In teaching theology, one of my abiding concerns is not just that students gain a clearer understanding of the grammar of the Christian faith, but that they meet the manifold figures along the way who have shaped their thinking unbeknownst to them.
In On The Road with Saint Augustine, James K.A. Smith, through the works of Augustine, illustrates how that parable is the story of all of us. Every child of God, believer and nonbeliever, is longing to come home, tohave the Father throw his arms around us and kiss us.
This reminds me less of complaints I’ve heard from others, and leads me to think more of a confession that I need to make. It is this poetry, nearly 500 years old, which rings in my ears in a new way.
What The Shack lacks for in clarity, it makes up for in boldness. It deals head-on with the vexing questions of why a good God allows evil to exist and why people have to suffer.
It is National Poetry Month and I want to celebrate the month with a little essay about the poet Richard Wilbur and his poem “October Maples.” At ninety-six years of age, Wilbur is probably our oldest, living, major American poet, and in my opinion, he has been the pre-eminent Christian poet writing in English in the latter half of the twentieth century.
We believe that Christ has called us to look for him in the difficult places—places that challenge us. This is how we hope to grow into maturity as Christians, as citizens, and as people who care about the common good of fellowship with God and neighbor.