T MINUS 3 YEARS 3 MONTHS 3 DAYS...
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
[START AUDIO TRANSCRIPT / EXCERPT]
[WARNING: FOUL LANGUAGE]
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?
[QUESTION AND ANSWER PERIOD COMMENCES]
[FR. GEORGE W. RUTLER TAKES THE FLOOR]
[BY-TOR AND THE SNOW DOG... SQUARE FOR BATTLE... LET THE FRAY BEGIN...]
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.
UNIDENTIFIED AUDIENCE MEMBER: No it hasn't been.
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.
[END AUDIO TRANSCRIPT]
The chronicler of the abovementioned, Richard Lawrence Poe, received a private communication from a witness on what transpired after the event:
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: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.
Rutler was right on the money. Hitchens has gone mad.Will I really not live long enough … to read – if not indeed write – the obituaries of elderly criminals like Henry Kissinger and Joseph Ratzinger?
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.
NOTES / REFERENCES
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