(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)
I knew back when I wrote this poem that it would be difficult to explain. Let me try to simplify….
There are many things in the Christian faith that I currently feel driven to explore and understand on my own… just me, the Greek or Hebrew, several good translations, and the Holy Spirit. That is, perforce, a lonely task. It requires a shedding and distancing that feels like alienation.
But it also feels like faithfulness. And more than one wise friend has assured me that this is where I need to be.
In my poetry, I like to twist words so as to wring out meanings I didn’t initially notice. That’s what was happening with the word “unbecoming.” The process I mentioned above is one of undoing an old status and creating a new status. In the process of becoming a person who has honestly arrived at convictions, I must “unbecome” the person who complacently mouths the convictions others have arrived at.
So far, so good. But the usual meaning of “unbecoming” is something even more negative, like “unseemly” or “inappropriate.” While more than one friend has affirmed me in my harmless form of deconstruction, more than one other person has asked me questions, or given me a look that suggests “this is unseemly.” That’s understandable. When someone purges his cache of unconsidered “conclusions,” and closes his ears to the insistent voice of convention, it must look like arrogance, verging on heresy. It’s almost as bad as not wearing green on Saint Patrick’s Day, or not cheering at the high school pep rally.* You’re suddenly an outsider, a persona non grata. And so, once again, this unbecoming is a lonely task.
By the way, there are still parts of this poem that I can only feel, but not explain.
*Forgive the sarcasm