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← Little girl in the audience and the Hitchens reading list

Little girl in the audience and the Hitchens reading list - Comments

Philster61's Avatar Comment 1 by Philster61

Even with illness taking over him he still dignifies himself further by acts like this.. Oh this world is going to be a much poorer, bleaker,desolate and less interesting when Hitch leaves us.....

Tue, 11 Oct 2011 18:21:03 UTC | #879904

Stacy's Avatar Comment 2 by Stacy

What a great thing to see someone so young and full of curiosity about the world, eager to read and learn and think for herself. Far better than many adults I have known. I expect she will forever remember her moment with Hitch and read everything on that list—and much more in the years to come.

Well done, Mason and Christopher.

Tue, 11 Oct 2011 18:35:36 UTC | #879911

Steven Mading's Avatar Comment 3 by Steven Mading

After having read through the "read more" link I have to say that Mason has quite an eloquent command of language for an 8-year-old. Not just from the evidence that she's read a lot of books, but from the way she wrote as well. She's forming complex sentences and using vocabulary in a way that most adults, with our sadly failing education system, can't match.

I hope her mom knows she's got an amazing kid there who will probably go far.

Tue, 11 Oct 2011 18:46:47 UTC | #879917

paulmcuk's Avatar Comment 4 by paulmcuk

Crumpacker for President in 2040? Genuinely wouldn't suprise me.

Tue, 11 Oct 2011 18:59:51 UTC | #879923

SheerReason's Avatar Comment 5 by SheerReason

I just wanted to thank Christopher Hitchens for reaching out to young Americans and engaging them in critical inquiry. I'm also pleased to read about such a bright young American and her mother. It gives me some hope for the future of this country and Texas.

Tue, 11 Oct 2011 19:23:18 UTC | #879928

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 6 by ZenDruid

Must... resist... temptation to add to the list....

A splendid meeting of minds, that was. No age or experience barrier at all. This is how it ought to be.

Tue, 11 Oct 2011 19:33:14 UTC | #879933

Alan Canon's Avatar Comment 7 by Alan Canon

Has Mason published the list given her by Hitch?

Tue, 11 Oct 2011 19:43:05 UTC | #879942

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 8 by Mr DArcy

Anything that encourages kids to read, and think critically, which imo, comes naturally, must be a good thing. Well done Hitch!

Tue, 11 Oct 2011 19:49:28 UTC | #879946

Alan Canon's Avatar Comment 9 by Alan Canon

Oh, sorry, hadn't read far enough.

Tue, 11 Oct 2011 19:54:55 UTC | #879947

Anne Crumpacker's Avatar Comment 10 by Anne Crumpacker

Mason will be turning nine on Sunday. I would love to pass on your collective reading suggestions to her and perhaps create a master list for all our inquisitive little thinkers. It seems clear to me that there is a genuine interest in topic and I may speaking to some of the most brilliant minds I’m ever likely to meet.

Please pass me your suggestions. Here or on Facebook (I’ve never had an open page before, but why not now. I’ve nothing to loose.)

Tue, 11 Oct 2011 20:27:23 UTC | #879958

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 11 by ZenDruid

Anne and Mason, I feel like I'm peripheral to a philosophical Bildungsroman here... my sentimental favorite within this context is Hesse's Siddhartha.

Tue, 11 Oct 2011 20:35:23 UTC | #879962

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 12 by Neodarwinian

Did you see her youtube response to the Calvinist? More exclamation points than letters, but she put this Calvinist in his place and did it rational.

This girl ought to be the future of Texas.

Tue, 11 Oct 2011 20:43:30 UTC | #879966

Anne Crumpacker's Avatar Comment 13 by Anne Crumpacker

I took some time yesterday to type out Christopher Hitchens' closing remarks in the Dembski debate. I had hoped to use them in my remarks, but didn't due to space. I offer them to you here without permission. The debate happened at a mega church outside of Dallas and was attended by high school students from local religious academies. As a former teacher, I thought his remarks were brilliant. He completely sidestepped Dembski's nonsense and addressed the students.

