I realize not all Christians – and certainly not all here at PuritanBoard – are poets, or writers, though some may be. I publish this aesthetic manifesto of poetry and literature in God’s kingdom because of the truth that the Lord Jesus is Lord of all in His creation, and sovereign over all the activities of life. That men are crooks and selfish in their financial dealings does not mean He is not Lord over all aspects of economics and finance, but that men wickedly defy the Creator’s laws of Life, Love, and Justice, which speak to these areas, as to all other areas pertaining to our existence.
Included under His sovereignty are the literary arts. Some of the great – yes, even the greatest – poets of our age deny and scoff at the idea of the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and the existence of a Heaven or Hell, and of spiritual beings as well. Some may own the existence of angelic beings, but deny the Biblical God. There is even a potent philosophical / literary initiative whose express purpose is to deconstruct – take apart through critical analysis – the Biblical worldview.
Seeing that the Lord is Lord of the arts – the whole endeavor belongs to Him despite the majority of artists being His mortal enemies – it is fitting that a cogent defense of the art (in this case Poetry) be mounted for the sake of truth and for the strengthening of those artists in His camp.
There is coming a Day when the arts and artists of the world will be overtaken by a storm of fiery wrath and indignation. Ignoring the ridicule and scorn of the world's poets, it is fitting we stand and produce works of excellence in this arena – depth-charges of power and light in the sea of global consciousness.
Despite the devaluation – suppression! – of the arts in many sectors of the international community of God’s people, it is still a potent weapon in the armory of His kingdom. It may be both a sword, and a shining light. If His Spirit is in it, He may use it to His glory and the salvation of souls.
POETRY—IN THE KINGDOM UNDER SIEGE
The burden of Art, especially Poetry, is the establishment – and defense – of Human reality.
This essay is about consciousness, vision, and language in a time when worldview shifts have unsettled peoples’ views of reality, indeed, even how they view their own personhood. And while these seismic upheavals concerning the perception of reality have impacted the general culture, there have been somewhat quieter developments regarding states of consciousness this past century that bear on our literature and poetry, and these – especially the poetry – have seen radical developments in both the uses to which language may be put, and the understanding of what it is, and all of these things are of interest to us, the poets of God’s Kingdom.
This Kingdom is not at present in a placid setting; to the contrary, we are besieged on many fronts by foes of different species, using varieties of weapons, intent on either terminating our existence or obtaining our complete surrender, and the forfeiture (were it possible) of our state of being as children of the Highest.
We may go about our business as people and poets, expecting things to continue as usual in our lives, but I suggest we err in this complacency, and are in grave danger, even as the proverbial frog in the slowly-heated water who got cooked before she knew it!
Take our consciousness, for instance, as children of the God whose Spirit indwells us as the principle of our lives, and whose word establishes the reality we live in and by. This consciousness, which is our joy living in His truth, has been deemed dangerous in light of an emerging cultural consensus as to what are acceptable states of consciousness and concepts of reality. If you think I am kidding, or exaggerating, I’m afraid you are the oblivious aforementioned frog.
We may think of Postmodernism as simply the new worldview on the block, and while a bit extreme in its Political Correctness rules, a needed antidote to the excesses and arrogance of cultural bigotry and the old Modernism with its blind trust in Enlightenment reason, secular humanism, and social progress, all supposedly based on a “logocentrism” and Eurocentrism that disregard or oppress varying viewpoints, minority cultures and subcultures. However, according to the new postmodernist (PM) thought, we who live by the Bible, and seek to bring to God’s world knowledge of His existence – as well His justice and His saving mercies – through proclaiming the person and work of Jesus Christ, are deemed guilty of violations – crimes! – against humanity. We are accused of spiritual and intellectual imperialism, seeking to impose our culture’s story on other cultures, indeed, having our story dominate all others, while – the accusers say – it is simply one of many cultural constructs, real for us, but an infringement on the equally valid realities of what other peoples and cultures have determined are their truths. There are no universal and absolute truths, they say, and to affirm there are is to be a Totalist or a Fundamentalist, one who cruelly disrespects and seeks to invalidate other cultures’ beliefs and realities.
