Mark Vernon, English writer and journalist and former Anglican priest comments on the late Very Rev. Colin Slee, Dean of Southwark Cathedral (pictured at right) and Christopher Hitchens. The rare quality comment in the third paragraph, particularly that which is in parentheses, is an important point that we all to often forget.
On the face of it, Colin Slee and Christopher Hitchens have little in common. One an inspiring dean, the other a commanding polemicist. But I was thinking about them both yesterday, in Southwark Cathedral, at Colin Slee’s tremendous and moving requiem. For not dissimilar things are said of both men.
Jeffrey John put it well in his homily: Slee was ‘surprisingly unscared’ in life. The same is said of Hitchens when individuals reflect on his moral courage.
What both men have, or had, is a kind of personal, as opposed to political, freedom – an inner freedom that allows them to speak of what they see to be true. It’s a great gift and stands out, I guess, not just because of the courage it requires, but because of another rare quality both have displayed: clear convictions about what is good and true. (This is not the same as having clear convictions about what is bad and false, an easier set of opinions to hold. You also have to be prepared to take the risks of being proven wrong.)