Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




This dissertation is a constructive theological investigation on naming the experience of God as it arises in the context of the encounter with the human other. Recent decades have witnessed an outpouring of theologies centered on the construct of "relationality" and closely affiliated themes such as mutuality and intersubjective union. At the same time, religious thought as informed by continental philosophy has tended more and more toward language of void, impossibility, fragment, and absence. This project surfaces the unique (and in many ways untapped) resources poetic language offers for bringing to light the aporia of concurrent attunement and alienation in inter- and intra-subjective experience, as well as the theological significance of that aporia. A constructive case study method is employed, which analyzes eros in John Donne's love poetry (chapter two), compassion in Simone Weil's letters, essays, and notebooks (chapter three) and contemplation in Book X of Augustine's Confessions (chapter four). Throughout, close attention is paid to the interweaving of form and content in poetic speech, giving rise to a multi-dimensional and participative hermeneutic. In the fifth chapter, Paul Tillich's theology of courage is critically taken up to support the final argument that these three authors name the experience of revelatory relationality by witnessing, materially and formally, to the power of the courage to attune--that is, the courage to risk abiding the aporiae of the self-other relation in spite of the ambiguity and anxiety, the crisis and emergency, intrinsic to this abiding.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.