THEOLOGY


 
My sympathies are with the Biblical underdogs.
 
When Lot dragged his family off after God’s
uncertain, terrifying angel, understandably
his wife’s thoughts were of the rose-red and honey gold
towers of the only home she’d known,
the kitchen where she baked bread, the well
in the square where, singing her mother’s songs, she drew 
sweet and limpid water, the bed where she conceived
and bore her husband’s children.
                                                             She did
a very human thing, such supposedly as we
do, in the image of God, and looked back:
immediately her eyes were burned out as if
she had tried to outstare the sun, her feet
grew mineral roots into the barren rocks
of the road to Zoar and her flesh crystalised to salt.
The Bible never seems to pay her any mind,
but her daughters would have mourned the loss, 
perhaps explaining all the fucked-up stuff to come.
There is a certain courage in sacrificing
everything for one last glance of home.
 
And what of Job?
 
The All-Father for the sake of a bet with the Adversary
and what looks suspiciously like arrogance
allows Satan to inflict the most horrible tragedies
on His most faithful servant, just to prove a point,
takes his wealth, kills off his wife, his children and servants,
inflicts him with boils, all to answer the question,
"Why do the righteous suffer?"
which God from his whirlwind offers very little
in the way of an answer.
                                             Yes I realise there are complex
theological explanations, but to the man in the street
they’re bunk and God comes off looking like a capricious
toddler-cum-omnipotent Caligula.
 
The Prodigal Son’s elder brother, the dutiful
one, like Dante in the midpoint wood of life,
of glass ceilings and B-team mediocrity,
of mid-career minor successes that leave
a bitter doubt that it’s all fraud, steadfast,
dependable as death and taxes, and yet
when the bad penny returned, 
the rubber cheque bounced,
out came the good champagne 
(imported, not domestic).
His only consuming desire was to be as loved
as the thief-flaunt-roué-pander-
con artist-parasite-hustler younger brother,
so he did what any sensible person would:
raided the family silver 
(his by right when his father died),
his dead mother’s pearls, 
cracked open his father’s safe
and with the sounds of the party trailing him like a cloak,
he headed off in the dark in the general direction
of a sordid port he had recently heard tales of,
full to the gunwales with brothels and bars.

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