Friday, October 09, 2009

The Pastor as Minor Poet (part 1)

"There is no shortage of formulas for creating a successfully constructed pastorate being peddled in the professional religious market today. All of these formulas are based on the assumption that pastors need to meet the expectations of those who are already in the church and especially of those who are not there yet...But when we [pastors] begin with our identity in Christ and the pastoral call to assist others in becoming fully alive in him, we are freed from the drudgery of being managers and service providers to pursue something more creative - being poets of the soul...I present this not as the normative or even preferred image, but simply as another biblical description of the calling of those who have been blessed with a vision that allows them to explore, and express, the truth behind the reality. Poets see the despair and heartache as well as the beauty and miracle that lie just beneath the thin veneer of the ordinary, and they describe this in ways that are recognized not only in the mind, but more profoundly in the soul...What the congregation needs is not another strategist to help them form another plan for achieving a desired image of life, but a poet who looks beneath even the desperation to recover the mystery of what it means to be made in God's image."

"Poets are devoted more to truth than to reality; they are not unaware of reality, but they never accept it at face value. The value of reality is only found by peeling back its appearance to discover the underlying truth. This is why poets care about the text, what is said or done, but only in order to reveal subtext, which reveals what it means. They value the reality they see primarily as a portal that invites them into a more mysterious en¬counter with truth. This is what distinguishes poets from those whose contributions to society are focused simply on following a particular text. Engineers, for example, follow their textbooks in constructing a bridge that leads across the deep ravines. And one hopes that they have been very, very devoted to those texts. By contrast, a poet who crosses the engineer's bridge will go home and spend all day constructing verse that reveals the longing of the soul to find such an overpass when we stand on the banks of a disaster and peer down into the valley of death."

"A good poet is hard to find, and nothing is more tragic than wasting one in a busy office."

- M. Craig Barnes

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