These men

These men, leaders among their people,
strut their masculine importance
as they confidently command the teacher’s attention.
They put forward their testing question;
it has a decided hint of misogyny,
and more than a suggestion of male power.
Is it OK for a man to remarry
after discarding his woman?
Is it OK to use and abuse,
to beat and mistreat,
and to replace with a younger model,
the old one, when she has become worn and tired?

Your hearts are hard, impervious,
he tells them,
shaped by millennia of patriarchy and law.
But no, it isn’t right
for a man to do so;
nor a woman, for that matter.
Your partnerings are from God.
Your intimate comings together, too,
are precious gifts;
celebrate their blessings
and allow them to flourish.

 

© Ken Rookes 2015

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Whoever is not against us is for us.

Jesus, the gospel-writers tell us,
was an all-in-together
type of person. Welcoming,
including, overlooking,
forgiving. Sharing bread,
drinking wine,
laughing, and enjoying the company
of his friends.

His followers, it has to be said,
have found this aspect of his personality
a little challenging.

His splendid work of gathering and embracing
was translated through the coming millennia.
These years of ecclesial consolidation
saw exorbitant quantities of energy and passion
directed towards separating and excluding;
in determining who is in and who is out,
who will get to heaven, (whatever that might be),
and who won’t.

Sort of missing the point;
really.

 

© Ken Rookes 2015

The title of this poem is a direct quote from Mark’s gospel. It is often misquoted to reverse its meaning. Also quite missing the point!

But they were silent

 

They kept their mouths shut
embarrassed
naughty children caught out
arguing.

I’m better than you,
cleverer,
more worthy,
with leadership qualities.

He gathered the silenced ones
together. All twelve.
Maybe even some of the others,
like the women.

Be the greatest, he told them.
The best at caring and loving,
the first among servants.
Be friends of children.

They still had nothing to say.
Not sure what he was getting at,|
but afraid to ask.
Speechless.

 

© Ken Rookes 2015

And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

The stern Jesus:
a half-frown upon his divine countenance
and voice lowered to underline the seriousness
of the situation.
You’ve got to keep it secret, he tells them,
lest people get the wrong idea.
Which wrong idea, Jesus?
there must be a handful to choose from.

The inner circle got one of them,
anticipating their share in the glory
of his earthly rule.
You are the Christ, declared Peter;
and we are your right-hand men, so to speak.
We will hear no more talk of suffering,
so please desist.

The Scribes, Pharisees
and sundry religious associates
managed to get a wrong idea, too;
frightened, as they were, of these new teachings
that put grace ahead of law.
He cannot be from God! they protest,
as they make plans to prove it.

Two millennia later
there is still no shortage of wrong ideas.
Power and Wealth conspire with Polite Christianity
to pretend that its founder
never said anything disturbing, or challenging;
being only really interested
in good order and respectability.

Don’t tell anybody.

© Ken Rookes 2015