Volume > Issue > An Atheist in Paradise

An Atheist in Paradise

ASCENT INTO GLORY & DESCENT INTO DESPAIR

By Alvaro Delgado | January-February 2022
Fr. Alvaro Delgado is an avid skier, lover of God’s majestic mountains, and pastor of St. Edward Catholic Church in Stockton, California.

Almost every time I ascend to the highest point of the Heavenly Ski Resort, on the Sky chair, more than 10,000 feet above sea level, I am transported by the awe-inspiring majesty and glory of God’s creation reflected in the magnificent beauty of the Lake Tahoe basin below. But on one recent wintry day, the journey up the mountain took me down a bleak, dark hole of disbelief in the Creator. What is usually an ascent into glory became a descent into a world of despair.

It began in pleasant, casual conversation with a young woman skier. She said she lived in South Lake Tahoe. “What a beautiful place!” I exclaimed.

“It is for now. It’s crowded on weekends,” she replied. She then spat forth a spiel of pessimism and darkness, apocalyptic in tone. The snow level is only at 60 percent, she said. Climate change will wreak havoc on Tahoe, and it will never be the same. The Arctic ice caps will melt in ten years, threatening the survival of the planet.

She blamed it on the billionaire one-percenters, living high on the hog, who have left everyone else in misery. She spoke with machine-gun-like speed, the words spewing like a torrent from a dam releasing water. Vitriol, venom, and vulgarity toward Donald Trump colored her rhetoric.

But this president defended the right to life, the sanctity of the unborn, I protested.

You guys just worry about the unborn, she replied. You don’t care about the poor, about those who live in misery. We need abortion to stem population growth and save the planet from destruction. We’re no better than any other animal; we’re just another species on this planet. Every creature has a right to life.

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