A third man, whom I have known well for twenty odd years, also said something in passing that made me totally revaluate my life and attitudes.
You see, a lot of us parents are very afraid and in some way we are not even aware what we are afraid off. There is this whole new wave of atheism that the young people of the world appear to have bought and the problem is that they are not even willing to listen to or consider any argument against their position. They are so full of themselves that they leave us in despair.
Fr. Spitzer gives a talk that is aimed at college students, something similar to our lower or upper 6th, (17-18) and any young person of reasonable intelligence could follow his arguments the whole way through.
Using science, Fr. Spitzer sets out to prove that science itself shows that there must be a God and that any scientist who says that they don’t believe in God because of science “is not being scientific.”
“They may have other reasons for not believing in God but no one can look to science and say that science denies God,” says Fr. Spitzer.
The video, which lasts about an hour and ten minutes, is brilliant. Fr. Spitzer builds his argument one step at a time, logically and systematically, leaving his listener no room for debate.
The other person from whom I learnt a lot over Christmas was Frank Turek, a born again preacher and speaker from the USA. He was giving a talk and he was questioned very respectfully by a young man who did not believe in God. Giving a few simple and direct answers it was not long before the young man knew that he had met his match.
You can view both videos on www.laywhispers.com. Just look at the list of talks and follow the link ‘Does God Exist?’
As an aside, did you ever notice that when you look at the websites of atheists talking about their debates with Christians, that all they offer is insults and snide remarks; they have no argument.
Anyway, over the festivities I challenged a couple of young people to look at these videos and advised others to challenge young people as well.
We all got the same response, an indifferent shrug of the shoulders, or told that ‘I don’t want to watch that.’ Every excuse boiled down to indifference and revealed a fear of allowing their beliefs to be challenged.
Lawrence went to study at the University of Padua in 1577 when he was 18 and he found that the university was full of professors who ‘had atheistic leanings, and I learned to distrust their philosophy.’
Atheism has been with us a long time; and it shall always be with us. What is different today is that atheism has become the ‘life of choice’ by so many of our young people and we older Catholics from a more simple age, do not know how to deal with it. We are terrified that our children and young people shall get lost in some big sea of despair and we shall never know what happens to them.
But sure it was the same when we were young; our parents looked on in despair as we watched the Beatles, Top of the Pops, grew our hair long, took drink, shacked up, drove sporty cars and all the other things that we did when we were young.
Young people rebel. They have to. It is their nature. They are living life free and happy and we are lying at night not sleeping. What has gone wrong?
Now comes the third man I mentioned above who gave me the answer to all these problems. He is the old priest of 92 who my wife and I visit every day in his care home. We do Evening Prayer and Night Prayer of the church together and he teaches us about our faith.
He is a delight to be with.
The other evening when I was saying that I still had not got a car my old friend looked at me with serious eyes and told me that Jesus never promised us anything in the physical world, all he ever promised was forgiveness of sins; that God loves us and that we would have eternal life.
And yet, taken as a person and not an object of possession, I am relatively successful. I have a good wife and children, I live a reasonably honest life and I look towards the very long term future with great hope, hope that I shall someday make it to heaven.
Then the thought dawned on me about my children and all the other children of the countryside: the same God that brought me through all the foolishness of youth and looked after me when I went astray, that same God is looking after them.
This is a huge thing. I don’t have to save my children. That is God’s job. All I have to do is to live my life aware of God and to keep asking him to look after them.
I have to trust that God shall lead them through all the same carry-ons that we went through and bring them out at the other end as mature, Christian adults. That is God’s job; all I have to do is love them.
All the hassle of Christmas was worth it just for that one insight. Our young people are good workers, involved in charity work, help us when we need help and have a good foundation to build their life upon.
They are the same as we were in the 60s and 70s......and sure we turned out ok.
So for the New Year, I’ll stop praying for big houses and big cars for others and pray simply that God look after them.
