End-time warnings are stock-in-trade for the literalists
who delight in making pronouncements on behalf of the almighty.
These words tell of the fragility of human existence,
of the imperative to mend our ways,
and of the need to be ready.
Accusations, betrayal, hatred, death!
(Rest assured, not a hair of your head will perish!
Work that one out.)
Wars, earthquakes, famines, plagues
and other portents!
I was never much interested in eschatological speculations.
And yet with the planet soon to bake in an atmospheric oven,
and life as we know it most likely changing for ever,
Darwin may yet prevail. If not over the Almighty,
then at least over the self-declared faithful.
All those biblical warnings about end-times
are conveniently ignored by those who doubt the science
and who also refuse to pay the cost.
It seems that the temple and the planet might both be cast down,
neither of which would appear to have much hope of restoration.
It is too neat; this allegory-parable
of judgement, burning weeds and
the furnaces of hell.
It purports to be the words
of the itinerant teacher called Jesus.
Perhaps it is;
doesn’t make it right, though.
Does that shock you?
Feel free to pray for my soul
if it makes you feel better.
feeding the smug self-righteousness
of those who know themselves to be on the inside.
We are all weeds; we are all wheat.
There is no inside,
there is no outside.
We are the causes of sin,
we are the evildoers,
and yet it is not always so,
need not always be so.
May the righteous indeed shine like the sun;
let us all be reborn into truth.
And let the children of the kingdom
shine with love, with humility,
with justice and with grace.
See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant. Jeremiah 1:10
The emergence of a civilization
delivers one certainty, and only one:
that it will one day fall.
This cycle of rising and decline happens slowly;
a stop-motion animation
condensed into narrow chapters
in a one-volume history of the world.
The boy-prophet, Jeremiah,
was appointed, according to the ancient text,
to preside over such comings and goings
among a handful of middle-eastern nations;
including his own.
Nationalism, it seems,
matters little to God.
This unorthodox divinity cares nothing
for notions of national destiny;
still embarrassingly popular
in our own steadily unwinding era.
National pride is yet conscripted
to provide delusional justification
for all manner of greedy, shameful
and violent activities.
The planet and its people continue to weep
beneath the burden
The promise of national restoration
flashed unexpectedly among Jeremiah’s
layered images of dark destruction,
bringing glimmers of hope.
Two and a half millennia later
the darkness is denser,
and hope’s shadow
is all that remains.
God the failed gardener;
sleeves rolled up,
hands roughened and calloused
from clearing the stones
and building them into walls and tower.
Blistered with digging and hoeing,
skin darkened from all the pruning
and all the sun,
but the vineyard is unfruitful.
among the empty branches;
among the fear and the voting
and the credit cards,
among the accumulators, the manipulators
and the gate-keepers
among the networks and the systems
and the tent-cities,
among the indices and the vaults
and the shock-jocks,
among the editorials and the card-gamers
and the judgement-sitters,
among the candidates and the slogans
and the low denominators,
among the investors and the magnates
and the number-gatherers,
among the light-thieves, the chance-dealers
and the hope-stealers.
God, the failed gardener
among the sad empty branches
for some generosity, some love
and some mercy;
but the vineyard
If you repent,
the much-loved doctrine declares,
you will be forgiven.
A simple-enough transaction,
with the reception of forgiveness transmuted,
by divine alchemy, into the golden currency
of paradisiacal admittance.
With much tears and wailing, repentance is enacted,
souls are pronounced saved,
and heaven’s host, we are told, prepares another room.
But what if repentance is no mere turning point,
arrived at once and finally?
What if it is an attitude that grows, develops,
and manifests itself in actions;
many and uncounted, small and large;
with an impetus towards sharing and justice
and generosity and peace?
And what if the second chance grace
is all about such fruitfulness?
Fig tree fruits from plants worth their place
in the garden.