Category Archives: student helps

“The Way My Ideas Think Me:” An Explanation

The Way My Ideas Think Me (Jose Garcia Villa) is a playful and familiar (as opposed to formal in a religious sense) poem that may mask the seriousness of the subject matter.  The first stanza presents a difficulty, a problem, the tension.  The second stanza is fun, as if the author is in a playland; the third stanza flows from it – though something is getting serious enough for the author to become angry.  The fourth stanza presents action to relieve the earlier presented—and the building—tension.   Some specifics are below each stanza (these are my current and concise thoughts on the poem, without influence from other literary critics).

The way my ideas think me

Is the way I unthink God.

As in the name of heaven I make hell

That is the way the Lord says me.

This stanza, and poem, would be easier if the author seemed to be saying that he makes his own life hell, but he says he makes hell “in the name of heaven.”  How would you be making your own life hell “in the name of heaven”?  When we do something in someone else’s name, it’s outward – in witness, in action with someone or something else.  The author, then, seems to be saying that his ideas are contrary to God – he “unthinks” God with his incorrect notions of God and His will – and he witnesses or puts into action those incorrect notions.  These actions can push people toward hell more than toward God; they can make life worse for everyone involved instead of better.  The author hears from God, however, letting him know of his false and detrimental ways.

And all is adventure and danger

And I roll Him off cliffs and mountains

But fast as I am to push Him off

Fast am I to reach Him below.

But now we have this fun stuff.  Well, is making hell in the name of heaven serious, or not?  The life of the Christian can certainly seem like a dangerous adventure, and I think the author is simply stating this in attractive terms so that we’ll pay attention.  He isn’t talking missions trips, however.  Maybe the author thinks it’s challenging and maybe a bit fun to see how far he can go with God – how much “on the edge” activities he can do (sinning or border-line behavior)—without losing Him.  After all, he pushes God away.  The author is “on top” or up high, and he pushes God down.  However, he doesn’t actually want to get rid of God, but quickly reaches back to Him.

And it may be then His turn to push me off,

I wait breathless for that terrible second:

And if He push me not, I turn around in anger:

“O art thou the God I would have!”

The author recognizes his behavior and wants acknowledgment from God – that He’s around and that He’s going to give guidance – also that He has the righteous authority to do so.  If He isn’t such a God, what’s the point?  What is the point of life without a God who is good, moral, has authority in these matters, and has the ultimate capacity to teach, guide and judge?  If you keep on going down the wrong road, would you rather God left you alone, or that He intervened – as a loving parent would?  The author recognizes that there should be consequences to our actions – he waits for God to push him off the mountain.

Then he pushes me and I plunge down, down!

And when He comes to help me up

I put my arms around Him, saying, “Brother,

Brother.” . . . This is the way we are.

God is there for the author–he’s not alone.  God pushes him off the high place (perhaps that he made for himself), but afterwards God also extends His hand and gets the author back up on his feet.  He is so glad to have such a friend, such a God.  With all his foibles and human delusions (like thinking we can do stuff on our own and be our own king of the mountain) he can still depend on his Lord, and even delight in him as “brother.”  And who is our “brother” but the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us to be adopted into God’s family?  We can sin and make mistakes, but Jesus will never leave us if we continue to seek Him.

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