Nor is this just a harmless tendency to relativizing truths and beliefs which can be successfully argued against by a clear mind, but the principles of new world-wide (starting from the West) philosophical and legal initiatives that are sweeping up all our institutions – education, politics, sociology, science, law, medicine, art, theology, psychology, history, literature, etc. – into their fold, and that will actually outlaw dissenters as disturbers of the social order. That this is not a mere “futurist prediction” may be seen in that this is a growing consensus widely established even now, possessing legal teeth, as Canadians and some Europeans know – and even Americans, although the encroachment here is subtle, for the present. Which is not to say that postmodernism is entirely destructive, for it also has important positive aspects we shall consider shortly.
The question for us is, how may we as poets and writers effectively speak into this situation? (Other artists will have their own tasks and MOs, though they may be edified by ours.) First of all, we should not shy from publishing the vision we have been given and are alive in. That many do not spiritually apprehend the existence of God as He is revealed by His own Word, particularly in the person and sayings of the Lord Christ, should not deter us from unabashedly proclaiming life as we know it in Him, speaking from the awareness we have in this Realm of Consciousness, entrance into which is only through the living door, Christ the gatekeeper to eternal life, and the wondrous cultures therein – some in the process of being formed right now.
In these days the human race en masse is under lethal assault by spiritual forces of darkness, vast multitudes of us taken captive by the prince of that host at his will; even the idea – the divine image – of what it is to be human is being destroyed, or more nicely put, deconstructed; indeed, this is one of the prime tactics in the siege of humankind: ignorant of what we are, what we are meant to be, we have not withal to throw off the multifarious death that bears down so ferociously upon us, albeit with great subtlety at times.
Artists – poets and writers especially – have a calling to create – to manifest – human actuality within the actuality of God, thereby allowing light to illumine our condition, that those in darkness yet who love “the truth” (John 18:37) may hear Jesus’ word and see His light “shining through us” and, drawn so to Him, enter the kingdom we joyously and passionately herald. True humanity is preserved in God’s kingdom alone; elsewhere it is darkened and in ruin. Which is not to say that everywhere in the kingdom it is known and manifested in good health; like lingering infections the old satanic distortions still cling to some of us: we are not to be light only to those without, but also to our kin, those within, for their healing and freedom – as we ourselves gain it.
Bob Dylan (I do not know his spiritual state, but ask the High King to save him) said a true thing in his song, “Chimes of Freedom,” how they flash like lightning,
strikin’ for the gentle, strikin’ for the kind,
strikin’ for the guardians and protectors of the mind,
and the poet, and the painter far behind his rightful time…
It is, in part, to remedy his sad complaint this is being written, and so glorify the King of artists, who has made us, and not we ourselves.
I would like to discuss three aspects of our situation: Poetry in “the last days”; An aesthetic for the 21st century; then, lastly, The Global Arena of Consciousness – and the Story beneath all stories.
Poetry in “the last days”
This term “last days” refers to the entire period of time from the coming of Jesus Christ into the world to His coming again to close the age, ushering in an everlasting kingdom that shall love its poets, especially Himself, King of the poets.
Given the Biblical worldview, the imminent danger billions of our fellow humans are in, our status as minor prophets in the spirit of the Prophet (Rev. 19:10; John 17:18) and the terrible encroaching darkness (more blighting than the shadow of legendary Mordor) wasting both earth and souls in its occult – hidden – blast heat (if the shadow so wastes, consider that which throws the shadow!)…. Given these things what ought our poetry to be?
