Month: September 2012

Poetry is for sissies (?)

I set a record last semester. For the first time in my college career, I actually came close to failing a class.

It was a graduate-level poetry class. Modern poetry. I’d stay up late and get up early to read something like this:

“I caught this morning morning’s minion, king- / dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding…” (Gerard Manley Hopkins, “The Windhover,” in case you care).

…aaaand then I’d try to figure out who died in the poems for the day. Because it’s entirely possible to miss big things–like suicides–even on a close reading of some of this stuff, but you could usually count on someone dying. In between poems, humbled by my lack of understanding, I’d spend a chunk of time complaining to anyone who’d listen that language is supposed to communicate, not obscure meaning.

Psssht, so much for poetry. I’d stick to the real literature that actually carried some weight.

But… in another convicting, perspective-changing class this semester, I took a look at the story and art of the Bible, like I mentioned in my last post.

The Bible is 1/3 poetry. Not fluff or nonsense. What’s more, God inspired poetry in a language in which poetry actually translates into parallel structures and forms that bridge centuries of language change (interesting facts on biblical Hebrew poetry here).

I guess maybe poetry is a little important to an Author who’d design that kind of beauty in words and then use it to tell us about Himself. Maybe I shouldn’t pass it over as a literary lightweight.

But I’m still never taking another poetry class.

Eating God’s Word

Words spoken or written to us under the metaphor of eating, words to be freely taken in, tasted, chewed, savored, swallowed, and digested, have a very different effect on us.”

Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book 

My last night in Guam, I didn’t sleep. I curled up on a sofa, ate ice cream out of a carton, and dove into a Christian sci-fi novel (they do exist!). Then I took a 30-minute nap and headed to the airport. It was a lovely way to spend a night.

There are moments when life’s greatest pleasures are in between the lines of a book. In those moments, you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world, except maybe on the next page.

Words have power. There’s theology and linguistics behind that assertion, but I don’t think I have to defend it. It just is. It’s why we still hear or see on the screen of our mind the words of those who have hurt us the most.

It’s why we’re willing to stay up until 4 a.m. to devour a novel.

When was the last time I stayed up until 4 a.m. to devour the Bible?

If I’m staking my life, death, and eternity on the one book that I’ll defend to the death as the inspired Word of God, why am I not reading it like it’s something I love? Like it’s something I love.

Ah, so now, along with valuing the Word of God, honoring it, basing my life on it, memorizing it, and picking pieces of it to post around me for fixes of instant comfort, I also have to delight in the Bible?

Yet another item to add to the list of things I must be doing. Or is it?

This isn’t the kind of thing that fits on an itemized list. This is more like a slo-mo epiphany. When did believers forget that the Bible is a story? Doesn’t it make sense that, if God presented His plan of redemption for mankind as a story, we should all read it that way?

Why, instead, do we drag ourselves through three chapters a day and then cherry-pick the psalms we want to anesthetize ourselves against our own discomfort?