Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Dentistry and God Talk

Found myself talking about God at the dentist’s yesterday. Both the dentist herself and the dental nurse had their questions. Getting caught reading books on evangelism after christendom can lead to some interesting conversations.

The dentist, a practising Catholic, wanted to know the difference between being an evangelical and being evangelistic, “They are not the same are they? Because Catholics can do evangelism but I don’t think they are evangelical.” And, “At the freshers’ fair at uni I was talking to the Christian Union but when they found out I was Catholic they said, ‘Oh no, this is not for you; the Catholic Society is over there’.” Thinks: Catholics doing evangelism? – please God. Thinks 2: When oh when will evangelicals learn to be generous and hospitable?

The nurse told me how she had initially taken atheism for granted but was now developing an interest in God. “People always gave me the impression that God was like a man up in the sky but I reckon God’s everything that’s all around us. What do you think?”

As the novacaine took effect I found myself thinking about David Hay’s research into the spirituality of those who don’t go to church. Apparently there’s a growing readiness out there to speak about things spiritual but a groping after a language with which to do so. It seems that people are uncomfortable with transcendent, anthropomorphic God-talk finding it much easier to conceive of the divine as an immanent presence. Not sure if the nurse was groping towards pantheism or panentheism but I do know it’s hard to give a coherent answer with your mouth full of fingers, cotton wool, vacuum cleaners and instruments of torture.

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