Dave Allen’s Black Cat
Growing up in the 1970s, one of my favourite TV programmes was “Dave Allen at large”. I’m guessing the age profile of my readers is such that he needs no introduction…. Very recently, BBC 2 ran a compilation of his monologues and sketches which for me, had lost none of their humour. He was brought up in Ireland at a time when the Roman Catholic church still held sway; perhaps not surprisingly, many of his jokes were about the church and Christianity. He was an atheist but I actually think he was a good theologian; those outside of faith can often ask the most penetrating questions. One of his sketches involved an argument between the Pope and an atheist. At the end, the Pope exclaims “you are like a blind man in a dark room, looking for a black cat that isn’t there”. The atheist responds; “so are you; the difference is that you think you have found the cat”.
Perhaps only a vicar could find a link between this and the Old Testaments prophets, but here goes…. The prophets constantly warned about idol worship, the making of false Gods. Of course, today we do not make images out of wood and worship them. But perhaps are idolatry is more subtle. We have our own pictures of God and we can dare to think that as a result, we understand God, forgetting that God is beyond our imagining. St Paul got it right when he spoke of now how we can only see through a glass darkly; we can indeed understand some truths about God; he is love, that he is faithful but we must always remind ourselves that she is also mystery, with the power to surprise. Beware of thinking we have caught the elusive black cat that can never be confined by human knowledge.