Among the familiar engines of destruction surrounding our camp are the latest in the satanic armory: to be precise, these are engines of deconstruction, which attempt to take apart – disassemble through critical analysis – our language and use of reason, claiming these latter are valid only for the culture that “created” them and no other, thereby invalidating the claim that God and His word have absolute and universal reality, but are instead culture-created and thus culture-bound local – not universal – “realities.” The “texts” (read: sources of authority) in our culture are subjected to a hermeneutic suspicious of truth-claims which by their nature declare anything false, bad or even incorrect; the PM hermeneutic considers such exclusions exercises of oppressive power.
Against such ideological assaults we respond with vigorous intelligence and activity of our own; in the past this has been called “the defense of the Faith.” As artists we are not involved in apologetics per se, for it is not primarily doctrine we fight or promote; what we fight against are the states of consciousness and ways of seeing that have come to prominence in our day which say there is no absolute truth, nor is there intrinsic coherence or value to personhood save what we – culture by culture (each culture having its own “truths” and “values”) – invest it with, and thus what we might erroneously term “absolute” and “universal” meanings or realities are simply constructs of respective cultures. Language itself, the new thinking claims, is a construct of a particular culture with its own logic and view of reality that is neither applicable nor communicable to other cultures. This philosophical cynicism and nihilism is already in place – and constantly gaining ground – in many of our Western institutions, as noted above. This “movement” gathers under its umbrella many disparate groups, and together they constitute a formidable adversary, in concert projecting a nihilistic epistemology so as to disarm all concerned opponents. We need to learn how to speak and be in the face of this cloud of corrosive philosophical poison, the equivalent in the intellectual sphere what radioactive fallout is in the physical. There are some who are invested in this as a means to power for marginalized and oppressed minority groups (gender, sexual orientation, ethnic, economic, etc), to “throw off” the yokes imposed on them by “logocentric” (word- or reason-oriented) and “Eurocentric” majority cultures. The name of this game is power, with “truth” being irrelevant and “justice” defined by special interest groups. (Two discerning Christian books on the subject are, Postmodern Times, by Gene Edward Veith, and The Death of Truth, by Dennis McCallum, Ed.)
To be fair, there is a desire among some postmodernists – in their “deconstructing” the “texts” (sources of authority) of certain dominant cultures – to do away with those boundary-creating “truths” and categories that exclude or marginalize those who don’t concur or fit in. Christians, after their withstanding the hammers of modernist assaults, often took up these “cudgels of persuasion” themselves in their “evangelism,” and alienated many. PM has opened to our view new ways of thinking and relating, showing us the value of inclusion and inclusive styles of being the church and evangelizing. We may learn from PM to be aware of our oppressive and power-mongering styles and tactics, turning the lens of the hermeneutic of suspicion upon ourselves to see if there are things in us which ought not be. We may even, as has been suggested, learn to number the conversations we have entered into with those we evangelize, rather than merely tallying supposed conversions – friendships as opposed to “conquests.”
The inescapable end result, however, of PM is the eradication of all commonalities between human groups and the mutual exclusion of all ethnicities, cultures, and subcultures, thereby utterly fragmenting and disintegrating the human family. I understand this was not what Jacques Derrida, an important postmodern thinker, intended, but it is what is happening.
As the authority and intactness of God’s word – Scripture – cannot be successfully overthrown by direct onslaught, then the assault is to be made on the very foundations of language itself, and the attempt to relativize those cultures in which and from which God spoke, and in which He acted in history, thereby invalidating His universal authority. As a satanic strategy it is very clever, and do not be deceived into thinking this is not its source. And if it is validated by a cultural consensus, its enforcement can be given legal teeth.
Our response to this “shadow of Mordor” must gleam with the brilliance of otherworldly light, and be possessed of a robust vitality such as can win the hearts of those who see something greatly desirable in the quality of our being, for our “weapons” are not carnal, but glorious in the depth and profundity of Christ’s heart. This gives a new clarity to His saying we are now the light of the world (Matt. 5:14-16). As artists our weapons against this particular form of darkness are our spiritual and human actuality manifested in our art. Remember, we know God because He became human – took on human nature and walked among us – and the attack on the integrity of human personality impacts the significance of the Incarnation. We would do well, then, to study the postmodern assault on reason, language and meaning, so that we comprehend it, and can answer to it.
