You probably think I’m describing Thursday night’s dialogue with Frank Beckwith and Timothy George. Actually, it happened today, almost a week later.
This morning I awoke with tightness in my chest, near the heart. After phoning my doc, he exhorted me to drive immediately to the emergency room. Grabbing a couple of books, I canceled all of my meetings and headed out. Within minutes of arriving, blood was drawn, EKG tabs affixed, and chest x-rays taken. The debate, however, came several hours later during the stress test.
Abbey, the nurse, was a pint-size woman who looked like a Filipino version of Mother Teresa, and her colleague, the sonogram technician, was a larger lady from Europe who happened to be Lutheran; we’ll call her Olga. After they connected my wires, put the jelly on my now partially shaved chest, and listened to my corny joke about discovering the gender of the child, I started running on the treadmill. A couple of minutes into my jog it came out that I have just written a book on the topic of Catholics and Protestants. Olga immediately asked me why I converted. Now breathing rather heavily, I did my best to explain. Then it happened. With a vitriolic tone Olga expressed her disagreement with the need for a sacramental priesthood, and did it in such a way that was less than flattering of Catholic clergy. Abbey quickly retorted. By this time the treadmill is so inclined that I was forced to hold on tightly lest I fall backwards, my legs hardly keeping pace, and my lungs so rapidly pumping air that I couldn’t think, much less speak. But, I’m supposed to be the expert right? So I do my best to settle 500 years of religious conflict before I collapse. Abbey and Olga then realized I had reached my target heart rate and the debate ended.
I passed the test. The doctor gave me a clean bill of health and suggested that my chest pain was likely a combination of stress and spicy marinara sauce. Now as I head into the upcoming months of book publicity, teaching, preaching, etc., I can’t imagine encountering a more “stressful” occasion of educating Catholics and Protestants. And, if I do, I’ll be sure to tell you about it.