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Eshuneutics

Where exactly is the Christian element in Mental Fight? The title, from Blake's anti-religious work, "Milton", places the poem within a prophetic rather than Christian context. The poem talks of "astonishing the gods", not God, and exists in a spiritual framework outside the Kingdom of Heaven. You are correct to identify the visionary quality of Mental Fight, but I would question your interpretation.

ben

Eshuneutics,
Thanks for you comment. I agree with you that this work is neither specifically or intended to be branded as 'Christian'. I do however think that as with all art forms, we are invited to interact with its content. Whilst this text is clearly not written as a 'Christian text' it does resonate with a number of aspects of what I discern to be Kingdom of God themes -themes of Justice and liberation, essentially 'anti slavery'. Whilst these themes aren't exclusively Christian they are at the heart of the Christian gospel and serve as a constant challenge to the global church as well as all the worlds powers and governments.

Eshuneutics

An interesting set of observations. I value your insights and recognise that a text can be open to different interpretations. "Anti-slavery"? A Christian theme. Well, yes and no...bearing in mind that Christianity sanctioned slavery (especially in America) for a long time. However, I suspect you reply would be that anti-slavery ought to be a Kingdom of God theme, which I could not possibly disagree with. If anything though, Mental Fight, bears quite a condemnation of Christianity (and other religions) in that after 2000 years, according to Okri, civilisation still has not seen "the best" of Christianity. Bearing in mind that Mental Fight is a millenium poem dating from Christianity's birth, this is quite a sharp denunciation by Okri. Interesting that a service at St Paul's, one of the hearts, in way, of Christendom, should appropriate a text in this way. For what purpose? It is somewhat subversive, but then no more subversive than the appropriation of Okri by the leader of South Africa in a world speech, one of the least creative of all world leaders and one most culpable in terms of Mental Fight: a leader noted for his mental blindness towards AIDS and human suffering. Thank you for your interesting post which has given me food for thought. Best wishes.

Stewart

I love Mental Fight. It is a stunning work, the only poem I have ever bought, and I have used it many times in training courses and in worship. In fact I liked it so much I bought 20 copies, one for each of the people who came to one of my workshops! I find it provocative and challenging and, like you Ben, find much that resonates with my thoughts on the subversive nature of the Kingdom. I first heard of it at Greenbelt a few years ago when Okri came to read it and discuss it so he didn't seem to mind Christians chiming with its themes.

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