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CLXXXXII

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.”

 Saul’s conversion experience on the Road to Damascus hanged him from a persecutor of the Christian church to its greatest missionary; it changed him from Saul the Pharisee to Paul the Apostle; it eventually changed the church from a Jewish sect to a universal faith; and thus it changed the world.  Let’s try to get inside his head via a villanelle:

ROAD TO DAMASCUS

“I am Jesus whom you persecute.”

“If you’re the Christ, why isn’t Israel free?”

I’d thought it something he could not refute.

He did not argue;   he was almost mute,

His searing radiance just content to be:

“I am Jesus whom you persecute.”

And I was on a journey, resolute

To stamp his sect out once and finally.

Death was an answer that they could not refute!

But how they faced it shook me to the root,

And now this Flame was burning into me,

“I am Jesus whom you persecute.”

Gamaliel had taught me all the fruit

That reason could produce–a Pharisee,

I had traditions no one could refute–

But now it was all burning into soot,

The Fire blinding me so I could see:

I Am Jesus whom you persecute.”

It was a Reason I could not refute.

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, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

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CLXXXXII

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.”

 Plato started a lot of conversations that he couldn’t finish.  He was trying to find the universal and the absolute by looking in the wrong place.  He sought well, but the final answer was beyond his grasp.  But he sets the questions up better than anyone.  What if there was someone who could come into Plato’s Cave from the outside world of the sun?   What then?

Plato

REFLECTIONS FROM PLATO’S CAVE

The fleeting shadows flow across the wall;

That’s all we know.  We think they may arise

Outside our minds, and bring before our eyes

Some glimpse of Truth–but by the time they fall

To us, a faint and hieroglyphic scrawl

Is all that’s left.  We try to analyze,

Deduce from patterns what the shapes disguise–

They’re hard to catch and harder to recall.

 

We think reflections of Reality

Are cast by Sunlight shining–how we crave

To turn and look–but still we strive in vain.

No merely mortal man will ever see

Whether the Door behind us in the Cave

Is there, so firmly Fate has bound our chain.

 

So many years we strove against the chain

That gradually some gave up, and hope was dead.

“There is no Door; there is no Cave,” they said,

“No explanation, nothing to explain.

It’s just a game you play inside your brain:

All the poetry you’ve ever read

Makes chemical reactions in your head;

That’s all that Pleasure is, and also Pain.”

 

What of the Beautiful, the True, the Good?

“They’re all illusions; they are all the same,

Sounds upon the wind, an empty name,

And that is all that can be understood.”

But then the rule that says that nothing’s true

Must be applied to their denial too!

 

So hope could not completely be denied.

Yet still the shadows flicker on the wall,

And we’re not certain what they mean at all

In spite of every theory we have tried.

If only one of us could get outside

Into the Light that fills that vaster hall

And not go blind, but come back and recall

For us the land where the True Shapes abide!

 

If only–but the ancient Grecian knew

No way that it could be.  It seemed absurd

To hope or to despair.  So still the True

Was but in shadows seen, in echoes heard–

Until the birth of a barbaric Jew

Who was in the Beginning; was the Word.

The Word

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, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

CLXXXII

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 sufferings of Christ on the Cross at that singular moment of space-time history were sufficient to pay for all our sins forever.  But they strangely do not end, not yet.  For He suffers continually along with His persecuted people, asking Saul why he was persecuting Him—and He feels acutely also the wounds they inflict upon themselves.  What the ultimate purpose of these additional sufferings is we do not know.  But they certainly serve to highlight the depths of Christ’s identification with His people.

Crucifixion-Glass 

COMMENTARY, HEB. 6:6

 

Behold it, battered beyond recognition:

It gazes, hardly human, through the thorns.

Weeping tears of shame, yet still it scorns

To call down angels and abort the mission.

Wonder, then, how long in this condition

It can endure to be so bruised and torn,

To bear fresh wounds on those already born

And still remain strung up on exhibition.

