Among the Faithless

Among the Faithless

A Poem by Linda Marie Van Tassell
"

Hypocrisy: prejudice with a halo

"
I went to church on Sunday to give praise unto the Lord,
and I found myself worshipping among the faithless hoard.
O! They dressed the part, gave their tithes, and even shook my hand.
The preacher spoke of love and life, of God's great Promise Land.

He spoke of Christian duty and of helping those in need.
He spoke of humility and of corporate crime and greed.
He preached about salvation, of war, and retribution,
said we should confess our sins and pray for absolution.

The collection plate circled round, was passed from pew to pew,
as the preacher spoke of church events, some old and some new.
He spoke of matrimony and the Blessed, Holy bond,
talked of family values in this world and the beyond.

The sermon seemed to center around the power of love,
of the grace and mercy that God bestows from up above.
Thus, he wanted to recognize the longest married pair,
giving them dinner for two, a blessing, and a prayer.

Next, he queried the newlyweds, married three years or less;
and couples stood together, two-by-two, in Sunday dress.
The window of time was dropped 'til only two were standing.
There were no accolades, just the hush of silent branding.

Stares shot across the room as the contest moderators
conferred among themselves about the two desecrators.
For, there among the holy, stood two women in their prime,
married in San Francisco two days before in warmer clime.

I think I held my breath; I could feel my poor heart beating.
This was not my notion of a joyous Sunday meeting.
The parishioners snickered; I heard the words "queer" and "gay."
I was beyond shock, and I didn't quite know what to say.

It was a most awkward moment; the couple stood in tears.
One of them had attended there for over fifteen years.
They went from sharing their joy to sharing their grief and shame.
It had quickly turned out to be the crying sort of game.

They were awarded dinner without congratulation.
In the eyes of the church, they were an abomination.
The preacher felt duty-bound to condemn them on the spot
lest all his Sunday lessons be overlooked and forgot.

And I couldn't help but think of the faithless in their fear,
of how they live contrary to the things that they revere.
"Judge not, lest ye be judged;" but they do at every turn.
Why not embrace the sinner if they share God's discern?

I walked out of service, followed the women to their car.
I felt compelled to tell them that I love them as they are.
I asked for forgiveness for the church and congregation.
None of us are perfect nor above God's condemnation.

Wiping tears away, one of them smeared makeup on her sleeve.
She thanked me for my compassion and then they turned to leave.
I no longer attend Loving Grace, a Christian castaway.
I know where we both stand, and there is nothing left to say.

© 2010 Linda Marie Van Tassell


Author's Note

Linda Marie Van Tassell
John 8, King James Version

1Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. 2And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. 3And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 6This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 7So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

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Touching piece of work. It tells about the person that you are, about how open your mind is to the world. And yes, an open mind and an honest heart is all that is required to be a writer. That's what I have perceived till now.

I agree, hypocrisy is worser than atheism. In all these years of keeping the legacy of religions, the very advocates of God have forgotten the main reason this institution of religion abides to. They have turned blind to the very message religion gives--that we all are equal. We all are the rulers of our destiny. No sin is greater than inhumanity, hate and greed. For we hold a meaning, only when we are together.

A very good message, i must say.
My fav lines have to be...
"And I couldn't help but think of the faithless in their fear,
of how they live contrary to the things that they revere.
"Judge not, lest ye be judged;" but they do at every turn.
Why not embrace the sinner if they share God's discern?"... (i doubt if discern suits here)

Even if this poem isn't as symbolic as your masterpieces, but perhaps a fit of rage and outburst of emotions has made you write this.

Always enjoy your writings.
:)


A great mind had once said "The purpose of education is to replace an empty mind with an open one"

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

Dear Linda Marie,

I am not a religious man, but there are great lessons in the Bible. I wonder how many of the Christian faith have read the Bible cover to cover? I have--twice. It is a most enlightening and interesting book, teaching us much about the Christian and Jewish faith. I see reading the Bible as a profound historical and cultural education. How better to understand Chistianity and our roots. But so many Christians have not read the origins of their religious roots. Yet they proclaim they understand Christianity. They don't. There is wisdom in the Bible and there are parts that the "wise" need to look past. The Bible is sincere, but raw, honest writing. It also needs generous and sincere interpretation. Your poem does this in the utmost. I am greatly appreciative of this. You take the best of Christian faith and put it forward. Congratualtions! Highest marks. But let us not forget that there are dark spots in the Bible, too.

