CLV

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

Being in the pastorate is a highly fulfilling job if you are called to it, not least because you get to work with some wonderful saints.  But every congregation also has people (who shall here remain nameless) who give the pastor a certain sympathy for Moses.

Portrait-Moses3

THE “MURMURING” MOTIF

Curtal Sonnet # 6

 

At the sea, the rushing waters stood;

At Marah, bitter waters turned to sweet;

At Meribah, they spurted from the rock.

The people saw and drank; it was as good

As Manna, honey-cakes they had to eat.

They surely were a richly pastured flock.

 

Still, every time a little trouble came,

Like starving goats, that flock began to bleat,

And Moses had to listen to them mock.

If he thought that was the limit of their shame,

He was in for a shock.

 

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, due out Sept. 1, 2016, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

CLIV

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

 

Theology can’t be all serious!  Let’s see, how many rhymes can I find for “divinity?”

TrinityDiagram2

DITTY FOR SEMINARIANS

 

A scholar of divinity

Was studying eternity,

And since he had a minute, he

Sat down to write a paper.

But e’er that he could pen it, he

Found that he must begin it; he

Met Despair, and in it, he

Got lost as in a vapor.

For eternity’s infinity,

Though open to the Trinity,

To Man’s soul is a mystery,

And always will escape her.

(Well—if it seemed hard to begin it, he

Should have tried to end it!  He

Would still this very minute be

A-working on the paper.)

 

The "Trinity Knot": Three in One

 

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, due out Sept. 1, 2016, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

CLIII 

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

In the course of my pastoral work I did a sermon series on The Lord’s Prayer, which eventually became a book:  The Disciple’s Prayer (Christian Publications, 1998; reprinted by Wipf and Stock, 2005).  But of course, before it became a book, it first had to become a poem.

"Lord, teach us to pray."

“Lord, teach us to pray.”

THE DISCIPLES’ PRAYER

Oh Thou whose thoughts are far above my own

As are the stars above this whirling stone

We call the earth; who know’st the thoughts I think

Before I think to think them, though I shrink

To let Thee see them all; whose soul doth burn

With purity, and more, whose heart doth yearn

To see that flame of love also in me–

When I bow down before Thee on my knee,

What words have I that would be fit to say?

He said, “Just Father, Abba Father, pray.”

 

So:  that which I could never have begun,

Thou, sending forth thine own beloved Son,

Hast done, accomplished:  washed my sins away

So that as thine adopted child, I may

Approach thy throne–yet where shall I begin?

My purest thoughts are tainted yet with sin.

And though thy Spirit stirs my heart to pray,

To such a One as Thee, what shall I say?

Show me my deepest need, my highest aim!

He said, “Begin with ‘Hallowed be thy Name.’”

Portrait-Jesus3

Hallowed by thy name.

Yes!  Reverently to set thy Name apart,

Grant it the highest place in all my heart,

And crown it there because it speaks of Thee,

Thy greatness and thy grace poured out on me;

And so to come into thy courts with praise

And in thy gates my thanksgiving to raise–

Ah, nothing less than this my heart could give:

To crown Thee king of all my life–and live.

And what is next, now that I have begun?

“Just this: ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.’”

Oh Thou who rulest in the Heavens above

Where Angels, burning with reflected love,

Flit forth like wings of wind or flames of fire,

Thy will their only thought, their sole desire;

If only I could be thine instrument

On earth as they in Heaven, with pure intent!

Since I believe thy promise to be true,

Do Thou work in me both to will and do

Thy pleasure.  What more can I ask?  He said,

“Fear not to ask me for your daily bread.”

soup and bread

Thou who didst go to Calvary and bleed

To purchase everything that I might need–

What wondrous condescension this, that Thou

Should’st stoop ev’n to concern Thyself with how

I am to be kept, housed, and clothed, and fed!

How sumptuously thine earth produces bread

For sparrows!  And Thou causest it to yield

A wardrobe for the lilies of the field.

And yet, how soon thy goodness we forget!

As we our debtors, please forgive our debt.

