By Ernesto Tinajero
This week I celebrate meeting my wife and how my soul sings poetry. I wonder about why we have lost our poetic soul and it is ties to the rise of fundamentalism. At the height of his popularity, Richard Dawkins published a children’s book. He said he wrote the book to combat what he saw was the dangers of Harry Potter. Harry Potter, Dawkins reasoned, was dangerous because of its elements of fantasy that has its characters violate the the laws of science. There was no magic in the world, only cold machines. The detail was telling and so was the reception of the book. It did not find much space on children’s shelves. It was also telling that his criticism echoed many other fundamentalist tracts against Harry Potter. Many other fundamentalists of Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Judaism flavors had a similar dislike for the book. It was as if human imagination is something to be feared and opposed.
I have found it endlessly fascinating that when I say the Bible contains poetry and should be read as poetry, I get lambasted as if somehow I am saying something dangerous, when in reality I am speaking the truth. Many somehow think I am questioning the Bible’s truth as if poetry is not true. Yet, there is a reason the biblical writer chose to write it in verse. Some 80 percent of the Bible is written in verse. The most popular book in the Bible is the Psalms which is extensively a book of poems. Yet for many, speaking this truth is akin to saying the Bible is not true. Being a working poet, I know the truth that poetry is more true than many rationalist and materialistic tracts. Jesus himself spoke in parables, and love is best expressed in verse. Anytime St. Paul needed words to explain the Gospel, he turned to verse. Many rationalist materialists like Ken Ham, joins Dawkins in fearing the imagination and poetry. Dictators of all variety first and foremost fear the poet, and Jesus called people to dream and he was strung up a cross. In fact, imagination draws us closer to life and truth than away. We have to imagine the victims of ISIS to have compassion, and in many ways ISIS and many fundamentalisms share a lack of imagination and a sense of poetry. Their souls have lost the ability to dream and need redemption. ISIS’s claim to Islam is as odd as the whole of the Quran is poetry.
I wonder why in my many debates with Gnu atheists is it that not only is God’s existence denied, but so is love. For many of them, love is reduced to a biological urge of a feeling that can’t be trusted. A symptom of distrust of poetry, the human soul and love that will lead to a lonely existence. There’s no wonder that depression has sky-rocketed as a disease. It is depressing to see how much love poetry has been replaced by materialistic pornography. When everything squeezed through the sift of consumerism then all becomes nothing more than products on a shelf, poetry, God and love lose their meaning. God, poetry and love cease to be real and must be denied, and more than denied, forcefully opposed. Yet, poetry still calls us in the night. Jesus with us means poetry and the truth is deeper than a modernist fairytale of materialism. When I see my wife and son, I know the truth of God and love and I find God. I found the day I met my wife manning the information booth in September 2001.
The Return of Our Future
In our beginning there was a September light
in your hair. Your sea-blue clothes make
the earth green again. Life becomes animated once
more. I notice even in Los Angeles how many animals,
pets, dogs, cats move around me. I will play
carefully with your eyes. I fear falling
into the games that kill love. You are here
in the first weeks of our meetings. A place in words
makes us aware of each other in freedom. Dancing
on Friday night gives us the awe of the possibility
of one in two. The music unclutters the mystery and
breaks creation’s coming from our future’s calling. Returning
to knowing the simple in the complex calls us, we see
the divine again, delighting in our new love’s key.