How I found God and peace with my atheist brother: PETER HITCHENS traces his journey back to Christianity

**During his teenage years and early 20s, Peter Hitchens lost his faith and rebelled against everything he had been brought up to believe in. Here, in a moving and thought-provoking account from his controversial new book, he describes his spiritual journey back to God - and the end of his feud with his brother
I set fire to my Bible on the playing fields of my Cambridge boarding school one bright, windy spring afternoon in 1967. I was 15 years old. The book did not, as I had hoped, blaze fiercely and swiftly.

Only after much blowing and encouragement did I manage to get it to ignite at all, and I was left with a disagreeable, half-charred mess.

Most of my small invited audience drifted away long before I had finished, disappointed by the anticlimax and the pettiness of the thing. Thunder did not mutter.

It would be many years before I would feel a slight shiver of unease about my act of desecration. Did I then have any idea of the forces I was trifling with?

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I no longer avoided churches. I recognised in the great English cathedrals, and in many small parish churches, the old unsettling messages.One was the inevitability of my own death, the other the undoubted fact that my despised forebears were neither crude nor ignorant, but men and women of great skill and engineering genius, a genius not contradicted or blocked by faith, but enhanced by it.

I had absolutely no doubt that I was among the damned, if there were any damned. Van der Weyden was still earning his fee, nearly 500 years after his death.

At around the same time I rediscovered Christmas, which I had pretended to dislike for many years. I slipped into a carol service on a winter evening, diffident and anxious not to be seen.

I knew perfectly well that I was enjoying it, although I was unwilling to admit it. I also knew I was losing my faith in politics and my trust in ambition, and was urgently in need of something else on which to build the rest of my life.

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The belief in damnation here precedes the belief in God and the eternal soul. Damnation becomes an existential reality.

For a life without Christmas, without Easter, without sacred ceremony and ritual and remembrance, a life disconnected to the great art and achievements of Europe’s Christendom, a life disconnected from the highest highs and crowning achievements of Europe’s Christian past, is very much a life of damnation.

Removing oneself from the greatness of ones collective past, and all that is left is the ambitions, the petty pleasures, and the toil of the daily grind.

To be confronted with the great Christian architecture and art of Europe on a daily basis, and to recognize it a sepulchre to a life that no longer exists cannot but leave one with that impression that one is damned.
Peter was being left behind in a world where the great tombstones of the past towered over any possible achievements that his own existence could ever hope to bring.

^Many nonreligious people celebrate Christmas and Easter.

I’m Buddhist and I celebrate both.

Grace Slick celebrates Easter too… She paints eggs.

Yeah, so do I. We get some of the children of our family and extended family and have them go on an Easter egg hunt.

Honestly, I think that, if it loses its religious significance, people should just stop celebrating Christmas altogether. If it’s not a celebration of Jesus’s birth, then its just another empty excuse for people to buy more **** they don’t need and enrich the retail stores.

The separation of brothers…such an old story…but ever new in every age…makes me so sure of the wisdom of the Church…the body of Christ…the power of prayer and the grace God pours out upon the one who will receive for the one who will not…the virtues of faith, hope and love seeded in our families for the good of all…we who can accept the gifts of faith, pray for all our dear ones as we are, and surely have been, prayed for by others.

Wow, what a grim outlook you have.

For me, what you call the “daily grind” is an immense and wonderful pleasure filled with family, friends, enjoyable activities, and a marvelous appreciation for the wonderous universe of which humans are only a tiny and temporary part.

I don’t believe in gods, but I still celebrate Christmas (which is largely a secular holiday now) and Easter (which is really a celebration of spring), and I appreciate all of the art that has come out of religions – not just Christianity, but all religions.

It seems sad to me that someone can’t enjoy this amazing life without magic to escape from the “daily grind.”

This was all more from the testimony of Peter Hitchens than myself.
He never really talked about magic at all either. That seems to be more your invention than something that might have come from any kind of reading of his own words.

I am sure he enjoyed all the wine, women and song, and career success to boot, than many of us do. I don’t think he was really complaining about those aspects of his life at all actually.

Yet he saw his life as in the artistic depiction of the damned.

That is something that I personally found most interesting. Here is a man who is by all accounts and measurement a success, but he began to notice what he did not have, what all the success in the world was incapable of giving.

Children love this kind of thing.

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