A meditation on the leap of faith as a poetic response to the ineffable ground of being. Faith relates to reason much as poetry to prose.
This episode is the second in what will be a three-part discussion on faith. The previous part is found here: Credo, Part 1: Small Answers (S2E9)
I begin with Les Murray’s poem, “Poetry and Religion.” After this I offer some personal reflections on faith and its relationship to reason. Murray’s insights on poetry and religion help one to see their common element: whole thinking.
From this point of view, I then discuss the notion that faith is more than with agreement with doctrine or dogma. This is not to dismiss doctrine or dogma at all. Rather it is to stress that faith is something that requires more than the assent of the head. It is, indeed, also a matter of the heart.
Then I speak more about “conversion” in light of the previous episode and listener comments. I link this to the poetic innocence that we discussed near the end of season one. In this context I also recall the words of Christ in Matthew 18:3:
I then discuss poetry and prose in terms of disposition.
When it comes to poetry and prose, we know implicitly that it’s more than a mechanical description that separates the two; it’s the relationship to reality itself that marks the difference. One can find poetic prose, and in the case of some bad poetry, encounter something utterly prosaic.
Moreover, with prose, one reads with a certain distance, with each sentence even rising and falling on its own merits, apart from all of the others. Prose often proceeds in linear fashion, in order to “make a point,” even quite literally as each sentence reaches its end with a period, whereas poetry’s meter, rhyme, internal coherence, and imagery permeate the work as a whole from the very beginning.
Indeed, the linear form of progress within prose is inherently bound up with the time needed for a movement from start to finish, whereas the internal universe of the poem is outside of such time. We don’t read to the end in order to understand poetry in the same way that we do with prose. Poetry is presence.
Similarly, we can choose to relate to religion or faith in a prosaic manner, or in a poetic manner. This is fundamentally a choice, an act of will, that reflects our disposition toward being itself.
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