Academic journal article The Hymn

Within the Maddening Maze

Academic journal article The Hymn

Within the Maddening Maze

Article excerpt

Within the maddening maze by John Core. Colfax, North Carolina: Wayne Leupold Editions, 2010. 69 pp. ISBN 978-1-881162-39-1. US $15.00.

In the preface to this collection, Core invokes the words of Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier, who in "The eternal goodness" (1867) steadfastly proclaimed that "God is good!" even within "the maddening maze of things." Core acknowledges the contemporary hymnwriter's responsibility and challenge to articulate a faith lived out within a world afflicted by wars, natural disasters, the ever-underlying threat of terrorism, and, in Core's own words, "the stridency that has become an everyday substitute for the voice of reason in the marketplace of human ideas." Core seeks to explore these challenges and contradictions, and it is indeed a reasoned voice of faith which speaks out from this collection of texts. Though acknowledging the "ellipsis of uncertainty" brought on by our contemporary circumstances, this collection illustrates a God who is ever-present in our worldly struggles, both now and throughout salvation history.

Core's probing collection explores an authentic twenty-first century faith grounded in the biblical narrative and the Christian year. He focuses particularly on topics such as justice, social service, temptation, endurance, trust, and the presence of God. He does not shrink from naming the injustices of our modern world or from acknowledging humanity's part in the commission of these injustices (as in "Christ walks the busy street"). His text "As a scrub-tree in the wastes," modeled on Jeremiah 17:5-10, evokes the barrenness of the wilderness while calling on the nurture and redemption of God; it reads like a modern answer to Georg Neumark's "If thou but suffer God to guide thee."

Core's use of language is artful and sophisticated, but at the same time deft and transparent. He makes use of the poetic possibilities at his disposal while maintaining a very singable style. …

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