Without any warning, the dentist in my little town got religious indigestion; overnight he shed his tatty cloak of atheism for the snug jacket of God. The speed of the dentist’s transformation was second only to his new found zeal for the conversion of our town’s somewhat generous supply of lost souls. It was not that he had a particularly compelling theology; he did not display a style of argument that subtly blended passion and reason into an irresistible confirmation of the existence of God; nor was it that the dentist was remotely articulate. He lacked even that capacity of that persistent kind of bore to wear away the steely armour of our adolescent disbelief into at least an appearance of acquiescence. Yet, for all this, our dentist was effective in ways that no preacher had ever been. Lowering us back into his chair, he would murmur, “Open wide.” Then, as almost an afterthought, he would add, like John the Baptist with a drill, “Oh, by the way, have you been saved?”
Eventually they took our dentist away. He had started bursting into the pub and spoiling our fathers’ nights with loud admonishments on their evil ways, something they could abide in the church or the bedroom but not the bar. It was a shame though; everyone agreed that once you said you were saved, that dentist had the touch of an angel.