The British novelist and playwright David Lodge was watching one of his own creations, a satirical revue, the evening of November 22, 1963. The theatre audience chuckled as an actor in the play showed up for a Job interview with a transistor radio clutched to his ear, demonstrating his character’s blasé indifference. The actor then set down the radio and tuned to a station, letting its news, music, or commercials play in the background while the play went on. This night, however, a voice came on the radio with a live news bulletin: “Today, the American President John F. Kennedy was assassinated …”
The audience gasped and the actor immediately switched off the radio, but too late. In one sentence, the reality of the outside world had shattered the artificial world of the theatre production. Suddenly, whatever action took place onstage seemed superficial and irrelevant.
The city of God and cities of this world exist in parallel universes (from our perspective, at least), with low-level signals transmitted back and forth between them. The risk is that we may feel completely at home on earth, unaware of another world. Like the people in the theatre, we live inside a reality so engaging that for a time we can forget about any other-until the outside world abruptly intrudes.
Death breaks the spell for me, even as it did for the theatre audience.
Yancey, Philip. Rumours of Another World”. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2003, p. 228-229.