A Place for Hearing the Poets

I guess I’ve asked this before, with Barbara Brown Taylor: What is saving your life today? What, in the here and now, is helping you to work out your own salvation? What things remind us that God is working in us?

As a jazz lover, I would reply, ‘Today it is Theolonius Monk’s piano technique that creates spaces where others see none.’ But also, poetry. I do recommend receiving a daily poem with your email. The one I use is The Writer’s Almanac. You can find it at writersalmanac.publicradio.org.

Wording a Radiance: Looking Forward to Spring School

‘Wording a Radiance’ is the title of Prof Dan Hardy’s last book, written with the help of others just before he died in 2007.

Dan has an honoured place at STETS, because he is one of our founding parents, theologically speaking. I use the metaphor of parenting, rather than say one from building, because he cared for STETS as a parent and always witnessed to the dynamic power of God in the world.

In the last year of his life he went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. At the start, he and others with him reaffirmed their baptismal vows at the headwaters of the Jordan River.

As he poured the water over his own head, he had a vision of light going deep into people and transforming them from within. He understood this to be the light and energy of the Spirit and confirmed his belief that the Spirit is primary in the Trinity: ‘The Spirit is the energy of the divine: always there at the beginning and before the beginning, right at the heart of God.’

As we approach Easter, let’s pray ‘to get caught up in the re-creative Spirit of the divine: the Trinity.’

Don’t Look Back: We’re Not Going That Way

The comic actor Marcia Wallace died in September last year. She was best known as the voice of Bart Simpson’s teacher Mrs Edna Krabappel.

I love the title of her autobiography, which I’ve borrowed for this STETS blog post, because it reminds us that the past does not dermine the future. Don’t look back–we’re not going that way.

That viewpoint resonates with me as I read The Lord of the Rings over the Christmas period. When the journey gets tough, and even beyond endurance, Frodo, Sam and the other companions do not look back, or turn back. They treasure the past and reflect on it, and the hobbits in particular are comforted by memories of home, but they press on.

Justo Gonzalez’ deeply practical commentary on Acts (Orbis 2001) writes of Paul’s turn to Europe in Acts 16 that “[difficulties] are sometimes the work of God, who like a shepherd leads where we should go.” He also offers this wonderful quote from William Carey, missionary to India: “There are difficulties everywhere, and even more ahead; therefore, we have no alternative but to continue.” (Gonzalez, 2001: 187)

We dare not sentimentalise Carey’s story, nor Marcia Wallace’s. But it’s helpful to be reminded that difficulties don’t mean we should stop doing what is properly good, and needs to be done.