In the 45th Psalm, the sons of Korah begin their praise of the king like this:
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.
The Psalmist here sings in praise not just of the king of Israel but of the King of Israel, the Lord God. He extolls the virtues of the man, the king, while at the same time suggesting the limitations of man that only God can transcend. All the while, this author, inspired by God but also blessed by God with a human gift for words, fires the human imagination, attempting to convey the unconveyable, to transcend the limitations of our means of perception, and to connect a reader, bounded in time and space, with the Master, indeed the Creator of all that is, was, or will ever be.
I mention these things because if we look at Psalm 45 aside from its status as Scripture, we see the same sorts of things at work that we find in many great works of literature. Humans, for centuries, have used literature, art crafted not in marble or paint but in words, to convey the subtleties of human understanding. These authors have been Christians, Buddhists, pagans, and atheists. They have worked in genres such as poetry, fiction, and drama. They have inspired and provoked readers across the ages. Their work, ultimately, explores the constant quest of all thinking people to understand the question: What does it mean to be human?
In these postings, I do not hope to answer that question. That question, of course, cannot truly be answered. It can simply be asked. In fact, I would suggest that part of what it means to be fully human is to ask that question, to seek for an answer. As a Christian, I claim to hold an answer to the question of human meaning. However, I don’t believe that Christians should consider the answer that they have in Christ to be an all-encompassing answer. It is a permanent answer and a most reassuring one, but it does not explain everything. What it does is provide the Christian with the liberty and assurance to not require absolute answers on absolutely everything.
What you will find as I post in coming days is a series of Christian readings of various literary texts. Whether I’m reading someone relatively obscure or a household name, overtly Christian texts or defiantly anti-Christian ones, I will share my thoughts and analyses, hopefully providing other Christian students of literature with fresh ideas and approaches.