The challenge, then, for artists of the Kingdom, is how their art may be such as withstand this assault on our lives, for such it is. Our lives and our art are not impotent in this regard. We walk with the High King and trust the power of His gleaming scepter, and we know that things are not as they appear, that horrific destruction is all about, our adversaries voracious predators cloaked in invisibility (indeed we do not wrestle against flesh and blood – Eph. 6:12). Given these things, we should have great hearts, great stories, and great art.
An aesthetic for the 21st century
Let me beg the reader’s indulgence a moment, as I wish to comment on and critique some essays – from Poetry (Chicago) – and a book from a university press, which are over couple of decades old; I do this because, first, the publication of these items were watersheds – or reflected watersheds – in the development of contemporary aesthetics, and in dealing with these foundational premises I critique what is built upon them; and, second, I knew of no forums in which to publish such critiques when they appeared, whereas now there are. So bear with me, please, if I occasionally speak as though these articles and the book were current – as developments in aesthetics over the past twenty-five years are indeed current, as voices have spoken, establishing visions which are false, and still stand, and need to come down.
The following quote is from an essay in March 1984’s Poetry (Chicago), “Waking Up Over The Aeneid,” by Paul Breslin:
With Skepticism about the favored destiny of this or that people comes skepticism about teleological interpretations of history in general, a habit of mind that makes epic itself an intractable form for us. Epics such as Homer’s or Virgil’s—or even Milton’s, the last great example of the genre—tell a story universally known among its audience, a story which, moreover, assigns a universally acknowledged meaning to the sequence of events. As Alisdair MacIntyre argues in After Virtue, we no longer try to understand our experience by telling a story; we perceive a sequence of events but not a plot, not an action in the Aristotelian sense….That the kind of public narrative poetry we associate with the epic cannot grow in post-Romantic soil may be regrettable, but it is nobody’s fault, nor can sheer force of will restore the epic to life. In a pluralistic culture, there are many stories, but no great story whose resonance is immediately audible to everyone. As Czeslaw Milosz says in The Witness of Poetry, “For us, classicism is a paradise lost, for it implies a community of beliefs and feelings which unite poet and audience.”
This is the “bird’s-eye view” of postmodernism in literature; the “great story” Breslin talks of “whose resonance is immediately audible to everyone” – i.e., a universally acknowledged reality – is nowadays termed a metanarrative, an “overarching explanation of reality based on central organizing ‘truths.’ ” In his book, The Death of Truth, Dennis McCallum (with Jim Leffel) comment,
Those who believe in universal explanations of reality are considered to be totalistic or logocentric in their thinking. Instead, postmodernists believe each group tells its own story or narrative, their own understanding of reality—understandings that others should never discount, exclude, or marginalize. Totalistic thinkers such as fundamentalists (…anyone who claims to know truth or charges another religion with falsehood…) want their story to dominate all other stories. (p. 201)
This view is the natural consequence of the denial of God: His story is discounted; instead we are reckoned but evolved beasts in an accidental and purposeless existence. Our consciousness of our history – read, “random and often bloody happenings” – has no redeeming value, so this reasoning goes, and our art but pointless signposts on our helpless, meaningless sojourn through futility and anguish. Being culture-bound our “realities” are but our various tribal constructs built on our peculiar languages and experiences.
Although such nihilistic vision purports to be an authentic and universally valid world-view (despite the PM claim there are no universals!) it in fact is the intellectual and aesthetic disintegration taking over much of Western civilization, the minds of many of whose leaders have been blinded by a stealthily encroaching global darkness.
