To the Editor:
Re “Famous Atheist’s Non-Faith Is Questioned in Friend’s Book,” by Mark Oppenheimer (Beliefs column, May 14):
I knew Christopher Hitchens. For more than 20 years he was my close friend. There is simply no truth to the rumor that he was “shaky in his atheism” toward the end of his tragically short life.
That on one occasion he enjoyed reading St. John’s Gospel aloud to entertain himself and a Christian travel companion on a long drive, as reported in the column, is scarcely a surprise. Christopher had a muscular mind and a beautiful, sonorous voice, and the final Gospel resonates wonderfully in English.
In no way was he “contemplating conversion.”
Christopher was an omnivore, interested in everything, including — why not? — the most poetic of the Gospels. After all, it is included in one of the great books of the Western world.
The evangelical author Larry Alex Taunton’s allegation is at best a well-meant misunderstanding, a result of wishful thinking, and at worst an effort to cast doubt on Hitch’s core convictions.
Mr. Hitchens faced death bravely, his atheism intact. Unlike Voltaire, he never buckled.