Christopher Hitchens, Religious in Spite of Himself?

PIC: Ensceptico (CC)

PIC: Ensceptico (CC)

Eric Reitan writes at Religion Dispatches’ (A)theologies:

Not long ago, Christopher Hitchens—pugilistic author of God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything—sat down for an interview with retired Unitarian minister (and self-professed “liberal Christian”) Marilyn Sewell. It wasn’t the usual sort of conversation that Hitchens has with “believers,” since his preferred sparring partners tend to be religious conservatives and apologists for fundamentalism (such as Douglas Wilson).

Not surprisingly, early in the interview Hitchens was quick to announce who was a real Christian and who wasn’t, and to insinuate that Sewell fell into the latter camp; a comment that has inspired more than a few raised eyebrows among religious progressives.

But it’s easy to let Hitchens’ arrogance on this matter obscure some broader themes—and some surprising concessions on Hitchens’ part—that emerged in the course of the interview.

One of these themes has to do with just how much Hitchens and Sewell have in common. They agree that nonbelievers are just as capable as believers of acting morally. They agree that much wickedness has been done in the name of God. They share an aversion to claims at odds with science and reason. But what struck me the most as I read the interview was that they even shared an appreciation for “the transcendent” and “the numinous”: terms that Hitchens himself introduced into the conversation.

It wasn’t simply Hitchens’ invocation of these terms that caught my attention as I read the interview. After all, Hitchens has used them interchangeably before, especially the term “numinous” (coined by the Christian theologian Rudolph Otto as a name for the essential core of religious experience).

Read more here.

116 Comments on "Christopher Hitchens, Religious in Spite of Himself?"

  1. BuzzCoastin | Apr 2, 2014 at 12:42 pm |

    since Chris is taking a dirt nap
    it seems like a moot point

    • Liam_McGonagle | Apr 2, 2014 at 1:09 pm |

      Maybe. But a lot of people still take inspiration from his combative style. Which serves a purpose, to a point.

      My objection would be taking a valid point to an extreme conclusion, and wrapping a person’s credibility around it. I think that’s the trap that Hitchens never succeeded in escaping.

      • Thurlow Weed | Apr 2, 2014 at 1:30 pm |

        Maybe. But a lot of people still take inspiration from his combative style. Which serves a purpose, to a point.

        What point is that?

      • BuzzCoastin | Apr 2, 2014 at 3:23 pm |

        people still take inspiration from his combative style

        that’s a great topic for discussion:
        should we consider entertaining media figures
        as inspiration for our “own” opinions
        especially since not everything Hitchens espoused
        was worth emulating

  2. Thurlow Weed | Apr 2, 2014 at 1:14 pm |

    Hitchens? You mean the productive drunkard who supported the invasion of Iraq? Oh, I remember him.

  3. Wow…. Hitchens really said the words “even though we know from Freud that…”

    if i had any respect for the man before, it would be gone now.

    • Liam_McGonagle | Apr 2, 2014 at 1:54 pm |

      Yeah, but you know: “Science . . . blah blah blah . . . empiricism . . . blah blah blah . . . ”

      Freud I almost feel sorry for. He came at a point in history where we were still discovering the power of materialism and the depths to which hierophants had gone to in order to secure their preeminence under idealism. It seems like an inevitability that someone would try to ‘legitimize’ psychic investigation in the language of science.

      But you’d have thought that a perspicacious commenter a century later would have known better.

  4. Daniel Gill | Apr 2, 2014 at 1:32 pm |

    I’m angry that you’re both butchering the word numinous. It doesn’t mean from whatever we feel awe, it means whatever is spectral that makes our hair stand on end and releases energy from the temporal distortion that that brings , engendering the capacity for transubstantiation and communion. Never use the word numinous without including that in the definition because he meant the hair raising sensations intimated by the ghost, such as in asian horror movies, not any other feeling. that is the unique feeling he is talking about . every time someone omits THAT from the word numinous i want to bang my head against the wall. You’re both stupid fucking idiots. Read Otto’s book fucking properly and don’t skip over what you don’t want to hear. Rudolf Otto was most strongly and powerfully inspired by India and Japan. His theology is a meditation on SHINTO, almost exclusively. It’s the most important book on shamanism ever written, and it’s hyperborean not tropical. it has to do with winter and its capacity to release catharsis through ghostly shuddering. ie, read James De Mille’s A Strange Manuscript Found In A Copper Cylinder, or Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge.

  5. Ted Heistman | Apr 2, 2014 at 1:40 pm |

    I guess to some people Liberal Christians are some strange anomaly. They’re actually all over the place. They attend churches from all the mainline denominations: Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopalian, Congregational, Church of Christ. Some Unitarians consider themselves Christian too.

