists of having some inexplicable obsession with religion, requiring political or psychoanalytical explanations, which is about the last thing that people who think religion is an important topic ought to say, the hypocrites).
Christopher Hitchens presumably feels the same way — and he will also make the (more complex) case that religion is not only false but harmful, tonight at 7:30 at Temple Emanu-El on East 66th St. This Hitchens debate will mark:
•the sixth time I’ve seen Hitchens speak live
•the fourth time I’ve seen him debate
•the fourth time I’ve been accompanied to one of those debates by Daniel Radosh (with the first Hitchens debate we saw being the debate about affirmative action New York Press assigned us both to cover, in which Hitchens said that regulations mandating larger bathroom stalls could be an unanticipated boon to the homosexual community)
•the third time I’ve seen Hitchens debate the topic of religion
•the second time I’ll have seen him mop the floor with a rabbi (last time Shmuley Boteach — who defends the virtue of hatred in the new issue of In Character, incidentally — and this time David Wolpe)
•and the first time I’ll also be accompanied by Helen Rittelmeyer, herself a Catholic conservative fully prepared to see “her side” fare badly against Hitchens, which shows wisdom.
Of course, if I had greater respect for religion, I might have recalled that it was Yom Kippur when I first tried calling the debate’s organizers at Jewish Week to RSVP. They were out. But now everything’s under control. (By simple physical laws, I mean, not a designer.)
I’ve only seen Hitchens once, but wow, he is impressive, taking swigs from a little bottle of mini-vodka the entire time. The look of utter boredom and contempt he gave me when he signed my book – it was great, kind of like being insulted by Don Rickles.
It should be good. One correction/update: Radosh had to cancel (he’s no Bible-thumper himself but has been praised by people of various philosophical stripes — including one of my fellow Phillips Fellows Saturday — for his balanced look at Christian pop culture in the entertaining book _Rapture Ready!_).
Damn! I wish I lived in NY.
Real estate’s getting a little cheaper lately…
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