Shouting the Good News from the Rooftops

I am tempted to say that it was only a dream.  But dreams do have their significance.  They can be prophetic, advisory, admonitory, or frightening.  At the same time, they can be messages conveyed by God.  They are excruciatingly difficult to interpret, however, since they usually arrive as a hodepodge of puzzling symbols.

Dreams are often mentioned in Scripture.  Here is a small sample:  Pilate’s wife said to her husband, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream”  (Matthew 27-19).  Joseph was told to flee  into Egypt for his safety and that of his wife and son:  “Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt” (Matthew 2:9).  Job complained that “You scare me with dreams and terrify me with visions” (Job 7:14). Jacob “dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! (Genesis 28-12).

Last night I had a dream that might fall into the category of an invitation to do something.  However cryptic my dream was, writing this article is my response.

I was walking without any particular destiny in mind when I heard a young boy of about 9 or 10 years of age declaiming from the second floor of his house that “God is dead!”  His words disturbed me and I was anxious to respond in some positive way.  Apparently, this youngster was apostolic about his atheism and wanted to convert anyone who was within earshot.  I decided to speak with his father who seemed to be unconcerned about to his son’s rejection of God. 

I saw the father-son relationship as typifying how they older generation has failed to pass on a belief in God to the nest generation.  I also saw it as a decline of religion which does not augur well for the future.  I explained to the father, as I continued my walk, that his son was spouting the words of a philosopher by the name of Friedrich Nietzsche, a name unfamiliar to the father.  In order to put things into a perspective which he could understand. I mentioned some words that were inscribed on the walls of a subway:  “God is dead! – Nietzsche” and “Nietzsche is dead! – God”.  The father laughed heartily.  Nietzsche could not replace God because he was dead.  Only God is God.  I suggested that he involve himself a little more with his son on the subject of theology.  Then, as it often happens in dreams, the father disappeared, leaving me wondering if my message had any impact on him.  Thus ended, in a rather unsatisfactory way, my dream and my attempt at sidewalk counseling.

I was left with questions.  Are parents of the present generation fit or eager or even capable of passing on the best of our religious tradition?  Was the younger generation even interested in God?  Are they content to inhabit an atheistic world?  Do they know anything about history?

When Nietzsche declared that “God is dead,” he was handing the reins of sovereignty to the “superman” (ubermensch).  A Nietzschean socialist has proclaimed, “The Gods are dead.  Long live the Superman! Endowed with a kind of sublime perversity,  they {the followers of Nietzsche} will deliver us from loving our neighbors and from the desire of nothingness, that the earth may recover its purpose and men their hope.”  Dostoevsky has warned that in a world without God anything is permissible.  He also stated that absolute freedom, no matter how appealing it may be for some people, is “absolute tyranny”

Henri De Lubac, S. J., in his  well researched book, The Drama of Atheism concludes that “Man cannot organize the world without God; without God he can only organize the world against man.”  History offers abundant proof for his assertion.

By exalting the human will above all else and declaring the death of God, Nietzsche and his followers provide a Culture of Death with a passionate and enticing anti-philosophy to be used as its foundation.  In praising the godless self in defiance of all law, custom, and civility, Nietzsche furnishes us with a grand sounding program for justifying anything the will desires.

“What I tell you in the darkness,” Christ advises His disciples, “ tell in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim on the housetops” (Matthew 10-27, New American Standard Bible).   Christ’s words contrast with the boy in my dream who proclaims atheism from the second floor of his house.  Are we, today, deaf  to the words of Christ and eager to follow the younger generation that is blind to the light?

After reflecting on my dream, I felt that even if God was not speaking to me, I was, nonetheless, moved to share with the world its moral and philosophical implications.  Could my dream  be an inspiration to encourage Catholics to shout the Good News from the rooftops?  “This is no time to be ashamed of the Gospel” wrote Saint John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortation, Pastores Dabo Vobis.  “It is the time to preach it from the rooftops. Do not be afraid to break out of comfortable and routine modes of living in order to take up the challenge of making Christ known in the modern metropolis”.

God works in strange ways.  I do hope that this article in some small way achieves its purpose.

Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

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Dr. Donald DeMarco is Professor Emeritus, St. Jerome’s University and Adjunct Professor at Holy Apostles College.  He is is the author of forty-two books and a former corresponding member of the Pontifical Academy of Life.  Some of his latest books, The 12 Supporting Pillars of the Culture of Life and Why They Are Crumbling, and Glimmers of Hope in a Darkening World, Restoring Philosophy and Returning to Common Sense and Let Us not Despair are posted on  He and his wife, Mary, have 5 children and 13 grandchildren.  

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