Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

God’s Silence challenges and reaffirms the Christian epistemology of suffering until that “silence” ultimately booms with God’s authority, mercy, and beauty. That work begins with the book’s first poem, “East Boston, 1996,” an unforgettable, evocative six-page, two-part narrative poem about the profuse and pervasive suffering of its speaker. Specifically, the speaker depicts his isolation, despair, and sickness across a span of thirty-five relentless years, until he finally realizes his heart to be the greatest of divine gifts because it can suffer. The speaker comes to understand that his ability to suffer is what allows him to receive God’s love and forgiveness, and he thereupon embraces that suffering and its battering of his wearied but indomitable heart.

Throughout the rest of the book, Wright then labors to explore his faith in suffering, however traumatic such work might be for him as a poet. Therein the key Christian notions of sacrifice and penance arise through metacritical considerations of God’s Silence as the book’s poems represent self-abandonment in pursuit of spiritual truth and in service to God. A pertinent analog from the Bible would be a passage like Mark 14:24, where Jesus espouses that he will shed his blood for the benefit of humankind. Wright’s commitment to that idea—his willingness to endure torment for salvation—seemingly grants him the strength and courage to immerse himself in life’s suffering for these poems, whether they comprise excruciating personal memories or courageous, terrified wondering. Furthermore, that spiritual selflessness emanates from the poetry with sonic force until it suffuses the mind of the reader.

No poem is a more compelling example of this than “The Hawk,” a two-page, first-person narrative containing the complete spectrum of Catholic concerns in God’s Silence. Besides exemplifying Wright’s understanding of such fundamental concepts as agape, temptation, suffering, sacrifice, and redemption, “The Hawk” is an intimate exhortation of the reader to realize himself an emissary of God’s will. The poem defines that will as love and charges the reader with propagating it on earth, which is yet another fundamental Christian concept in this religiously vigorous book.