Conservative columnist Ross Douthat sparked a minor but fascinating skirmish over religion when he penned a piece in the New York Times about the late Christopher Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great. Calling him "the believer's atheist," Douthat marveled that Hitchens was beloved by so many religious believers even though he ferociously dismissed all religion as a poisonous delusion. "Intellectually minded Christians, in particular," wrote Douthat, "had a habit of talking about Hitchens as though he were one of them already—a convert in the making."
Christians are commanded to love their enemies, but when it came to Hitchens, Douthat thought that the loving was not so difficult. Christians found him lovable—partly because of his openness and charm, and partly because any atheist who admired the King James Bible and enjoyed Brideshead Revisited surely had a poetic imagination akin to religious vision.