Archive for June, 2011

RELIGION AND CIVILIZATION

June 3, 2011


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A BRIEF HISTORY OF RELIGION

[for Karen Armstrong]

Apparently it’s normal

Anytime a storm’ll

Fling a flood or drift at us

To think somebody’s miffed at us,

So we build an altar

And compose a psalter

And deliver something gory

Which we pray is placatory.

Then if storms continue

We sweeten up the menu

With a flock of sacrifices

And self-punishing devices.

If despite our striving

Trials keep arriving,

We decide a second figure

Is responsible for our rigor.

Just to keep it tidy,

We say the almighty

Also made our persecutor,

Possibly to serve as tutor.

Then confusions enter

And we tend to splinter

Into stern salvationists

Or prim predestinationists

Who tend to burn each
other,

Murmuring, “Oh, brother,

What a tangled web we weave

When first we practice to believe.”

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USUALLY

[for George Orwell]

Usually…

There’s a dominant male

To whom each prominent male

Owes fealty

And realty,

And a middle class

Which gains a little class

By loyalty

To royalty

And having more class

Than the lower class

Which labors

And kills neighbors,

But is kept below hysterical mass

By a clerical class

Which promises Hell

If it should rebel,

But Heaven

If it works till seven.

There’s an academic class

Anxious to mimic class

And to philosophize

Till it ossifies.

There’s a military class,

Slash, missionary class

Whose profession

Is aggression

Against alien classes

(Called mammalian masses)

Whom they press into slavery

Through Bibles and bravery,

And a Bohemian class

Forced to live like a simian class

Making art giving

Reasons for living

Which is all that endures

Of these cultures of yours

Usually…

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