    • jasonpaulhayes | Apr 3, 2014 at 4:39 pm |

      Ask a Jesuit if you’re given the freedom to be a “Liberal Christian” or whether anyone gets to redefine what Christianity is through Reformation… being that they have a stated mission of Counter-Reformation (consolidation). To be a Liberal Christians is to deny the teachings of the Holy Bible… which are not Liberal by any stretch of the imagination. Do you think its a coincidence that the most Liberal Pope in history is also the first Jesuit Pope?

      • Jin The Ninja | Apr 3, 2014 at 6:09 pm |

        jesuits do have a tradition of social justice.
        they are neither traditionally ‘liberal’ or ‘radical.’ they happen to emphasis the mission of serving the poor. that mission sometimes has a radical outlook. i.e. liberation theology, but it doesn’t require it.
        i am going to argue with you and say mary magdalene as pope- was perhaps the most ‘liberal’ pope catholics have had;)
        however, liberal christianity- from breakway catholics to unitarians are hardly defined by the umbrella of hierarchical church practices.
        the non-canonical gospels are plenty radical. the whole point is- is ANY religious text NOT conservative in literal interpretation? allegory is the keyword of the day. the gnostic gospels (whichever books you include in that) are explicitly allegorical. that is the whole point of gnostic cosmology.

        • Allow me to borrow your hashtag…

          • I didn’t think anything could save us from what’s coming.

          • …this should be suitably blasphemous for mÿ intents and purposes…

          • emperorreagan | Apr 4, 2014 at 8:24 am |

            Perhaps if there was an option in Disqus to ignore all posts containing hashtags…

          • Jin The Ninja | Apr 3, 2014 at 10:20 pm |

            oh i’m not christian or catholic in any sense of the word.

            and what i said was hardly “apologist” in any sense of the word. it comes from the perspective of actually knowing catholicism as an insider AND as an outsider, and allowing an objective historical analysis to emerge.

            you should really know better than to try that shit with me and paint me with the brush of a defender of the faith. hardly.
            i know, hard liners like you don’t really ‘get’ nuance. but the dozen or so exchanges we’ve had in the past- particularly those where i totally shut it down- you should have a good feel for my positions, and you’re thoroughly mischaracterising me here. but again, i get it- hitchens is your atheist-jesus, you hate religion, and thus can’t use critical thinking skills when it comes to it’s characterisation.

          • I could not care less what your views of Jesuits, Catholics, Atheists or any other god damned group are. I see another nameless, faceless and cowardice mocking bird who can’t tell history from historical revisionism… projecting agenda driven views of atheism, defending the indefensible, suppressing rage a possessed by a fevered ego that exceeds you.

          • are you a wig maker from New York??? IF so, ÿ really need to commission a wig.


            I could not care less what your beliefs are, what your views of Jesuits, Catholics, Atheists or any other group are. I see another nameless, faceless and cowardice mocking bird who can’t tell history from historical revisionism… projecting agenda driven views of atheism, poorly attempting to divorce yourself from defending the indefensible, and suppressing rage while possessed by a fevered ego that exceeds you.

            I accept your apology and I forgive you, you’re not mad at me… you’re mad at your father.

            …a typical and fine, upstanding, pious, judgmental Pharisee.

            If ÿ were to accept “your” belief structure as A) historically accurate, B) experientially verifiable, C) free from agenda driven projections, and D) not demonstrably indefensible…

            this is still not a “good look, bro”.

          • Actually I have a Mohawk because I celebrate my First Nation heritage… what you probably know as Indians and Native Americans.

            I only believe in the Earth, Sky and Trees… which actually requires no belief because its a living system. I’m otherwise a Nihilist… much more than a Pious Pharisee, powerful in ways you’ll never understand and I’m not your “bro”.

          • My friend, I am going to tell you the story of my life, as you wish; and if it were only the story of my life I think I would not tell it; for what is one man that he should make much of his winters, even when they bend him like a heavy snow? So many other men have lived and shall live that story, to be grass upon the hills.

            It is the story of all life that is holy and is good to tell, and of us two-leggeds sharing in it with the four-leggeds and the wings of the air and all green things; for these are children of one mother and their father is one Spirit.

            This, then, is not the tale of a great hunter or of a great warrior, or of a great traveler, although I have made much meat in my time and fought for my people both as boy and man, and have gone far and seen strange lands and men. So also have many others done, and better than I. These things I shall remember by the way, and often they may seem to be the very tale itself, as when I was living them in happiness and sorrow. But now that I can see it all as from a lonely hilltop, I know it was the story of a mighty vision given to a man too weak to use it; of a holy tree that should have flourished in a people’s heart with flowers and singing birds, and now is withered; and of a people’s dream that died in bloody snow.

