As the world struggles to understand the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., and the 27 lives lost (including 20 beautiful, little, precious children), it is impossible to resist asking a series of questions: How did this happen? Where was God?
We have been very aware of the addictive nature of nicotine and the serious health risks of lung cancer (which kills more Americans than any other cancer), cardiovascular disease, respiratory illness, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (eventually leading to emphysema). About 20 percent of Americans still smoke, around 450,000 Americans die prematurely every year from smoking, and researchers have shown that a smoker loses an average of 14 years of life.
Yes. That's the answer given by Damon Linker in a fascinating essay at TNR.com. To play a bit of catch up first: last week, writings by (and more important, images of) Christopher Hitchens ripped through the Internet relating to his recent diagnosis of cancer. The discovery earlier this summer forced the author to abruptly cancel the book tour of his new memoir in order to undergo treatment.
But he emerged last week, first posting an essay about his bout with the cancer and radiation treatment at VanityFair.com; then later in a video-blog interview with The Atlantic Monthly's Jeffrey Goldberg.
Much of the media chat since then has turned to the question of whether Hitchens, an outspoken atheist, would show a little mercy and perhaps accept God. His answer has been an emphatic "No." And even if he did at some point in the future pray to God, it could only be taken as bestial ravings of a man who's clearly lost his mind; a man whose central feature distinguishing him from all other beasts--his intellect--had left him.