In honor of my friend Nelda Kerr, who is getting ready to launch her thesis art show tomorrow, entitled “A Loose Canon,” I thought that I would develop a list of the texts (music, books, movies, etc.) that have worked their way into my own personal canon. Although the 66 books of the Bible (give or take a few apocryphal texts, depending on your bend) are often considered to compose the entire canon, I think this means that we sometimes miss the glimpses of the sacred that are available from other sources, as well.
So, in the spirit of troubling the edges of a closed canon, I offer my top 5 “sacred” texts beyond the Bible and if you are in SoCal or anywhere near, visit Claremont School of Theology tomorrow for live music and the big reveal of Nelda’s awesome art show:
#5 – Rain, Song by Patty Griffin
“It’s hard to listen to a hard, hard heart
Beating close to mine.
Pounding up against the stone and steel
walls that I won’t climb.
Sometimes a hurt is so deep, deep, deep
you think that you’re gonna drown.
Sometimes all I can do is weep, weep, weep
with all this rain, falling down.
Strange how hard it rains now
Rows and rows of big dark clouds
When I’m holding on underneath this shroud:
#4 – The Nonviolent Atonement, by J. Denny Weaver
“These considerations point to the need for a theology that takes seriously Jesus and his work but renders much more difficult the accommodation of violence so evident in the theology of Christendom. This book offers narrative Christus Victor as such an approach to atonement…one that emerges directly from the New Testament’s narrative, but does not pass through the violence-accommodating formulas and motifs of traditional theology…”
#3 – Life Abundant, by Sallie McFague
“Revelation, as I now see it, is God’s loving self-disclosure, and that is what I have experienced. I am meeting God and God is love. How outrageous as well as platitudinous that sounds! I can scarcely believe I am writing it, let alone intending to publish it. Why am I doing so? Simply because it is true; it is what has happened, is happening, to me.”
#2 – Proverbs of Ashes, By Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Parker
“Those who cannot grieve fail to recognize when life is at risk. Mourning strengthens our ability to choose life and protect it, even as the pain of grief threatens to destroy us. Those who mourn experience the mystery of a presence that is not wholly lost, that accompanies the living with a tenderness and power that alters their lives. The world changes. The surface mask thins, life becomes luminous with fire. The heart expands its breadth. Love is as strong as death.”
#1 – Wild Geese, Poem by Mary Oliver
“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.”
What texts would you add to your personal canon? What texts have shaped the ways you view the Divine?