the Ways of Man to God, and the Ways of God to Man
By John Guzlowski, Poetry Editor, TheScreamOnline
Before 9/11, I didnt think
much about God, and I hadnt thought much about Him for a long, long time.
Oh, of course, I thought about Him on occasion. I thought about Him at Christmas time when
my daughter Lillian was young and shed ask me about who baby Jesus was. And I thought
about God when I got interested in Isaac Bashevis Singer and started writing a series of
articles about him. You can hardly write about Singer without writing about Godbut
there, I was thinking about God in a different sort of way. It was the way I thought about
Him when I taught the great religious writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson and T. S. Eliot and
Fyodor Dostoevsky. God was an idea, a concept, that I was seeing through a lens and trying
to make intellectual and academic sense of.
After 9/11, all that changed. When the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center came down,
I discovered that God was no longer academic. He suddenly became important in my world.
Not in the sense that Ive come to believe what my father believed when he knelt every
night and prayed in the darkness, nor in the sense that I came to believe what the nuns
of St. Francis and the Christian Brothers taught me as I was growing up and attending grammar
school and high school.
God became important in the sense that my world was suddenly touched and continues to be
touched by those who believe in him firmly and absolutely.
They touch my world when they send terrorists here to the United States, and they touch
my world when they send American troops to Iraq to bring Saddam Hussein down; and they touch
my world when they take my students from my classrooms and send them to Afghanistan, or
when they blow up abortion clinics and threaten those they disagree with; and they touch
my world when they argue the centrality of faith in all political and social and cultural
Please dont get me wrong. Im not saying that Americans and terrorists are the
same in any way except this one very important way: many of them are firmly committed to
and acting out of their belief in God.
This simple idea, that good people and bad people can both be acting from a commitment to
a similar impulse, the impulse to act as God wants us to act, has driven much of my poetry
these last few years. Ive been writing poems about God, to try to find and make sense
of this simple idea. I want to understand this as much as Ive ever wanted to understand
When I told a poet friend of mine about this, when I told her I was thinking and writing
about God, she told me something extraordinary. She was too. And she wasnt the only
To the poems