Following earlier posts on poet laureate Andrew Motion and his observations on the need for young people to learn the biblical narrative, there is a wonderful interview with him in the April 2009 edition of Third Way. Andrew Rumsey conducted a model interview: brief questions that steered Motion and allowed him to speak and ruminate for himself without the interviewer intruding.
Motion says, ‘I don’t believe in God – though I wish I did and I can’t stop thinking about it.’ What follows is an illuminating and reflective conversation in which the poet speaks about words, poetry, life, literature, God, the church and so on. I quote just one further bit to whet the appetite – the interview needs to be read as a whole. Picking up on the theme of the need to understand the ancient texts if one is to understand art and literature and our own culture (how we got to where we are), he says:
‘I was saying this from a specifically non-believer’s point of view. I just think it’s appalling to contemplate a future society in which these things aren’t being enjoyed. And that’s the place to start, because they give such pleasure. And then on that basis you build a differently important point about how our understanding of ourselves in the present will not be anything near what it should be unless our doors to the past are open. If you forget all this stuff, or never had it taught to you, those doors warp tight shut.
Life shrinks. You go into the National Gallery or you pick up any book written before, well, yesterday and if you don’t know all the stuff that’s being echoed, alluded to, rephrased, parodied, bounced off, deepened – shallowed, sometimes – your experience is going to be enormously diminished.’