Meanwhile people the world over turn from the fantastic and useless mythologies of popular and classical antiquity, from the bleak perceptions of the self-proclaimed “evolved apes” become erudite, and from the “science” so impeccably turned against them, to their own collective intuitive vision, where simple perception makes sense both in terms of daily life and historical perspective: there is a palpable evil at work in the world not attributable to the mere bestiality of animal life – not even the wild carnivores – but to an image like man yet its utter antithesis. There is diabolic evil afoot in the world; somehow the gates of the dark realm have been opened wider than ever before! Intuition – as in much science fiction and fantasy – gives rise to a view of the earth, with all its sentient life, as an enchanted yet horribly besieged domain, and the dry rustling of the thoughts of the intelligencia in their chrome, steel, and glass tree-tops are as divorced from the consciousness of the global masses as their “literacy” and “art” are from the verities in the howling archetypal heartlands. The strange spin of the apologists of purposelessness and disintegration of meaning are as little side-pools in the great epic current of the human adventure on the Dark Planet.
We are here presented with a challenge – we the artists of the kingdom of God. The literati in the PM camp – who are great in number and influence – say there is “no community of beliefs and feelings which unite” artist and people. But the apostles – I have Paul particularly in mind – labored and succeeded against even greater odds. What turned the battle for them was the Spirit of Christ in their courageous, uncompromising, and wise proclamation of the Story of the Ages, and in the King’s call – command, if you will – for all men and women everywhere (Acts 17:30, 31) to turn from darkness to His light, joining Him in His Story of redemption and eternal life.
That such a glorious metanarrative can be told – and received – in this day is obvious. How else explain the immense popularity of the film version of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings? (Or even the first of the Matrix films?) As in the sixties counterculture (when the books were famously loved) great multitudes longed for a story that overrode the atheistic separating of faith in God (and the whole supernatural realm) from reason, which separation resulted in “there is no God in reality,” and thus neither are humans made in His image, so that what we are are meaningless things devoid of true personality in an impersonal universe. Tolkien, however, whose reason was informed by a knowledge of God, held forth in his work a mythic world that was ordered and meaningful, where absolute good and absolute evil (Francis Schaeffer’s “thesis & antithesis”) warred for the souls of the inhabitants of Middle Earth. The hearts of many, then as now, intuit an absolute order, design, and benevolence in this creation, as well as the antithesis of that, an evil which ravages and devours all that is good and sane.
Can we so tell the Story – or reflect it, or manifest a glimpse of it – in such a way as to arrest the hearts of those who see our art?
I refer now to the other article in Poetry (Chicago). In the August 1983 issue voices are raised telling us what must and must not be in order to have a great poetry – or even an authentic poetry. In the essay, “The Neural Lyre: Poetic Meter, the Brain, and Time,” by Frederick Turner and Ernst Pöppel – we are told that metered poetry alone is to be considered genuine, and that free verse is but an unwholesome aberration peculiar to bureaucratic and/or totalitarian states; we are told, in short, “it is not poetry.” This the supposed word that hath gone forth from Parnassus – alleged to be located somewhere around Chicago.
Quite some years have passed since this article, and likely they have published other – perhaps even opposing – views. One might think the view mentioned is outdated, but it is not the case. Just because many today write in measures other than formal meter does not mean metered poetry has no stalwart defenders! Indeed, a linguistic warfare exists in the arena of poetic consciousness, and only poetry – poems! – shall decide it.
Perhaps the last significant modern poet (writing in English) representing the tradition of poet-as-man-of-letters was – arguably – T.S. Eliot; he was withstood in his poetic/linguistic endeavors by William Carlos Williams, who saw his use of scholarship and literary allusion, and in particular his metered verse, as antithetical to what Williams was trying to do with language, that is, find a measure inherent in speech instead of imposed from without. Ezra Pound was friend to both men; he influenced W.C. profoundly in regard to “de-poeticizing” his poems, bringing in an organic vitality through the use of image, with an utmost economy of words, in real speech. Oddly, he gave the same advice to both his friends, but they put it to different use.
Eliot took the world of poetry by storm with his long poem, The Waste Land. When it came out it crushed Williams; he could not deny its power, opposing as it did his own work with language.
