Christopher Hitchens's Autobiography

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Jrosemary
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Christopher Hitchens's Autobiography

Post #1

Post by Jrosemary »

Ok, Hitchens's new autobiography is about much more than his discovery of his Judaism. I guess I just harp on that because something of the sort happened to my grandfather: his mother didn't tell him he was a Jew until he was grown.

The information, as far as I can tell, didn't affect my grandfather much, either positively or negatively. He still seems pretty neutral about the fact (and only marginally interested in it. Which is fine--no reason it has to be a big deal.)

Finding out that he's Jewish seems to have had a profound impact on Hitchens, however (who refers to himself as a semi-semite). He mentions it quite a bit in the pages I've read so far.

I wonder if being in the public eye makes a difference? I mean, many people (Jewish or gentile) regard Hitchens not only as an atheist, but as a Jewish atheist.

I'm not saying that being a public figure is the only thin that makes the discovery a big deal, of course. Heck, I'm not even sure how well known Hitchens was when he found out--I'm not that sure of the timeline. So I'm just kinda throwing this random speculation out there.

Anyway, it's a fascinating book so far--and heartbraking when he talks about his Mom. Highly recommended!

Oh--the title is "Hitch-22."

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Post #11

Post by Metzada »

I've been reading it over the past few days and find it very interesting. I like how he differentiates between Judaism as a nationalistic thing and Judaism as a religion. I never thought someone like Hitchens, who I admire for his foreign policy views, would self-identify as Jewish.

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Post #12

Post by Jrosemary »

Metzada wrote:I've been reading it over the past few days and find it very interesting. I like how he differentiates between Judaism as a nationalistic thing and Judaism as a religion. I never thought someone like Hitchens, who I admire for his foreign policy views, would self-identify as Jewish.
Welcome Metzada! I already knew CH identified as a Jew by the time I got into reading him, so I wasn't surprised about that.

Hmmm. I don't think of 'Jewish' as a nationality so much--I think of it as a culture as well as a religion, but nationality to me means "American" or "Israeli" or "British" or whatever. :-k

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Post #13

Post by Metzada »

Jrosemary wrote:
Metzada wrote:I've been reading it over the past few days and find it very interesting. I like how he differentiates between Judaism as a nationalistic thing and Judaism as a religion. I never thought someone like Hitchens, who I admire for his foreign policy views, would self-identify as Jewish.
Welcome Metzada! I already knew CH identified as a Jew by the time I got into reading him, so I wasn't surprised about that.

Hmmm. I don't think of 'Jewish' as a nationality so much--I think of it as a culture as well as a religion, but nationality to me means "American" or "Israeli" or "British" or whatever. :-k
Thank you for the kind welcome. :) I use the word "nation" as distinct from "state". America, Israel and Britain are all states. Most states have a nation that underpins it, with "nation" defined as a group of people with a shared culture, history and outlook. For example France is overwhelmingly dominated by the French nation. Jews, as you say, are culturally and religiously connected which makes them a nation. It's why you get Jewish nationalism - i.e. Zionism.

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Post #14

Post by Goat »

Metzada wrote:
Thank you for the kind welcome. :) I use the word "nation" as distinct from "state". America, Israel and Britain are all states. Most states have a nation that underpins it, with "nation" defined as a group of people with a shared culture, history and outlook. For example France is overwhelmingly dominated by the French nation. Jews, as you say, are culturally and religiously connected which makes them a nation. It's why you get Jewish nationalism - i.e. Zionism.
I would say that it is more connected not so much as a nation these days, but as a family.
“What do you think science is? There is nothing magical about science. It is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. So which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Or using consistent logic?�

Steven Novella

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Post #15

Post by Jrosemary »

Metzada wrote:
Jrosemary wrote:
Metzada wrote:I've been reading it over the past few days and find it very interesting. I like how he differentiates between Judaism as a nationalistic thing and Judaism as a religion. I never thought someone like Hitchens, who I admire for his foreign policy views, would self-identify as Jewish.
Welcome Metzada! I already knew CH identified as a Jew by the time I got into reading him, so I wasn't surprised about that.

Hmmm. I don't think of 'Jewish' as a nationality so much--I think of it as a culture as well as a religion, but nationality to me means "American" or "Israeli" or "British" or whatever. :-k
Thank you for the kind welcome. :) I use the word "nation" as distinct from "state". America, Israel and Britain are all states. Most states have a nation that underpins it, with "nation" defined as a group of people with a shared culture, history and outlook. For example France is overwhelmingly dominated by the French nation. Jews, as you say, are culturally and religiously connected which makes them a nation. It's why you get Jewish nationalism - i.e. Zionism.
Ok, I understand your definition. I'm remarkably unenthusiastic about that definition, though. I'm a pluralist at heart, and I love America's brand of pluralism. I live in the New York city area, neighbor to people from every part of the world and of every religion. That, to me, is paradise.

I'm a Zionist in so far as I believe in Israel's right to exist and follow Israeli news. (Regular reader of Haaretz here--yes, I'm a bleeding heart liberal.) And I hope that the Israelis and Palestinians will broker a peace that miraculously makes everyone happy. (I'm not holding my breath.) But, honestly, with all due respect to my Israeli pals, America is my home. (And I also think it's easier to be a liberal religious Jew here in America than in Israel.)

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