            But if the vision was true and mighty, as I know, it is true and mighty yet; for such things are of the spirit, and it is in the darkness of their eyes that men get lost.

            So I know that it is a good thing I am going to do; and because no good thing can be done by any man alone, I will first make an offering and send a voice to the Spirit of the World, that it may help me to be true. See, I fill this sacred pipe with the bark of the red willow; but before we smoke it, you must see how it is made and what it means. These four ribbons hanging here on the stem are the four quarters of the universe. The black one is for the west where the thunder beings live to send us rain; the white one for the north, whence comes the great white cleansing wind; the red one for the east, whence springs the light and where the morning star lives to give men wisdom; the yellow for the south, whence come the summer and the power to grow.

            But these four spirits are only one Spirit after all, and this eagle feather here is for that One, which is like a father, and also it is for the thoughts of men that should rise high as eagles do. Is not the sky a father and the earth a mother, and are not all living things with feet or wings or roots their children? And this hide upon the mouthpiece here, which should be bison hide, is for the earth, from whence we came and at whose breast we suck as babies all our lives, along with all the animals and birds and trees and grasses. And because it means all this, and more than any man can understand, the pipe is holy.

            …ÿ advise u look into de-installing that European service pack…

          • Jin The Ninja | Apr 4, 2014 at 3:58 pm |

            pawnee peoples had mohawks.
            people of the iroquois confederacy plucked their hair and left only a tuft at the crown.
            but of course you knew that…
            and of course since i live in the heart of former iroquois territory and studied under taiaiake alfred, wouldn’t know anything about it right?

          • Jin The Ninja | Apr 5, 2014 at 1:57 am |

            nah. just way better informed.
            and the fact that my blood quantum allows me membership to metis status, well that speaks for itself. i don’t parade around thinking i am culturally NdN, i don’t wear my metis sash to the grocery store. i don’t relate culturally to NdN people, because i am so far removed from it. urban, eurasian, 3rd culture. i don’t have to flaunt my turkey feathers, it is a part of me. i know many of the narratives of metis and cree and dene peoples in this country- because they directly relate to how i’ve arrived at becoming a fully whole multi racial person. it is a journey, not a one stop (barber) shop.

          • You speak about Blood Quantum out of one side of your face and Multiculturalism out of the other side of your face… you’re a ridiculous human being.

          • the song ÿ wanted to post is not available on the interwebz unless you wish to try a torrent

          • Jin The Ninja | Apr 4, 2014 at 3:28 pm |

            my grandfather went to a residential school. you have no idea what you’re taking about. i am not defending the church, i am simply stating that liberation theology, gnosticism (contemporary and historical) and breakaway catholics have nothing to do with the catholic church in toto. you don’t get disparaged as a heresy for nothing. the views of christ and of cosmology are radically distinct and seperate from each other. i belong to my metis local and national. do you even have tribal registration? how can one be a mage and an atheist and nihlist and an elemental animist in cohesive assemblage? the whole point you missed, is that your pal hitchens, hated brown people. as does dawkins. do you really think they would approve of indigenous and aboriginal and first nations healing and spiritual practices? you also seem to totally miss the point that many cdn 1st nations peoples are in fact catholic or practice syncretic traditions (like the metis, who use sage and sweetgrass in mass)- which is of course due to forced assimilation, but totally disregards the social and cultural realities of history. the barbarity of the catholic church is UNFORGIVEABLE the world over. and no one is claiming otherwise, but people (like louis riel, like the countless liberation theologians, like people in the native american church, the ghost dance religion) were all influenced by certain christian (namely catholic cosmologies). everything you’e written is thus far anti-intellectual and ahistorical. you can be opposed to something ( i am opposed to the catholic church) you can even be offended by something, but it serves NOTHING to mis-characterise the systems of thought- except possibly ‘persecuted christian’ ‘rampant atheist’ mentality that seems all pervasive these days (at least in the dialectical talking head culture of the MSM).

            you may have been posting here for slightly longer than I, but for the last 3 years, you’ve been nothing more than a blue painted skinjob, which is the time i’ve been here. so to disparage me for my avatar, my skrnname, is totally a farce. i can give you leeway, but it was not me who first descended into ad hominem or dismissal.

          • > how can one be a mage and an atheist and nihlist and an elemental animist in cohesive assemblage?

            I believe the answer has something to do with the size of his penis.

          • Jin The Ninja | Apr 4, 2014 at 3:47 pm |

            wait, are you saying he’s bigger or smaller than me:P?

          • The man’s a poet.

