I normally post my thoughts on books on Goodreads or Amazon but never directly as a blog. Let me strongly encourage you to read Larry Taunton’s new book on his friendship with Christopher Hitchens. Currently, when so many people are simply angry at “the other side”, placing them in isolated containers where you don’t have to relate to them, this is a splendid book on building bridges of friendship while holding to core beliefs. One need not mess with good and precise theological thinking and convictions in order to relate to others whose beliefs (and lives) are diametrically the opposite.
I remember being present at a debate at Biola between Hitchens and William Lane Craig – CH as one of the proclaimed Four Horsemen of a new breed of atheism. I’ve read his books often finding it easy to disagree with them at a distance. What the book exposes is the human side of Hitchens, the part of him that was not open to public view and discourse. As I began to read I found the hardness in my heart melt as I began to understand the complexity of Hitchens as a real person. Any desire in my heart to categorize him and demonize him as someone who was an enemy of Christianity was swept away.
The book doesn’t end on a fairy tale note (much like Darwin’s supposed death bed conversion). There was no clear conversion experience as Hitchens died of esophageal cancer a few years ago. Yet, Taunton provides a window into Hitchens soul where those questions must have been ruminating and the cost of conversion churned as the surety of his death approached. The book not only points out the immense difficulty of dealing with death if God is simply taken out of the equation (as Oscar Wilde pointed out that a map of the world without Utopia is not worth glancing at) but equally the importance of simple friendship across lines that normally divide us.
Non-fiction books that not only read well but move the heart toward deeper understanding are far and few between. The book was hard to put down and I finished it in a few days. I’m sure that your experience will be very similar!