Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

The dominant Christian themes in Apocalypse, and Other Poems are resurrection, renunciation, love, and justice. Most often these themes are approached through indirection, whether in the form of historical commentary, social allegory, or political vision. Regardless, Cardenal’s Christian ethic never falters. Instead his belief in God’s love prevails over multifarious challenges.

Furthermore, through lyrical, vernacular poems, the book enacts Cardenal’s unique Christian-Marxism, which aims to cultivate sociopolitical awareness through a revolutionary form of Pauline Christianity fusing liberation theology with social justice. To understand this, one must understand Cardenal’s belief in the practice of Marxism as equivalent to the practice of Christianity. Thus, to create a Marxist economy for Nicaragua would be to create a Christian utopia for Nicaraguans. This is evident throughout the book, whether Cardenal is joyously rewriting a biblical Psalm or hauntingly prophesying the Apocalypse.

Likewise, one must recognize Cardenal’s belief in the Resurrection. That belief never abandons him, however terrifying his portrayals of a world despoiled by misbehavior (both political and personal). God’s love always circumscribes human life, and always his love is posited as salvific and indomitable. Thus the work of the poems is the work of readying oneself for God.

Similarly essential to the book is an Augustinian notion of sin as a form of absence. For example, the cardinal sin of avarice is frequently portrayed as the absence of Christian morality from the political domain. Nevertheless, implicit in such absence is its potential refilling: through devotion to God in thought and deed. Thus the book becomes a means for healing the damaged world by redressing the injustices among people, cultures, and countries.