God is Not Great. That is a book written by one of the most controversial authors and journalists, Christopher Hitchens, who did an untimely exit last week, at 62.
Written in 2007, the book catapulted Hitchens, into the league of controversial writers like Salman Rushdie who wrote the Satanic Verses, and put their lives at stake, with fundamentalists out for their blood.
Since God is central to most religion, Hitchens’ aversion to religion made him the “most hated”, but the rational and the liberal “pardoned” him and let him have his own free way of life as “just another variety of life”.
When it was discovered in 2010 that he was suffering from a life-threatening disease (oesophageal cancer), his critics thought he may now be scared enough to “get back” into the believers’ fold and seek God’s “intervention” to save his life.
Hitchens did not do that and held his views up till his last breath. Normally, a dying man’s last words reveal the real mind of a person. Since we do not know yet what those last words were, one can assume that Hitchens was in no mood to admit the existence of God and to trash his own trashing of godly persons like Mother Teresa, Gandhi and the like.
When Hitchens got to understand that he was “burning the candle” (of his life) on both the ends, he expressed that life was too boring because it was too predictable and banal.
But one must hope that Hitchens had a heart for the poor and the downtrodden. Once he resolved to spend at least once a year in a country less fortunate than his own. And that resolve took him to many countries that were victims of bloodshed in war and revolutions.
But we must realise that Hitchens tried to understand life and its meaning in his own way.
Now that he is no more, we can pray for his soul; and remind ourselves that, as someone had said, that a lifetime is not really long enough to figure out what it is all about.