Faith is something to be shared privately and in safe areas. Definitely not on a Saturday night on the town. Right?
Earlier this month I was at a conference that focused on Christian apologetics – the reasons for and defense of Christianity. At at another conference two weeks later I heard ideas of how Christians can engage the university with some of the big life questions – why are we here, where are we going, does it matter what we do?
At both of these events, everyone agreed that it’s vital to share the Christian message. The struggle was when and how to do so. There was an unspoken assumption that because most people don’t naturally talk about these topics, they don’t want to. That people want to be entertained and steer clear of religion.
With these conferences on my mind, I too was wondering what would be the best venues for palatably bringing up faith in conversations. I assumed it was going to take some creative and outside-the-box planning.
Then, last Saturday, I saw the play Freud’s Last Session. Once the lights were off, the audience was captured by unapologetic apologetics for and against the existence of God. In a London office at the beginning of World War II, Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis meet. One soon to commit suicide after a life of breaking barriers in the field of psychology, the other just beginning a life as a scholar and convert to Christianity.
On this stage big questions were being asked and discussed – not behind the curtain of an apocalyptic tale or satire, but directly. It wasn’t at church. It wasn’t over a Bible study. It wasn’t on Christian radio. It was at the Ensemble Theater in Cincinnati. Not only was this play part of the theater’s regular season, the initial run was sold out and additional shows have been added.
Based on the book The Question of God by Dr. Armand M. Nicholi, Jr., this play explores what might have occurred if these two men had met in the spring of 1939. Their writings provide a basis for the dialogue during which they talk about God, psychology, happiness, fear, cancer, living, conversion, suffering. They trade jokes and show concern even as they question each others’ arguments. Neither cedes to the other, but they do listen. They respect one another.
The very fact that this play was being shown emphasizes that people aren’t shying away from questions and honest conversations about God – not even Christian apologetics. The conversations may have been between the two actors, but people were attending and hearing Lewis’ arguments for Christianity along with Freud’s arguments for atheism. Such conversations keep us thinking and move us to turn on the music we had been avoiding.
Maybe the world is hungering for this type of conversation more than we can imagine.
It’s time to talk apologetics. Even on a Saturday night in a theater.
“In coming to understand anything we are rejecting the facts as they are for us in favour of the facts as they are.” – C. S. Lewis – An Experiment in Criticism