So, it's not every weekend when you have three people of the stature of Christopher Hitchens, Vaclav Havel and Kim Jong Il leave the stage. Hitchens was the brilliant essayist and public intellectual who skewered everyone from Henry Kissinger to Mother Teresa, yet still somehow became a favorite of many conservatives in later years because of his fearless critiques of radical Islam, among many other topics. As he fought and eventually succumbed to cancer, the avowed atheist Hitchens had millions of people praying for him, which caused him much amusement.
Havel was fearless, too -- a self-proclaimed man of the Left who was instrumental in fighting and eventually defeating the Communist regime that had ruled Czechoslovakia, via what came to be known as the Velvet Revolution. There aren't that many chain-smoking Frank Zappa fans who can change the fate of a nation (actually two nations, now that the Czech Republic and Slovakia have parted ways), but Havel did, leading a peaceful revolution and then serving wisely as one of the initial presidents of new republic. And my description of him hardly does justice to the man's importance on the world stage. He stands with Lech Walesa as a world-historical figure.
But the big news was the last of the three -- Kim Jong Il. North Korea is one of the most horrible places on earth, primarily because of the ministrations of Kim and the father he succeeded. North Korea has a starving populace, a million man army and, it is believed, nuclear weapons. It now has Kim's son at the helm, about whom little is known. South Korea, which is as prosperous as North Korea is destitute, has much to fear right now, as does Japan and even China. An army of that size, with all the modern weapons and no obvious leadership, is a very dangerous thing.
This world is a dangerous place, but as a Christian, I am eager to someday experience the next world. Hitchens disavowed the possibility of such a world and Havel, like Orwell, believed that God is dead. Kim would, by all accounts, be a prime candidate for Hell, but we don't know that. One of the greatest mysteries is that we do not, and cannot, know God's will. While it makes for an interesting parlor game, we cannot know what fate awaits these men. I expect we will be as surprised as they are.