          • You want to see my papers? You won’t need to, because you’ll never know me and always remember me how I choose for you to… but after I leave this page, I’ll return to a place where you never existed and never will.

          • Jin The Ninja | Apr 4, 2014 at 3:53 pm |

            so what you are saying is that your mohawk refers is some nihilist post-punk cultural appropration rather than actual cultural affiliation. i like that you raised the issue of native spirituality- but then were fully unable to reconcile the actual historical and cultural realities of it. do you even know who louis riel is? #hipsterwithaheaddress

      • Ted Heistman | Apr 4, 2014 at 10:33 am |

        um…protestants aren’t under the authority of the Pope, so they don’t ask Jesuits for permission to do things. Not sure exactly what your point is

    • “Difference between liberals and conservative white folks is whether the racial slurs come out before, or after you call out their racism.”

      Have fun with your white Jebus.

      all people of color and the few non-xtian white people

      • Ted Heistman | Apr 4, 2014 at 2:03 pm |

        that’s kind of retarded actually. You obviously haven’t visited a Liberal Christian Church.

        • Jin The Ninja | Apr 4, 2014 at 3:12 pm |

          the old testament is ragingly ethnocentric.

          contemporary depictions of jesus- as a pseudo-aryan- are ragingly ahistorical, and non-factual, and white washed. that was his point.

          • Ted Heistman | Apr 4, 2014 at 3:47 pm |

            Right like I said

          • Ted Heistman | Apr 4, 2014 at 3:48 pm |

            Because none of that has anything to do with what I was talking about.

          • Jin The Ninja | Apr 4, 2014 at 3:50 pm |

            i can’t say for sure, but i assume it was in reference to your citation of mainline protestant christian denominations as ‘liberal.’ or simply the fact that ‘liberals’ tend to deny and hide their biases behind ‘tolerance’

          • Ted Heistman | Apr 4, 2014 at 4:24 pm |

            For whatever reason people enjoy having enemies. When none are readily at hand they invent them. So seeing all Christians as right wing fundamentalists appeals to a certain “me against the world” mentality

          • Jin The Ninja | Apr 4, 2014 at 4:27 pm |

            again, i agree. i took his comment as existing independently of yours, only passively referring to themes.

          • I think the concept of psychological projection explains it pretty well.

          • For whatever reason people enjoy having enemies. When none are readily at hand they invent them.

            @ted_heistman:disqus, you are the gift that keeps giving, honey.


          • Ted Heistman | Apr 5, 2014 at 3:14 pm |

            and you are a creepy fuck with no life, reminding me why I stopped commenting here with your ilk.

          • I think the concept of psychological projection explains it pretty well.

          • Jin The Ninja | Apr 4, 2014 at 4:22 pm |

            i pretty much agree with you. just so you know.

        • It’s not your option to redefine Christianity, I know that you think so… but I assure you that’s you’re wrong. It nearly drove Thomas Jefferson mad, to the point where he carved out scriptures by candle light with a sharpened blade.

          • Ted Heistman | Apr 4, 2014 at 4:19 pm |

            Actually I am not redefining Christianity. You are simply out of touch with mainline Protestantism. Believe it or not televangelists and mega churches Are not the end all be All of Christianity over the last 100 years

          • I understand what you’re saying Ted but I reject the very concept of Belief as having merit. You’re appealing to sentiments and emotions I don’t have… and to the wrong Mother Fucker Ted.


          • Ted Heistman | Apr 4, 2014 at 7:01 pm |

            I don’t really care if you reject belief. Whatever floats your boat.

          • I don’t really care about the state of Protestantism… it’s a losers script and a lifeboat tethered to a sinking ship. Put down the tiny violin and grab a bucket, you’re drowning!

          • Jin The Ninja | Apr 5, 2014 at 2:03 am |

            i also don’t ‘care’ about protestantism (or catholicism for that matter), but i don’t go on little emo disqus rages feigning knowledge of that which i haven’t even wiki’d.

          • The word “faith” has a variety of meanings, which it is important to distinguish. In some contexts it is used as a synonym for “trust” as when we say that we have faith in Dr. X’s diagnostic skill or in lawyer Y’s integrity. Analogous to this is our “faith” in authority the belief that what certain persons say about certain subjects is likely, because of their special qualifications, to be true. On other occasions “faith” stands for belief in propositions which we have not had occasion to verify for ourselves, but which we know that we could verify if we had the inclination, the opportunity and the necessary capacities. In this sense of the word we have “faith,” even though we may never have been to Australia, that there is such a creature as a duck-billed platypus; we have “faith” in the atomic theory, even though we may never have performed the experiments on which that theory rests, and be incapable of understanding the mathematics by which it is supported. And finally there is the “faith,” which is a belief in propositions which we know we cannot verify, even if we should desire to do so propositions such as those of the Athanasian Creed or those which constitute the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. This kind of “faith” is defined by the Scholastics as an act of the intellect moved to assent by the will.

