Two sides of a coin we rarely use (@soonguy)

Two_doors_of_the_tomb_(inside)Perhaps it’s just me, but I rarely notice anyone using two very significant doorways with great potential to make the good news meaningful to outsiders. And they are closely parallel, almost two sides of the same coin.

The first is ‘existential angst’ or ‘existential loneliness’. The haunting fear that our very existence has no meaning or purpose. People don’t often like to consciously acknowledge this achingly empty supposition, squashing it down with a variety of displacement activities and strategies. It was therefore a refreshing surprise to see comedian Louis C.K raise it so clearly in an interview on the US late-night show Conan. The video is posted here on the Second Nature* blog. This experience is surely not confined to atheists (for whom it is really a logical consequence), or agnostics. Many with professed theistic belief may also feel this way, at least some of the time. And followers of Jesus too, on ‘doubting days’ (or years) – perhaps through times of depression, stress, or loss.

There is a flipside to this aching feeling that, deep down, round the corner, there is nothing but emptiness. It is the inkling** summed up in the German word senhsucht. C S Lewis in particular wrote eloquently about this sense of longing for something unseen yet tangible, just out of reach, almost like a far-off country. Here’s a brief look at C.S. Lewis’ Ingenious Apologetic of Longing. (Note the coincidental similar names of comedian and apologist, differing audibly in only one initial!)

Instead of formulaic presentations of the good news, how can we connect with these two powerful human experiences as a compassionate starting point? Can you point to places where this has been done? Add your comments below.

*Second Nature is an online journal for critical thinking about technology and new media in light of the Christian tradition.

** also a C.S. Lewis connection – the name that he and a group of Christian writers gave themselves, meeting in an Oxford pub I passed on the bus only two days ago.

Photo credit: Two doors of the Tomb, by M Umair Astro / Wikimedia

About soonguy

Tony Whittaker is coordinator for Internet Evangelism Day | Team member, SOON Ministries, Derby UK. Contact him here.