Thank you Peter Marshall for this contribution. An explanation is provided after the poem.
Legend has it that many generations past there was a man named Abraham.
He had a son named Isaac
Now Abraham was understood to be a godly man in those times.
In present times, many, still see him the same.
Was Abraham a good man?
Well it would seem in these times it’s not a question to ask.
So let’s break with tradition and ask that question now.
In light of the story of his God and his son.
As a test of his loyalty, Abraham was tasked by his God
To take a sharp knife
And end Isaac’s life.
We know what’s reported in the book some call good
But let’s now consider a different track.
What if it was Abraham…… whose motive was good?
And he clearly, resolutely, just said the word No.
Well in this alternate story the next acts are quite sweet
For Isaac and Abraham, their love bond increased
And the Biblical hero…. The God of might
Well legend has it, just faded from sight.
Hey that’s not bad
In fact it’s rather quite bright
But its only two people who were exposed to that light.
So let’s put on sneakers and go for a hike
A pretty long hike, and let’s have a look for some
Now these people… well they had a few problems.
Seems they often didn’t act in the most charitable way
And sometimes their behaviours were harsh and quite cruel.
But it would seem, worst of all, from one point at least,
They had not yet met the God who should rule.
Aah not to worry, for the hero had plans,
Yes that’s the God of the Bible, who by his very nature
Could do nothing but good.
And so he enlisted some special people to drive his point home.
So special they were, God said they were chosen
to do great feats and to teach the whole world
that if people worshipped one God and that God was he,
Why then all things forever would be loving and free.
So to ensure his special people would not doubt him at all
God promised them land, good land,
Where they might prosper and grow
Become wealthy and fat
While teaching all nations they too
Could share in all that.
To set this in motion God gave them some orders
And gave also assurances they could not fail in their quest
For he would be with them each step of the way
Guiding and strengthening, until victory was won.
All you need do is exactly what I say
So go now and slay them…leave nothing alive
Then possess the land in my name, to my glory
So that all peoples may know there is but one God
Who always without exception is unfailingly right.
It fell to Moses, the man in charge,
To either lead the army and do as was ordered
Or to speak with his people and thereby determine
if blindly trusting and obeying was the best course to take.
In another version of this story so often told
It was the alternate action that Moses thought right.
So the people all talked and considered their past.
The legend of Abraham was brought to the table
And consensus was strong, that of their own essence
They might determine what was right.
But there was also a great fear they may all be wiped out
when from times long past another story was told.
That be the one when the God of this people was again displeased
With most things in general.
It was said, this God of power lost control of his temper
And like a small child threw a most enormous tantrum.
So great was his rage that even the weather was changed
and for days and days rain fell in torrents to earth.
Eventually all human life save one small family was lost.
And so it was Moses presented to God. He told of their fears
And of great respect for Abraham who taught them that as people they also had power.
Power to think and to know right from wrong and so determine how life may proceed.
Moses also explained, in fact confessed, that often his own people acted out of greed,
Lust, rage or ignorance. Basically all the crimes God levelled at the Canaanites.
So to kill them and steal their home would make us most probably far worse than them.
Our answer is No. We shall not kill, steal or plunder, simply because it is the whim of someone who may if he chooses, destroy us as well.
To you God of power, we say No. Furthermore, if we survive your wrath we will seek to overturn and resist any evils you unleash on the world.
Of course we are open to another way. We put it to you we can be co-creators.
This is our plan:
We will not judge the Canaanites
We will seek to be good neighbours to them
To converse with them and to love them as we love our own.
If romantic love arises we will break your rule and commit what tradition deems
A cardinal sin. We will intermarry.
And by these pledges we will proceed…. To either prosper both peoples
Or end our lives with honour by whatever punishment you submit us to.
Now God, who was known to boast about being a jealous God
Was predictably overcome with rage at being rejected.
But he didn’t strike Moses….He simply vanished.
Some prophets of those times recorded that the Biblical God simply retreated within himself.
And on this occasion God ruminated on some key principles of life.
God remembered how he was the source of Love
And how he created material beings, known now as Humans, in his very likeness.
So humans understood, right from the start, what Love was
They also knew hatred and evil, for as God had foreseen
Only by knowing Evil could one know love.
God reflected on the fact that Love can overcome evil, but that if evil is encouraged
And permitted to prosper then it will appear that evil is, simply put, the best way to go.
This he remembered was not the original plan, was not the plan now, and never would be the plan.
And God’s rage subsided. He became overjoyed that Moses and his people had accessed
The power of choice that was part of their makeup, and had decided to cast aside fear and make a choice for good.
God’s rage toward Moses was completely transformed into respect and gratitude for the choice he had made with his peoples consent.
And the whole Universe celebrated.
Another story told how a man named Jesus, destined to live in the same geographical area as our heroes, smiled a huge smile.
For Jesus now saw a different future.
His time on Earth would not now be so painful, nor appear so tragic.
People would not feel the need to make up stories about Jesus to explain
Their experience of him.
People would not allow greed, the lust for power, control and desire for judgement
To dominate their life.
Instead Jesus saw a future where humans undertook only one battle
That be the battle that is ongoing within every human being
The battle for Good.
How different may things have been if GOD was shown
The people were ready.
Ready, to make the world Good.
Peter Marshall, February 2022
In early 2022 I had watched a number of debates between Dan Barker and various Christian apologists. Dan had been a Christian preacher for 19 years and now identifies as an atheist.
The debates were interesting, conducted in a surprisingly courteous manner and basically concerned the possible existence of GOD, the biblical God. I was most pleased to become aware that such debates were now, if not commonplace, at least not uncommon.
The debates had quite an effect upon me and this poem is the outcome. I will attempt to share this poem with Dan Barker, as he was the key figure in the debates I watched.
A very surprising thing happened within me while writing. I had originally intended to use a little bit of strong, offensive language, because this seemed the best way to convey the enormity of the emotion a consideration of the subject matter produces. At no stage while writing did I make a conscious decision to not use the offensive words. They were somehow transformed into words and ideas that did not totally condemn the Christian portrayal of the Biblical God. It’s difficult to explain and the best I can do is to say that:
I wrote this poem / story
But I do not claim to be the original and sole author.