He said, “I do forgive you every whit

Your sin, for Jesus paid the price for it,

And you have freely bowed to Him as Lord

As evidenced by this, your very word

In asking for forgiveness; further still,

Your wish to pray according to my will

And for my glory.”  What else should I request?

For Thou alone does know just what is best.

He said, “Into temptation lead us not,

But save us from the Devil’s evil plot.”

ResurrectionJesus-998x665

Thus do I pray, and thus shall ever pray:

From thy dear side, Lord, let me never stray.

For I am weak and prone to every sin

Unless Thou cleanse me constantly within.

Oh, sanctify me with thy Truth, lest lies

Of Satan tempt.  Teach me to keep my eyes

Fixed ever on thy Word, and thus on Thee.

For Thou alone, and naught that is in me,

Alone thy greatness and thy sovereign Grace

Can save and keep me ‘til I see thy face.

For thine it is to rule o’er everything,

Thine alone the kingdom, Thou the king;

Thou art a shield, a rock, a fort, a tower,

Thou burning strength, thine all alone the power;

And every line of thy salvation’s story

Shouts Mercy!  Grace!  and Glory!  Glory!  Glory!

What Thou hast been, forever Thou wilt be,

And I thy grateful slave on bended knee.

So be it: I, who once loved self and sin,

Delight to have it so; and so, amen.

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, due out Sept. 1, 2016, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

CLII

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

Scripture has more irony than you can shake the proverbial stick at—especially if you take the trouble to imagine the scenes it presents.

Portrait-Abraham1

IRONY

While the people fretted in their tents

And thought of garlic, then of leeks, and frowned,

And tried to sleep, and thought hard thoughts against

Old Moses—through the night, without a sound,

The golden manna gathered on the ground.

 

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, due out Sept. 1, 2016, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Book-CSLTheology-Cover

CLI

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

The greatest explanation of why poetry matters is Sir Philip Sidney’s magnificent “Defense of Poesy.”  Sidney defends poetry against those who could see no place in the curriculum for “lies.”  The end of learning, he says, is virtuous action.  The Philosopher writes about the ideal, but does it so abstractly, is so “misty to be conceived,’ that “a man may wade in him until he be old before he find sufficient reason to be honest.”  The Historian, by contrast, writes concretely and tells a story we can relate to—but he is limited to what actually has been.  He cannot talk about what ought to be, the ideal, without departing from his expertise as a Historian.  “But now doth the peerless poet perform both”:  Like the Historian he speaks concretely and tells a story, but like the philosopher he is not limited to what has been but is free to talk about the ideal.  Here I try to add the Theologian to Sidney’s framework.

The Poet

The Poet

DEFINITIONS

Tending to Show that Theology

Is Indeed the Queen of the Sciences

I

Philosopher:  a man who tries to shave

With Ockham’s Razor by the flickering light

That shines behind his back in Plato’s Cave.

He’ll know that’s what he’s doing if he’s bright;

He may take Pascal’s Wager if he’s brave

(Fides quaerens intellectum), and he might

Thus feel his chains fall off and leave that place

And know the sunlight full upon his face.

William of Ockham

William of Ockham

II

Historian:  He deals in documents,

And what he cannot find there he invents.

As long as it fits in with and makes sense

Of what we have of solid evidence,

It’s called “interpretation,” and he prints

It up.  In this there is no vain pretence

As long as we can tell the difference.

 

III

The Poet is a wielder of that Word

Which clothes the unformed thought and makes it seen,

Which sings the silent thought and makes it heard,

Which tells us how to say the thing we mean.

Sir Philip Sidney said it long ago

In his divine Defense of Poesy:

Philosophy’s business is to seek to know

Not just what is, but that which ought to be,

Truth in its very essence, plain and bare

(Though he may leave it hanging in the air);

History can tell us how, below,

The truth has fared and still is apt to fare;

The Poet’s language teaches us to care.

A Theologian

A Theologian

IV

The Theologian has to be all three:

The logos, the divine philosophy

Which was incarnate in our history

Must still be fleshed with words to make men see.

The Theologian simply has to be

All three.

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, due out Sept. 1, 2016, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Book-CSLTheology-Cover