04 August 2010



When: Tuesday May 1, 2007.

Location: The Union League Club, 38 East 37th Street, New York City, NY, USA.

Event: An Evening With Christopher Hitchens, featuring a discussion between Christopher Hitchens (Trotskyite atheist intellectual) and Peter Collier (Director of Publications for the Freedom Center).

Topic: God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (Hitchens on book tour).

Discussion Moderator: David Horowitz (Founder, Freedom Center / Editor, Front Page Magazine).

Special Post-Game Event: Exposition of an Existential Tailspin, featuring...

------------Fr. George "Don't Even Try" Rutler-------------------------Christopher "Booze & Cigarettes" Hitchens



HITCHENS: What if I say, "Everyone in the country knows that female genital mutilation is a horror show? And it should rightly be a federal crime. But male genital mutilation is a filthy Jewish practice. Doesn't sound good, does it, to say that? You know how sensitive we can be. But what else?" And that happens to be my view. And I am damned if I'll become an American in order to be told I can’t express it. Okay?

COLLIER: It is true, of course, that genitally mutilated males have a six times lower frequency of getting AIDS in Africa, for instance, right?

HITCHENS: Well, there would be less AIDS if the Islamic and Catholic authorities didn't say that AIDS may be bad but condoms are worse, which is the religious preachment. And by the way – I suppose we may as well get this out of the way – the jolly old foreskin.

COLLIER: The foreskin?

HITCHENS: The foreskin itself...

COLLIER: Oh, let’s get right to it. Okay.

HITCHENS: When in doubt – as they always say – when in doubt, talk dick. The foreskin can be loosened. The foreskin can be loosened, and even slightly snipped – in order, for cleaning purposes. But it doesn't have to be violently torn and excised, in the Maimonides recommendation, which is, by the way – when Maimonides mandates it, he says, not to prevent you from getting a filthy disease; it's so that you will feel the least sexual pleasure that's consistent with making another Jew, through a hole in the sheet. Okay?


FR. RUTLER: I have met saints. You cannot explain the existence of saints without God. I was nine years chaplain with Mother Teresa [inaudible]. You have called her a whore, a demagogue. She's in heaven that you don't believe in, but she's praying for you. If you do not believe in heaven, that's why you drink.

HITCHENS: Excuse me?

FR. RUTLER: That's why you drink. God has offered us happiness, all of us. And you will either die a Catholic or a madman, and I'll tell you the difference. And secondly, I'm an officer with this club. And this conversation has been beneath the dignity of this club.


HITCHENS: Well, it is now.

HOROWITZ: Okay. I...

HITCHENS: It is now.

FR. RUTLER: And I'd just say that...

HITCHENS: Fine host you turned out to be.

FR. RUTLER: ...this club, we've had very open discussion. But we've never heard such vulgarity and bigotry.

HITCHENS: Till now.

FR. RUTLER: And I am, I don't want to see this in this club again. And I think I represent the officers of this noble...

HOROWITZ: All right...

HITCHENS: Your claim to know what a [saint] is or what heaven is... is as absurd as your [inaudible] arrogance, your unkindness and your lack of hospitality.

HOROWITZ: See? Everybody...

HITCHENS: You should be ashamed.

FR. RUTLER: [inaudible]

HITCHENS: And you are supposed to represent a church of charity and kindness?

HOROWITZ: I said this evening was going to be interesting and unpredictable.

HITCHENS: Especially... [inaudible].

HOROWITZ: And anyway, thank you all for coming. And to all a good night.


The chronicler of the abovementioned, Richard Lawrence Poe, received a private communication from a witness on what transpired after the event:
At the end of the event as he staggered, sweating and red faced, out of the room, he [Hitchens] advanced on Father Rutler in a threatening and physical manner, screaming that this beloved pastor and brilliant scholar whom he had never met was "a child molester and a lazy layabout who never did a day’s work in his life". His behavior was so frightening that a bodyguard put himself between Hitchens and Father Rutler to protect him. Several of the event organizers then escorted Hitchens to the men's room and when he emerged he continued his psychotic rant, repeating the same calumnious and baseless screed as before. It was then that Father Rutler, in the most charitable manner, told Hitchens [for the second time] that he will "either die a madman or a Roman Catholic"... Unless he faces his alcoholism soon, I am betting on the "madman" ending for him.
BACK TO THE FUTURE / NOW. Why the recall? The always intrepid Damian Thompson at The Daily Telegraph just received a sneak peek of a piece by Hitchens, soon to be issued in Vanity Fair. The latter has recently been diagnosed with metastatic oesophageal cancer. In this article, Hitchens reportedly writes:
Will I really not live long enough … to read – if not indeed write – the obituaries of elderly criminals like Henry Kissinger and Joseph Ratzinger?
Rutler was right on the money. Hitchens has gone mad.

