Theology Is Not Tidy

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Lines 195-98

The naked hulk alongside came,
And the twain were casting dice;
“The game is done! I’ve won! I’ve won!”
Quoth she, and whistles thrice

Religion has always been victimized by dualism because it’s easy to understand.  The simple mind quickly aligns with a framework of right and wrong, black and white, or good and evil.  We intuitively know this is wrong because it doesn’t even work on a human scale.  The rule of law is excellent for civil governance, but matters of the heart are ruled by love and grace.  If God is love, then He isn’t tidy.

As Malcolm Guite writes in Chapter Eight of Mariner:

The Polar Spirit, who loves the bird, the albatross who loves the mariner, the two voices of the good “dæmons” whom we meet later and who discuss his fate and its meaning, the “guardian saint in heaven,” and the troop of angels whom the spirit sends, are all moral agents. Even though they sometimes represent opposing judgments or views, they all work together for the mariner’s redemption, restoring the balance of love and beauty against which he has offended, and enabling him in turn to kindle and enable love in others and to bring them, including the wedding guest (and so, by implication, the reader— for he is our proxy) to a place of redemption and renewal.

How Can all things work together for good?






Rick Wilcox is Editor in Chief


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Rick Wilcox

Editor in Chief | Literary Life