(Re)discovering Theopoetics

I just might be a thepoet and didn't know it. 

Just a few pages in L. Callid Keefe-Perry's new book, Way to Water: A Theopoetics Primer, and I'm already wetting a thirst I never knew I had. 

I was immediately drawn to the pragmatic aesthetic inherent in theopoetics--- the stretch for imaginative change not only in thought but practice, an active and ongoing opening of the heart-mind-body to more fully embrace the glory that emanates from exploring the relationship between God and humanity. The journey is cognizant of the limits of the body in sensing the divine and yet also re-cognizes the pertinence of being fully fleshed, re-humanized and re-embodied--- therein also being the destination. When encountering the countenance of The Great Spirit in light of our spirit, we see through a mirror dimly, but we are not seers (or hearers or doers) only and our aspirations to articulate an infinite God are also dimmed, limited by our finite human senses. This is where Callid Keefe-Perry’s travelogue of theopoetics dutifully and gracefully serves to take us beyond. He offers us a springboard off which to plunge headlong into an experiential understanding, felt only once you’ve cannonballed into the refreshingly cool waters that await.

Way to Water does not reduce itself to simple definitions of theological poetry or poetizing theology but asks, perhaps,  if we can even have one without the other. In many senses, one is the other. Call it paradoxology (or a pair of doxologies, if you will)--but an ology that is not all mind, an ology that is invigorated with spirit and joy.  Theopoetics is a study that lives and breathes within us.  Not to explain away the mystery, magic, and miracle of the human-divine relationship or “press and dry a rare fragile flower so as to preserve its wild, living beauty.” It is a study that grows and changes just as we and our world grows and changes.

What happens is, whether for the sake of comfort or convenience or some other temporary security, we may nestle into socially-prescribed structures of monolithic rigidity. And that has happened and continues to happen in academic, political, and religious spaces, but theopoetics seeks to “rough things up” and invites us wholeheartedly into wildly adventurous conversation, excavating the dry, cracked earth for wellsprings of truth and beauty.

Way to Water is beckoning us to breathe again, a resuscitation after a time buried under technicality and mechanism—where power is dethroned, decentralized, and re-postured to welcome the hum of humility and humanity, where the whosoevers (the others, the unauthorized, the marginalized) may express their experience of God in the world “without needing formal ecclesial or academic endorsement as a ‘theologian.’” I can dig that.

And it only gets deeper. The truths echoed in these texts resonate so deeply within me that it’s hard to succinctly express the reverberation. As if digging wells, I’m still collecting water. This is the water of our souls, tiny droplets of lakes, rivers, and streams always finding a way back to the the great ocean-home form whence we came. I’m learning through this primer less about a way to water, but that the water itself is The Way. 

I received the book for free for review purposes from Wipf & Stock. There are other reviews available at: http://homebrewedchristianity.com/2015/01/23/theopoetics-book-blog-tour/. Continue the conversation on Twitter with #Theopoetics.