This getting older fair brings a change in our attitude!
“Ian Paisley has said the discrimination that once existed in Northern Ireland over voting rights was wrong.
"If you vote down democracy, you are responsible for bringing in anarchy," he said.
"It wasn't one man, one vote, I mean that's no way to run a country."
"The whole system was wrong."”(BBC News Fri Jan 10)
That is a fundamental mind shift for Unionist thinking. The whole objection to Haas about inquiries into the past and marching etc is based on the premise that unionists have never done anything wrong and that Northern Ireland would be a great place if ‘the Catholics only took what we gave them and knew their place.’
This statement from Paisley cuts through all of that thinking; like a knife through butter. From this point forth every unionist who says that Northern Ireland was perfect and that the IRA and nationalists had nothing to complain about, need only be reminded of this statement by the Rev Ian and their argument is finished.
Northern Ireland was rotten and Ian’s statement is the first time a unionist leader has ever even begun to admit it. Inquiries into the past must now take into account the reasons for the troubles, and those reasons lay in the way the state was run: Ian Paisley has effectively admitted that.
At week’s end the reverberations about Haas were still doing the rounds. Some people were saying that the Haas talks were a ‘missed opportunity.’ Sinn Fein and the SDLP were able to support the talks while Alliance, UUP and DUP could not fully endorse what had been proposed.
I would speculate that the Haas talks were a victory for Sinn Fein and the SDLP. They once again showed themselves to be willing to accept some degree of equality with our unionist neighbours. The unionists, on the other hand, are once again perceived as begrudgers who want to give ‘Not an Inch.’
There were, however, a couple of very silent voices during the week. David Cameron and Our Enda had nothing to say at all about what is going on.
Northern Ireland has once again been consigned to the political back burner. We are not blowing anywhere up so throw the natives a few quid in grants and that will keep them quiet. If the idiots in the New North want to keep themselves in the economic and social backwoods then let them. As long as Canary Wharf has all its windows, who cares?
That’s what is happening to Northern Ireland and the real problem for the ordinary man in the street is that we all accept it. The Free State is trying to reorganize the country so that the bankers can stay rich and England is focusing on the new menace from the East, the Hungarians and Rumanians.
We no longer count.
But unfortunately this status quo suits the politicians. The SDLP have gracefully accepted their place as second fiddle to Sinn Fein and the Shinners know they have the north in the bag and are more interested in progressing in the south. That is why the Shinners in the south are as quiet as anyone else about the north, they don’t care about what goes on up here.
Northern Ireland has returned to that state of limbo that it was in long before the troubles erupted. The only difference now is that our local nationalist politicians now have an interest in keeping us in that state of limbo.
There is no real discrimination of the sort that Paisley spoke about; it is gone forever. But what we are seeing is the emergence of a political class who have a vested interest in maintaining the current position, where we are not quite at war and not quite at peace.
What do we do, the ordinary punter in the street?
You see, Ian Paisley taught us all a great lesson this week. Every man and woman has to come to terms at some point with what life is really about.
One of the points that Fr Spitzer mentions in his video is about ‘near death’ experiences. Non Christian people, young and old, who have returned from a near death experience have often said that they met Jesus. When asked how they know it is Jesus they say, “He told us.”
All through our lives Jesus keeps working on us. This is what happened to us and it is what shall happen to our children. In time they shall work out fine just as we did.
If you want proof of this just look at Ian Paisley, 87 and lifetime unionist, finally admits that discrimination was wrong. In the fullness of time our politicians, who are fighting over flags and marches, shall come to recognise how foolish they were.
The fad of atheism shall pass, in the same way as the secularist society shall come to an end. Something else shall arise and this generation of atheist shall look on in despair as their children take to the new ideas.
That’s the way the world is. But in the end God is God, and he keeps on working on us, making sure that most of us don’t stray too far.
Ain’t we lucky has him!
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