Friday, April 30, 2010

God's Grandeur

Gerard Manley Hopkins is not an easy poet. He's 19th century, and as I recall, was not all that popular in his own time. (Not so today when he is recognized along with Dickinson and Whitman as probably one of the most influential poets on our own age.) He lived in a time of conventional verse, and his verse is anything but.* I remember, though, when I first encountered him in high school, I found his stuff utterly enchanting. Magical what he did with the sounds. And some of the lines from his poems still stick with me today. The title of the blog entry today is the title of a Hopkin's poem, "God's Grandeur." It begins with the line: "The world is charged with the grandeur of God." This is a line that's resonated with me for years.

And also, I'm sure, with another guy whose thoughts resonate with me all the time. His name is Richard Rohr. He's a Franciscan priest, a Christian mystic. Every day I read a short reflection on the week's theme. He's ever interesting and (to me at least) ever relevant. He's got an expansive vision and a big soul. I have to confess that it's become an impossibility for me to longer fully embrace the conventional Church Christianity I was raised in. It's too narrow, too confining of the hugeness of God and God's creation. It puts God in a box we have constructed, and it turns him into an instrument of our own aims. This simply cannot be. Richard Rohr knows this. He's out on the edge of thinking about God. Exactly where, if one's inclined to look, one will find the God of the Universe.

Anyway, here's what Rohr writes today:

I think morality for the future is going to come by and large from the land, not from religion. And let’s be honest, shaming and commandments have not done a very good job thus far.  I think the Earth itself is going to tell us we have to live simple lives, we have to live reverent lives, and we have to live together.  If creation is indeed the body of God—the revelation of who God is—is that such a terrible thing?  Yet I know some Christians who see red if you say such a thing.  Where would that come from?
I am not worshipping the earth, but I do see it as a part of God and a revelation of God, and therefore to be honored and listened to and respected.  If God is God, then the Divinity is not protective or jealous of any sharing of Divine Glory, any more than parents are diminished when people praise their children.  Quite the contrary!

Morality coming from the land . . . now there's a thought you don't see ever coupled with Christianity. In fact, not so long ago saying this kind of thing got you branded a heretic. And the statement that "shaming and the commandments" haven't done a very good job thus far, well, how many church-going Christians would you think you could find who would 'fess up to this? I really wonder. I'd like to know how many of them like me are out there. And in a church at that.                                                                                            

*All of Hopkins' poems can be found here. If you want some suggestions, try "Carrion Comfort," "God's Grandeur," "The Caged Skylark," "Pied Beauty," and "To a Young Child." 
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