While Re-reading Edwin Muir

Two things which ought not to be together are happening to Tim Keller right now. One is that he’s dying of pancreatic cancer. The second is that he’s getting raked over the coals for a tweet. I don’t disagree with the point at issue in the raking that he’s taking. I do wonder about the moment in which it is done.

I would usually not care, but I also read Keller’s chapter on the essence of marriage this week. I think it is profound. Perhaps what he says is commonplace, but I don’t remember hearing it before. He clearly drank deeply of C.S. Lewis and of many other good things. I wish everything he said were consistent with that chapter.

I don’t know how to account for it. But I can take a warning from it, can’t I? The warning is to beware of departing form the deep sources. I obviously don’t have a way nor at present a reason to find out if this is what Tim Keller has done. Perhaps it was today’s cool, windy sunlight after all the recurring rain that suggested to me the need to return constantly to those deep sources. One needs to return to those fountains no matter what one has assimilated. It is the only way to stay anchored in them. Past nourishment settles into one, but present nourishment can relativize it all.

I regret that Tim Keller is drawing fire on twitter in his last days. He has deserved it though he deserves better, oddly enough. There is something about the situation that perhaps Edwin Muir could have made use of. When I read Muir, I have the sense of understanding something profound while at the same time missing most of what is going on.

It is probably because in Muir you have a man who was in constant contact with some very deep sources. And it makes me think that there is no time in life in which we can be distant from the deeps, if deep is going to call to anything in us. You cannot be like them and be distant.

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