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Finding faith in the abyss

Finding faith in the abyss

Christian Wiman, the editor of Poetry magazine and a poet himself, writes about his faith and his illness in “My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer.”

Dwight Garner reviews the book in the New York Times:

[Wiman] is under no delusion that the world’s committed poetry readers, for the most part, are anything but a skeptical, dubious, scoffing gaggle. But his book, which is plain-spoken about how he turned to face God while facing his own untimely demise, hopes to skim off a wider audience.

“There is an enormous contingent of thoughtful people in this country who, though they are frustrated with the language and forms of contemporary American religion, nevertheless feel that burn of being that drives us out of ourselves, that insistent, persistent gravity of the ghost called God,” he declares. “I wanted to try to speak to these people more directly.”

Garner says that there are moments when Wiman succeeds in communicating the transcendant and there are times when the poets praise of God or musings about belief sound smug to his (admittedly unbelieving) ears.

His book will probably not convert disbelievers, but it may make them envious of the kind of love the author finds in God, one he describes as being “like a simple kiss that has a bite of starlight to it.”

There is one slashing line in “My Bright Abyss” that will sing to both Hitchens’s readers and Mr. Wiman’s. It arrives when Mr. Wiman encounters a bedraggled drug addict while at his church, and begins to consider compassion and human grace.

He begins to feel that God is telling him this: “Get off your mystified ass and do something.”


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Ana Hernandez

About a year ago Wiman did a lovely hour with Krista Tippett on her On Being program. Here’s the link:

Ana Hernandez

About a year ago Wiman did a lovely hour with Krista Tippett on her On Being program. Here’s the link:

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