Bags of Bran

Could You Rephrase That?
September 12, 2011, 7:54 pm
Filed under: Biography

Yet another epiphany regarding the importance of poetry in the life of the Christian: I was a silent participant in a discussion where I heard a man who once was a young man say that he didn’t get poetry at all, and that it was a waste of his time. I felt a sense of shame for him, especially since he was a retired pastor. Perhaps I’ll be able to discuss it with him in the future and find out the story behind the story.

It’s worth reminding ourselves that a great bulk of the OT and a good chunk of the NT are poetry, or at least have serious proportions of poetic material in them. If the Bible contains lots of poetry, that ought to tell us something about the value of poetry for communicating truth. It seems that God Himself has an expectation that we not only value, but also understand poetry.

I certainly wouldn’t argue that poetry is easy: I’ve read parts of Paradise Lost, and on first glance, Mr. Man was lost too! My ignorance prevents me from seeing all of Milton’s connections. I also have to look up a lot of the classical references he makes because I’m not that familiar with Greek tragedy and stuff. So it’s more like work than light reading, even if the book is relatively small compared to others I’ve knocked out. Yet if Milton cannot communicate to us anymore, yea, cause our eyes to see and our hearts to feel what they ought to see and feel with respect to his subject matter, we’ve lost something. Something whose worth I am unfit to calculate.

If we’ve neglected poetry to the point that good poets (a category worth fighting about, to be sure!) can no longer speak to our leaders, how do our leaders read the Psalms, for example? If I were a leader (now there’s a bleak hypothetical) and if I became frustrated (or worse, bored) as soon as the language turned the corner from proposition to metaphor, how could I even begin to understand giant portions of God’s Word, recorded not as propositions, but as symbols and pictures?

Commentaries can only handle poetry like anatomical charts handle people. Poetry must be lived, handled, and felt. A poetic fire must burn me or warm you or give us light. A poetic wind must mess up your hair or chill our bones. A poetic thundering must reverberate in my ears. A poetic rain must water a dry, thirsty land or cause a flood. Is it real? Is the Lord our shepherd? Is the Word a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? Have we passed by the field of the sluggard and received instruction?

I’ve got work to do.

A friend recommended a book, Tozer’s Christian Book of Mystical Verse. The title is scary, especially if you’ve been trained in divinity in the last 20 years, but the contents!  This book is like a museum where the priceless treasures become more valuable with handling. I think it’s around $6 from Amazon.


Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


Celebrating Revivalism and Other Noxious Pieties


\"If I am immoderate, I am immoderate to God.\" - Bengel


Like sawdust, but edible.

Broad Meadow

I have spoken the truth coldly; who cares for the truth? To be useful, one must be charming, and my pen has lost that art.

Planting churches with the Baptist Confession in one hand and Tolkien in the other

Orchard Keeper

Plucking fruit from the grove of biblical and theological studies

Jubilate Deo

Music in the service of the church


Theology, apologetics, ramblings

Towards Conservative Christianity

Promoting true conservative Christianity


"a changeless sword, By pen and paper lies, That it may moralise My days out of their aimlessness." - Yeats

%d bloggers like this: