Sunday, November 28, 2010

Argument with God

I’ve decided to tackle God, as the Poetry Bus drives around the world picking up passengers this week, steered by Dana at Bug’s Eye View.

The Bug has offered three good prompts for us. The first is based on Isaiah 1, verse 18, in which God says, “Come. Sit down. Let's argue this out.” Dana wants us to tell about the argument we would have with God. The second one involves “The Hunt for Red October” and Sam Neill’s dream of living in Montana. The third prompt deals with the leafless trees of winter. I present a two-fer this week because I have strong feelings about the first and third prompts (sorry, Sam, you're a nice guy, but ... ).

I imagined that I could put God on trial for allowing the deaths of my father, mother, and older brother’s first wife, my dear friend. What came wasn’t a poem. It was a one-sided courtroom dialog between the plaintiff’s attorney and God, whom we can’t hear, who sits in the witness stand.

God on Trial

The plaintiff calls God Almighty to the witness stand.
Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you … God? ––
Please state your full name for the record. ––
Is Jahveh your first name, or your last name? Adonai, Lord, Elohim, I Am … Which of these is your legal last name? How, sir, shall the court address you? ––
Mr. Jehovah, the complaint filed against you by the plaintiff, Chris A., alleges you acted with reckless disregard and in fact caused the premature deaths of her father, Merle W., killed by cancer of the brain at age 53, and her sister-in-law, Jere W., killed by pancreatic cancer at age 46. In addition she alleges you exercised the same reckless disregard in the affliction of Alzheimer’s dementia upon her mother, Frances W., resulting in her death by same. How do you respond to these allegations? ––
You maintain then, Mr. Jehovah, that “reckless disregard” does not apply, because in your omniscience, not even a sparrow falls to the ground without your knowledge. So is it fair to say that you were aware of their impending deaths but still chose to let them die? ––
In what way, in your view, were their premature and tragic deaths a benefit either to themselves or to the plaintiff? ––
All right, then, we will stipulate that the deaths of Jere W. and Merle W. were not premature, because you in fact planned that their lives would conclude in the manner and at the time they did. We return, however, to the question: Would you care to explain in what way were their deaths, the manner of them, and the timing of them, a benefit either to themselves or to their loved ones? ––
If it is always a benefit to believers when they die and, as you say, go to heaven to live in perpetual joy with you, why then do you not simply let all believers die and go straight to heaven? ––
I beg your pardon, Mr. Jehovah. Question withdrawn. Let us rephrase the issue: Did you, with foreknowledge and intent, deprive the plaintiff of the love and companionship of her family members? ––
With respect, Mr. Jehovah, a simple “yes” or “no” is sufficient. ––
Your honor, would you please instruct the witness to respond directly with a yes or no answer to the question: Did you, or did you not, with foreknowledge and intent, deprive the plaintiff of the love and companionship of her family members? ––
Mr. Jehovah, would you please explain for the edification of the jury what you mean by executive privilege and diplomatic immunity?

As you can see, I didn’t get very far in putting God on trial. Maybe I need to change attorneys … Anyway, here’s a poem about leafless trees, sort of, and God too, since I’m still a little ticked off about his claiming executive privilege in my last outing with him. The funny thing is, I like God a lot and thank him pretty often for being very, very good to me. I guess I’ve had to wrestle with him a bit, and that’s what these two items today are about.

Eye in the Sky

All milk and smoke, the winter sky arcs overhead
rimmed by bare branches of trees

Lie down beneath it
like a hard brown chrysalis
on the dry ground

and look up
Stare at the pearly white eyeball staring back at you
with its branching network of nerves
through which the vision of yourself travels
to the unfathomable resting mind behind the eye

Marvel that you ever bother to cry out
to the God who turns this eye on his creation
and feel the chill of it all
in the tiny chrysalis that is you

(Photo from Wikipedia Commons, God bless 'em.)


the walking man said...

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

I think you got the wrong diety on the stand there for one and nothing pisses me off more than when someone implies that the creator spirit Wankan Tan ka is the devil. But like most all human beings it is ever true...

"my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."

The Bug said...

This is exactly what I was looking for with the arguing with God prompt. I get so mad sometimes... but I have too many family members who read my blog - I didn't what to terrify them.

Love the poem too - another mirror of my own feelings sometimes...

RNSANE said...

Dear Chris, you may be a tiny chrysalis but you are most vocal and I am sure God cannot tune you out, should He ever try. I got a great laugh out of God's being on trial, though the content was certainly not funny. I am sure most of us have, at times, questioned God's choices and the way he has chosen for us and those we love. Of course, he can exercise executive humans can get away with diplomatic immunity ( which I've always seemed a bit unfair to me,
especially when a clear crime has
been committed ).

izzy said...

I would be absolutely terrible in court !
How brave you are-
I just tug on sleeves-as you can tell from my small attempt...
Sustained anger and frustration has happened on occasion.
Somehow,eventually I pop back up on the other side of it- Thanks!

Peter Goulding said...

The first one is particularly Woody Alle-esque. I reckon it could be developed into a stage play!!
That second one is brilliant. Many of us who chose the leafless tree described the silhouette of it in front of the wintry sky but you take it so much farther. Your imagination is awe-inspiring.

