Third Message, A
Beware, too, the Azgoths of Kria, whose bad poetry is now being passed off as mainline theology. You know, where reality is transmogrified into psychotic metaphor and corn-god agricultural ritual … where dogma of Trinity and Incarnation are exchanged for liberation, consciousness-raising, and ethics. Be aware that the Azgoths are particularly fond of Ethics, since they are allergic to Canon.
According to Ford Prefect, and his secular Guide, the very worst poem in the Galaxy was written right on this here Earth, in English, and not so very long ago. The poet was Paul Neil Milne Johnstone, and the poem goes like this:
The dead swans lay in the stagnant pool.
They lay. They rotted. They turned
Bits of flesh dropped off them from
Time to time.
And sank into the pool's mire.
They also smelt a great deal.*
The worst poets, as a group, are the Azgoths of Kria. The poetmaster of the Azgoths was an entity known as Grunthos the Flatulent. The secular Guide remarks that during a reading of his poem Ode To A Small Lump Of Green Putty I Found In My Armpit One Midsummer Morning, "four of the audience died of internal hemorrhaging.”
I shall, with some patience from Douglas Adams’ people, relate an excerpt of this not entirely free verse:
Putty. Putty. Putty.
Green Putty - Grutty Peen.
Grarmpitutty - Morning!
Pridsummer - Grorning Utty!
Not even a particularly
Nice shade of green.
Please note the globulous metaphor for self-consciousness. It sure is a dead giveaway for the contemporary presence of the Azgoths, disguised as liberal Christianity.
For long, I turned a dyspeptic mauve, probably plaid-wise, when I read (or attempted to read) the works of Bishop J. A. T. Robinson, Bishop Shelby Spong, Thomas J. J. Altizer, Bultmann, Ritschl, Harnack, and (lest we forget) Schleiermacher. But now I feel better about these guys, because it seems to me that they were only writing bad poetry, in the Azgothian way.
Bad poetry happens when metaphysics is discarded for self-consciousness (and its adjunct, modern ethics). And the best way to discard metaphysics is to run, like Jonah, from the Trinity and to rhapsodize about the whale and its whiteness.
It is helpful here to draw a distinction between bad poetry and bad verse. There are many good people and Christian who write bad verse. Bad verse can rhyme (and often does), and it can follow, slavishly, various regimes of rhythm and structure. The greeting card industry proves, in a zillion bleeding-hearted avatars this February, that rhyme is not averse to the writing of bad verse.
Bad poetry, however, is not usually trucked out in bad verse. That would be like the devil stepping out and looking, well, like the devil. That would not suit him at all.
At times, bad poetry can even be sung out in rather good verse. Shelley and Swinburne come, unbidden, immediately to mind.
Bad poetry happens when the appearances are lied about, or at least misrepresented. There are many bad poets in the Eighth Malebolge, the trench of the counselors, or maybe further down in the Tenth, where the falsifiers waste away in buboes. The sores are returned to them, an inheritance of the full measure of the memes of fantasia they set loose, like Pandora, in their monographs, their festschriften, their journals, their award-winning plays and novels and workshops at the MLA.
When the appearances – i.e., perceptions of reality – are isolated from their metaphysical roots, and when the logoi or principles of things are intentionally ignored, they are lied about most profoundly. And the greatest lie that God is only immanent and not transcendent, if He is at all … that He is noumenal (as in Kant’s vocabulary) and thus cannot be called upon as Personal and Trinitarian, or as Father, with Son and Spirit, as Holy Tradition recommends … that Jesus Christ is not One and the Same Historic Jesus and Mystic Christ, the Trinitarian Person Who fashions, inhabits and choreographs His own Creation … this greatest lie is even worse than other, more honest religions of other gods, because this lie consists of a rejection of revelation.
That rejection, in thrall of self-consciousness, is at the base of bad poetry, and under its rubric there may obtain intellectual brilliancies and academic virtuosi, but under all the degrees and bibliographies, there lurks the psychic sepsis of insanity.
Azgothian bad poetry will, as we saw poor Arthur Dent writhe in the secular Guide, make you go nuts.
Next post: how the Azgothian legacy split into Ritschlian NCC liberalism, as expected, and into another surprising, shocking form of liberal Christianity – the Schleiermachian Megachurch movement (a rejection of Orthodox ecclesiology).
(*The relative legitimacy of this poem is proportionate to the ascendancy of liberal christianity in world culture.)