Benedictus

October 19, 2011 | 14 comments
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The theologian is indispensible. She is the not-thoughtless. She takes no thought because she gives it. And the more she gives it away, the more it multiplies.

As the not-thoughtless, she is the never-bored. She loves people more than things and things more than words. She loves people by loving words and things. Her words pierce the rotten diction of tradition and dogma and creed and fasten, once again, words to things and things to people. She faithfully repeats what she is told by never faithfully repeating it. She reads the Bible by writing a new one.

No sermon is too long, no text is too dry, no lesson too familiar, no claim too self-congratulatory that she cannot read in it the word of the Lord.

When she reads, she reads right off the edge of the page and onto her desk and into her yard and out under the sun. When she writes, she writes right off the edge of her page and onto her desk and up her arm and into her heart. Her arms are tattooed with a fine scrawl of unrepeating names for God’s grace. Her body is an unboxed tefillin. Her eyes, open.

She loves losing arguments. Living, she never ceases to die. The subtext of her every word is the sacred syllable OM. Her cells, making copies of themselves making copies of themselves, hum it as they work.

Not the moon but a finger pointing at the moon, she induces a synaesthesia of saving doubt and speculative confidence and valid inference. Still pointing, she smells what she sees, hears what she feels, and touches what she tastes.

All day long she sacrifices her thoughts on the horns of life’s altar, burns them without hesitation as incense, eats them without regret as shewbread, working by of theology toward that place where her thoughts end and she parts the veil and clasps her child’s bare hand.

She is indispensible. She is the reason for the other reasons (and, as such, she embodies that place where the rational and the absurd touch). She is God’s work and glory.

She is that thing she had never dared suppose: she is nothing.

14 Responses to Benedictus

  1. Adam Miller on October 19, 2011 at 9:51 am

    HT: Emerson’s “Nature.”

  2. Chino Blanco on October 19, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Interesting title. A shout out to parents of amazing kids? My daughter’s name is Emerson. She’s something. Anyway, your line about “…if she faithfully repeats what she is told by never faithfully repeating it” reminded me of Annie Dillard, or maybe just her visit to BYU.

  3. jmb275 on October 19, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Hmm, I think I’m not smart enough to follow. I can’t tell what’s going on. Can anyone explain?

  4. Jacob B. on October 19, 2011 at 10:56 am

    These series of posts on theology are some of the most sublime I’ve ever read. I believe most that have read them have not yet seen their significance. I’ll be carefully exegeting them on my blog at some point, hopefully soon.

  5. Jonathan Green on October 19, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Adam, of all your posts so far, this is my favorite one. Keep them coming.

  6. Hunter on October 19, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    I agree with Jonathan Green. The best yet. Thanks.

  7. Rosalynde on October 19, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Adam, do you want to talk about what’s happening with gender in this one? (You might not. If I had written this, I would never say another word in my life.) At first I thought the female third-person was post-feminist convention, but as the writing becomes more somatic it seems that the body begins to matter.

  8. Adam Miller on October 19, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    For me, it was primarily a practical decision – I didn’t want either Jacob or myself to think I was talking about us ;)

    Though, once I’d made the decision, I also had plenty of post/modern/feminist stuff in mind. I would, though, be happy to have you talk more about what’s happening with gender in this one.

  9. Sonny on October 19, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    I have to say I am in the same boat as jmb275. Is there an “Adam Miller Post’s for Dummies” version somewhere? I would like to appreciate the posts as much as those that have a better understanding of connecting the dots. I understood your earlier posts fairly well, I think, but lately I am afraid to admit they are flying over my head. Perhaps it is because I have not had a lot of experience in studying humanities and philosophy.

  10. Edje Jeter on October 19, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Awesome.

  11. Sarah Familia on October 19, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    Gorgeous, Adam. I love this even more than the last. Perhaps Rachel might have been aiming at a piece of this in her Daily Bread post last week . . .

  12. Rachel Whipple on October 19, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    This is beautiful.

  13. RG on October 20, 2011 at 8:53 am

    I appreciate the literary merit of Adam’s work, but he’s glossing over some major issues (as several commenters noted two posts ago). For those who think this is “the best,” I’d really like to know why.

  14. Adam Miller on October 20, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Thanks, “RG.” I agree wholeheartedly that quite a lot gets glossed over here. My best guess is that’s because this is a throwaway blog post written on the back of napkin rather than, say, a peer-reviewed book – though, even books … who can accomplish much in the space of 200 pages! :)

    I assume whatever value people find in it (doubting, for my part, much literary value) has to do with whatever it doesn’t just gloss over but, instead, manages to hint at.

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