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(Last Updated: 30 Nov 1998 )
A recent correspondent said "the biggest threat to the continued habitability of our planet is overpopulation" and denounced Catholics for encouraging what he called "the biggest crime that has ever occurred." I beg to differ, and suggest that better candidates for humanity's greatest crime are the Holocaust, the killing fields of Cambodia or Stalinist Russia, or today's ongoing world-wide slaughter of children before they are born. If Catholics are criticised for valuing human life, I think that's a criticism they'd gladly bear.
A 1990 UN report predicted that world population will level out around 11.3 billion by 2100AD. This is well within our planet's sustainable limits. The apparent population problems of some countries are not so much caused by too many people but rather by poverty or poor food distribution. Instead of saying it is criminal for people in these areas to keep having children, maybe we should try to solve the real problems. Do we support organisations like World Vision, Caritas, or Tear Fund? Do we give from our wealth to help address the causes of the problems? Or do we just sit back and condemn those less fortunate than us for filling the world up with unwanted people?
- Dean Mischewski >>
He asked me what it was that defined the Catholic church as different from other churches or religions (I guess he thought it was the Church's pro-life, no contraception stance). I said the Church could be defined by reliance on the inerrant Word of God along with Apostolic tradition and the teaching authority of the Magisterium. He thought the Bible had a lot of metaphorical truth. I asked him if he believed in the literal resurrection of Christ. He didn't, but he did believe in reincarnation and could remember three past lives. He then offered to regress me too!
He thought that it was criminal for someone to bring a "sprog" (that was the only word I heard him use for "child") into the world if they couldn't afford to look after them. He said there was an unemployed man living on his farm who was having his fourth child and he thought it shouldn't be allowed. I asked if he would like to have that baby put to death. He said abortion is an "undesirable" thing (but I'm sure that he didn't think it was necessarily wrong). I asked him why it was undesirable, what was wrong with it. He said it was because it killed the "entity inside".
By now I had concluded that either I was talking to a nutter or someone who had strayed into some sort of occult stuff that wasn't good, and maybe that explained his anti-Catholic, anti-Christian attitude.
He disagreed with my definition of Catholicism, but since he wasn't a Catholic, I suggested to him that maybe I was better qualified to comment.
He went on about Catholics being in the SS and contributing to Hitler's holocaust, how the Church encouraged the slaughter of the Jews, and how the section on reincarnation had been expunged from the Bible by the Catholic hierarchy. (I asked him which manuscript he meant - the Codex Vaticanus or Codex Sinaiticus. Then I thought maybe I shouldn't be smart). I also said that I thought he was wrong, 'cause it says in Hebrews that "man dies once, and then is the judgement" (so the expungers must have missed that bit). I think he was just repeating some stuff from a Shirley McClaine book.
His opinion of Catholics was not that complimentary. He took a minute or so to express that opinion to me in an obscene tirade which was eery because of the way he was speaking in a totally normal sounding voice the whole time. I thanked him for expressing his views so eloquently, but suggested that perhaps we didn't see eye to eye on the matter.
By this stage my wife had some idea of what was going on and had started praying for me while I was talking. Since this guy obviously wasn't Christian, I thought maybe I'd tell him about Jesus (what did I have to lose? And I guess it's people like him who really need the Gospel). I don't think I made much impact, but I just thought maybe he'd think about it some more. I told him he should read the Gospels, and that if Christianity was true (for which there is a lot of historical and philosophical evidence) then for the sake of his salvation he should check it out.
Our conversation ended shortly after that. We parted cordially enough, I guess - I'm not expecting him to come and firebomb our house. It shook me up a little though. But I think it was a conversation I was ready for. I reckon I knew what I was talking about more than he did, and I talked calmly and reasonably the whole time, answered every objection, and hopefully gave him something to think about. I'm glad my wife was praying for me though!
The moral of the story? If you've got a name that's the only one like it in the phone book, think carefully before you do anything controversial!
And remember that some people really don't like to hear the truth.
- Dean Mischewski
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