This is my personal blog. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the congregations or presbytery I serve.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I have been reading a lot of poetry lately.  Ashbery, Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, Snyder, Levertov, Bly, Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, Peter O'Leary....  It seems to be helping me make sense of things.  I read "Howl" while I was in Louisville for the Fall Polity Conference.  "Howl" is a spiritual descendant of the book of Revelation.  In that context of wild almost incomprehensible juxtaposition -- the minutiae of ecclesiastical polity and comprehensive cultural disintegration -- where do you think I felt closer to God/reality/truth?

I apocalyptic times I wonder if poetry isn't the only intelligible medium.  The prophets of ancient Israel/Judah were poets.  Every other form of discourse has been coopted, bought, sold, and impressed into service for commercial purposes.  Yesterday's music of insurrection is the background for a car advertisement today.  Let's see them make a commercial out of "Howl."

Liturgy is supposed to be poetry, as is prayer... which is perhaps the most primal form of poetry.  Too often our liturgies are overburdened with agendas: educational, doctrinal, political... political in the sense of catering to the sensitivities, biases, desires, and ego-images of the listeners.  [It's Mothers' Day so I have to mention mothers, or I will hear about it; same for Veterans' Day... someone will complain if I don't congratulate the Giants on their victory last week... or if I pray, or not pray, for the President....]

Especially in this season where we are supposed to provide the nostalgic sentimental background music.

I am waiting for the day when a church celebrates Advent by putting quotes from the poet, John the Baptizer, on the message board.

Anyway, gotta go.



John Edward Harris said...

Strange syncronicity: I too have been reading Ginsberg (Howl) and FerlinghettiSan Francisco Poems). Did you acquire your copies at City Lights Books in San Francisco?

Paul Rack said...

No. I visited there years ago. I bought a small edition of "Howl" at a Borders in Louisville. I read it repeatedly on the plane home.