Face-to-face: After Emmanuel Levinas

My brother’s face is not my face;His eyes see things mine do not see,And when I try to take his placeI’m stuck in his alterity.I do not know what he has known.I do not think his thoughts with him.His father is my father. ThoughHe is not me, he is my kin.Each other face I dailyContinue reading “Face-to-face: After Emmanuel Levinas”

The moment

when I realise not that I must always be Somewhere – fording some Jordan, scaling some Hebron, engaged in daily grandiose deeds – but that here, now, at the interstice of wilful self and the ever-grinding call to nothing grand but a pile of dishes, a child needing a hug, a moment of playing atContinue reading “The moment”

Recognised, Became Invisible: For Jean-Luc Marion

Was it the breaking of bread that did it, That act just so like the Bread of Life? Or was it how the Word opened up the word And our hearts were like flames within us? Our eyes Beheld but did not understand, intuit What lay behind all those parables, rife With intimations of truth,Continue reading “Recognised, Became Invisible: For Jean-Luc Marion”

Poetic Translations: The King and the Maiden

One of the great mysteries and wonders that we can be reflecting on this Advent season is the Incarnation: the mystery that the God of the universe would become a human, even a defenceless baby. To explore this mystery, Søren Kierkegaard tells the story of a king who loves a poor and humble girl andContinue reading “Poetic Translations: The King and the Maiden”

Poetic Translations: From the Aphorisms of Søren Kierkegaard

What is a poet? An unhappy man who deep in his heart hides anguish, but whose lips are so comprised that when he screams he makes sweet music. I’d rather be a swineherd of the hills understood by pigs than a poet misunderstood by men. *** I prefer to speak to children. At least ofContinue reading “Poetic Translations: From the Aphorisms of Søren Kierkegaard”

Unexpected Faith: Terrence Malick and the “Love that loves us”

American philosopher-turned-filmmaker Terrence Malick does not make crowd-pleasers. He does not even feel any great compulsion to actually make films, although he has made more films in the last decade than he did for the first 30 years of his career. A little like Marilynne Robinson’s novels, Malick’s films emerge from some slow, meditative, beauty-processorContinue reading “Unexpected Faith: Terrence Malick and the “Love that loves us””

Philosophical Crumbs: Haiku for Kierkegaard

A friend of mine recently said that he had tried to read Kierkegaard but hadn’t made it. “I need the children’s book version,” he said. Probably not an unusual experience. While I’m not sure I’m the one to provide the children’s book, I thought I could do the next best thing: to try to putContinue reading “Philosophical Crumbs: Haiku for Kierkegaard”

Grace, charm, a clenched jaw

If what Christians believe is true, then Gide knows now what all of us will know before long. What is it that he knows? What is it that he sees? (Francois Mauriac, “The Death of Andre Gide”) Was it better by far to be wily, in the end? Maintaining to the last where Montaigne hadContinue reading “Grace, charm, a clenched jaw”

Tom and Bertie

Once the marriage was destroyed* did the one take comfort in the other’s halitosis? And did the other, foul in breath, seek scum to prove that folly persists in churches and in the minds of worshippers? If words are crude and language imprecise, then actions like his speak loudest: a moral compass cast aside withContinue reading “Tom and Bertie”

Poetry in Translation: After Erik Axel Karlfeldt’s “Intet är som väntanstider (Nothing is like expecting)”

In a time when the only crime is the refusal of access, I found all search terms fail, only foreign language yielded, only the kernel of power, unopening to me. What beauty I knew to lie within, I could not see: just umlauts and A-rings, word atoms which Google could not split… When the penContinue reading “Poetry in Translation: After Erik Axel Karlfeldt’s “Intet är som väntanstider (Nothing is like expecting)””