Not long ago I read Talking About God Is Dangerous: The diary of a Russian dissident by Tatiana Goricheva. It’s a powerful account of her life in Soviet Russia as she and some of her friends discovered and converted to Christian faith at a time when open profession of Christianity would surely destroy a person’s career and could easily land him in prison. Eventually Goricheva was exiled to the West and took up a new life in Europe.
The title of the book has a twist hidden in it. Naturally we assume (I assumed anyway) that it refers to the practical dangers of talking about God under the Soviet regime. But late in the book, after Goricheva has been exiled to the West, we read this account of her first experience with a “TV Christian” (it seems they have those in Europe too!):
I saw my first religious broadcast ever on the television. I thank God that we have atheism and no religious education. What this man said on the screen was likely to drive more people out of the church than the clumsy chatter of our paid atheists. Dressed up in a posh way, the self-satisfied preacher had to talk of love. But the way in which he presented himself excluded any possibility of a sermon. It would have even got in the way of a simple conversation with another person. He was a boring bad actor with mechanical and studied gestures. He was faceless. For the first time I understood how dangerous it is to talk about God. Each word must be a sacrifice — filled to the brim with authenticity. Otherwise it is better to keep silent.