Welcome to Tell It Slant
One day in an American lit class at Pfeiffer College (now University), I heard Dr. J. Griffin Campbell read an Emily Dickinson poem that begins with this line: “Tell all the truth but tell it slant —”
The poem made such an impression that almost 50 years later it came back to me as I was listening to Noel Paul Stookey’s solo music, in which I recognized a reticence to speak about God in traditional ways and a choice to “tell it slant.” Remembering Dickinson’s poem reminded me of my own choice to major in English rather than religion because I trusted the mystical knowledge of particular poets to teach me something of the Divine. This wasn’t a decision to ignore the Hebrew and Christian scripture but recognition that God shows up in so-called secular places and speaks through the voices of poets, songwriters, novelists, and many other kinds of artists.
Long story short, I eventually went to seminary and was ordained in the United Methodist Church. After retirement from ministerial appointments, I continue be a writer who sees connections between faith and the arts. I still believe that telling the truth slant has an important role in the spiritual formation of those who seek to live out their faith through acts of compassion and justice.
My postings on this site will often be about the ways faith, culture, and justice connect and will often be based on the background reading and reflection that fuel my other projects. Chief among them is a book that I’m writing with Noel Paul Stookey—the “Paul” of Peter, Paul, and Mary—about his solo music, faith journey, and social activism.
Jeanne Torrence Finley, January 2018
Photo by Bill Finley