"I want to answer Bill's (Dembski) implied question... Why don’t you accept this wonderful offer (of eternal life in heaven) ? Why wouldn’t you like to meet Shakespeare, for example? I don’t know if you really think that when you die you can be corporeally reassembled and have conversations with authors from previous epochs. It’s not necessary that you believe that in Christian theology and I have to say that it sounds like a complete fairytale to me. The only reason I want to meet Shakespeare, or might even want to, is because I can meet him anytime because he is immortal in the works he’s left behind. If you’ve read those then meeting the author would almost certainly be a disappointment. But when Socrates was sentenced to death, for his philosophical investigations and for blasphemy for challenging the gods of the city, and he accepted his death he did say, “Well, if we are lucky perhaps I will be able to hold conversation with other great thinkers and philosophers and doubters, too.” In other words, that the discussion about what is good, what is beautiful, what is noble, what is pure, and what is true could always go on. Why is that important? Why would I like to do that? Because that’s the only conversation worth having. And whether it goes on or not after I die, I don’t know. But, I do know that it is the conversation I want to have while I am still alive. Which means that to me the offer of certainty, the offer of complete security, the offer of an impermeable faith that can’t give way is an offer of something not worth having. I want to live my life taking the risk all the time that I don’t know anything like enough yet… that I haven’t understood enough… that I can’t know enough… that I am always hungrily operating on the margins of a potentially great harvest of future knowledge and wisdom. I wouldn’t have it any other way. And I’d urge you to look at those who tell you, those people who tell you at your age, that you are dead until you believe as they do. What a terrible thing to be telling to children. …and that you can only live by accepting an absolute authority. Don’t think of that as a gift. Think of it as a poisoned chalice. Push it aside however tempting it is. Take the risk of thinking for yourself. Much more happiness, truth, beauty and wisdom will come to you that way. Thank you."

Christopher Hitchens closing statement Hitchens- Dembski Debate Prestonwood Baptist Church Plano, Texas November 2010 04:36

Tue, 11 Oct 2011 21:02:47 UTC | #879976

Mark Jones's Avatar Comment 14 by Mark Jones

Comment 13 by Anne Crumpacker

Thanks for that.

... the offer of an impermeable faith that can’t give way is an offer of something not worth having.

Awesome. That's it precisely. Implacability can be a virtue, but not when defending ignorance.

Tue, 11 Oct 2011 21:48:24 UTC | #879998

Vitalic's Avatar Comment 15 by Vitalic

I was blown away by his closing remarks in the Dembski debate as well. I believe the power behind the message he delivered in that final 12 minutes was the main reason they took down the debate from their website and tried to cover up any trace of the event. I don't know, but it seemed to resonate more than any other speech I've heard him make, perhaps only challenged by his famous five minute dismantling of the Catholic church. If every child could hear and understand that message it could make such a difference to the future of humanity.

Tue, 11 Oct 2011 22:29:23 UTC | #880013

DeepFritz's Avatar Comment 16 by DeepFritz

There is nothing like the ability to share or discuss what one has read. I was recently driving with a work colleague of mine out to a remote site where we had some business (a couple of hundred kilometres away). We got to talking about the books we were reading, the authors that we liked. We surprised each other as we thought that the other was not an avid consumer of literature. It turned out that we both enjoyed the local crime writing, similar science ficiton, adventure and classic novels. We each had a few authors to recommend to each other to follow up on. There is nothing like being able to bounce off somebody who is on your wavelength.

Hearing what Hitch would enjoy reading is like listening to many passionate musicians talking on radio about their favourite songs. Sports people talking about their favourite athletes. In the case of Hitch, it's the list of an authors favourite authors. What makes good writing? A good story to tell, a mastering of the language and the ability to paint a picture with words.

In the case of Hitch, his mastery of delivering facts to the audience in a salient way, complete with detailed analysis to put forth an undisputable case. In the case of Dawkins, it's a poetic story of life and how it evolved.

I am sure that there is no better question that any body has ever asked Hitch than "What books do you think I should read?"

Tue, 11 Oct 2011 22:33:32 UTC | #880015

C. Stuart Hardwick's Avatar Comment 17 by C. Stuart Hardwick

I posted video of Mr. Hitchens chatting with Mason here:

Tue, 11 Oct 2011 22:50:15 UTC | #880021

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 18 by aquilacane

Sounds like a childrens' book

Mason Crumpacker and The Hitch

Wed, 12 Oct 2011 02:17:57 UTC | #880050

snipsandsnails's Avatar Comment 19 by snipsandsnails

Thank you. That Chronicle article was incredibly uplifting.

Children like Mason are the future.

Wed, 12 Oct 2011 06:03:28 UTC | #880074

sunbeamforjeebus's Avatar Comment 20 by sunbeamforjeebus

Just reading this has made my day.Hitch,your servant Sir!

Wed, 12 Oct 2011 09:27:55 UTC | #880105

Paul42's Avatar Comment 21 by Paul42

What a great story...

I would respectfully add "The Science of Discworld" series (and everything else) by Terry Pratchett. Anything by Douglas Adams as well...


Wed, 12 Oct 2011 09:40:56 UTC | #880107

Southpaw's Avatar Comment 22 by Southpaw

What, no George Orwell recommendation from the Hitch?

Wed, 12 Oct 2011 11:31:57 UTC | #880130

KenChimp's Avatar Comment 23 by KenChimp

Children like Mason give me hope that our species isn't doomed to a footnote in the evolution of biological life on earth. Of course, adults like Christopher Hitchens and Professor Dawkins also give strength to that hope.

