Ideal Justice
Questions around Pat Tillman's death

Speak What We Feel

Over the weekend I finished Frederick Buechner's Speak What We Feel (Not What We Ought to Say). He writes about Gerard Manley Hopkins, Mark Twain, G. K. Chesterton, and William Shakespeare and how each one dealt with the darker side of life in one particular work by each author (or set of poems in Hopkins' case). It is a very nice read that I recommend.

I was particularly struck by Buechner's conclusion:

There is sadness too in thinking how much more I might have done with my life than just writing, especially considering that I was ordained not only to preach good news to the poor, but to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and the imprisoned, and raise the dead. If I make it as far as St. Peter's gate, the most I will be able to plead is my thirty-two books, and if that is not enough, I am lost. My faith has never been threatened as agonizingly as Chesterton's or Hopkins', or simply abandoned like Mark Twain's, or held in such perilous tension with unfaith as Shakespeare's. I have never looked into the abyss, for which I am thankful. But I wish such faith as I have had been brighter and gladder. I wish I had done more with it. I wish I had been braver and bolder. I wish I had been a saint.
This, in short, is the weight of my own sad times, and listening to these four voices speaking out from under the burden of theirs has been to find not just a kind of temporary release, but a kind of unexpected encouragement.
Take heart, I heard them say, even at the unlikeliest moments. Fear not. Be alive. Be merciful. Be human. And most unlikely of all: Even when you can't believe, even if you don't believe at all, even if you shy away at the sound of his name, be Christ.


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