A Healing Experience
At the end of the fall quarter, I was inspired to do two things: to continue my study of Paul Tillich's theology, and to write poetry. These two rather diverse interests were drawn together in several ways. For throughout his long career as a philosopher and theologian, Tillich often described the need for communication between the church and its environment in secular culture. As early as 1919, Tillich wrote of the relationship between religion and culture, speaking of a point when the artist might play the role of the priest. Beginning with the premise that the poet is, or may be, an artist, I looked forward to exploring Tillich's perception of the artist's role within the church-culture relationship. Yet the concept of "artist-priest" hinted at something of perhaps greater magnitude, with respect to Tillich's theology, than the church-culture relationship. For if the artist can function as a priest, what then is the function of the Christ? My interest in Tillich's soteriology was quickened by this question and others as I sought a deeper understanding of this truly exciting theologian and his work. Finally, these various ideas seemed to fall together under the general topic of healing. Tillich speaks of salvation in terms of healing; my bias toward a confessional mode of poetry implies healing in the form of catharsis; and finally, the communication of any artist can be a healing event in its function of bridging gaps. By experiencing a work of art, people once divided by time, space, and cultural or faith perspectives can be brought together in a moment of mutual participation.