Monday, March 14, 2011

Understanding God

IN THE MONASTERY: GUTHLAC TRIES TO UNDERSTAND GOD

Note: This entire section need not necessarily be addressed to Guthlac, nor take place at the monastery.  It really is not important to the story/poem at all.  However, this poem has grown to become a vehicle for unrelated, yet still important, theology. 

The God who made outlandish beasts
Of sea and air and land
Leviathan and narwhal, too
The ostrich, snail and kangaroo
And this God, Guthlac, you think you
Could ever understand?

(This is almost entirely based on Chesterton's Introduction to the Book of Job, which I highly recommend.)

Wheels in Wheels and still one wheel
Who heav'n and earth have trod
Father, Son and Spirit, He
As infinite as unity
The Three-in-One and One-in-Three
And fully flesh and God.

(The paradox of the Trinity and of the Incarnation)

Our wise men he rejects as fools
Our fools He claims as His
How shall this God in words be caught?
Who thought is higher than our thought
I'd rather say what He is not
Instead of what He Is.

(This comes from random scriptures, Isaiah 55:8-9 and 1 Corinthians 1:25 and 3:19.  The last two lines refer to Apophatic/Via Negativa Theology.)  

My meat-mind can't conceive a God
Who nursed from Virgin breast
Who knelt to wash His student's feet
Who blessed the poor and cursed a tree
Forgave the whores and damned the priests
And trampled death by death.

(The first line comes from a phrase my e-friend, Silouan, used -- "meat-brains."  The last line comes from the Paschal Troparion:  "Alleluia!  Christ is risen, trampling death by death, and to those in the tombs bestowing life!"  The rest is mine, and I really like it.)

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