in these next couple of meditations i wanted to comment on plato’s republic. the first is on a claim that is rather quite disturbing to my conemporary mind, and the second is a psychological claim that i think has further implications for theology.
“is it, then, only the poets that we must supervise and compel to embody in their poems the semblance of the good character or else not write poetry among us.”
why is it that we are so afraid of poets? why do they often make us uncomfortable? In another dialogue (the ion), plato/socrates reaches the conclusion that poets are divinely inspired by the muses. poets are vessels for the gods to impart truth and knowledge. but it is not only the poets that are inspired, the intepreter and the audience are also inspired by the muses. so why in plato’s ideal society, would he want to, in contemporary terms, censor the vessels of divine “revelation,” the bearers of truth, or the prophets.
societies and religious groups like to silence prophets while they are walking about on this earth. often prophets do not come from the established elite. they don’t say or do things that would be considered the norm. but we are comfortable with the norm. we like to think that our accepted teachings and morals are the truth. when a poet/prophet challenges us to look beyond ourselves for the truth, we fidget and squirm and do everything possible to shut them up.
it is only after we have banished, hurt or killed the poet/prophet that we realize we were wrong.
and so i offer this challenge to christendom. stop being so arrogant and let the poet/prophets into our presence. let them reveal truth that gets beyond our social constructs that we deem holy and righteous.