          • You are a flippin Platypus, those examples of faith are laughable and completely wrong… read more, copy and paste less.

            Knowledge, Wisdom > Faith, Belief

          • Knowledge, Wisdom || Faith, Belief


          • editing “your” to “those” does not help your case…

          • If that’s 100% true, why am I only 2% interested? Find someone else to try and figure out… go back to the witless protection program, you’ll never win a battle of wits with me.

          • nothing is true, everything is permitted

          • @jasonpaulhayes:disqus

            yes, ÿ already know that you are a sock puppet.

            The tragic part is that you believe you’re a real boy.

            Sorry to say, you would have perished from the gom jabbar.

            #ThanksForAllTheFish #We’reNotOnTwitter #YouCan@OnDisqusNow!?!?

        • And white Jebus gathered unto himself his disciples and said to them:
          “Arm thyself with weapons of death and stalk thy neighbourhood for any “thuggish” looking individuals. I say unto you, ignore all authority that tells you to avoid confrontation as any sane individual would. Shouldst things start to go south during thy holy crusade, thou shalt shoot to kill. So saith the lord thy father.”

          ÿ suggest you go back to appropriating native american beliefs to fill the empty void that your morally bankrupt ideology leaves within your immortal soul.

          It is generally believed that “all sins are equal in the eyes of god”, however, hypocrisy is one act that is weighed as potentially far more debased and evil than others.

          Your non-existent line of Liberal ⇔ Conservative will not save you from the judgments rendered within your own founding documents.


          So it is. So it shall be. Thy have chosen the form of thine own demise.

          • Ted Heistman | Apr 4, 2014 at 10:23 pm |

            You sound like virgin. Try meeting a person in real life for sex. It will change you whole perspective. Gay straigj

          • Gee, if I weren’t already impressed with the flawless execution of your imaginary moral code from your magic book, this is the comment from you that surely will convince all the non-beliebers.

            @ted_heistman:disqus , do you have @jasonpaulhayes:disqus hand up your ass, or is it vice versa?

          • Thinly veiled Homophobia? Cute… when you know only the low and not the high.

          • ÿ call them as ÿ see them.

            …simply connecting the dots between the latent homoeroticism you have both displayed while posting on this article…

            there was no value judgment implied. #GetUrFreakOn

          • Ted is a handsome guy… that’s true, but I’m pretty sure Ted isn’t Ghey for me and I’m certainly not Ghey for Ted.

            I am 6.66% Ghey for Benjamin Franklin though.

          • …necrophilia too, eh?


          • No, I’m not a Necromancer (though that is an option)… I would never desecrate the memory of Benjamin Franklin by raping his corpse.

            How dare you sir… he’s like a Founding Father to me.

          • Did somebody dressed as or vaguely resembling Benjamin Franklin have his hand up your ass as a child?

          • Nope wrong again, but I did once have a man in a skirt invite me into a wooden box and to confess my sexual secrets to him.

          • Yeah, that always kind of creeped me out too…

            Fire Fi Di Vatican

          • Si vis vivere in pace… or so I’ve read.

          • Pro Tip: Have your primary thesis / zing ready the first time you press Post as jasonpaulhayes.

            ÿ must write 42^42^42 haiku now
            may the most interesting man in the world forgive me

          • You’re not mad at me, you’re mad at your father. I forgive you and I accept your apology.

            Now Piss off and find someone else to Stalk.

          • cool story, bro

            actually tho, ÿ am the bastard of Emperor Norton’s first born bastard, making me the thrice born bastard.

            as such, ÿ have the best claim to be the next “Emperor of these United States” and “Protector of Mexico”

            Thanks dad!

          • ÿ already crushed mind. It was a tasty morsel.

            Of course, being native to the Western paradigm, the mind was mountain sized.

          • Ted Heistman | Apr 4, 2014 at 11:02 pm |

            Shave the neck beard, step out of your Mom’s basement and talk to a girl

          • For some reason I read this as “Shave your Mom, step out of a girl and talk to a neck beard.”

            Boy do I have some apologising and/or explaining to do…

          • Bullshit. I’m a virgin and I sound nothing like that.

          • Damn, I thought that “mother’s basement” trope was pure fiction!

            Reality never ceases to disappoint me.

          • Van Eyck ???

  6. I have no use for this fascist after he became a wind up toy for the fucking shrub regime. What a douche.
    Good riddance, you fat drunk.

