I considered writing a response of some kind to Jefferson Bethke’s controversial video sensation about Jesus being greater than religion. I didn’t feel the video was all bad, but it wasn’t all good. As I followed some of the expected reaction that ensued across the web, I noticed a chilling absence of imagination, causing me to wonder if Jesus isn’t even greater than Jesus, at least the Jesus we think we’ve got a handle on. Let me be very clear, I believe he is. In those wandering moments I caught the shimmer of a first line – ‘incarnation as gape’ – and I cast out far in hopes a poem would rise. *Absinthe is, according to one witness, a cheap, terribly pernicious drink, whereas petrus is consistently ranked among the world’s most deliciously extravagant wines. 

Incarnation as gape,
the gap in divinity’s fabric where flesh flashed,
a revelation to magnetize attention, to arouse.
And so the game began,
an elaborate hide-and-seek because desire vanishes
at the point of capture, but we’re not patient with play
so we netted and pinned him
in the book for purposes of classification, the text of pleasure
now sanctioned by our babble, we blindly forgetting that delay
keeps things interesting.
We’ve even distilled his name down to mere utility -the one
who saves – and swig with absinthe smiles while the original offer
was the petrus of imagination.
He was and is and always shall be primitive, first order zazzle,
frolickingly improvisational, eternally irrational, obscured radiance,
zigzag joy of God’s psyche.

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  1. Elizabeth Gaucher on January 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    “Chilling absence of imagination.” You nailed it. Well said.

  2. jamesdog on January 17, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    the cloud of unknowing…

    • thebeautifuldue on January 17, 2012 at 3:44 pm

      with our heads in that cloud, my friend…thanks!

  3. Bonnie Grove on January 17, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    This is wonderful. First the language put me in mind of Barbara Hamby and her pop-click way of breaking words over your head like the make-believe eggs of childhood touch-and-shiver games. Swig. Zigzag. Pertus of imagination. Flesh flashed.

    I could spend a goodly portion of the day contemplating “flesh flashed.”

    Secondly, I watched the video too (a mutual friend of ours had it on her facebook wall). He lost me early with his political shtick. Canadians tend to roll their eyes at the American propensity to define themselves on the basis of a political picket fence. If you know anything about Canadian politics you’ll know we are a people who constantly jump fences and even move them when it suits us. And it has nothing to do with Jesus. That’s an aside. My point is thank you for swooping in and infusing generosity of originality, unfettered thought.

    I read an article by Marilynne Robinson about what literature owes to scripture and this quote caught me up: “In our strange cultural moment it is necessary to make a distinction between religious propaganda and religious thought, the second of these being an attempt to do some sort of justice to the rich difficulties present in the tradition.”

    That’s what you’re doing, John. Living out the distinction, siding with religious thought (rankle at the word if you will). I’m honestly grateful.

    • thebeautifuldue on January 17, 2012 at 3:50 pm

      You are welcome, Bonnie…after I wrote it I wondered if folks might think I’d drained a couple of bottle of petrus…and thank you for the Robinson quote – I adore her, ‘Housekeeping’ being one of my very favorite novels.

    • Seth on January 17, 2012 at 7:51 pm

      I greatly appreciate the eye-roll referenced by Bonnie Grove, here. I have to be honest, I didn’t make it through the whole Bethke video. Seems to be a rhyming rehash of cliche’s that honestly just don’t resonate.

      Your words on the other hand, Mr. Blase? Very very nice. I could chase them for a good portion of the day.

      Keep on drinking whatever it is you are drinking…

      • thebeautifuldue on January 18, 2012 at 2:03 am

        Seth, the video struck a nerve with many, if only for a brief spell…it wasn’t my cuppa tea either…thanks for stopping in.

  4. Dolly on January 17, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Thanks…made me think…need to go and sit with it and why I responded to what you said and what Jeff B. said.

    • thebeautifuldue on January 18, 2012 at 2:04 am

      Dolly, I’m pleased the words stirred thought…thanks for saying ‘thanks.’

  5. Steve and Lisa Stapp on January 18, 2012 at 8:18 am

    Didn’t see the Jefferson B. video, but do enjoy your poetry John, truly, even though you sometimes use words I’ve never come across. I especially like “zigzag joy of God’s psyche”.

  6. Dea Moore on January 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    This age of information—media flooded…babble, babble, babble (Babylon?) Thanks for a creating a place for “primitive, first order zazzle” to wake us up!

  7. […] of way, but in a “dangerous, but good” Aslan sort of way. Because as John Blase said, “Desire vanishes at the point of capture” and God will not be captured, at least not without some Houdini escape act to follow. But maybe God […]

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