Saturday, January 31, 2009


Reading his obituaries this past week, I marveled at the variety and vitality of John Updike's work and thought about the fact that this came out of (and maybe was only possible because of) his definite, singular, articulated worldview. From the ground he stood on he was able to engage with the whole smorgasborg.
Colossians Re:mixed has been reminding me that we all have a worldview, though I would guess for most it is not clearly articulated. I have been wondering about my own worldview and how it connects with belief. The belief is solid (Holy Trinity is the absolute shortest way I can summarize) but my outlook is very shaky and sloppy, which is disheartening.
My friend Richard sent me Updike's poem Seven Stanzas at Easter a few years ago and Bishop Alan reminded me of it again this week on his blog. In the poem Updike addresses the earthy reality of Jesus resurrection with all that this implies for the way that one sees the world.

Seven Stanzas at Easter

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that–pierced–died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

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