We spotted Dappled Things contributor Micah Mattix reviewing Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters On God, and critiquing his individualized, humanist take on Christianity:
In this second letter, written in 1922 in the guise of a factory worker and addressed to the deceased poet Emile Verhaeren, Rilke asks: “Who is this Christ that is meddling in everything?” For Rilke, Christ is holy to the extent that he embraced death and, therefore, life. He is an example of a life fully lived. “I cannot believe,” the poet writes, “that the cross was meant to remain; rather, it was to mark the crossroads.” People who worship Christ, Rilke writes, are “like dogs that do not comprehend the meaning of an index finger and think they have to snap at the hand.”
Still, whatever Rilke’s lack of orthodoxy, “The Birth of Christ” (included in the Sophia Institute Press anthology O Holy Night) is one of the loveliest of Christmas poems.