The truth is in between

Do you remember those old stereoscopic machines on the pier? When you looked down them two almost identical images placed side by side created one three-dimensional image in the eyes of the person looking down it. The three dimensional view was to be found somewhere in the middle.

This morning I stumbled upon an accidental juxtaposition. On the left hand side of the page was an only slightly tongue in cheek article about ructions at the poetry society. Apparently high-level departures from the board have left the members up in arms. On the other side of the page there happened to be an advert for a charity working with young homeless people.

Image: guardian.co.uk (click for larger image)

Could there be a more unfortunate coincidence- machinations of an esoteric society on one side & evidence of real social need on the other? Not, of course that I want to deny there is a use for poetry. The Greek verb “poeio”, from which we derive “poetry” means ‘to make’, and it is the poet’s job to fashion new truths out of old realities. Skilfully done, the poet can topple regimes, challenge certainties and shake foundations. In the article above, though, it is the fact that the internecine dispute and the haunting look of the teenager sit side by side.

At a school A level RS lesson this morning I was asked whether the world’s suffering ever made me question the actions of God. My reply was that it has never not made me question the actions of God. I might come up with the answer of faith, but I ask the question nonetheless. As a preacher it is my task to articulate the word of God in a place where poets and homeless teenagers share the same page of the news. Like the images on the pier, somehow there has to be a way to set them side by side so that a clearer picture emerges. It is a constant challenge – but the prophetic word of God is ever new.

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