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OH SIGHT BEYOND ALL SEEING

The wrapping paper is burnt, the toys assembled, and the turkey or ham just about digested, as life starts returning to normal.  But after the first Christmas, life has never returned to normal.  Let’s think about what it means one more time before turning to the New Year.

OH SIGHT BEYOND ALL SEEING

Oh Sight beyond all seeing,

Light in the dark of the sun,

Fact behind the face of Being,

Second of Three in the One:

What motive could have moved you hither thus?

The Life that was ever begotten, never begun,

Began to be born, to mourn.  For us

The daring deed was done.

 

Burned by Angel-light,

The shepherds’ eyes were blind

To everything except the sight

That they went forth to find.

It was a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes,

Laid in a manger: such had been the sign.

The sign they saw by then still shows

The perilous paths that wind

 

Between the Tree and the Tree.

This much the sign makes clear:

The Light invisible we see,

The silent Word we hear.

What motive could have moved him hither thus?

We hear pegs pounded, see the thrusted spear,

We hear, “Forgive them!”  Now for us

The day of doom draws near.

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, 2016, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

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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

CXLVII

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 all kinds of ways to generate poetic structure and content.  Some of them count more than others.

Crucifixion-Glass

COUNTING POEM

One Person, two natures, three Persons, one God;

Four Gospels, four portraits, one Person—it’s odd.

Five wounds on one body; six days and then one,

Morning and night since the world was begun.

The stars of the sky and the sands of the sea:

Twelve tribes, one people, redeemed and set free.

Sixty-six books, forty men, many ages,

But only one message in all of its pages:

One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one

Way to the Father in Heaven: the Son.

ResurrectionJesus-998x665

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

GOD: Concrete or Abstract?

The "Trinity Knot": Three in One

The “Trinity Knot”: Three in One

C. S. Lewis wants to combat the modern tendency to associate transcendent being with abstraction so badly that he boldly calls God “concrete.” If God is a spirit, this word cannot be meant literally in its normal meaning of tangible. But Lewis wants us to think of God as something more solid than physical reality, as something at the opposite pole from nebulous. He conveys this idea effectively in his portrait of heaven in The Great Divorce, where the grass pierces the feet of the spirits from the gray town. So if we take “concrete” metaphorically, it is one of Lewis’s more brilliant descriptions of God as the One who is ultimately real. There is nothing nebulous about Him; He has a definite what-ness. “He is ‘absolute being’—or rather the Absolute Being—in the sense that He alone exists in His own right. But there are things which God is not. In that sense He has a determinate character. Thus He is righteous, not a-moral; creative, not inert” (Miracles 90).  He is a Trinity, not a monad. One of the clearest statements is this one:

Very definitely one thing and not another!

Very definitely one thing and not another!

“God is basic Fact or Actuality, the source of all other facthood. At all costs therefore He must not be thought of as a featureless generality. If He exists at all, He is the most concrete thing there is, the most individual, ‘organized and minutely articulated.’ He is unspeakable not be being indefinite but by being too definite for the unavoidable vagueness of language” (Miracles 93).

Not an abstraction.

Not an abstraction.

To combine the solidity of a Being who exists necessarily and eternally and is the Source of all other existence with the definiteness of a God who is personal and holy and active taxes our imaginations and our understanding; but this is the God the Bible presents to us. This God has all the absoluteness a philosopher could desire, but He is not the god of the philosophers but of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is the God of creation and Sinai, of the Cross and the Resurrection. His is what He is, and we must adjust to that uncompromising Reality. “And as Jill gazed at [Aslan’s] motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience” (The Silver Chair 20).

Aslan

Aslan

Not absolute or personal, not infinite or individual, not transcendent or dynamic: this is not the god we might have imagined but the unconditioned Reality that just is, and who is serenely and supremely both.

Donald T. Williams is R. A. Forrest Scholar at Toccoa Falls College in the hills of NE Georgia.  For more of his writings, check out the Lantern Hollow e-store!
https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/

InklingsofReality5c

Sayers on Hamlet and the Holy Ghost

This past weekend I was charged with the duty of providing a live musical score for a production of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  Those were twelve hours well spent, which enabled me to appreciate afresh both the humor and the profound tragedy of the play.  Like Lear, Hamlet plays almost like a black comedy.

Yesterday was also the day commonly known as Whitsunday, or the Feast of Pentecost.  So my annual rereading Dorothy Sayers on the Holy Spirit was made more enjoyable by the well-developed Trinitarian analogy she saw in performances of Hamlet:

When we say we “know Hamlet”, we do not mean merely that we can memorise the whole succession of words and events in Hamlet.  We mean that we have in our minds an awareness of Hamlet as a complete whole—“the end in the beginning”.  We can prove this by observing how differently we feel when seeing a performance of Hamlet on the one hand and an entirely new play on the other.  While watching the new play we are in contact with the Energy, which we experience as a sequence in time; we wonder “how it is going to work out”.  If, during the interval, we are asked what we think of it, we can only give a very incomplete answer.  Everything depends, we feel, on the last act.  But when the final curtain has come down, we feel quite differently towards the play—we can think of it as a whole, and see how all the episodes are related to one another to produce something inside our mind which is more than the sum-total of the emotions we experienced while sitting in the stalls.  It is in this timeless and complete form that it remains in our recollection: the Energy is now related to the Idea more or less as it was in the mind of the playwright: the Word has returned to the Father.

Dorothy Sayers, The Mind of the Maker ch. viii (1941).