[Word count: 623. Approximate read time: 2-3 minutes]
“For so long, all I wanted from Christianity was for it to make sense.” —from For Believers Who Have Considered Apostasy When Faith Isn’t Enuf (Junkyard Salvation, March 28, 2012)
I’m getting into Talking Heads. Their music is aloof and funky and odd. It’s only for your ears… not your mind. One should clearly not look for intention or meaning in these songs. Their non sequitur titles and absurd lyrics warn me to expect no Grand Design. Nothing makes sense. When I realized this, I breathed a sigh of relief, and a usually overactive part of my brain took five.
My friend Joshua writes poetry. Good poetry. It doesn’t matter how good it is though. I hate poetry. I have a personal vendetta against it. It loses me at “hello.” And I hate feeling lost.
Mostly, I lack patience. I don’t want to wait for the words to wash over me and leave their impression. Poetry is like traditional photography. You have to sit in the dark with it awhile before any recognizable images appear. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Listen. This goes for poetry and anything following its pattern: I’d rather you state your business within the first few lines, make your presentation brief, and wrap it up quick. Unfolding pretty turns of phrase takes extra time. It’s obstructive, like toy packaging.
Poetry must be savored. All of its meaning does not reveal in one pass. Some parts are mysterious. Some parts off-putting like a soft spot on an apple. Some serve no purpose but to connect two pieces that wouldn’t otherwise sit together. Reading it is messy business. Too organic. Tactile. Very inefficient. I am not a fan.
This problem lies herein: I demand to understand everything and I do not want to wait for it. If either demand goes unmet, I may reject the entirety of what’s presented.
“I guess you learn to refuse what you think you can’t handle.” —Joni Mitchell, “Ladies Man”
Suddenly last summer, I discovered I love Joni Mitchell. And Joni is poetry. I don’t know what happened. I was watching a documentary on her life and pieces of her lyrics started to pop out at me, as if in 3D.
I heard something she said and understood it. I recognized jigsaw pieces of my life fit into her story. I walked up to her poetry and touched it. It touched me back. Well, not entirely. A lot of the time, I had no idea what the hell Joni was talking about.
“I don’t have to know it all. I don’t have to be so proud and stand so tall. Climbed that mountain only to fall. I don’t have to know it all. You did that for me.” —Sara Groves
Some of her nonsensical writings required a third party to decipher. Maybe I was obtuse, but I assumed she just wasn’t talking to me. So I shut the overactive machine off, just like with Talking Heads. But that which I understood, I understood deeply, intellectually, emotionally, intuitively. I knew it was addressed to me.
Faith can be like that. It’s poetry. Slow ass, belabored poetry. Some of it, I get. Most, I do not. Why can’t you be more concisely written, like an instruction manual? Get to the point succinctly. Do the math, display your results, and get out of my office.
In my life—and unfortunately enough—God seems to only speak (and act) in poetry, words and deeds that have to be savored, analyzed, pondered, and felt. He won’t make sense. Not up front. But when the meaning finally gets to me, the outcome is an explosion of color and sound and understanding. I’ve nothing better to do. Maybe I’ll just breathe and take five.
- Grammar and Poetry (paulmwenelupembe.wordpress.com)
- Smart People Problems (junkyardsalvation.com)
- For Believers Who Have Considered Apostasy When Faith Isn’t Enuf (junkyardsalvation.com)
- Believe In A Mystery (junkyardsalvation.com)
- Why The Bible May Not Always Be the Best Instruction Manual (xploremyfaith.com)
[This post was written between January 19, 2013 and February 14, 2013]
I write poetry, but wow! I’ve never thought about Faith in this regard. It does take a lot of patience to battle with the absurdities of faith, that’s for sure! And I sure need lots of it. For me though, just like poetry, it might be the mystery that continues to draw me to it, even in the midst of all these doubts and uncertainties. Now that I think of it, they’re both similar in that both are subject to subjective interpretation (at least to an extent)
“There is magic in his mind
Reflecting in his eyes
It’s that mystery that draws me to you.”
—Chaka Khan, “Magic In Your Eyes”
Yeah. Curiosity is a powerful thing, man. The places where we don’t have answers are the place we explore the most. I half believe God is withholding answers just to get me to come closer to him. Excellent work, Great I Am.
Wow, until recent years I didn’t care much for poetry myself.
It beat around the bush far too much for my liking, what made me eventually liken to the whole poetry business, was when I found artists who wove music into their poetry.
That is such a deceptive practice. Like BBQ baked beans with bacon in them. I hate beans. Pairing them with my favorite things is manipulative, underhanded, and surprisingly effective.
this is SO good Mark. your writing it self is poetic. no offense:)
That’s the best insult I’ve received all day.