Pope Francis says god is not a misty ‘god-spray’

When sophisticated theologians talk about god, one quickly finds oneself wandering around in a rhetorical fog in which god becomes a constantly shape-shifting entity described by metaphors whose meanings are always just beyond one’s grasp. One has to struggle to understand what they are talking about because what these sophisticated thinkers imagine to be god is so far removed what any ordinary person thinks that I have long suspected that they are actually atheists struggling to find a way to salvage belief in something transcendental that would not be seen as manifestly anti-science or otherwise ridiculous in the circle of intellectuals amongst whom they move.

Pope Francis seems to have a refreshingly down-to earth view of the god he believes in and seems to think that these vague views of god are untenable.

The Christian faith teaches that God is a real, concrete person, not an intangible essence or esoteric mist like “god-spray”, Pope Francis has said.

“We believe in persons and when we talk to God we speak with persons” who are concrete and tangible, not some misty, diffused god-like “‘god spray” that’s a little bit everywhere but who knows what it is.”

Fr Tim Finigan, parish priest in Blackfen, Kent, took up the idea of “god spray” on his blog, saying it sums up “the vague religiosity of many people who are happy enough to use the Church when they need it but stay within the bounds of saying ‘I think it’s nice to have a faith’”.

“I confess that I have already used this quotation in my pastoral ministry and I intend to use it again. It sums up in a gentle way an attitude that we have to challenge,” Fr Finigan said.

It will be interesting to see how theologians respond to this, people like that well-known fog machine Marilynne Robinson whose idea of god seems exactly like the ‘esoteric mist’ or ‘god-spray’ that Francis is dismissing. When Francis says that many people say they believe in god but do not have a clear idea of who he is, he is talking to you, Marilynne. He wants you to shape up and stop talking nonsense.


  1. sunny says

    So Francis claims to have a clear idea; I am not sure where he gets it from. Both Francis’ and Robinson’s positions are simply assertions without evidence; nothing more. Pointing to a Holy Book is not good enough.

  2. CaitieCat says

    When I hear these squabbles, I cannot but think of games of road hockey played on the streets when I was growing up. “I’m Bobby Orr.” says one. “No, I am,” says another, “you can be Cournoyer!” et c., et c..

    Or: “Yeah, well, my invisible friend could beat up your invisible friend with one hand tied behind his invisible and ineffable back!”

    Seriously. Wasn’t there something in one of their holy books about putting away the toys when you become an adult? Why doesn’t this include imaginary toys?

  3. Chiroptera says

    Funny use of the term. You usually buy a bottle of god spray to keep your home god free.

    You can also get the stuff in an applicator to apply to your pets in case you let them outside.

  4. MNb says

    “when we talk to God we speak with person”
    Pope Francis still has a problem, because the whole concept of god in this sentence is meaningless. God being bodiless doesn’t have means to talk back. If Pope Francis does make that claim I can’t see any difference with those serial killers who said that a voice in their heads ordered them to do so.
    That’s why sophisticated believers prefer the “god spray” -- love that expression.

  5. Matt G says

    Has anyone seen the Archbishop of Canterbury skit that Rowan Atkinson did recently? People have their panties in a bunch over it. Good fun!

  6. Dunc says

    Pope Francis still has a problem, because the whole concept of god in this sentence is meaningless. God being bodiless doesn’t have means to talk back.

    On the contrary, he’s quite clear that God is “concrete and tangible”. Tangible.

  7. Hamilton Jacobi says

    Don’t forget the new God Motel! “Gods check in, but they don’t check out.”

  8. MNb says

    If the Pope means this in a literal way he still suffers from hallucinations. A bodiless entity by definition isn’t concrete and tangible.
    If the Pope means this as an analogy the question remains: what do concrete and tangible mean in this context? So his options still are just lunacy and sophisticated theology. Neither one works.

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