Friendly Debaters: Hitchens and Taunton

We are hard at work on the next issue of Salvo. Subscribers will be familiar with the “Blips” department where we offer some short notes on books and movies of interest. Also included in the Blips section is a full-page review on a book or movie we think is of particular importance.

This time for the featured Blip, Salvo contributing editor Terrell Clemmons reviews a book by Larry Taunton. You’ll have to wait to get the full report, but I did want to share this with you. I came across it while searching for more info on Taunton. Apparently, he debated the late Christopher Hitchens a number of times and the two became quite good friends. You can read what he has to say about Hitchens here:

My Take: An evangelical remembers his friend Hitchens

I first met Christopher Hitchens at the Edinburgh International Festival. We were both there for the same event, and foremost in my mind was the sort of man I would meet.

A journalist and polemicist, his reputation as a critic of religion, politics, Britain’s royal family, and, well, just about everything else was unparalleled. As an evangelical, I was certain that he would hate me.

When the expected knock came at my hotel room door, I braced for the fire-breather who surely stood on the other side of it. With trepidation, I opened it and he burst forth into my room. Wheeling on me, he began the conversation as if it was the continuance of some earlier encounter:

“The Archbishop of Canterbury has effectively endorsed the adoption of Sharia law. Can you believe that? Whatever happened to a Church of England that believed in something?” He alternated between sips of his Johnnie Walker and steady tugs on a cigarette.

My eyebrows shot up. “‘Believed in something?’ Why, Christopher, you sound nostalgic for a church that actually took the Bible seriously.”

He considered me for a moment and smiled. “Indeed. Perhaps I do.”

read the full article . . .

This friendship between Hitchens and Taunton exemplifies a sentiment expressed by Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Juriprudence at Princeton. HT: This quote was brought to my attention by way of a Facebook post from a friend of Salvo.

Quote of the Day from Robert P. George on friendship and civility with those whom we disagree with:

“I have always found Lincoln’s closing words of his First Inaugural Address to be profoundly moving–and true: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.”

Our culture is divided today, just as it was in Lincon’s time, by differences over profound moral issues. Yet, even as we fight for what we believe in, as in conscience we must, with energy and determination to win, we are morally obligated to treat those with whom we disagree as we would have them treat us: with civility and respect.

This is what I try to do, though not always with perfect success, and, as you know, what I preach to my students. Deep moral differences can be gravely dangerous to social solidarity and cohesion. Those differences cannot, however, be eliminated without destroying liberty–a “cure” worse than the disease.” So we must learn to live with them and manage them. Maintaining friendships across the lines of division is, I believe, part of how we do that. The moment we think that maintaining such friendships constitutes a “sell out” of the causes to which we are dedicated, we are in deep trouble. There are very good reasons we must not “break our bonds of affection.”

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