Monday, January 17, 2011

When I am in doubt: a poem by Glenn Colquhoun

Looking for some summer reading, I re-dipped into Glen Colquhoun’s Playing God. Glenn is a doctor by day and a poet by night. He writes as a Pakeha (New Zealand born of Anglo-descent), but with a close relationship to Maori culture. He has written a number of books of both poetry and of children’s stories.

Playing God won the Reader Choice award at the 2003 Montana Book award and went on to become the only poetry book in New Zealand to sell platinium. The poems offer a human and compassionate account of being a caring professional. I kept making links between the caring side of being a doctor, and the caring side of being a minister, between the craft of poetry and the craft of leadership, which was occupying me back in December.

Here’s one, on the appearance of confidence and the humanity of doubt, that continues to sit with me.

When I am in doubt
I talk to surgeons.
I know they will know what to do.

They seem so sure.

Once I talked to a surgeon.
He said that when he is in doubt
He talks to priests.
Priests will know what to do.

Priests seem so sure.

Once I talked to a priest.
He said that when he is in doubt
He talks to God.
God will know what to do.

God seems so sure.

Once I talked to God.
He said that when he is in doubt
He thinks of me.
He says I will know what to do.

I seems so sure.

By Glenn Colquhoun, in Playing God

Posted by steve at 09:39 AM

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

haunted hope

A poem that give might give some expression to my current stage of being. Or it might not.

is there
while i am here

becomes then

and i am here

memories seep
to faded deeds

coloniser to migrant
tongued tied, in
church, old,
thriving to dying

grief to grow

time ticks
to new hopes

Posted by steve at 05:28 PM

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

a contemporary cry of Old Testament Hannah, the poetry of Kate Tempest

One of the highlights for me of Spirit of Wonder (week on ) was discovering the poetry of Kate Tempest. Care of (Jonny’s Thursdaysession on Spirit and pop culture.)

The night before I’d been teaching a (Sociology of Ministry) class. We’d been talking about different ways the church relates to society and as part of that, exploring Hannah’s song in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. The context is a society in transition, moving from tribe to state, from judge to king, from charismatic to bureaucratic. In this transition, comes the song of a barren mother, a speech from the margins of that world, with a dream rejoicing in a swift transition, the rapid and abrupt inversion of the upside-down Kingdom.

The Lord makes poor and makes rich
He brings low, he also exalts
He raises the poor from the dust
He lifts the needy from the ash heap
To make them sit with princes
And inherit seats of honor.

The song anticipates a new social reality, a radical change. It comes not as a memo or a legal document but as a poetic “song.” Such is the power of poetry and causes Brueggemann to write that “liturgy and all artistic acts as crucial for mission.” (Brueggemann, Walter A. “The Bible and Mission: Some Interdisciplinary Implications for Teaching.” Missiology 10, 1989, 397-412.)

And the next day, Jonny played some Kate Tempest poetry. And it felt like a contemporary Hannah, crying for justice, dreaming of an upside down world, not in dusty Palestine, but consumerist urban cities. Have a listen, it’s powerful stuff.

Posted by steve at 04:14 PM