Hard-living journalist and provocateur Christopher Hitchens sat down with Anderson Cooper last night to talk about his bout with esophageal cancer. “I’m not fatalistic, I’m not resigned, but I’m realistic too,” he said. “The statistics in my case are very poor. Not many people come through esophageal cancer and live to talk about it, or not for long.” It didn’t take long for Cooper to ask what Hitchens, who once wrote a book called God Is Not Great, thinks of all the people praying for him. From CNN’s transcript:
Manderson: I know you know that there are people praying for you, there are prayer groups actually and you talked about that a little bit, what do you think about that, the fact that people are praying for you?
Hitch: There are people who are praying for me to suffer and die, they have lavish websites relishing my —
Hitch: Oh yeah.
And then there are people much more numerous I must say and nicer who are praying either that I get better or that I redeem myself, that I made peace with the Almighty. That my soul gets saved even if my wretched carcass does not. And some pray for both. And in fact the 20th of September has been designated, “Everyone Pray for Hitchens Day” on one website, in case you want to mark your calendar for that. I shall not be taking part in that.
Manderson: So, you don’t pray at all?
Hitch: No, that’s all meaningless to me. I don’t think souls or bodies can be changed by incantation. Or anything else by the way.
Manderson: So do you tell people not to do it for you?
Hitch: No, I say if it makes you feel better then you have my blessing.