Evaluation on a Comedian’s Spiritual Journey on the ABC: Implications for Evangelisation

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation recently began a series on the exploration of faith, spearheaded by comedienne Judith Lucy, who is also a lapsed Catholic. The first episode of the series explored what were ostensibly 3 Catholic figures: A priest who is an academic, an excommunicated priest and a Sister of Mercy.

The blog Seeing Swans at Night gave a valuable insight into the pilot episode. The deciding factor in this series, says the post, is not the arguments that are put forward, but what John Henry Newman calls the “state of mind to listen to arguments of any kind”. Lucy the lapsed Catholic speaks of aspects of the Catholic faith she found attractive, but in the end her disposition is such that regardless of the arguments put forward, the outcome of the coverage she gives on the Church is already pre-determined. The full text of the Swans blog post can be accessed here.

This post is valuable for the Christian negotiating secular culture too, for it suggests that there are valid modes of evangelisation beyond what we commonly refer to as apologetics. Whilst apologetics must remain an important task for the Christian, the above blog post suggests also a mode of evangelisation that aims at what Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann call “plausibility structures” in their book The Social Construction of Reality. Whilst apologetics aims at the head, evangelisation must also aim at the heart, which is often moved by these plausibility structures way before the head begins any kind of critical evaluation. As such, it should not surprise that Lucy would take semi-resistant stance that she does, because the plausibility structures of the wider culture of which she is a part has already drawn her heart in that direction. The Church must there reflect on the role of beauty, art and music (which usually culminate in liturgy and worship) in the task of evangelisation. For to paraphrase Dostoyevsky, disposition, like beauty, is becoming the ground on which God and Satan fight for the souls of man.
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