Thursday, July 31, 2008


by Emily Dickinson

He preached upon "Breadth" till it argued him narrow-
The Broad are too broad to define
And of "Truth" until it proclaimed him a Liar-
The Truth never flaunted[1] a Sign-

Simplicity fled from his counterfeit presence
As Gold the Pyrites[2] would shun-
What confusion would cover the innocent Jesus
To meet so enabled a Man!

I think Miss Dickinson must have written this poem upon returning home from her Congregation Church in Amherst, and perhaps after listening to a visiting preacher. It's a reminder to all of us to keep things simple--not simpler than they are, but as simple as they can possibly be.

Her observation reminded me of a story I heard in my student days.

It seems that a young man arrived at the gate of heaven and was asked by Saint Peter who Jesus was. The man answered, "He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God." "Well said." Peter replied. "Enter into his rest."

Later, German theologian Paul Tillich arrived at the gate and was asked the same question. "Ah, who is Jesus," he reflected. "Theologically, he is the ground of all being; eschatologically, he is the ground of all hope; existentially, he is the ground of the divine-human encounter."

To which Peter replied, "Huh?"

Doublehaul Dave

[1] "flaunted": to display something ostentatiously
[2] "Pyrites": fools gold

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