Rutler rules.

My guesstimate is that, if Hitchens does see the light (helped by the prayers likely now being said for him), it will a deathbed conversion right at those very last seconds whilst he is about to slip away to meet the Lord of History.

Prayers for Hitchens.


1. Rutler v. Hitchens was first reported by R.E. Poe, "Hitchens Unhinged", Taki's Magazine, October 8, 2007. LINK

2. Hitchens afterwards wrote a rather warped recollection of his encounter with Fr. Rutler: "May 1, New York City: An evening at the Union League Club, sponsored by the conservative David Horowitz. A full house of upscale right-wingers who at least agree with me on the single issue of fighting Islamic jihadism. A generally receptive and friendly audience as 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?" See C. Hitchens, "God Bless Me, It's a Best-Seller!", Vanity Fair, September 2007. LINK

3. D. Thompson, "Christopher Hitchens: I'm sorry that I probably won't live to see the death of 'elderly criminal' Benedict XVI", The Daily Telegraph, August 4, 2010. LINK

4. On Hitchen's cancer diagnosis see: "Christopher Hitchens diagnosed with cancer, cuts short his book tour", The Washington Post, June 30, 2010. LINK

5. See also an interesting article by A. Rose, "Hitch Lives", The Catholic Thing, July 30, 2010. LINK

6. Be sure to regularly check out Fr. Rutler's Pastors Corner (his parish is Church of Our Savior, New York) and his monthly articles reissued at Catholicity. LINK



P. Button said...

What I really want to ask all the "New Atheist" jerks like Hitchens is, "why do you give a crap?" If there is no God, no afterlife, and no absolute morality, why are you screaming at priests when you could be living it up in Vegas? I think that his pathological hatred of the Church is caused in part by demonic influence.

TH2 said...

Could be P.B. There is a line by Frederick Wilhelmsen that I think is a good characterization of Hitchens and his ilk: Silence without God is intolerable. This is why atheists talk so much.

Mary said...

There are a few Catholic blogs whose owners state that Hitchens is "brilliant" (among other ebullient adjectives) when he's not discussing religion, and that he "...write(s) with great beauty, humor and power." I personally cannot assign such glowing praise to someone whose view of religion is so venomous. Still, I will pray for his conversion.

And I agree with Mr. Scampers; Fr. Rutler should receive the red hat.

TH2 said...

I, too, cannot assign such praise. I've missed those Catholic blogs heaping praise upon him. I'll keep a lookout.

Anita Moore said...

The Button, I think, is onto something when he asks why Hitchens gives a crap. It is actually his white-hot hatred for God and for the Church that makes me hope for his soul. Why? Because God must be getting to him in order for him to be so virulent. And because it is the lukewarm that Christ will vomit out of his mouth.

He certainly needs prayers. The demons have to be fighting hard for his soul right now. But I would not be surprised if the reason they have to fight hard is because he is close to tipping the other way.

Al said...

PB, Yes in part it may be demonic. I also suspect that part of the reason they get so upset is that deep down they know God exixts & that what the Catholic Church teaches is the truth. So they attack it so vociferously because they think that in doing so they can convince themselves that God isn't real.

TH2, quite the interesting transcript. I tend to trust it much better that Hitchins memory of the events.

Fr. Rutler is not 1 to be triffled with. Hitchins response is the same 1 I have seen so many other times when the person can't defend his postition, he resorted to insults & name calling rather than have an honest debate with Fr. Rutler.

& while Hitchins may have a brilliant mind, in the end, it is how he is using it that keeps me from praising him as well.

Lola said...

I heart Fr. Rutler.

(My brain gets a little smarter just by listening to his little show on EWTN.)

Thank you ever so much TH2 for producing a beauty of a post!

TH2 said...

Anita: Correct ob. on the fight for his soul.

Al: Agreed. Hitchens left out the nitty gritty. pers comm rcvd by Mr. Poe was from an independent witness.

Lola: No problem, dear lady. I can listen to Fr. Rutler speak for hours on end. Always something fascinating and/or uplifting. There is a kind of quiet, serene knowingness in his presentation and personality.

LarryD said...

Fr Rutler is great. I heard a story where he was in a hospital administering the Sacrament of Final Unction (I know it's not called that anymore, but I wanted to type "Unction") to a dying patient. With him was a Catholic hospital care worker woman, who remarked as Fr Rutler applied holy oil to the patient's forehead: 'Hmmph. I could do that if I had a penis.' To which he replied: "I prefer to use my thumb."

Love the Rush tribute, btw

TH2 said...

That "health care worker" - what a class act.

TH2 said...

P.S. Good catch on the Rush thing. Man are you good.

Al said...

Larry, I can just imagine him saying it without batting an eye or losing a beat.

Post a Comment