  7. Daniel Gill | Apr 2, 2014 at 3:58 pm |

    The shudder experienced in winter from intimations of the ghost engendering the temporal distortion (1) for an energy sacrifice to propitiate the descent of hungry ghosts (2) kickstarting the alchemical apparatus (3), in ethnographies:

    1. Korean Shamanism: Cultural Paradox by Chongho Kim (anthropology), The Skater by Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge (poems)

    2. Kut: Happiness Through [ Maussian ] Reciprocity by Hyun-key Kim Hogarth, ergo, read also Marcel Mauss’ classic The Gift

    3. Korean Shaman Rituals by Jung Young Lee

    for a meditation on Sleep Paralysis, Alchemy, and Hungry Ghosts — read James De Mille’s A Strange Manuscript Found In A Copper Cylinder

    Canadian writers like Algernon Blackwood, had the divine providence of being from Canada, like Korea, the winter climate liberates the soul, in a way that is probably impossible in southern climates without trance.

  8. Daniel Gill | Apr 2, 2014 at 4:14 pm |

    To be more clear.. Shuddering and Winter go hand in hand, so one feels as the other . but it is more correct to say that the ghost releases a shuddering sensation like felt in the cold, but the cold itself is not enough to commune with ghosts . The connection between the two are well understood particularly in literature and should really need no introduction.

    a great example would be Elizabeth Gaskell’s The Old Nurse’s Story,


    ” As winter drew on, and the days grew shorter, I was sometimes almost certain that I heard a noise as if some one was playing on the great organ in the hall. I did not hear it every evening; but, certainly, I did very often, usually when I was sitting with Miss Rosamond, after I had put her to bed, and keeping quite still and silent in the bedroom. Then I used to hear it booming and swelling away in the distance. The first night, when I went down to my supper, I asked Dorothy who had been playing music, and James said very shortly that I was a gowk to take the wind soughing among the trees for music; but I saw Dorothy look at him very fearfully, and Bessy, the kitchen-maid, said something beneath her breath, and went quite white. I saw they did not like my question, so I held my peace till I was with Dorothy alone, when I knew I could get a good deal out of her. So, the next day, I watched my time, and I coaxed and asked her who it was that played the organ; for I knew that it was the organ and not the wind well enough, for all I had kept silence before James. But Dorothy had had her lesson, I’ll warrant, and never a word could I get from her. So then I tried Bessy, though I had always held my head rather above her, as I was evened to James and Dorothy, and she was little better than their servant So she said I must never, never tell; and if ever told, I was never to say she had told me; but it was a very strange noise, and she had heard it many a time, but most of all on winter nights, and before storms; and folks did say it was the old lord playing on the great organ in the hall, just as he used to do when he was alive; but who the old lord was, or why he played, and why he played on stormy winter evenings in particular, she either could not or would not tell me. Well! I told you I had a brave heart; and I thought it was rather pleasant to have that grand music rolling about the house, let who would be the player; for now it rose above the great gusts of wind, and wailed and triumphed just like a living creature, and then it fell to a softness most complete, only it was always music, and tunes, so it was nonsense to call it the wind. I thought at first, that it might be Miss Furnivall who played, unknown to Bessy; but one day, when I was in the hall by myself, I opened the organ and peeped all about it and around it, as I had done to the organ in Crosthwaite Church once before, and I saw it was all broken and destroyed inside, though it looked so brave and fine; and then, though it was noon-day, my flesh began to creep a little, and I shut it up, and run away pretty quickly to my own bright nursery; and I did not like hearing the music for some time after that, any more than James and Dorothy did. All this time Miss Rosamond was making herself more and more beloved. The old ladies liked her to dine with them at their early dinner James stood behind Miss Furnivall’s chair, and I behind Miss Rosamond’s all in state; and, after dinner, she would play about in a corner of the great drawing-room as still as any mouse, while Miss Furnivall slept, and I had my dinner in the kitchen. But she was glad enough to come to me in the nursery afterwards; for, as she said Miss Furnivall was so sad, and Mrs. Stark so dull; but she and were merry enough; and, by-and-by, I got not to care for that weird rolling music, which did one no harm, if we did not know where it came from.”

  9. Daniel Gill | Apr 2, 2014 at 4:22 pm |

    What I’ve related here is a serious fucking thing, has a discourse and a cosmic sense of reality, our souls, in relation to the outer darkness, and there is a critical intellectual discourse that in various isolated circumstances irrespective of one another have examined it. and we all speak of the same thing. shuddering from ghosts is spooky, that sensation as Otto says is UNIQUE, sui generis, cannot be compared or reduced to anything else, is an emotion unto itself. for exclusively the ghost, and communion with the divine, ghosts being divine . etc etc. and it is wintry .

