PBS recently featured Dish favorite Christian Wiman, a poet and essayist, on its Religion & Ethics program. One theme that emerges in the above short video is Wiman’s search for a new, fresh language to describe his encounters with the divine – a search intimately bound up with poetry. In his words:
If you ask me, do I get glimpses of God, yes, I get these glimmerings of intuitions, stronger than that really, where the existence of God seems to me absolute. We all go through our lives and then suddenly we’ll have a moment when we think, I have faith right now in something. I find that I’ve had these moments in my life when I have been overcome by what I only know to call God…
In my experience, the artists that I know, even though they wouldn’t call themselves Christians — some would — but they are the ones who are fighting to remake some kind of language to connect us with the ineffable, with the divine.
If we think that metaphor is how we talk of God, and that seems to me very hard to dispute that there’s any other way of talking to God, talking about God, other than metaphorically, then it would follow that the place where metaphor is most powerfully used, most compressed, most concise, most explosive in poetry would be where we would go to find religious enlightenment.