The last few months have been an atheist’s and an abortion activist’s nightmare. Christmas came just a couple of weeks after Pope Francis was named Time’s Man of the Year, then a couple of movies about Jesus did extremely well, then Easter and now increasing numbers of young people newly awake to the iniquities of abortion. Judging by their usual penchant for conspiracy theories and their general inability to grasp irony – let alone satire – the sads will be positively hysterical about this one.
Sads? It’s my pet name for committed atheists and anti-lifers, who seem to be the most unhappy, lugubrious, neurotic special interest group I’ve ever encountered. Okay, let me qualify that. One of the most unhappy, lugubrious and neurotic. I’d forgotten feminist and socialist. I suppose that if you are convinced that the world is a hateful place and that everybody is against you, it must seem rather dark.
Christians and pro-lifers, on the other hand, assume the opposite, and are convinced that the world is full of light. Or at least we should be. And if any of you go around with a frown on your face you should be ashamed. I know the challenges are vast but the certainty is guaranteed and overwhelming.
I should state that in a spirit of love and kindness I urge the sads not to waste their precious time writing abusive, misspelt e-mails to me – and your next test comrades must be to master the apostrophe – and assure them that I’ve heard the one about God being just like the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny, that Hitler was a Christian, that Jesus didn’t exist, that bad things happen to good people, more wars fought in the name of religion than anything else, blah, blah, bloody blah.
If only they could come up with something new, challenging, based even partly in genuine research and intelligent study. But they can’t. I dealt with all of these flaccid arguments in my last three books and, frankly, it’s an easy task.
As for the Christian seasons, Easter is the most theologically significant of course. As for Christmas, December may not even have been the month of the birth of Christ, and we know it’s all been clumsily commercialized and secularized. But within all that is the pure, sparkling joy of a season gloriously plump with giving, loving, forgiving, enjoying, re-thinking and celebrating.
Even the cosmetics of the thing have Christian resonance, from Santa and Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to A Wonderful Life and even Frosty and Rudolph. Empathy, reformation of character and seeing the best in people and in the world. It’s a commitment to life really, which is so important for we who support and fight for life all year round.
For Christians it’s the reminder that God so loved us that He came to the world as a baby; the most powerful made manifest as the most vulnerable. The word made flesh, the story completed, the new covenant made for every human being on earth. I have visited Bethlehem many times, but what is more important is that Bethlehem has visited me.
The sads don’t appreciate this but perhaps one day they will. Just as they don’t understand the realities of life until those realities bite them personally.
I will never forget a confrontation I had with a young gay activist at Queen’s University who was protesting my speech to the pro-life club. I asked him a question: “I do not believe there is such a thing as a gay gene, but if there were and it could be identified in the womb do you think unborn babies with that gene would be aborted in large numbers?” To his credit he said he did. “Are you still pro-choice?” I asked. He told me he’d have to get back to me.
The father or mother previously in favour of abortion who first see the ultrasound or their newborn baby; the feminist radical who finds herself pregnant and realizes that she carries a real life within her; the pro-abortion type who becomes a Christian and is injected with the love of God. Even sads can change, and when they do – at Easter, Christmas or in the middle of an anonymous June, August or November – it is a joy to behold.
Michael Coren can be booked for speeches at firstname.lastname@example.org.