A Poem for Sunday: A fragment of Easter

I wrote this about fifteen years ago, shortly after reading that Edgar Allen Poe occasionally wrote the middle of his poems first and then worked backwards and forwards from that central thought. Sadly, his technique did not work for me. Meant to be the centerpiece of an Easter epic, these two stanzas are instead, the complete unfinished work.

“Speak Eminence, your power is diminished,
Your time has come and Creation seals your fate,
You’ll take a place in a Hell of your devising,
And I will sow, this world with my hate.”
Christ breathed once more, his bloodied body rising,
And spoke the words of beginning, It is finished.

Satan roared and laughter rang loud from his throat:
“No, not yet finished, until I hold the throne,
They’ll come the third day to the grave with spices,
And when they do, they must not find him gone.
The die is cast, there can be no more devices.”
His laughter ceased, he would wait till then to gloat.

As always, comments are appreciated.

Love, Insulation, and Speaking to be Heard

I read about a Swedish band; they sing their songs in English because it insultates them from lyrics that would be too raw, too painful to sing otherwise.  It made me think of birthday cards, of poems written by machines, of leaving notes for loved ones instead of saying the words ourselves.

Is it just human to behave this way? To only say what we feel when there is a lesser chance that we will hear our own words?

Does this makes its way into our worship? Or is it rather, quite the other way around? Is our ability to show ourselves, and to even know ourselves, tied up in our love for God? Are we unable to speak truly of ourselves because we unwilling to speak truly of Him?

What do you say?

Christians and Science

There is a lot of talk today about the difference between science and religion, about the gulf between the Christian and the scientist, the chasm that separates faith from fact. There is a tone to the rhetoric that suggests that these two areas are not only incompatible, but that the Christian’s ability to view the world is inherently limited, and is therefore operating at a distinct disadvantage.

The heart of the idea that is being sold is that the scientist deals with the real world, with atoms and energy, with metals and chemicals, with universal laws and cold hard facts, while the Christian is left in the fanciful world of magic and fairies, of gods and miracles, of spiritual and invisible things that are only knowable through that slippery thing called faith. This idea supposes that the theologian who is studying the nature of grace is doing something fundamentally different than the astronomer who is studying the nature of the heavens.

The problem with this is that it is a lie.

Continue reading “Christians and Science”

The Best Story, the True Myth, a poem

Over at Bittersweet Life, Ariel has posted a poem about the choice we make each day in how we see the world. Here’s a snippet:

Every story that has inner beauty,
That strikes a note and holds it
In our hearts and minds,
Is an echo of the one Story—
Wild and frightening and wonderful.

As a writer there can be nothing more depressing than slaving over words and putting them out for the world to see and then hearing nothing in return. So do him this kindness: go there and read the poem and then leave him a comment. It doesn’t have to be long, in fact, it can even be disagreement. You should also bookmark his site while your there. It’s a great read.

Taking Issue with C. S. Lewis

I’m treading on dangerous ground here, but I think C. S. Lewis has something wrong. In The Weight of Glory we come across this passage, which also appears as an excerpt in the Wikipedia deinition of Sehnsucht.

In speaking of this desire for our own faroff country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter. Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.

My issue with Lewis’ thinking here is that it conflicts with my understanding of the depravity of man. I have no problem with the idea that what every man needs is Jesus Christ; what I do have an issue with is that a man without Christ has any concept of his need for Him (and I realize that Lewis is almost saying that, but not really). Don’t get me wrong, I agree with Lewis in essence, but when he says that we misidentify Nostalgia, Romanticism, and Adolescence for that longing for another country, he misses the point. I would contend that the only reason that anyone in England had a past that contained elements that could be called good was because of the influence of Jesus Christ upon English culture. If Mr. Lewis were to consider a cannibal in the darkest parts of Africa, which aspect of his life would be the mistaken longing for heaven? One could argue, I suppose, that even his depravity is that mistaken urge, and I would be more inclined to that argument, but I don’t believe that’s the argument made here. When Lewis says, the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience, I do not think he would attribute to our cannibal’s depravity the idea of a sweetly piercing secret.

I also can’t find a place in Scripture where Christ calls someone to Him, by telling them that He was that thing they always wanted. Instead, He calls men to repent and to escape the coming judgement, He calls men to fear a God that has the power to cast their body and their soul into hell.

I should say this: I love this passage by Lewis. It does speak volumes to me, but it speaks to me as a Christian, and on some level, I think it would speak to men who were raised in a nation built around the morality of Jesus Christ. And that is where I think Lewis misses the mark. If we read this passage (as I originally did) and come away from it with a method for speaking to sinners, we have cheated ourselves. “There is a city for which you have been longing” is not the message that we see in Scripture. Instead we are told to speak to men who are damned and to show them a Savior. And once they know Him, they can rightfully say that now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

As always, comments, critiques, and outright criticisms are welcome.

On writing

Here’s a struggler for the muse,
looking for the rush of insight,
the thrust and turn of thought,
meme blades seeking out the real,
the true,
the blood to spill onto a page.

Here’s a wonderer,
sitting at a keyboard,
a sheaf of paper,
the edge of some class notebook,
fingers poised,
pencil raised,
ready for the flood to come.

Here’s a vandal,
sneaking through classics,
crawling through anthologies,
randomly reading the first lines of novels,
dragging his sponge across the page,
seeking unspent thoughts for his own.

Here’s a dreamer on the hillside,
watching clouds and stars and dancing shadows,
treating thoughts like seeds,
and words as leaves,
begging nature for its freshest breath.

Here’s a child,
rhyming madly, playing stories, making, laughing,
loving the sound of her voice,
the rhythm of nonsense,
the taste of surprise.

Here’s a writer…