The poet Christian Wiman has written a careful, probing, and spiritual account of hisrare, incurable and unpredictable cancer. Wilman’s point of view is that of the modern day believer, an rare being in today’s literature. “Drawing on his position as someone facing a diminished life span, Wiman mounts a welcome, insightful and bracing assault on both the complacent pieties of many Christians and the thoughtless bigotry of intellectuals who regard Christian faith as suitable only for idiots or fools.” During his journey through illness, Wiman encounters both the liberal priest embarrassed to mention Jesus and the secularist who reduces the spiritual impulse to brain chemicals.
What’s the Big Idea?
To the secularist, Wiman responds: “To admit that there may be some psychological need informing your return to faith does not preclude or diminish the spiritual imperative, any more than acknowledging the chemical aspects of sexual attraction lessens the mystery of enduring human love.” Ultimately, Wiman sees a duality to the concepts around which our lives evolve, from freedom to love: they are human, because we experience them in human terms, and they are sacred in their profundity. “I believe that Christ is the seam soldering together these wholes,” writes Wiman, “that our half vision—and our entire clock-bound, logic-locked way of life—shapes as polarities.”