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

    Tuesday, May 13, 2008
    Get Carter
     
    I premiered a rough-edged version of my Get Carter talk today. Not so much a talk as a radio presenter-style session highlighting many of Sydney Carter's spoken word poems and pieces of music. What wealth we found there. I used the central verse of his poem Interview as the basis of the presentation:

    So what do you believe in?
    Nothing fixed or final,
    all the while I
    travel a miracle. I doubt,
    and yet
    I walk upon the water.
    Our little group learned a great deal about Carter today: a writer with great empathy and compassion for others, a deep sense of mystery and a search for companionship on life's challenging journey. A persuasive, creative critic of the powers which crush the spirit and trample the poor, but no cynic. A jester without a court, dancing on the edge. Astonishing he's so neglected these days, he has so much to say and all in a wonderful life-affirming way.

    As Nicholas Williams noted in his Sydney Carter obituary, Carter's creed 'lay in the question mark, often of a Zen-like paradox'. In 1974, Sydney Carter wrote:
    Faith is more basic than language or theology. Faith is the response to something which is calling us from the timeless part of our reality. Faith may be encouraged by what has happened in the past, or what is thought to have happened in the past, but the only proof of it is in the future. Scriptures and creeds may come to seem incredible, but faith will still go dancing on. Even though (because it rejects a doctrine) it is now described as "doubt". This, I believe, is the kind of faith that Christ commended.
    My Get Carter talk notes / playlist here [PDF, 200KB]

    Music Sources
    Franciscus Henri: Nothing Fixed or Final, FHP Records 2005
    Various artists: Lovely in the Dances: Songs of Sydney Carter, Osmosys 1998
    Various artists: Sydney Carter's Lord of the Dance, Stainer and Bell 1998
    Chris Wood, Trespasser, RUF Records 2007

    Publications
    Sydney Carter: Green Print for Song, Galliard / Stainer and Bell 1974
    Sydney Carter: Rock of Doubt, Continuum 1978
    Sydney Carter: Sydney Carter's Lord of the Dance and other songs and poems, Stainer and Bell 2006
    Sydney Carter: The Two-Way Clock, Poems, Stainer and Bell 2000