Angelus Silesius – Theopoetics (Part 2)

Author: Przykuta. CC BY-SA 3.0

Theopoetics provides an alternative to dogmatic assertions that seem to fully understand (and nail down) theological concepts. Theopoetics is a rejection of any closed system of thought regarding Mystery, the Divine, God. Instead poetry is used to describe the event that comes in the name of God. It “seeks to roughen up unified appearances by differentiating the various deep-lying, multiple voices hidden under various powerful contenders of an alleged “orthodoxy” of content, method, and direction of thought” (Roland Faber, quoted in “Theopoetics: Process and Perspective” by L.B.C. Keefe-Perry)

Keefe-Perry, later in the above article, writes:

Theopoetics is an invitation to begin to “read” the entirety of experience as scripture, until daily life itself becomes infused with heirophany and a call to faithfulness.


More theo-poetical whimsy from Angel Silesius:

Who is God? No one can tell.
He is not dark of night
nor light of day.
He is not One nor Many
nor a Father as some say.
Nor is He wisdom,
intellect, or even mercy;
He is not Being—
nor non-Being
neither thing
nor no-thing.
Perhaps He is
what I and all
who ever did or will have being
could ever be capable of seeing
before becoming what He is. (page 45f.)

He is pure Nothingness.
He is not now, not here.
I reach for Him
and see Him disappear. (page 137)

(translation by Frederick Franck,
Messenger Of The Heart:
The Book of Angelus Silesius,
1910, Kindle Edition)

Silesius, like most mystics, can only describe God in terms of what God isn’t. This approach is called kataphatic (Negative Theology). The mystic would probably say that the statement “God is love,” which seems to attempt to define the being of God, oversteps the bounds of possible knowing. At best, we can only say that love is often experienced in conjunction with that which comes in the name of God. Love is an effect, not an ontological attribute.

To paraphrase John Caputo, wth a bit of Silesius added — God is neither existing nor non-existing; instead, what comes in the name of God is an insisting, an invitation “to be capable of seeing / before becoming what He is.”

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