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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Monday, December 11, 2006
    The Flesh Made Word and the light of God
    Tonight I wrote 120 Christmas cards whilst listening to that astonishing King Mob recording of two Nick Cave lectures. Whilst licking envelopes and trying to remember babies' names I had enough time to listen twice to his shorter talk, The Flesh Made Word (full text reproduced here). As the contemporary religious world hardens over issues of law, Cave is an incisive and liberating theologian:

    What Christ shows us here is that the creative imagination has the power to combat all enemies, that we are protected by the flow of our own inspiration. Clearly what Jesus most despised, what he really railed against time and time again, were the forces that represented the established order of things, symbolized by the scribes and Pharisees, those dull, small-minded scholars of religious law who dogged his every move. Christ saw them as enemies of the imagination, who actively blocked the spiritual flight of the people, and kept them bogged down with theological nitpicking, intellectualism, and law. What was Christ's great bugbear, and what has sat like dung in the doorway of the Christian church ever since, was the Pharisees' preoccupation with the law in preference to the logos. Said St. Paul to the Corinthians: 'The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.' So how can one be elevated spiritually, if they are loaded up with the chains of religious jurisprudence? How can the imagination be told how to behave? How can inspiration, or for that matter God, be moral?

    The other talk, The Secret Life of the Love Song (48 minutes long, text here), is beautifully poetic and full of that vibrant faith Cave has in a restlessly creative deity:

    We all experience within us what the Portuguese call 'saudade', an inexplicable longing, an unnamed and enigmatic yearning of the soul, and it is this feeling that lives in the realms of imagination and inspiration, and is the breeding ground for the sad song, for the love song. Saudade is the desire to be transported from darkness into light, to be touched by the hand of that which is not of this world. The love song is the light of God, deep down, blasting up though our wounds.