Thursday, November 27, 2008

Armistice Day

11 November is Armistice Day. On that day in 1918, the Great War came to an end. I was in Australia for Armistice Day this year and was amazed at the fuss that was made, particularly on television. When I got home, I was told that we had had the same fuss here.

I am amazed at the number of young people who are visiting the battlegrounds of Europe and attending memorial services. When I was young, men who had fought in the Great War were living among us, but Armistice Day almost passed without notice. Now they are all dead, Armistice Day is suddenly becoming a big thing. What is going on?

I sense that the decline of Christianity and the rise of materialism in modern life have robbed young people in the West of any transcendent experience. The death of transcendence has left an emptiness that needs to be filled.

Young people who would never visit an old lady who lives alone three doors down the street will stand in a war cemetery and weep for a great great uncle who died nearly a hundred years ago. Standing on a battlefield and pondering young men who travelled across the world to live though hardship, pain and death is the closest thing to a transcendent experience for young people who have never known anything but comfort.

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