Cosmology in John Donne’s Ruine and Bruce Cockburn’s Broken Wheel

donne

John Donne, 1573-1631

THIS is Natures nest of Boxes; 

The Heavens containe the Earth,

the Earth, Cities, 

Cities, Men.

And all these are Concentrique;

the common center to them all,

is decay, ruine.

(from John Moses, One Equall Light – An Anthology of the Writings of John Donne)

 

As Van Morrison says, “Rave on John Donne.” It seems that Donne’s words were still assuming the Ptolemaic universe, at least for his theological purpose to reveal the decay at the center of the universe. Bruce Cockburn sees Donne’s ruine “way out on the rim of the galaxy” in the Copernican universe. In either view, we see the tragic reality of our Manifest Propensity.

Bryan M. Christman @ Manifest Propensity, 2020

 

Hey Ma, I’m Only Bleeding (for “Mother Kirk”)

pilgrim's regress

A song I wrote today partly inspired by Bob Dylan’s great song of similar title; dedicated to “Mother Kirk.”

Hey ma

ain’t good for man to be alone

it’s time to put down the phone

answer the door

Hey ma

three meals didn’t make me stay

but one will drive the devil away

supper’s ready

chorus

Don’t know who’ll be there

do know that I don’t care

the lesser and the least

the kingdom coming

Hey ma

I’m only bleeding ’cause now I’m home

a room off the streets of Rome

with flames of fire

Hey ma

darkness at the break of noon

the president hid in his room

his table’s broken

chorus 2x

Written by Bryan M. Christman, July 19th, 2015

Copyright 2015 by Bryan M. Christman @ Manifest Propensity

All rights reserved

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Poem “Christians and Heathens”

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People go to God when they’re in need,

plead for help, pray for blessings and bread,

for rescue from their sickness, guilt, and death.

So do they all. all of them, Christians and heathens.

 

People go to God when God’s in need,

find God poor, reviled, without shelter or bread,

see God devoured by sin, weakness, and death.

Christians stand by God in God’s own pain.

 

God goes to all people in their need,

fills body and soul with God’s own bread,

goes for Christians and heathens to Calvary’s death

and forgives them both.

 

From Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 8, Letters and Papers From Prison, pp. 460-61.

This poem by Dietrich Bonhoeffer is perhaps one of the most accurate statements in Christian theology regarding the  question of where God is, in relation to human need and suffering. I may try to elaborate more on its meaning in future posts.

BMC @ Manifest Propensity, 2014.

“Blue December” – A Poem

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Yesterday I noted that a local church was holding a “Blue December Service.” I also know people that struggle with December annually. So I wrote this little poem with those in mind for whom the holiday season tends more toward being a “Blue December” than a “White Christmas.” Continue reading

“A Poem of Apocalyptic Emancipation” – An autobiographical explanation of the meaning

New Earth

A little over fifteen years ago I composed “A Poem of Apocalyptic Emancipation” which I decided to post on this blog a few weeks ago. It was the narration of a struggle I had been having for some time as I wrestled with the clash of two worldviews that seemed to be colliding in my conscience. The struggle is epitomized in the title/subtitle of the poem:

“…And the things of earth will grow strangely dim.” 

(A Poem of Apocalyptic Emancipation) Continue reading

“We are inveterate poets” – C. S. Lewis

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Painting: “The Mind of C.S.Lewis-A Wardrobe of Imagination” by Jim Hutchinson

“We are inveterate poets. When a quantity is very great we cease to regard it as a mere quantity. Our imaginations awake. Instead of mere quantity, we now have a quality-the sublime….Men of sensibility look up on the night sky with awe: brutal and stupid men do not. When the silence of the eternal spaces terrified Pascal, it was Pascal’s own greatness that enabled them to do so; to be frightened by the bigness of the nebulae is, almost literally, to be frightened of our own shadow. For light years and geological periods are mere arithmetic until the shadow of man, the poet, the maker of myths, falls upon them. As a Christian, I do not say we are wrong to tremble at that shadow; for I believe it to be the shadow of the image of God. But if the vastness of Nature ever threatens to overcrow our spirits, we must remember that it is only Nature spiritualized by human imagination which does so.”

From “Miracles” by C. S. Lewis

BMC @ Manifest Propensity, 2013.

The Poet and the Logician – G. K. Chesterton

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Everywhere we see that men do not go mad by dreaming. Critics are much madder than poets. Homer is complete and calm enough; it is his critics who tear him into extravagant tatters. Shakespeare is quite himself; it is only some of his critics who have discovered that he was somebody else. And though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw no creature so wild as one of his own commentators. The general fact is simple. Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion, like the physical exhaustion of Mr. Holbein. To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.

From Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton

To see an artistic rendition of this quote click here (I did not know if I should copy it to my blog)

BMC @ Manifest Propensity, 2013