Because life is a series of edits

Faith’s Geography

In Poetry, Seminary on November 17, 2008 at 2:00 am

Trying to finish up a reflection paper tonight. Here's my intro:

Faith's Geography
“Yahweh’s intention for his people (Israel) is that they enjoy the good life…the land comes to symbolize the life with Yahweh in ideal conditions, a quality of life which might be characterized as the abundant life.”
Dr. Elmer A. MartensGod’s Design: A Focus on Old Testament Theology

“Geography – it’s everywhere.”
Dr. Kit SalterUniversity of Missouri School of Geography

I was a geography major in my undergrad days at the University of Missouri. I like to boast that this fact uniquely qualifies me to read roadmaps, but that’s about the extent of my abilities. Instead of map-making or map-reading, I was more interested in cultural geography’s preoccupation with the question, “Did people shape the land or did the land shape people?” The answer was always “yes;” the work was determining the degrees of each.

My study of the Old Testament this fall reacquainted me with my cultural geography roots. In following the nation of Israel from its beginning with Abram in Ur, through its migration to Egypt by Jacob and Joseph, to its Exodus into the wilderness led by Moses, to its conquest of the Promised Land under Joshua, through its struggles of settlement under the Judges, to its glories of the Davidic monarchy in Jerusalem, to its exile to the lands of Assyria and Babylon, and finally to its Palestinian return under Persia, there is (pardon the pun) much ground to cover as to the impact of the land on Israel and Israel's influence on it. For as Elmer Martens observes, “Statistically, land is a more dominant theme (in the Bible) than covenant."

Yeah, so it's a stretch, but I'm running with it (gotta make that undergrad degree seem worth something somehow). In the meantime, here's something actually worth reading – a poem by Sean Kinsella I came across in the journal First Things. I liked it.

the geography of my faith

this is
the tent of my anticipation

at the entrance of which
Sarah laughing stands

this is
the hilltop of my affliction

upon which
Isaac lies bewildered bound 

this is
the spring of my abandonment

to which
Hagar has weeping fled 

this is
the mill of my aspirations

at which
Samson blinded labors 

this is
the geography of my faith

in which
in me my Saviour lives

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  1. I like the poem too. I feel like adding a stanza or two…

  2. Have at it, Jess. Love to read your additions.

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