“Poetry and the end of Theology”

“How did a discourse (Theology) so un-creative become the deputized voice of the Creatorinquires James K. A. Smith in a recent post on his Fors Clavigera blog which is a variant of the thesis in his recently published “Desiring the Kingdom”. Read in the context of his post, the statement serves a rhetorical purpose, but taken in isolation it simply doesn’t stack up. Although un-creative theologies, replete with terse propositions (sic!), ordered in obsessive scholastic fashion can be easily identified in the history of theology (especially post-Enlightenment), to say that theology is an un-creative discourse is to grossly overstate one’s case. Moreover, although, ideally, theologians via their theologies should be deputized (called, seta apart, as in divine calling) voices of the Creator, I would rather play it safe by saying that the Spirit speaking in and through the polyphonic voice(s) of Scripture is the deputized voice(s) of the Creator. If all theological discourses would equally be deputized voices of the Creator what would the resultant cacophony speak about the Creator himself?

More from James K. A. Smith:

“What if poetry is the end of theology? That is, what if poetry is the telos of theology—its goal and aim?What if the so-called truths of theology are just dimmed-down intimations of the rich truth that can be embodied in the imaginative worlds of poetry and fiction? Then wouldn’t Graham Greene and Franz Wright be more faithful good-news-tellers than most of our theologians? Wouldn’t the short story be our most faithful genre? Wouldn’t the novel be our most powerful explication of the human condition? Wouldn’t poetry be our most intense site of revelation? Could we imagine theology otherwise?”

Excellent interrogative, seminal questions! To Smith’s – which we should definitely ponder – I might add… Why shouldn’t our theology be poetical and our poetry be theological, that is, why shouldn’t our theology be creative and our creativity (with expressions ranging from fiction writing, sculpture, painting etc.) be theologically framed and oriented?

Anyways, read Smith’s complete post insightfully and provocatively intitled “Poetry and the end of Theology”  here.


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