Waiting on the Word: A Reflective Symposium

Our current inability to contemplate the breadth and depth of any social, political or theological issue is the result of our perceived necessity for constant entertainment. One need only to descend into the rabbit hole of Twitter to locate the place where constructive, fruitful and thoughtful dialogue goes to die a slow and painful death at the hands of a myopic mob of simplistic, sophomoric tweets that should probably remain in the author’s head or be reserved for a journal entry before bedtime.

Moreover, on any social media platform or news site, the latest innocuous headlines saturate our newsfeed on a daily basis, only to be relegated to the metaphorical dustbin and to be completely forgotten a few days later. Look at any news story from a month ago and you will realise that no one seems to care about it anymore, despite a plethora of hyperbolic, Chicken-Little prophecies or overreaching correctives that become the literary currency for armchair politicians and theologians. Once the objective of personal or ideological damage is rendered, its usefulness is discarded, along with our erratic attention.

Perhaps there is no time of year that accentuates this human propensity for distraction more than the sights and sounds of Christmas. The hustle and bustle of concerts, social gatherings and travel creates a flurry of commotion and traditional observances that tend to obscure the deeper meaning of faith, family and friends. As C. S. Lewis pointed out, we are like a dog who keeps looking at the finger, rather than the indicated object to which it is pointing. We see the facts, but miss the meaning. [1]

During the next six weeks, Transpositions will be featuring brief interactions with Malcolm Guite’s poetic anthology, Waiting on the Word: A Poem a day for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany (Canterbury Press, 2015). [2] We agree that to do theology well, poets must be brought into conversation with theologians and that we should listen carefully to what they have to say. [3]

We have chosen a small selection of poems from this collection in which various contributors will engage with both the poem itself and with Malcolm’s insightful reflections on it. As stated in the Introduction, one aim of this anthology is ‘to help us restore that quietness, that inner peace, that willingness to wait unfulfilled in the dark, in the midst of a season that conspires to do nothing but fling bling and tinsel us right through December.’ [4]

It is our hope that these contributions will honor our friend, Malcolm Guite, and encourage our readers to pause and reflect deeply upon Advent and the true meaning of Christmas. May we all look contemplatively past the radiance of colourful lights and the resounding noise of carols to encounter the transcendent, timeless and luminous gift that became incarnate during a dark and silent night.


[1] See C. S. Lewis, ‘Transposition,’ in C.S. Lewis Essay Collection: Faith, Christianity and the Church, ed. Lesley Walmsley (London: HarperCollins Publishers, 2002), 277-78.
[2] We encourage our readers to purchase Waiting on the Word, either to follow along with our selected reflections or for daily reading in the years to come.  A copy may be purchased either here or here.
[3] Malcolm Guite, Waiting on the Word: A Poem a Day for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2015), xi.
[4] Ibid.



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