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A Poet's First Prose Paragraphs On Noetic Theology


It is through the influence of Victor Frankl that the word 'noetic' has come to me. If Robert C. Leslie's interpretation is correct Frankl understands noetic to mean that which is spiritual but not religiously based. To many, perhaps of orthodox faith, this must appear to be an oxymoron but let me continue. I worked as a chaplain's assistant for my work.stduy job at a large teaching hospital during my seminary years. On a rare Suday off I attended a worship service at a nearby Fellowship of the Unitarian Universalist Association. It was a jazz concert being given as a memorial service for the daughter - who had died - of the musician who was playing. The sense of grief that poured out of the end of that father's saxaphone for his dead daughter is a vivid memory thirty five years later. There was no talk of Jesus or resurrection, and for that matter there was relatively little talk, but it was an unmistakeably spiritual experience that has stuck with me. I am convinced that there is a noetic spirituality that functions in the world for better or for worse.

Here is a second example. The scene is a class room at the State University of New York at Geneseo. The course is comparative literature with Rose Bacham Alent as the instructor. Dr. Alent was once the translator for the American Commander in Berlin. War is the topic under consideration. Viet Nam is hot. She is describing a European war memorial to us. Her look becomes extremely distant and she rattles something off to us in Spanish and French and German. She is reading the words on the memorial and finally she gives us the English translation. Her spirit returns from Europe but all who were in that class, and truly present, went with her in a spiritual sense. Over a decade later Robert C. Leslie building on the wisdom of Victor Frankl helps me to understand this experience. Our class had an experience that was spiritual but it was not religiously based. Rose Alent defeated both time and space as an academic priestess. Perhaps this is only inspired teaching but I suspect there is something more significant and that this is an example of noetic power or spirituality in an academic setting. In fairness to Dr. Alent's memory I am sure she never in her life time saw herself as any sort of priest but this does not detract from the power of a very old memory.

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