A suburban Toronto school. A young women teacher with obvious liberal tendencies explains to her class of small children that she is an atheist. She asks her class if they are atheists too. Not really knowing what atheism is but wanting to be like teacher, most of the hands of the eager young students punch the air like fleshy fireworks.
There is, however, one exception. A beautiful girl named Lucy has not gone along with the crowd. Teacher asks her why she has decided to be different.
“Because I’m not an atheist.” Then, asks teacher, what are you? “I’m a Christian.” Teacher is a little perturbed now, her face slightly red. She asks Lucy why she is a Christian.
“Well, my mum is a Christian and my dad is a Christian, so I am a Christian.” Teacher is now angry. “That’s no reason,” she says loudly. “What about if your mum was a moron and your dad was a moron. What would you be then?”
A pause, and a smile. “Then”, says Lucy, “I’d be an atheist.”
Many miles away a Roman Catholic priest is on a walking holiday in rural Canada. As he sits down in an isolated area to eat his packed lunch he sees a flock of sheep suddenly fill the horizon before him, an ever-increasing smudge of wool and legs. A boy is at their side, an actual shepherd boy, like some charming anachronism suddenly strayed into the late 20th century.
Boy and priest begin to chat and share food, and it soon becomes clear that the young fellow is illiterate. He has heard of churches and Christianity, he says, but he doesn’t really know what they mean. The priest proceeds to teach him “The Lord is my shepherd”, using the fingers of his right hand to emphasize the words – little finger for “The”, next finger for “Lord” and so on.
The following year the priest returns to the deepest countryside for a vacation. While sitting in a restaurant in the town he sees a familiar picture hanging on the wall, a newspaper photograph of, yes, of that same shepherd boy. He asks why the young man was in a newspaper. The owner of the restaurant looks saddened.
“Poor soul. He was out working last winter, Christmas Eve it was. The snow came in bad and he spent too long trying to save the sheep. He managed to get them all in shelter but it was too late for him. He fell, exhausted, and froze to death.” A deep sigh.
“Odd thing was that instead of him looking frightened, he had a smile on his face. And although he froze to death, his little body was quite warm when they found him. Except for his right hand. He was holding, gripping, one of his fingers, the second one after his little finger. Don’t know why. Suppose we never will.”
The priest feels a shiver sizzle through his body. “The Lord is my shepherd. The LORD is my shepherd.” The he drops to his knees and begins to pray.
Lastly to an unnecessary war, fought by young men who didn’t even know this particular country existed before they were sent there to defend its questionable integrity. Bullets whistle around heads, like deadly stings from some hellish wasp. He has heard them a thousand times and knows how to keep low. Until, that is, he forgot. The breath is leaving fast now and although there is little pain he knows he won’t survive. “Go to Mr. Thomas, my old teacher, go there and tell him that everything he told me now makes sense,” he tells his friend. “Go there, please, please” – and he stops, as still as stillness can be.
The friend returns home, goes to his comrade’s old school and searches for Mr. Thomas. He finds an old man, growing small with age. He tells him what was said in that sandy slaughterhouse.
“I was his Sunday-school teacher” says Mr. Thomas, tears bisecting his cheek. “I thought that he ignored every word I said. I thought I was wasting my time. Oh my God, I thought it was all for nothing.”
It all seems so difficult, so hard, so impossible. The culture of death has all the big guns and we in the pro-life movement are like boxers cornered on the ropes. Can we take yet another punch? Of course we can. Because of Lucy, because of the dying soldier, because of the shepherd boy, because of Him. Bless you.
Coren may be booked for speaking engagements by contacting his website at www.michaelcoren.com. He can also be heard daily on The interim’s website, www.lifesite.net