Theology, Liturgy, Poetry and Prose

An interesting quote from The Cloister Walk:

The liturgical scholar Gail Ramshaw makes a valuable distinction between theology and liturgy: theology is prose, she says, but liturgy is poetry. “If faith is about facts,” she writes, “then we line up the children and make them memorize questions and answers…But if we are dealing with poetry instead of prose…then we do not teach answers to questions. We memorize not answers but the chants of the ordinary; we explain liturgical action…we immerse people in worship so that they, too, become part of the metaphoric exchange.”

Interesting thoughts. The evangelical tradition of Christianity in which I’ve spent the majority of my life seems to revolve first around believing certain tenets, and second around convincing other people to do the same. There’s often little room for beauty, gentleness, and patient loving and understanding left there, though those virtues are espoused in the Bible quite strongly. Balancing this prose of belief with the poetry of practice in the form of liturgy, participation in what Lewis calls “The Great Dance”, seems a much richer and more complete approach to faith.