Padraig O’Tuama describes himself as a “gay catholic theologian” he is also a poet and a troubadour. I was introduced to his work by Peter Rollins and I have spent much of this week enjoying his book of poetry: “Readings from the Book of Exile”. O’Tuama is quite the performer. I suspect that his ability to tell a good story has much to do with his life in Belfast. Like all good storytellers, O’Tuama’s stories have the ability to transfix his listeners and he uses his beguiling powers to challenge theological doctrines and move people to places that a mere lecturer or preacher would be heard pressed to lead them. On the power of story told to him by his mother, O’Tuama opines: “Does it matter if that actually happened? It did happen that she told it to me. Does it matter where it came from? There is an examination of truth that is vulgar. Truth as empirical fact or truth as something that creates a life? I suppose that what I’d like to say that part of the value of story is to create a way to live a life. It is only the most vulgar analysis that depends purely and solely on whether or not the empirical analysis works. There are other measures of success for story.”
A line from one of O’Tuama’s poems insists that, “God is the crack where the story begins. We are the crack where the story gets interesting.” A beautiful Belfast word is “crack”! It can mean anything from “news” to “debauchery”. Some folk use it to mean gossip, music, drinking, fun, party or good times. I remember relatives using it to mean “word”. So what is the crack? In Padraig’s case the WORD dances through the crack! The notion that God is the “good times” where the story begins, that we are the “party” where the story gets interesting is “good news” indeed!
Padraig O’Tuama is one storyteller whose crack I look forward to hearing more of! Enjoy!
Padraig O’Tuama begins at the 4.25 minute mark.