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Christopher Hitchens

A clip from the 2007 LA Times Festival of Books - LIVE Religion & Culture Panel The link is to streaming video of the entire show.

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It would have been nice if this statement by Hitchens had formed the basis of his conversation with Jon Stewart the other night. It was concise and inflammatory and easily grasped, and should have been followed by a bell and the words "And, they're off!"

again, if you're discussing fundamentalism of any kind, I agree with him and others....but that is not what real religion is unfortunate that real religion isn't discussed very often in the mainstream. Try reading Buechner or Lorenzo Albacete...

I'm familiar with Albacete though I fail to see how this is "real" religion. Enlighten me porfavor.

but that is not what real religion is about.

Ah yes, real religion....the sort that true Scotsmen practice, I suppose.

"again, if you're discussing fundamentalism of any kind, I agree with him and others....but that is not what real religion is unfortunate that real religion isn't discussed very often in the mainstream."

I don't see how Hitchens' point here applies strictly to fundamentalism. It certainly needs the most work with fundamentalism, and is the most obvious case, but it's not limited to it.

Hitchens' point is that ALL religion is apart of this surrender of reason, skepticism, doubt, etc. -- as shown by his citation of Eisenhower when he said just have faith in something, whatever it is. That's the terrible thing: that faith is respected, praised, considered a virtue, etc.

How is this different in the case of "real" religion versus the fundamentalism of whatever your crackpot example is? How is the "real" religion of my mother different than (what I'd call fundamentalism) of the Pope? My mother is a very moderate Catholic, but she still is religious, believes in god, and takes it all on faith. I'd challenge anyone to point to me how my mother is a fundamentalist in any reasonable sense of the word -- unless the single qualification is that to have faith is to be a fundamentalist.

And as J.D. also pointed out, this facile division between fundamentalism and "real" religion is flagrantly false from the inception. No true Scotsman indeed.

I just finished watching the whole discussion. It was fascinating, thought-provoking, and occasionally hilarious. All three panelists were enviously erudite and articulate, but Hitchens in particular was at the top of his game... feistier and more coherent than on his Daily Show Appearance.


Sorry, Hitch, Chimps aren't religious. They aren't brainy enough to rationalize such an immense Irrationality.

As for the other Animals , I've always suspected that reptiles are the perfect Buddhists, with their daily regimen of meditation.

In fact I would go so far as to say that in meditation we are reconnecting (re-lig-ating) with our long-buried LOWER selves, our more primal:

Extreme primal selves that have been lost in the shuffle and bustle of merely being-a-mammal. Not our "higher".

That re-ligation is as close to Real religion as I want to get.

Funny how he mentions religion demands that you surrender your ability to reason. What happened to his when it came to being reasonable about the Iraq War?

Anyone who watched the whole thing: what was the facist at the end they were referring to? Anyone know? Why did they throw that guy out? Just curious.

one of the better discussions i've heard. Hitchins can really make a point when he sobers up a bit.

well, against my better judgement, i'll make another comment..the loaded and aggressive post by Callandor brings me pause...for you, Erick..

i didn't have a lot of time in my first post - and not ton now, so pardon me for not being very eloquent initially. The reason i cited Buechner and Albacete are not that I agree with their theology completely, but that they see 'religion' as more of a method of seeking to understand the mystery of spirituality - even what that is. In that interview (which I've seen before - great stuff), Alcente talks about how "God" is just a word that has become the most oft used. The problem is that it instantly brings up an Anthropomorphized image. "God" or the infinite or the sacred or whatever is not that big daddy in the sky that much of religion has made it out to be. People like to turn it into that in an effort to bring clear understanding to it. The bible, the Koran, etc. are all attempts to wrap human brains around the infinite and this existence. People want to accept them as absolute fact because to live in the grey is nerve-racking. It is also, IMO, why people want to accept Atheism as absolute - to feel better about things and to lessen anxiety. The opposite of dysfunctional is still dysfunctional. The bottom line is that we don't know for sure either way. Personally, I don't think the depictions of Jesus in the bible are completely accurate and, heck, they could even be a complete fabrication (though unlikely). However, there is something that each one of these religions seeks to do. Each religion tries to do 2 things: diagnose he human condition and provide a prescription for a cure. The key, for me, is to live in the paradox of needing curing on some level, but being completely unsure if any of it is all.

Personally, i'd rather talk with an Atheist then a "bought the whole package" religious person any day. They are in my experience, more moral, seek justice, etc. then their religious counterparts. Ok, I'm digressing..

Well, i've rambled long enough :-) Please keep the discussion civil and meaningful. The "crackpots" I referenced are very gifted writers...



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