I was on break when Matt Sitman’s Deep Dish essay on Christian Wiman and the need to find new language for Christianity in modernity appeared. If you read the essay, you’ll see why Matt is such an integral part of the Dish team, both in terms of the depth of his reading, the elegance of his writing, and the miracle of his enduring faith. Matt and I also had a chance to sit down with Wiman and talk to him about what it really means to be an intelligent, modern person who is also a non-fundamentalist Christian.
Here’s a segment from our conversation when Wiman talks about his descent into unbelief, around his cancer diagnosis, and how he found a way forward through writing poetry that surprised him with its lingering hope. He rejects – as I do – any clear dividing line between belief and unbelief, believing that they both form a process in which belief can be transformed into something more real, and honest:
I’m just writing to give a big thank you to Matt, Andrew, and Christian Wiman for the wonderful conversation, and an special thank you to Matt for his insightful, illuminating essay on Chris’s work. (I feel like I can use that rather intimate name after listening to the conversation this morning). I have long loved Chris’s work and enjoyed listening to him on the Poetry Foundation podcasts for years. What a joy (I use that word reservedly, but it is appropriate here) to hear him discuss his own work, as well as his faith.
As someone who was not raised in any religious tradition, it is a long, confusing, and often lonely path towards finding some way to acknowledge/accommodate/celebrate my strange knowing that God exists, that we are all somehow held by God. As you all acknowledged in your conversation, finding people who feel the same way, or similarly, so helps to ease that loneliness. I felt in communion with all three of you this morning as I walked through my neighborhood with my earbuds in, smiling at your jokes, nodding at so many of your observations. I didn’t feel lonely.