I just returned from a memorial service for Christopher Hitchens at Cooper Union Hall in Greenwich Village. Several illustrious speakers, friends of Hitchens all, spoke: Tom Stoppard and Salman Rushdie; Ian McEwan and Stephen Fry; Sean Penn and Olivia Wilde. The head of the NIH, Francis Collins, played piano; Martin Amis delivered the eulogy.
The person who spoke shortest of all was Hitchens’ brother, the only surviving member of his original nuclear family. Peter Hitchens is a devout Christian. He was also, as I described in my essay on Hitchens, the way in which Hitchens (as well as Peter) learned of their mother’s Jewish background. When I wrote that, I wish I had known what Peter Hitchens disclosed today. Here is what he said, in full:
My name is Peter Hitchens, I’m going to read the words which my brother read at our father’s funeral in our home county of Hampshire in England more than 25 years ago. They are the eighth chapter of the fourth verse of St. Paul’s epistle to the Philippians: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
(Perhaps needless to say, Hitchens used the King James version.)