I suppose this little poem is a kind of exhale—an airing on the principal failure, as I see it, of too many churches and Christian organizations. A failure that is obvious when viewed from the outside. Or, from the inside, gradually revealed when one increasingly finds oneself marginalized by questioning a received doctrine, or by resisting the canon of a particular denomination, or by refusing to judge (more often referred to as discerning).
And now I’m thinking of those who have been banished by the keepers of a literal Bible. Or manacled by an applied theodicy, or cast out by a factional theology—a systematic theology that has no respect for poetry or mystery.
I’m thinking of those slyly shunned, by way of a parochial welcome, banned by a sectarian smile.
I’m thinking about the doublebind placed upon gay and lesbian folk; and I’m thinking of our First Nations peoples; and I am thinking about the oppression of women, from ham-fisted patriarchy to the rehearsed articulation of so-called proof texts to the simpering exclusion concealed in jest and joking.
And too, I’m thinking of our unstewarded earth. The justification of exploitation of land and sea through a corrupt and greed-induced reading of the creation story.
But I’m also thinking of all those walking by an ancient love revealed through the intelligence, the innocence and forgiveness of a universal victim. Those walking not under the triumphant and righteous blade of a blazing sun, but by the shadowy light of the morning star. Those holding on and learning a new unity not built on tribal tenets, or derived through the exclusion of another, or shored up by being over-against some other group, but by the gratuitous givenness of a great big love. (And here, I’m thinking of a brother.)
Now, to the exhalation:
Christianism and original sin
What folly to build
a cage from a trellis.
How bizarre to strain out
a droplet of desire,
and drink a lake of piety.
How wretched to follow
the Administration of Light,
instead of listening in the dark.
How abject the bureaucracy of salvation,
the Manual of Approved Conversion,
the Ministry of Decent Behaviour,
the Chamber of Correct Belief,
the approbation of a blinkered Bible.
If there is such a thing as original sin
it is this: to run smack into Love,
and to make out of that dizzy freedom,
a checklist of accepted articles of faith.