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Mistake of Genre

Everything

Mistake of Genre

Eric Muhr

by Eric Muhr

I think I’ve finally figured it out. Found the answer. Placed the puzzle’s last piece.

All this bad religion out there, it’s a mistake of genre.

Doing-oriented American culture tends to think of scripture in terms of prose (especially technical prose). We like to have a resource for easy answers, quick fixes, little pick-me-ups.

But scripture is poetry.

Poetry doesn’t give up its answers so easily. It has to be digested bite by bite. Slowly. Repeatedly.

And then there’s the silence. Lots of silence. Poetry takes time to unfold, and silence — serious meditation — is required if we intend to unravel meaning, find the source of our searching.

People don’t have time for this kind of thing. No patience. So they settle for the Sparknotes version. Never take a minute to think (let alone listen).

Enough of that. I probably need to offer an example. What about this one? What if God doesn’t really exist?

Wait.

Stop.

Pull your fingers away from the keyboard.

Hold off on the hate mail.

Think.

For just a minute.

And consider that God is not a thing. How much easier this might all be if God were. We know what to do with things – how to make them and break them, categorize them, utilize them, buy them and sell them. We can order our things.

But we dare not do that with God. We try with our own words to answer, entertain, inform. But the Bible goes deeper.

Because poetry couches each truth in a conundrum, in conflict, in the paradox. In poetry, the challenge is impossible (at least initially) because it pushes past human understanding, asks that we conceive of conflicting ideas working together to create

something deeper,

something more meaningful,

something beautiful, which otherwise, we might never conceive.