Findings: Poets and the Crisis of Faith

Findings: Poets and the Crisis of Faith

by John Lampen

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It is part of the innocence of poetry that it can testify to reality without trying to explain and systematize as the theologians must do. They look for truths which converge in a single system; while the poets claim the freedom to think, to question, and to record, boldly and unsystematically. Moreover their conclusions are tentative: "I saw this, I felt this--take it or leave it!"

For myself, I have come into a phase where I find it very hard to read religious books (which is a statement about my own condition, not about the books); but after many years I am now able to read poetry again. I cannot present modern poets in a chronological sequence expressing a general recovery of discovery of religious faith, as I did with the loss of faith--but only point to individuals who found their own way out of doubt and despair. I do not claim that poets must be right; they have ventured down many paths, and some proved to be dead ends. Where they found new insights, these have been explored by theologians too; and some poets such as Dante and Blake have expounded religious philosophies. Indeed Carol Murphy, a contemporary Friend, suggests that "The deepest truths can be conveyed only in poetry, and Christian theology, truly seen, is not a set of dusty propositions, nor a dreamy fairy-tale, but the highest poetry, full of illuminating images and brilliant paradoxes."

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Product Details

BN ID: 2940157160173
Publisher: Pendle Hill Publications
Publication date: 03/22/2017
Series: Pendle Hill Pamphlets , #310
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 134 KB

About the Author

John Lampen is a Quaker, a member of Ireland Yearly Meeting. Originally trained to work with emotionally disturbed adolescents, he was headmaster of a therapeutic community school for ten years. He now works for peace and reconciliation projects in Northern Ireland. His wife Diana and he were Friends-in-Residence at Pendle Hill in Fall Term, 1992, where he worked on this essay.
His other books for Friends include Wait in the Light on the spirituality of George Fox; Will Warren—a Scrapbook; Twenty Questions about Jesus; and the Swarthmore Lecture Mending Hurts. He has also written a book for younger teenagers on peacemaking in their everyday lives, called The Peace Kit.

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