That’s the trouble with genius
he will create his reality
and we must live with it
Williams, however, had genius and power of his own, although it was slow going, and it was his to provide the foundation of a new poetry, while not building high upon it. His long poem, Paterson, is considered by most (himself included) a failure. He was discovered by a young poet living in Paterson (N.J.), Allen Ginsberg, who drank deeply of his poetics, as did numerous others afterwards, until Williams was seen as the master of a new school of poetry. It is important to learn of these things, and to see demonstrations (actual poems) of the uses the new poets put language to.
In the last section of Eliot’s poem – “What the Thunder Said” – his erudite (obscure) appeal to hope for salvation in purgatorial fires, the Tarot, and the Hindu Upanishads (a scatter-shot approach to spirituality) in the final two stanzas, rather than offering Redemption from his wasteland of letters, is the pyrite marker of its grave.
These are some of the seminal developments – and ongoing dynamics – contributing to the situation in contemporary poetry. Whether the schools adhering to traditional meter or those of the new poetry will prevail, will not be decided by essays or arguments: only poetry – poems – will settle it. It is not a set of “rules” that shall determine any great poetry to be written, but a poet who knows what he or she is about. Only a poet can resurrect poetry from its lettered grave, its trashcan of the peoples.
On another front – as part of the postmodernist siege – are the voices of M.L. Rosenthal and Sally M. Gall (R & G) in their work, The Modern Poetic Sequence: The Genius of Modern Poetry (Oxford Univ. Press, 1983). Their discernment of internal dynamics in sequential poetry is profound, but they introduce serious error in their views, and such a mixture of truth and error is dangerous, as one may easily swallow poison if it is covered or mixed with nutritious and tasty fare.
In their Forward, R & G say – concerning the formulation of aesthetic theory – “Relevant theory grows out of direct engagement and sufficient empathy with literary works” (the rest of their quotes herein are likewise from the Forward). While this maxim is sound, and their insights into the nature of the modern poetic sequence keen, they have adopted the postmodern critical approach, the eventual result of which is the dehumanization of poetry. This they did as early as 1983. It is now – in 2008 – the fashion of the day in letters to declare (as we have seen) the demise of epic, dramatic, narrative poetry. (This would apply to all literature, not just poetry – and it would make the Bible, alleged to use outmoded thought-forms and culturally limited worldview presuppositions, irrelevant to modern thought – and it behooves us to be aware of and counter such assertions.) In what follows we will look from the “ant’s-eye view” at the effect of PM on poetry.
Poetry, R & G say, is no longer to be a poet’s voice lifted in song, as such might be contaminated by “externally imposed narrative, dramatic, or logical structuring.” “A poem,” they insist, “is not a literal communication but a structure of affect…” and “what counts in poetry is its dynamics, not its alleged subject matter.” This is the dehumanization of poetry, its reduction to mere “units of affect” where what is crucial is but “the emotional charge of the language.” When the perception dominates the consciousness that there is no order to history, either of the human race or of the lives of its individuals, then the relevance of “voice,” “character,” “drama,” and “plot” must give way to a poetry stripped of personality and history, leaving but moments of affect and awareness which move by their own internal logic, by “successive reorientations of awareness and modulations of feeling.” R & G admit that “this evolution produces an ever more elusive and forbidding poetry,” but it does not seem to trouble them that poetry is now to be – in their view – out of the hands of the people and solely in the domain of the intellectuals and literati – those trained to delve into the obscure.
The value of the work, The Modern Poetic Sequence, is in its focusing upon the affective dynamics in and between poems, giving them a coherence based upon internal movement and vitality rather than external form, thus laying the foundation for long poetic works, without using the tool of formal meter. The disservice they do the art consists in their denial that there is any meaning in personhood (and in its art) except for random intense moments of feeling and/or awareness, or in history except for insignificant, purposeless events.
