Q Combinations 3: Thomas, Spencer and the Tangible Kingdom
So here’s the 3rd Q Combination. I don’t know how well known these two geniuses are beyond British shores – but they are true 20th Century greats. In their different ways, both articulate a deeply earthy, incarnated spirituality.
Stanley Spencer was an unusual, troubled but inspired painter – badly affected by what he witnessed in the First World War, and yet convinced of reality beyond the visible and tangible. But he conveyed that conviction so often by painting biblical events in his home village of Cookham, in Berkshire. This is a case in point.
R. S. Thomas was a generation younger – but as earthboundedly spiritual. A man of complexity, he was a Church of Wales high-anglican priest who loved the Book of Common Prayer, he wrote as much in Welsh as he did in English, and had strong Welsh nationalist views. Still, I find I return to his words often. Yet another poet I don’t feel I know anything like as much as I should.
I love this kingdom vision of the future – where “the minds fractured by life” will be healed by the kingdom’s industry.
So these two seem to me to sit well together. Both utterly reject the airy-fairy, insipid and wan caricatures of the kingdom coming. Alleluia.