After you have written books attacking Henry Kissinger and Mother Teresa, what is left, really, but to write a book attacking God—or rather, since God does not exist, attacking all who believe in God? So Christopher Hitchens, the brilliant bad boy of Anglo-American high-culture journalism, must have concluded.
A meteor from the universe of Wystan Hugh Auden flashed into the atmosphere of American culture in 1994 when “Funeral Blues,” a poem written in 1936, was recited in a eulogy scene in the movie Three Weddings and a Funeral.
Nostalgia is inherently selective. At some level we understand that the past we idealize has its flipside—that religious traditions in their heyday, for example, were perfunctory as well as inspiring, and that small-town life was oppressive as well as intimate.