Recently at “Subverting the norm II” I was challenged by Katherine Sara Moody who took the platform together with some heavy hitters in radical theology and opened up with “as a woman and a theologian I am still looking to find my voice”.
She made me reflect, and I think I have been reflecting on, what is my voice, ever since I came back. Apart from realising (once again) that as a cisgendered white male in the clergy I am always going to speak from a position of power and privilege, no matter how much I deconstruct this and show how unprivileged I have been as I grew up. I also realised as I invited all these fantastic theologians to read my blogs that I did so with a certain trepidation. The old fear: “what if they find out that I am a fake”, quickly reared it's ugly head.
It's not that I am ashamed of what I write/have written, I'm not. It is the fact that I do not write with an academic voice like for example Christena Cleveland or with the philosophical depth of Peter Rollins. I write like, well like me.
This is where it hit's me, I am no academic. Don't get me wrong, I love academia, I want to read books that make my brain hurt as I strain to encompass the grand idea, philosophy or theology in them. But I do not write with an academic voice, and I never will.
In my writing, I am first and foremost a poet, sometimes a pastor and often a preacher. I am a pirate and at my best I manage to marry this to being a good parent.
This is my voice, I write not for the academics admiration or to enter into an academic conversation. Sometimes I am philosophical but, I tend not to delve to deep and often lack the philosophical discipline to truly enter into the philosophical dialogue. No, I reach up and pluck ripe fruits from the top of the tree and try my best to serve a nice fruit cocktail for my friends down here on the ground. I am not an academic, or a philosopher, I am a preacher/poet with my feet planted firmly on the ground looking for a theopoetic that will part the veil and allow me to, if only for a moment, experience the divine.
This is my voice.
After a long hiatus in blogging I have decided to warm up the keyboard and start blogging again. Any long term reader will immediately notice that the name of the blog has changed and with that maybe the direction of the blog as well.
Personally I think the new name “Theopoetics” better reflect the direction the blog has had for a long time and that the byline: Life is my religion also reflects this direction.
The return of the blog will start with a blog series that will unpack that very statement over the course of the next few months.
If you are familiar with the kind of theologians that move in more progressive circles (process theologians and radical Christianity etc) you will already be familiar with the term theopoetics. But for those of you who wonder here is the Wikipedia entry on theopoetics:
Theopoetics is an interdisciplinary field of study that combines elements of poetic analysis, process theology, narrative theology, and postmodern philosophy. Originally developed by Stanley Hopper and David Leroy Miller in 1960s and furthered significantly by Amos Wilder with his 1976 text, Theopoetic: Theology and the Religious Imagination. Recently, there has been a revitalized interest with new work being done by Rubem Alves, Catherine Keller, John Caputo, Peter Rollins, Scott Holland, Melanie May, Matt Guynn, Roland Faber, Jason Derr, et al.
Theopoetics suggests that instead of trying to develop a “scientific” theory of God, as Systematic Theology attempts, theologians should instead try to find God through poetic articulations of their lived (“embodied”) experiences. It asks theologians to accept reality as a legitimate source of divine revelation and suggests that both the divine and the real are mysterious — that is, irreducible to literalist dogmas or scientific proofs.
Theopoetics makes significant use of “radical” and “ontological” metaphor to create a more fluid and less stringent referent for the Divine. One of the functions of theopoetics is to recalibrate theological perspectives, suggesting that theology can be more akin to poetry than physics. It belies the logical assertion of the Principle of Bivalence and stands in contrast to some rigid Biblical hermeneutics that suggest that each passage of scripture has only one, usually teleological, interpretation.
Whereas these strict, literalist approaches believe scripture and theology possess inerrant factual meaning and pay little attention to historicity, a theopoetic approach takes a positive position on faith statements that can be continuously reinterpreted. Theopoetics suggest that just as a poem can take on new meaning depending on the context in which the reader interprets it, texts and experiences of the Divine can and should take on new meaning depending on the changing situation of the individual.
I am preparing a teaching for tuesdays youth meeting at Metro. I have been asked to preach on time, how to plan it what to do with it. As I am exploring my Ideas of Gods time or the art of becoming, I ran across this fantastic poem written by [[Toyohiko Kagawa]], a Christian and a lay leader in Japan during the early part of the twentieth century.
In a book
That a man called
Went about doing good.
It is very disconcerting to me
That I am so easily
So many of us become the restless wave of the sea James is talking about content not to make any choices but merely float on the river of life and let it lead you. Just going about our business, doing what we always have, like we have always done it. Days becoming, weeks, weeks becoming months, months becoming years, years becoming decades. Without change, without purpose, without direction.
Where are you going? And what are you going to do?
Drown me in your Love
Love me tlll I die
Die from this world
world of corruption
corruption of Love
Love me till I drown
Drown in your Love