As Francis Schaeffer indicated in his gem of a book, the God who is there [sic], if postmodernists assert there is no Biblical God, and the cosmos is accidental and meaningless, it follows they would find no meaning and significance in the skin-bags of chemicals they see humans as. But God is, and we see in the light of His revelation, and would shed this light far and wide.
Do not be afraid – do not be intimidated – by those secular visionaries holding up their various banners championing Meaninglessness, Incommunicability, the Illusion of personality, the Demise of reason, the Absence of universal truth, and so on. We are authentic spiritual children of the infinite-personal God; we need to learn to speak as such in the midst of a blind and mad world. Consider: created in His image and likeness, and in accordance with His decree, we are given to possess certain inalienable qualities, namely, a) “immortality of the soul,” or as John Murray put it, “indivisible and indestructible, immortal subsistence” (Collected Writings, Vol. 2, p. 21) in either Heaven or Hell, depending on whether we are His or not; b) full moral responsibility for our choices and actions. (May I lay the blame on Him or any other creature for my disobedience to His commandments? I may not.) c) With regard to our sentience: by God’s decree we are indestructible souls having unending subsistence in the consciousness we now have. From His promises we children are given infallible assurance He will save and keep our souls in this life and forever; the Westminster Confession (III; iv) phrases it, by God’s decree we are “unchangeably designed” to this fair destiny. There is an absoluteness to this status. He has immutably set us in the safety of His Son. Notwithstanding this wondrous gift, in this phase of our existence we are in training as moral agents absolutely responsible for our choices and actions. (Thank God for the precious cleansing blood!)
We are partakers of His divine nature through the promises by which He has united Himself with us and separated us from the world, delivering us from the power of darkness in His death and resurrection, translating us into the kingdom of God’s Son. But note, our possession of His qualities will always be of a lesser and derivative nature. We will possess them only by virtue of “possessing” Him – not having them in and of ourselves, i.e., not intrinsically.
Still and all, in the face of those who look upon me as merely a “skin-bag of chemicals and water” with no inherent significance whatever, soon-to-be-refuse in a later-to-be-extinguished solar system, shall I not assert my royal and absolute status as a member of God’s family in an unending kingdom? I am most conscious of the absolutes that pertain to my existence and my status, and if I rightly distinguish these lesser – derived – absolutes from the glorious and eternal absolutes of the Almighty God, I will not err in ascribing to humans those qualities that belong solely to Him.
These qualities given us by the Creator when He made us in His image, and after His likeness, are they not among the very qualities that, in Tolkien’s term, afford us to be sub-creators?
And thus I speak,
One mustn't let the image take
nor language matrix
as crystalline structure
spirit and mind
the ontologic truth
whole and nothing but
This is the only poem remaining from a (now lost) series to postmodern critics. It is an affirmation of personhood as irrefutable and absolute reality. We are not the negligible things it is asserted we are, but brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus, and children of the Father of light, sons and daughters who shall never perish, and who shall be actually like our Elder Brother, for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). Given these wondrous realities it is clear I may assert I am among the highest of “things” – only personality made in the image of God can make this claim – and what is our poetry but being solidified into language?
Williams and Pound of another time…and yet…Teachers in the school of poetics…yea…teachers in human consciousness, the poiesis of, masters of consciousness-as-reality, poetry solid as any jewel, full as any heart. (From, The Lightning Herald: Un Journal De Poètes Terribles, p. 72).
Interwoven in the matter of “what is personhood” is the issue of what is language, and particularly, what is poetry, quintessential language? We, as emissaries of the King of Heaven and earth, endued with His spiritual power, appreciate a view of poetry such as Charles Olsen sought to develop in one of its aspects; to him “the poem itself must, at all points, be a high-energy construct and, at all points, an energy-discharge” (cited in Louis Simpson’s Three on the Tower: The Lives and Works of T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams) and to us it is indeed that. Does someone object that these are poets of the world we are building upon? Solomon said, “…the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just” (Prov. 13:22). And their labors in the language are indeed treasure, by which we may glorify God and win the hearts of men and women. The words that come out of our mouths – and pens – carry life and death in them (Prov. 18:21). The very energy and truth of God may be in them.
