Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Danger of Being Materialists

(Orthodoxy ought to
Bless our modern plumbing:
Swift and St. Augustine
Lived in centuries
When a stench of sewage
Ever in the nostrils
Made a strong debating
Point for Manichees).
W.H. Auden, from "Geography of a House,"

The really remarkable thing about this poem is that it really is all about excrement.  Several stanzas, deeply reflecting on humanity and our waste.  Frankly, I'm more than a little glad he wrote it.  To defend the goodness of materiality is easy until we deal with the frank protests of pungent odors and unsightly matter.  After all, isn't this the scandal of the Incarnation?

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