Poetry · World Affairs

Oh To Be A Poet

I’m still pondering on the podcast interview with Mark Oakley that I listened to on Wednesday this week. I’m challenged to read more poetry, which I don’t find easy.

So, one of the things that Mark Oakley was saying is to do with the importance of language and using language carefully. He talked about the role of poets, prophets,* preachers, and protesters, and the need for a ‘poetic imagination’ to be more visible in the public square. He sees that we are in a very troubling time, when the rise of right wing politics is a threat to the health of many peoples. Now is the time for Christians to join with all people of all faiths or no faith to speak out against injustice, discrimination, hatred, bigotry and prejudice.

Here’s something written by a Greek poet that has been helpful to all sorts of groups who struggle against injustice. It goes something like this:

“‘They buried us, but they didn’t know we were seeds. ‘”

The quote comes from poet Dinos Christianopoulos, who was sidelined by the Greek literary community in the 1970s because he was gay.

It reminds me of another saying – “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church”

I have always found reading poetry difficult. I’m much more drawn to narrative and story telling, but the language of poetry has something special that I need more of.

I was watching the cosmos flowers blowing in the wind this morning. So beautiful.

The wind gently blows
flowers bend their heads
breath of God on me
Shape me as you will

*The word ‘prophet’ is a tricky one. I’ll have to write more about that. Being prophetic is about discerning what is really going on. (Not so much about foretelling the future, although that might be a part of it)

Bible · Church · faith · LIterature · Me

The Journey Of The Soul

I haven’t been listening to podcasts since the beginning of lockdown (It was something I did at the gym).  But now I’ve started the ‘couch to 5k’ programme, I’m back on the podcasts again.

Nomad Podcast Store image

One of my favourite places for podcasts is Nomad, and this morning I was listening to an interview with Mark Oakley – Poetry And The Journey Of The Soul. My morning run was about 30 minutes, so I haven’t finished the whole interview yet, but so far it’s five star. *****
there’s a bit of intro chat between the presenters, but you can go straight to the interview at 8 min 45 seconds in.

I think what Mark Oakley is saying is that poetry is the language of faith. Or perhaps better put the other way round – The language of faith is poetry.

He talks about going to a church service, what do I think I am entering ? I may have the mindset that it’s to do with facts – getting answers or solving problems. But what I have walked into is a poem. That might (will !) require me to do some shifting around in the way I see/understand things

Jesus taught much of the time using stories that worked a little like poems. Stories that don’t’t so much give you answers, or tell you what to do, but invite you into a world. A world where, for example, a sower goes out and scatters seed on the path next to the field, or on stony ground, or thorny ground – as well as good soil. Or a world where someone gives up everything to have the ‘The Pearl Of Great Price.’

One great way to respond to this kind of story is by asking questions. Why would a sower do that, and not just scatter on the good soil ? What kind of sower is this ? Or … What might the Pearl of Great Price look like ?

By the way, people do sacrifice everything for all sorts of things. I’m reading the autobiography of David Crosby at the moment. For many years, the ‘Pearl Of Great Price’ for him was his addiction to drugs. Thankfully, there came a point where he realised that particular pearl wasn’t what he really wanted.

Anyway, back to Mark Oakley and the poetic. The poetic, like Jesus’ parables, are there to get under your skin, they are subversive. Poems and Parables are not instruction manuals, they are more like love letters. So in connection with reading the Bible, Mark talks about ‘the subtext.’ For him, subtext means subversive text. Many times, when we read the Bible, we might miss the sub/subversive text, and only see what’s on the surface.

I’m looking forward to the next bit of the Mark Oakley interview. That’s incentive enough to keep up with the ‘Couch to 5K’

Grace and Peace