 

The world looks on and thinks it comprehends:

“Another Promise failed, a Name besmirched;

So must all false Messiahs make amends.”

You recognize, impaled upon its perch,

The Body of our Savior?  Oh, my friends—

This is the other Body of Christ:  the Church.

 

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, from Square Halo Books!

Book-CSLTheology-Cover

CLXXVII

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.”

There are no true paradoxes in Christianity because the God of the Bible is a God who cannot lie.  Therefore, no real contradiction can be so about Him (or anything He made).  But the richness and the depths of Christian truth are shown by the number of seemingly incompatible realities it manages to pull together into a harmony greater than the sum of its parts.

 

CONJUNCTION

At the fulcrum of the Cross

A host of concepts meet:

The Profit hidden in the Loss,

The Victory in Defeat.

Christ's Entry into Jerusalem by Hippolyte Flandrin c. 1842

The Acceptance, the Rejection;

The Worship and the Jeers;

The Freedom in Election,

The Ecstasy in Tears.

Crucifixion-Glass

The Mercy and the Justice;

The Human, the Divine;

Pilate;  Judas;  Jesus–

The broken Bread, the Wine.

LambVictor

 

The Maker of Orion,

The Victim of the Scam;

The Meekness of the Lion,

The glory of the Lamb.

aslan narnia snow winter

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, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Book-CSLTheology-Cover

CLXIII

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.”

 Last week we looked at the testimony of humanity to the truth of the Gospel.  This week, in pursuit of corroborating testimony, we shall put the angels on the stand.

MARTYRES

 On the evidence of two or three witnesses every matter shall be confirmed (Deut. 19:15b).

II

Angelos

Painting-annunciation-Anon

 

 And suddenly an angel of the Lord stood before them and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.  For unto you this day in the City of David is born a Savior, who is Christ, the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you:  you will find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:9-14).

It was revealed to [the prophets] that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the Gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look (1 Pet. 1:12).

ChAllNations10

We were the first of all His thoughts to live

And know ourselves as living in His Mind,

And that was all the world we’d ever known.

Pure thought He made us, and to each would give

Great visions of rare creatures he’d designed.

The strangest?  Thought conjoined with flesh and bone.

 

We took it as a kind of abstract game,

An intellectual and eternal dance.

Imagine then our wonder and delight

When He spoke, and the whole expanding frame

Of space unfolded ‘round us, and, entranced,

We saw the ideas made and loved the sight!

"And God saw that it was good."

“And God saw that it was good.”

Then, more than that, He gave us jobs to do

And, as we shared His thoughts, we shared His work:

To form our dance of ideas into things.

As swift as thought at His behest we flew,

Taking the light He’d made into the mirk

Of space and time, the light itself our wings.

 

Not all of us together knew it all.

According to our stature He would share

With each some insight, but the larger plan

Remained a source of wonder.  Still, one small

World of all we made was our chief care,

For there He made His masterpiece:  the Man.

AdamNaming1

Though we were pure intelligence, we caught

So little of the grandeur of His Mind!

He’d brought forth thought in us; we’d seen Him bring

Forth space-time filled with things beyond our thought;

But we thought nothing that He did outshined

His strange idea of Man, a thinking thing.

 

But then the whole plan seemed to go awry.

Our brother Lucifer loved the mastery

Of things more than he did the One who gave

It to us, and his thought became a lie.

And then, when Adam joined him at the Tree,

Our joy fell into dust, into the grave.

Painting-Annunciation-FraAngelico

We thought it was the end, but we were wrong,

For then, the greatest marvel!  How we long

To look into it still—we raced to sing

The “Gloria!”—if we’d thought the strangest thing

Was thinking flesh, then what else could we say

About that Baby lying in the hay?

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. 30, 2016, from Square Halo Books! 

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Book-CSLTheology-Cover