  10. Daniel Gill | Apr 2, 2014 at 4:32 pm |

    Spookier trailer (teaser) for Total Recall . .

    A quote by Paul Verhoeven,

    … it’s 1966, and Verhoeven is out of the Navy and struggling to get a foot in the door of the sleepy Dutch film industry. Then his girlfriend gets pregnant. Verhoeven is facing the end of a film career he’s barely started; in a moment of panicked soul-searching, he accepts a religious pamphlet from a woman on the street and winds up at a Pentecostal church in the Hague, where the parishioners speak in tongues. “The weird thing,” he says, “was that you could physically feel — because that was what it was all about — the Holy Ghost descending, as if a laser beam was cutting through my head and my heart was on fire.” Later, after Verhoeven and his girlfriend manage to arrange an abortion, they go to see the original 1933 King Kong, and Kong appears to Verhoeven as “an avenging angel from the Old Testament.”
    Verhoeven rejects the religious component of the vision, but comes away from the whole experience convinced of the fragility of his psyche and his need to “close the doors of perception” to avoid ending up like Friedrich Nietzsche, mad in the streets of Turin, hugging a whipped horse. Afterward, he tells van Scheers, “as an antidote, I started to film in a hyper-realistic way. My work became my anchor in reality. Hence the need to show [sex and violence] so explicitly … In the Netherlands people always got enormously worked up about that, and of course there was an element of provocation in it — but the background to it was my always wanting to have both feet firmly on the ground. Fear, it was fear that I might slip away mentally. This is why my films have always been firmly anchored in reality instead of ideas.”

  11. Daniel Gill | Apr 3, 2014 at 12:08 am |

    ok I’ll lay this out because it’s better this way,

    Chongho Kim’s Korean Shamanism Cultural Paradox, this is what Otto means by the numinous precisely,

    -A Haunted Feeling-
    Soh Bosal started the kut ritual with a drum, sitting together with Oki’s Mother on the mat. It was a very cold and windy night even though it was spring. Everything seemed to be frozen in the spring cold. It was so cold that I came back to the car for a rest while Soh Bosal performed the first phase of the kut. I was not keen to observe the first phase, because it just consisted of routine procedures. I took a cigarette out of my pocket and put it in my mouth. Suddenly I felt a strong haunted feeling in the air around me. It felt as if a ghost was going to jump in front of the windscreen. I was so scared that I felt goose bumps appearing on my skin, and a shiver ran down my spine. I turned on the car’s interior light and looked in the rear visionmirror, because it felt as though a ghost was about to enter the car through the rear windscreen and squeeze my neck from the back seat. I locked all ofthe doors. But still the spooky feeling did not go away. So I switched on the radio and turned up the sound … I began to talk to myself … [What] is the reason I was possessed by a haunted feeling just now? … What did Mirim’s Mother say to you? She said, “I do not like to see kut rituals, where there seem to be lots of ghosts around. I feel as if worms are going around my body.” Yes! The haunted feeling … Chisun’s Grandmother said to me, “… The waves of life made me know this way.” … Linda … asked me in a letter “Why do they take responsibility for the ‘dark’ side of life?” … I continued to talk to myself… Because of the dark side of social life, there is a cultural domain dealing with the experience of misfortune in Korean culture. In contrast to ordinary domains, thefieldof misfortune is full of darkness and dampness. Look at this kut for Oki’s Mother! Isn’t it full of darkness? … It is my impression that shamanism looks like a poisonous creature. Korean shamanism is very colourful: its dances and music are dynamic, and costumes are full of bright colour. However, most adult Koreans know of its poisonousness. This is why Yongki’s Mother said, “I’m not going to a kut ritual because I am afraid of being possessed by the spirits!” (kwisine ssiuiulggaba). Is there any ordinary Korean who likes to be possessed? This is why they don’t like to be involved in shamanic practices. This is why shamanism has been stimatized in Koreanhistory. This is also why my research has encountered such strong resistance in the field. The field which I have been investigating is the field of misfortune! Why do people seek shamanic practices even though they don’t like shamanism? How can this paradox be explained? Yes! Like cures like. The mode of shamanic healing is homeopathic. It is like using derivates of poison when one is bitten by avenomous snake. In Korean society, there is no one who suffers from misfortune more than the shaman, and no man or woman ever wants to be a shaman. The shamanic illness, an extreme of misfortune, makes the shaman a healer. … the Stick held by Oki’s Mother still showed no sign of being possessed, even though it sometimes shivered a little bit. Soh Basal asked again, “Is it like something has come?” Oki’s Mother replied shakily, “Well… I don’t know. The Stick shivered a little bit… ”

    / the shivering of the stick is like the shivering or shudder that Rudolf Otto theorized anticipating possession, the stick shivering is like the haunted feeling.