Perhaps it is a vain and egocentric hope considering the ultimate fate of our universe. But I would rather have humanity continue on in exploration and learning all that is possible before we fade back to the diffuse star dust from which we arose.

Wed, 12 Oct 2011 13:27:24 UTC | #880144

Anne Crumpacker's Avatar Comment 24 by Anne Crumpacker

Sure would love some help with this man since he has called my husband I out for "brainwashing" Mason.

Wed, 12 Oct 2011 15:03:50 UTC | #880160

Alan Canon's Avatar Comment 25 by Alan Canon

I would like to add to the recommendation list Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Indiana University computer scientist and polymath Douglas R. Hofstadter. The book almost defies description, dealing as it does with themes of human and machine cognition, music, art, the genetic code, Zen koans, the boundary between sense and nonsense, and a million other topics shoehorned into its 777 pages. The book has many hidden puzzles, and was an intellectual goldmine for me when I was not much older than Mason (I think she would have absolutely no difficulty ploughing through it.)

I was fortunate enough to make the effort to contact Dr. Hofstadter as a child, much as Mason has made contact with Christopher Hitchens, and we still communicate from time to time.

Please check out the Wikipedia article on the book: it really is one of the best non-fiction books of all time (and it often appears on lists of such books.)

Wed, 12 Oct 2011 17:41:28 UTC | #880217

frax71's Avatar Comment 26 by frax71

Comment 24 by Anne Crumpacker :

Sure would love some help with this man since he has called my husband I out for "brainwashing" Mason.

Anne, I know it's a long shot but you could invite him to pay a visit to in order to discuss his baseless accusations, about you and your husband and atheism in general

Wed, 12 Oct 2011 19:34:39 UTC | #880251

calliecparrish's Avatar Comment 27 by calliecparrish

I've always loved Hitchens, but this shows just how touching and caring the man is. If there is a God and he isn't touched by this, then fuck him!

Wed, 12 Oct 2011 19:43:17 UTC | #880253

Corylus's Avatar Comment 28 by Corylus

Comment 10 by Mason's Mom :

Please pass me your suggestions. Here or on Facebook (I’ve never had an open page before, but why not now. I’ve nothing to loose.)

I have some suggestions, but I'll hang fire because I suspect that Mason will find many of them for herself. Instead I'll go with a simple piece of advice - from someone who was once a precocious little girl to someone who currently is one.



Don't listen to people who look at what you are reading and say that it is 'too hard' or 'are you sure you understand that?' They can make you feel bad for, often, no other reason than wanting to say (in a hidden kind of way) that if they could not understand such things at your age, then there is no way that you are ever going to.

Yes, some books are very hard indeed. The hardest ones are the big slow books about how adults relate to each other, I know because these ones still puzzle me sometimes. Also, no you will not understand all that you read the first time. Well, so what! This is completely true for adults as well, for we all need a little time for things to sink in.

There is no shame is whizzing though something and only understanding a tiny bit because, firstly, a tiny bit is still better than nothing at all, secondly, because our brains are amazing in that they sometimes work best when we are not trying desperately to understand and, thirdly, because when you read those same books again a little later you can find things that you did not notice the first time. This can be just like finding some treasure in a hole that you have already dug.

Remember, there is no special type of stupid that happens because you are a kid. There is nothing wrong with your brain. You might have less facts in it at the moment than most adults (by no means all of them), but that in no way equals stupid. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise or make you feel that this is so. Don't get me wrong: facts are important and you need to listen very hard and politely to people who can teach you lots of them (like your parents), but not knowing facts is something you can fix.

Maybe, if you are feeling brave one day, and someone looks down their nose and says 'I think that book is too hard for you' then you might want to give them a little test... ask them ... 'OK. What did you find hard about it then?' Mostly, their eyes will dart about because they have not even read it themselves (they might not admit this), sometimes they will say 'nothing' and tell you not to be cheeky (also with their eyes darting about) but very occasionally they will tell you. Then you can talk to them about the book and show them that you are finding it a lot less hard than they think. This can be fun and you can both learn things that way.

Enjoy your books.

P.S. You can look up the word ‘Corylus’ if you want to find out my real name. What that word means can be one fact in your head that they probably don’t have.

Wed, 12 Oct 2011 19:47:43 UTC | #880255

Anne Crumpacker's Avatar Comment 29 by Anne Crumpacker

I been warned not to "feed the troll" on YouTube. I have closed our YouTube account. Thank you to everyone looking out for us.

Wed, 12 Oct 2011 20:03:20 UTC | #880261

Old Coppernose's Avatar Comment 30 by Old Coppernose

The Calvinist video responder is from my home town. I am curious that Mason's posts to it all seem to have been removed. I am disappointed that some ppl cant do betterr than just call the guy fat. How very intellectual and enlightened!

Wed, 12 Oct 2011 20:14:55 UTC | #880266