Pic & Poem of the Week: August 7, 2016

Divine Light
Divine Light

(Click on picture for larger image)

• • •

Sonnet Forty

I understand that matter can be changed
To energy; that maths can integrate
The complex quantum jumps that must relate
The fusion of the stars to history’s page.
I understand that God in every age
Is Lord of all; that matter can’t dictate;
That stars and quarks and all things intricate
Perform his word — including fool and sage.
But knowing God is not to know like God;
And science is a quest in infancy.
Still more: transcendence took on flesh and blood —
I do not understand how this can be.
The more my mind assesses what it can,
The more it learns the finitude of man.

From Holy Sonnets of the Twentieth Century
by D.A. Carson

16 thoughts on “Pic & Poem of the Week: August 7, 2016

  1. I’ve come to understand that the Incarnation is the heart of Christianity. We don’t need to climb any ladders to get to God, because he has come to us in Christ; and not just for a visit, but he has made his home among us. Even now he has plumbed the depths of our existence, our lives, and he waits for us in our own depths, ready for us when we, by the pull of the gravity that inheres in all things, arrive and join him there.

    Thanks for the link; good stuff.


  2. My understanding is that the subject of the photo is the light, not the chapel/church, Charles. Nevertheless, I have a fondness for old buildings that have been much prayed in; I still carry enough of my Catholic upbringing to believe that, while all places are sacred, there are specially hallowed places and spaces made so by the life and prayer they have witnessed, and that has been etched into the very stuff of which they are built. Attribute it to my latent incarnationalism or sacramentalism if you like, but the building in this photo looks like such a place to me. I should like to spend some time in prayer there, if I could.


  3. The wall looks a hundred years old, and perhaps is, but also could be skillfully made to look as such. I had the good fortune to attend an authentic hundred year old country Lutheran church that could have served as poster church for that old time religion for a year and a half before it imploded due to dwindling support. The issue in my mind came down to the dozen or so remaining people insisting on wanting to spend their endowment on maintaining the building for as long as possible instead of using it for local ministry and meeting in school, library, tavern, or homes. To my mind this was idolatry pure and simple, but I didn’t have five generations of forebears invested. It’s still there for now if you want to buy it. Whatever the church in the photo, it looks sterile to me, not that God could not meet me there, or in the library or tavern or someone’s home for that matter. I now get to meet God weekly in homes, just like in the Bible, but not with those staunch Lutherans, who remain confused and conflicted over just what exactly a “church” is..


  4. As this poem points out, the finitude of humanity, and of the human mind, does not grasp the first and central doctrine of Christianity: the Incarnation. Who knows what else it does not or cannot grasp; or what other things, like transcendence taking on flesh and blood, it takes for incompatible that are not in fact incompatible?


  5. Don was a favorite prof of mine in seminary and I considered him a friend and mentor. I’ve been troubled by the TGC stuff and have never agreed with all of his views, but I have always admired his gifts and devotion.


  6. “But knowing God is not to know like God . . .”

    As usual I did not peek ahead to see who wrote this, but whoever it was lost me there. Ah, Don Carson. Well he lost me five or ten years ago when he peremptorily dismissed the whole postmodern movement using modern logic, like someone dismissing the incoming tide while continuing to build his sand castle. I had held Carson up as one of the best Evangelicalism had to offer in the world of scholarship, and I would still send you to him if you were, for example, studying the use of Hebrew Scripture in New Testament writings.

    Yesterday I ordered a couple of recent books by the late and dearly departed Phyllis Tickle which were on sale, one on the Emergent Church and the other on the Holy Spirit thruout Church history. I’m looking forward to what she has to say on both. I would not bother to consult Carson on either subject as he seems to cling to his intellectual understanding of things that cannot be understood from that approach, or as he says above, “I do not understand how this can be.” I’m guessing he wouldn’t understand Phyllis Tickle either.

    Tickle wrote poetry but I have never read any of it. Wouldn’t it be a kick if I came to the end of a poem I liked here one Sunday and found her name.


  7. a favorite Advent poem in sonnet form:

    “O Emmanuel

    O come, O come, and be our God-with-us
    O long-sought With-ness for a world without,
    O secret seed, O hidden spring of light.
    Come to us Wisdom, come unspoken Name
    Come Root, and Key, and King, and holy Flame,
    O quickened little wick so tightly curled,
    Be folded with us into time and place,
    Unfold for us the mystery of grace
    And make a womb of all this wounded world.
    O heart of heaven beating in the earth,
    O tiny hope within our hopelessness
    Come to be born, to bear us to our birth,
    To touch a dying world with new-made hands
    And make these rags of time our swaddling bands.”

    (Malcolm Guite)


  8. “But knowing God is not to know like God.” One of the core truths of understanding wisdom. It should continually inspire humility.


  9. The sonnet is a crafty thing,
    Metered lines fit words with wings.
    The best lift language from the ground;
    Heaven’s breath, the heart-shaped sound.


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