    Kut: Happiness Through Reciprocity I don’t have a quote on hand but they offer their ki and are reciprocated .

    In Korean Shaman Rituals by Jung Young Lee, we find this,

    Our special interest lies in the initiation process of charismatic shamans who are primarily confined to the mid-central part of Korea where Seoul is located. The initiation process of shamans is known by many different names such as Gansin, Sini naerinda, Sini orunda, Sini tanda, and so on.Perhaps these terms are best translated in English as the ‘intrusion of spirit in the body’, even though it is usually understood as the possession of spirits . When the spirit enters or approaches the body , it is known as Sinju or the spiritual master or spiritual self who becomes a counterpart of the shaman’s soul. Here, the spirit master acts as yang or the active principle and the soul of the shaman is yin or the receptive principle. Both of them coexist together as wife and husband. In other words, it indicates the intimate union of two souls, the male and female, or the male god and the female shaman or the female god and the male shaman. … To say this another way, the mystical union between god and shaman is primarily sexual. It is rather interesting to examine the term ‘Sini tanda’, which literally means to place god over shaman’s body, which seems to indicate the proper position for sexual intercourse. … We occasionally hear people talk about the loss of soul or or the escape of soul (T’al-hon). To me [sic] these terms are inadequately applied to the Korean shamans. It is not the state of no soul or escape of soul but the state where the soul is completely receptive to the coming of spirit. When the spirit comes in, there is a mystical union, the oneness of two, which creates the experience of ecstasy. … This wedding with god is known as ‘Naerim gut’ or ‘Kangshin gut’ which formalizes the initiation of shaman hood.

    // this is the beginning of alchemy. when you read a few books on Korean shamanism what they mean by alchemy is as in daoism , the offering of ki to Hungry Ghosts begins transubstantiation

    in Korean Shamanism Muism by Dr. Kim Tae-kon we learn that this ritual is continually repeated to amplify power.

  12. Daniel Gill | Apr 3, 2014 at 12:16 am |

    This is not the greatest show I have no verdict on it besides that this trailer exemplifies what I said. It’s about a hungry ghost who takes the soul of the first wife of the eldest son. They understand soul in Korea as ki , as in chi or whatever in daoism, it’s very unlike shamanism in a way because they don’t require trance it is not actually involved in ritual possession. the importance is struck upon alchemy, from the offering of ki, through the temporal distortion of the shudder. Korean shamans are known as haunted houses on legs. .

    two really good shows i can guarantee lol are Master’s Sun and The Moon That Embraces The Sun . I haven’t watched much of this one yet but I think so far it is worth a look.

  13. Daniel Gill | Apr 3, 2014 at 12:33 am |

    Moral of this little overview, there are incredible books on korean shamanism that are LIKE victorian spiritualism . i really love their hybridity of christianity and gnosticism with their shamanism WHY!? because it fits PERFECTLY snug as a rug.

    • Jin The Ninja | Apr 3, 2014 at 6:01 pm |

      yes, while there are parallels between kardecian spiritism and western spiritualism and mudang shamanism (as there are to all indigenous animistic and shamanistic traditions)- i would hardly call mudang shamanism as a mudang would practice it- syncretic. a lot of koreans are x’tians, so perhaps you mistake the lay practice of the triple belief system for syncretisation, however mudang practices have a lot more in common with tongji and xiguandao spiritism than with x’tianity.

  14. feint_ruled | Apr 3, 2014 at 8:14 am |

    I’m sure you could cobble together some description of religious that would encompass “a feeling of wonder” that would drag Hitchens into the fold. But I rather think his point is that he doesn’t believe in GOD.

  15. AramMcLean | Apr 4, 2014 at 7:06 pm |

    Your first sentence left me shaking my head. Pugilistic means to fight with the fists. That is it. I think you were going for pugnacious. But hey, it’s time-consuming to double-check what words actually mean when in such a rush to sound extra-intelligent.

    Next you confuse being aware of what Christianity historically means, with arrogance. Hitchens was utterly correct. These so-called liberal Christians do need a new name because Christians they are not. I suggest JesusLoverTons. It has a nice ring to it.

    • VaudeVillain | Apr 6, 2014 at 12:01 pm |

      I’m always a little baffled with peoples’ love for the word “pugilism”. One of my jobs, the business owner stuck a line into a radio ad that people could “test their pugilistic skills” in the store. Personally, I’m calling the cops if anyone does… I don’t need that shit.

  16. Dian Atamyanov | Apr 11, 2014 at 7:11 pm |

    Loving all the haters. As Hitchens would’ve put it: “Bring it on!”

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