Sunday, September 17, 2006

poetics 1

I’ve decided to stop being apologetic about posting the same things over and over. Chances are no one remembers what I say from one day to the next anyway. If I don’t make a big deal out of it, or even mention that I’ve rambled on before about the same things, maybe no one will care. A blog is only supposed to be a record of current thoughts anyway, right? So here we go again, without apologies.

Recently, a friend told me she’d begun to write down things I say from time to time because she’d noticed how often I make poetic statements. I deflected the fact that I was “puffed” by that statement by joking around and quoting lines of Whitman, Shakespeare, Donne, Poe, and any other random piece of poetry that popped into my head. The randomness of it got some laughs which was therapeutic, and I was assured that those lines wouldn’t be included in the scrapbook I might some day be given filled with random pieces of poetic prose that had inadvertently fallen from my lips.
I was sharing this with another friend who had once been my student, who replied, “remember when at the end of the semester, I gave you a file filled with quotes we’d collected through the semester?” Of course I remember that, but those were just manneristic quips and rodisms. That got a smile.
Secretly, I took that as an outrageously wonderful compliment, no matter how exaggerated. In our human need for affirmation, we’ll grab onto any feeling that our quirks, or unique mannerisms are useful or endearing in any way.
We live in a world where beauty and art have been reduced to trite, cheesy, nostalgic, self-indulgent sentimentality. But evidently my personality, though overly emotional, is colored so much by my purple melancholy and thinly veiled, unsuccessfully hidden cynicism that my poetic, artistic bent rarely comes off as sentimental. But at the same time, it is fueled by hope and imagination and dreams, so that it doesn’t come off as doomsday pronouncement.
You may think that I’m so arrogant that you can’t figure out why on earth I’d need affirmation at all. You may think that my whole problem is that I grab affirmation for that which ought not be affirmed, and that, all too often. But the truth is, I’m a round peg in a square whole. The fact that I feel confined and boxed in doesn’t mean that I think I’m too big for the box, it just means that I’m an entirely different shape than the box in which I’m asked to live and operate. I spent a good deal of my adult life trying to shape-shift into something that my peers would recognize. This was probably needed, and no doubt, helped shape me into the strange shape whose non-comformist form became increasingly obvious over time. But thank God, he eventually put strangely shaped people, and normally shaped people who valued strangely shaped people around me to encourage and affirm precisely at those moments when I’d decided that the best thing to do would be to squeeze inside and lop off the parts that didn’t fit.

So I began to think about why I desire the creative, emotional, poetic expression over the analyzed, overly certain voice of scientific reason and logic. I began to think of Jesus’ poetic way with words and how his poetry always emphasized the hope and promises of his message rather than the dire warnings to which we’ve reduced him.
“I am the Way, the Truth, and The Life, no man comes to the Father except through me,” has been translated into “I’ll choose who gets to heaven.”

“I’ve come that they might have life, and have it to the fullest,” has sadly been interpreted as, “hang on, because when you die, you’ll finally be happy.”

“Receive my Spirit,” has been grown into, “5 steps to being ‘Spirit-filled.’”

At what point has the gospel been reduced to a warning? Why has the good news been reduced to accusation and judgment? And why has the Mystery of mysteries been reduced to a mathematical proof?

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