The Global Arena of Consciousness – and the Story beneath all other stories
Let postmodernists condemn and critique; we are living in the Story that continues underneath all stories – some of these reflecting it dimly as mirage-images – and if we excel in our craft and in our spirits, our words will ring with the richness of truth, and contain a robust unearthly light, which, God willing, may illumine and touch even our adversaries’ hearts.
Do we have a vision of – I mean, do we see – what is going on in various realms of the world today, in the spiritual regions, the “world of letters” and the arts, the wars, the world of nations, politics, liberation movements, and the virtual world of online global awareness (to name but a few aspects of life on this planet)? A term I use to designate the gestalt of this reality is the Global Arena of Consciousness. In this arena voices are lifted up proclaiming the supremacy of their visions of reality, and the postmodernists are but one of many camps vying for the mastery.
Can you envision it? In it stand the spirits – the very voices, words, awareness – of men and women from the beginnings of recorded history, those whose words were spoken into the air upon the earth, whose voices did not fall to the ground till they had eventually lighted on a page and were kept for ages of humans yet to come. All the poets, seers, prophets, magicians, occultists, etc. who had their words or thoughts saved in some written form now exist in the arena. In some sectors it may appear to be a battleground of sorcerers.
You might imagine the kinds of people who strive for the mastery, seeking to have their visions of what is real dominate – by virtue of their power – other competing visions. Not only the various sorts of seers contend, but economists, politicians, psychiatrists and psychologists, musicians, singers, even the mad. You who are seers (by the word of God) will appreciate how demonic spirit-entities seek to gain a hearing through humans who “channel” them much as mediums did a century ago. Anyone who thinks they KNOW something – or has an agenda to further – takes a shot on the world stage. Be assured that the Global Arena of Consciousness is the world stage, although not every lifted voice gets a wide hearing; in fact, very few do, and those by dint of either their genius (or perhaps even cunning), their political/military power, or by the force in their inner being. There may be other factors that get people heard globally, such as atrocious acts or other major evil doings. And the Lord, of course, places what He wants where and when He wants it.
The great writers of earlier ages, for example, and many artists and writers of the present day are in the Arena. Tolkien is well known – and loved – in it. Our political leaders – our recent presidents, and the leaders of other nations – are all in this arena, for as our lives hinge upon the doing (and undoing) of nations, so we listen to the voices of those who wield power, and effect events worldwide. Many listen to those teachers who purport to see what exists in the hidden realms, the realms called by some the spirit-world, or the place where other beings than ourselves exist, and where we ourselves will be fully conscious when this life is over. Not all believe such teachers, but they are among the most heeded and sought out of those voices on the world stage. Some have not lived on this earth for centuries, and some not for millennia, but they speak as loudly as those living now. For even in ancient times, before ever there were computers – or electricity – the words of some notable people were committed to memory and to writing. One might say that in the Arena of Consciousness are vast repositories of voices, many not belonging to those living in this realm now, but which may be called up and activated by the living.
This global arena of consciousness – and the activity within it – is a reality we are all a part of. This is part of a metanarrative that cannot be denied. In this great ocean of collective consciousness it will be words of power that prevail. There will be words attended by political and military power, and there will be those containing spiritual power. Does anyone think the Lord of the world will not speak into this arena, through certain He has raised up to this end?
Are you a visionary? A seer schooled by the Son of God, well acquainted with His word, an experienced veteran of the satanic wars, an accomplished craftsperson in the ways of language? Have you lived a life in the spirit unseen by natural eye, a life of adventure, suffering, joy, loss, gain, ignominious failure, renewal, a life of love and spiritual combat? Do you have a story to tell? A visionary adventure, nonfiction? Hold your course, hold steady and true. Well-crafted stories that are part of the grand Story slowly unfolding in this world beneath the radar of those without spirit-sight will soon become highly desired by editors who realize their value.