Gerry Snape said...

thankyou for two honest pieces!need a lot more honesty in everything I think.

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

I know the debate you have, I've debated it - from time to time still do.

There is a different point of view, but it takes some willingness for true consideration.

It's what I continue to try to wake up to each day I spend carrying the TRUE message of AA.

Surpassing what ails them, what's going on in their life. They continue to surrender, to carry the light.

They seem fewer and farther between these days, those light carriers. Most people, it seems, live by self propulsion.... or is that just me?

But oh boy, Do I want to find and increase the light!

Thanks so much for this today, I NEEDED it desperately!

Kim A. said...

Very deep stuff today. It is hard for us to find the silver lining with my mother-in-law's disease now unless we take it one moment at a time. We are doing just that and we are embracing those moments.


Helen said...

God on Trial is brilliant, the winter sky described as all milk and smoke - equally brilliant.

Totalfeckineejit said...

i'm lovin the eye in the sky!

SouthLakesMom said...

Wow - that's some wrestling! And I can understand the need to do so given what your plaintiff has experienced. When I get into my wrestling with God mode (and I'm a lawyer so I sometimes think I might be able to score a point or two), I always end up with accepting that His ways are not our ways...

And I love the first line of your next poem "all milk and smoke" -- that is truly a winter sky!

Enchanted Oak said...

Walking Man’s comment reminds me that my argument with God ends with the simple matter of faith. “Faith is being sure of what we hope for,” the apostle Paul wrote in the book of Hebrews. “It is being certain of what we do not see.”
I accept on faith the statement in Isaiah 55, verses 8 and 9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
And by faith, I believe what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13, verses 9-12: “We don't know everything, and our prophecies are not complete. But what is perfect will someday appear … Now all we can see of God is like a cloudy picture in a mirror. Later we will see him face to face. We don't know everything, but then we will, just as God completely understands us.”

Kat Mortensen said...

I like your "God-on-Trial" - I tend not to question, isn't that weird? It was instilled in me to accept God's choices. I'd be the meek court clerk, blithely entering the details and taking it as Gospel.

The trees poem: I love that chrysalis line - is that meant to be a bit of a play on your name?


Syd said...

I think that God weeps with tragedies. I don't have the answers to the debate. But I guess that I accept that I don't have those answers. Very thought provoking post.

Karen said...

Chris, I love both of these. The first for your feisty humor and bravado, and the second for your imagery that knows the omniscient one in the fiber of your being.

Gwei Mui said...

Both pieces are wonderful. I love God on trail piece. Maybe you didn't get very far but I suspect that for many of us however we may name God will have encountered the same problems when arguing with God!

120 Socks said...

Great Poem. Capturing the stark wonderous beauty of our lives and our surroundings and indeed anger and confusion with God. Well done.

Dave King said...

This is excellent stuff. The poem put me in mind of Edvard Munch's outcry against God - though I'm not exactly sure why. Enjoyable, very enjoyable - you don't have to win to b e successful, of course.

Niamh B said...

love the trial, very funny while dealing with a serious question.

Then you bring faith back with the second one. Nicely done.

Lucy Westenra said...

Love the God on Trial . . but you'll never convince the GodBotherers.

izzy said...

You asked me what the " How do I-"
was about... Passing on the wealth given-
drawing in more, so that more may be given out... Thanks for visiting.

Dick said...

It seems to me that you were asking him exactly the right questions. I would counsel refraining from holding breath whilst awaiting an answer!

The poem works really well. A sky of 'milk and smoke' is a beautiful image and the ambiguity of that last stanza is very striking.

Stafford Ray said...

They say God spoke with Moses and God spoke with Abraham so unless God speaks with me, I don't believe a word of it. 'He/she/it' is far too mysterious for me!
And a trial? You're kidding. The witness list is in the millions, the trial has been ongoing since someone asked "Where did we come from?" and some Neanderthal marketing guru recognised an opportunity to be in on the ground floor of a brand new industry! Of course, there have been immitators but lacking international/interfaith rules, they wipe each other out from time to time and who wouldn't if they all think God guides each sword thrust, each bullet trajectory and missile launch? Gott und Fuhrer, God and king.

I decided years ago I wanted to live my life in the natural world, not spend it sitting in court waiting on a verdict that can never be reached simply because the guru lied. The correct answer should have been "I don't know".

Jinksy said...

Two first class tickets you bought here! I loved tham both...

MuseSwings said...

Brilliant discourse - but of course - He is God and He decides.
Milk and smoke is such a perfect description. I fairly stumbled over those words so I could read them again and catch the sight in my mind.

Reminded me of Plath describing the winter sun as an aluminum pie plate

Dianne said...

oh I can sink into that poem and wallow in it.

read it out loud to us at the next poetry night!

Scott said...

Oh Chris... Chris... I could have read much more off your trial with God. I loved both pieces really, but your indictment of God is so real and honest. Your perspective is so clear and the piece just really touched me. Your writing does that so often :-)

Cad said...

All milk and smoke, the winter sky arcs overhead
rimmed by bare branches of trees

Exactly so!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, nice job! This was the stuff I had to have.