In Honor of Nazianzen's Poetry: A Reflection in Verse

The following was written by Chris, a friend of mine for many years – spanning from when he moving onto my floor of Fischer dormitory at Wheaton College as a freshman during my second year, up to the present time, which finds him finishing his MDiv middle year here at PTS. Chris has been spending time this semester in a PhD seminar of which I am a part, studying the Cappadocian theologians under the direction of Dr. Ellen Charry. One of Dr. Charry’s pedagogical strategies is to have her students prepare a short reflection before each class to help prime the pump for discussion. This is what Chris wrote for the last meeting of our class, which occurred on April 21st. I post it today in memoriam for that lively, engaging, informative, and always fun class.

In Honor of Gregory Nazianzen's Poetry: A Reflection in Verse
Ignoring these poems might prove detrimental,

'Cause it seems that their content is not incidental,

But rather expresses some critical stuff—

So let's show some respect: the poems aren't fluff.

For example, let's take some time to acknowledge

The poems' concern for the theme of self-knowledge.

Nor should this focus seem simply selfish, or odd:

For knowledge of self leads to knowledge of God.

So if the poems can seem a bit self-concerned,

With autobiography tops and other things spurned,

Read him with charity, and keep your comments un-snide—

He is searching for God by turning inside.

His poems are conversations he has with his soul,

Which apparently helped him feel better and whole,

And spending some time on the inside helped show 'em

His external needs—could do worse with a poem!

And remember that art can give to ideas their wings,

That dogma is not simply a collection of things

That people think—it is more than conception.

Thus the Church has had poets e'er since its inception,

To lift up the soul, by beauty, to God,

To lift us to heaven, who stand on the sod.

So, then, my friends, all you aspiring PhDs,

Heed now Gregory's model—it behooves you to please

Take my suggestion into cónsideration:

How 'bout writing in verse your whole dissertation?


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