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Heaven Can Wait – Was I wrong about the afterlife?

Christopher Hitchens skriver till oss från andra sidan graven i The Washintgton Monthly. Läs hela artikeln, det är den värd! Här kommer några aptitretare.

At the end, the manner of my “passing,” as the pious so delicately refer to death, was as much a disappointment to the dewy-eyed acolytes of god-worship as it was to me, although for rather different reasons. For more than a year after I publicly announced in June 2010 that I would begin chemotherapy for esophageal cancer, the stupidest of the faithful either gloated on their subliterate Web sites that my illness was a sign of “God’s revenge” for having blasphemed their Lord and Master, or prayed that I would abandon my contempt for their nonsensical beliefs by undergoing a deathbed conversion. The vulgarity of the idea that a vengeful deity would somehow stoop to inflicting a cancer on me still boggles the mind, especially in the face of the ready explanation supplied for my illness by my long, happy, and prodigious career as a smoker of cigarettes and drinker of spirits.

As for that longed-for conversion, it never came, despite the fervent wishes of such clerical mountebanks as the Reverend Rick Warren. Said reverend, who portrayed himself as my “friend” while consigning homosexuals and nonbelievers to one of Dante’s outer circles of Hell, proclaimed with the arrogant surety of the devout: “I loved and prayed for him constantly and grieve his loss. He knows the Truth now.” Indeed I do, and much better than he.

There was no “tunnel,” and no vividly bright light that I moved toward, and whatever euphoria I experienced was as transient as the buzz from polishing off a few bottles of wine with dear Martin in the cafés of Monmartre. Yes, there appeared to be a passageway leading to something a bit brighter than the total darkness that I expected, but I experienced this for what it was: a well-known epiphenomenon of oxygen depletion in the dying retina.

If the scenes from my past that subsequently paraded before my view were especially vivid and, indeed, somewhat affecting, it cannot have been coincidental that I had only recently spent time finalizing the paperback edition of my memoir, Hitch-22, with a new foreword reflecting on my then-imminent death. And as one would expect, given my intellectual predilections, there was no angelic being or robed dime-store Jesus to greet me as my near-death experience quickly progressed into what might be termed my death experience (DE). Instead, as my hallucinatory journey continued, I was greeted warmly by the predictable neural holograms of Tom Paine, Voltaire, and George Orwell, who all bore a striking resemblance to their paintings, or, in Orwell’s case, to the penetrating photo of him on the cover of my book Why Orwell Matters. Not for a moment did I believe they were “real.” Even so, Orwell, never one to tolerate cant of any kind, furthered my resolve: “This is all a delusion, my dear boy, but enjoy it while you can.”

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