“God has been sending you love letters
since the day you were born”
In his poetry book titled Love, God, published February 26th, Angrand interweaves dark realities of pain and inner conflict with stirring self-realizations as he grapples with his identity and purpose. During an interview with Her Campus UPenn, the 26–year–old discussed his worldview and the ways in which he utilizes his relationship with science and religion to embrace diverse perspectives. His poems point to the importance of turning inward in order to maintain a balanced and humble mind.
Rediscovering Purpose and Strength
Angrand’s inspiration for Love, God stems from deep self-reflection during a period of global isolation.
In 2020, “moving into March, April, and into the summer…[I was] addressing a lot of the confusion about what it looks like to be a real Christian,” Angrand said. “A lot of [my] poetry connects to many of the social issues we still face today.” The Penn graduate explained that his initial intention with Love, God was to apply his Christian worldview to address popular questions we often ask about ourselves, including our self-identity and purpose in the world.
An important aspect of identity that stands out to him is thinking and acting with humility, because this enables him to develop an appreciation for diverse perspectives. Especially during times of crisis and uncertainty, humility is an exceptional character strength to have, and it’s “essential to combating social issues” because it “allows people to put the interests of others before their own,” as Lauren Melendez, wrote for the Daily Pennsylvanian.
Beyond his faith, which serves as the foundation and consistent thread through his work, what keeps Angrand grounded is his community. Unfortunately, like many of us, he experienced solemnity and uncertainty as he saw that sense of community diminish because of the pandemic. However, Angrand noted that this actually opened up his life towards more opportunities for engaging with himself.
“I put myself in the position to ask, ‘What is my 1:1 relationship with God?’ And so I think a lot of my self-awareness came from that. And then, how do I respond to things like police brutality and how do I maintain a balance between rage and peace?” He elaborated on the inner conflict he felt as our society grappled with tremendous losses in the Black community.
“I should feel rage, and anger, but the Christian part of me is saying I should still love and embrace everybody,” Angrand said. “In a very realistic and tangible way, how can I love those who don’t love us back?”
Angrand went on to connect these feelings back to humility. This is the key value that Love, God speaks on—it suggests humility as a cure to the epidemics of hatred and violence. “It’s really an accurate understanding of your role in society. Once we put ourselves away, and we think about what’s in the best interest of others, that allows us to make tough decisions about the actual solution,” Angrand said. “Maybe it will open our minds to not only one or two solutions, but a diversity of perspectives and answers.”
Embracing Diverse Worldviews
Angrand exemplifies his open-mindedness through his work as a STEM Learning Specialist. His Christian worldview doesn’t conflict with his thought processes; instead, it lets him integrate science and religion. “Science is about observations and the study of the natural world, and a lot of what we’re doing as scientists is asking ourselves, What are the intricacies, designs, and principles that govern this world?” Angrand explained.
The poet approaches science as something that can help explain religious theories and concepts through natural observations. Integrating the two fields is a fascinating take, one that allows him to use his scientific learning to further understand his religious values.
“I think a lot about humanity’s relationship with the environment, and when it comes to creation and evolution, that relationship is the focal point of this dichotomy between science and religion for me,” he continued. “Both of them facilitate the way I look at the world.”
At the end of the day, Love, God is a book for the Christian community. Nevertheless, Angrand hopes his appreciation for diverse perspectives can demonstrate that his work can be for people from other religions as well. “It’s about how I can appreciate what’s valuable in a different belief system, while staying grounded to what’s valuable in my own system,” Angrand said. “I don’t think you have to be Christian to understand what I’m trying to convey. There are ideas about taking care of other people, and having a responsible relationship with our environment.”
Angrand hopes many different communities find his messages to be meaningful and relatable.
Letters To Be Sent
Angrand concluded our interview by sharing advice: Spend a fair amount of time developing a keen sense of self-awareness, “because when you’re self-aware and you’re grounded, you can step into spaces that you’re not familiar with. In my case, you can write about things you don’t necessarily have a direct relationship with. You can dig into diverse things and pull out experiences that you haven’t lived yourself. Self-awareness can allow you to branch out the way you need to, and engage the world in a way you need to,” he said.
Through his words, Angrand explains how we can develop intimate connections with ourselves, with God, and within our communities. Ultimately, Love, God reflects not only Angrand’s journey, but also the diverse realizations of multiple people’s journeys through learning how to think, love, and to be.
Stay connected with Angrand’s work here.