Christopher Hitchens has a most enjoyable piece in Vanity Fair about the book tour he did to promote God Is Not Great. It sounds like he had a lot of fun, with Jerry Falwell’s death providing a real bonus. (I missed his appearance at the Town Hall in Seattle, which was a shame.) And then when he got home…
June 10, Washington, D.C.: It’s been weeks on the road, and after a grueling swing through Canada I am finally home. I tell the wife and daughter that’s it: no more god talk for a bitâ€”let’s get lunch at the fashionable CafÃ© Milano, in Georgetown. Signor Franco leads us to a nice table outside and I sit downâ€”right next to the Archbishop of Canterbury. O.K., then, this must have been meant to happen. I lean over. “My Lord Archbishop? It’s Christopher Hitchens.” “Good gracious,” he responds, gesturing at his guestâ€”“we were just discussing your book.”
The archbishop’s church is about to undergo a schism. More than 10 conservative congregations in Virginia have seceded, along with some African bishops, to protest the ordination of a gay bishop in New England. I ask him how it’s going. “Well”â€”he lowers his voiceâ€”“I’m rather trying to keep my head down.” Well, why, in that case, I want to reply, did you seek a job that supposedly involves moral leadership? But I let it go. What do I care what some Bronze Age text says about homosexuality? And there’s something hopelessly innocent about the archbishop: he looks much more like a sheep than a shepherd. What can one say in any case about a religion that describes its adherents as a flock?
(HT to Dave for the correction to the title.)