Still thinking about the passing of Christopher Hitchens (an obsession fueled in part by reading through so very many eulogies by so many different people), I recently came across the following paragraph in Czesław Miłosz' essay "Religion and Space," which seems apposite:
"I am not afraid to say that a devout and God-fearing man is superior as a human specimen to a restless mocker who is glad to style himself an 'intellectual,' proud of his cleverness in using ideas which he claims as his own though he acquired them in a pawnshop in exchange for simplicity of heart. Besides, it seems to me that we are born either pious or impious, and I would be glad were I able to number myself among the former. Piety has no need of definition--either it is there or it is not. It persists independently of the division of people into believers and atheists, an illusory division today, since faith is undermined by disbelief in faith, and disbelief by disbelief in itself. The sacred exists and is stronger than all our rebellions--the bread on the table, the rough tree trunk which is, the depths of 'being' I can intuit in the letter opener lying in front of me, entirely steeped and established in its 'being.' My piety would shame me if it meant that I possessed something others did not. Mine, however, is a piety without a home; it survives the obsessive, annihilating image of universal disjointedness and, fortunately, allows me no safe superiority."
Well said (as always with Miłosz) and almost perfectly appropriate to the occasion.