"When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11)"

and

"When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21)"

I quote now from another website: "You would think that Jesus and the New Testament would have a different view of slavery, but slavery is still approved of in the New Testament, as the following passages show."

"Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5)"

"Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. (1 Timothy 6:1-2)"

In the following parable, Jesus clearly approves of beating slaves even if they didn't know they were doing anything wrong.

"The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it. But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given. (Luke 12:47-48)"

Sorry I am standing on a soap box. This is not my usual way. However what I saw from your poem was exceptional, standing far and away above more common fare. You are to be congratualted on the remarkable humanitty showen by your piece.

Highest marks. Greatly enjoyed!

My best and kindest wishes,

Rick

Posted 9 Years Ago


this very much unfolded like a narrative, a compelling one at that. The use of the rambling long line gave the piece a semi-light tone, which really contrasted well with the serious content, a masterful job of using creating meaning (scorn) through tone. The action, pairing the longest married, and shortest married, also was captivating drama. I've never heard of this, and whether true or not, worked perfectly to set up the gay couple standing there. The only detail I couldn't quite suspend disbelief on is that they've been going there 15 years, and how could they NOT know the church's stand on homosexuality? It seems like it shouldn't have come as much of a surprise, but again, that's just a small piece of the puzzle. Like I said, it was good story telling in the form of poetry, which is so hard to pull off (Frost and Browning do it well), so extra kudos for doing so. BTW, LOVE BuDDY Jesus! lol that's what steered me to the piece:) I give you a buddy christ thumbs up!

Posted 10 Years Ago


Good for you; get out of that stupid church. They should change their name to "Loving Hate". O the self-righteous and the ignorant, from this they don't recover; they slap decency with their one hand and hold the Bible in the other.

Posted 10 Years Ago


Rather a poignant experience, which says a great deal about the human condition. Are we so set in our ways that we are prepared to hurt those who transgress against our pre-conditioned biases? Surely this is not in the spirit of christianity. Fundamentalism in all its forms pervades every man-made religion, which is why I tend to avoid them all, and trust to my own private dichotomy with my creator. I think this poem brings home to us the heartlessness behind every creed written in stone.

Posted 10 Years Ago


Wow....this is very powerful! I love that passage in the bible...its so man like to judge isnt it? and too bad too when people get treated this way..........

Posted 10 Years Ago


Okay, I write Christian poetry a good bit. But I write on the other side of this line, what I mean is I send Jesus' message of love and hope to people with my poetry. But, I totally understand what you are saying here I have seen people and know people who are like those described in this poem. A lot of times it's easy to judge people just by the cover and we've all done that. I think that this sends a good message to people. Don't judge unless you would want to be judged.

Posted 10 Years Ago


I feel like digging a little deeper on this one, as there are many layers to what is an abiding concern to me: non-bs scripture, non-bs meeting places over alleged matters of Spirit.

First, your poem is sound carpentry work about an almost ludicrous issue, the politicized pseudo-sanctification of callow prejudice. Now, there is a note of irony to me in same-gender marriages, apart from the obvious recognition that anybody should be free to do whatever they want interpersonally, for legal benefits, and otherwise. The irony is I find the outlaw nature of against-the- institutional-grain pairings more interesting than marriage. But that's a sidebar digression. Legal recognition of any marital bonds is a right.

Now, a couple more issues emerge re the church of idiots and your biblical counter-quote. I personally find the socially-ingrained nature of the King James Bible offensive, at times obscene. It is a hideously uneven text, the best of which does not rise to the level of weak Zen. The worst is garden-variety pulp violence sanctioned by "God." It's a stupid book. And no degree of cryptogrammic head-tripping will change that either. So, despite your citing a sensibly benign reference attributed to "Jesus," it doesn't change the fact that the whole issue of the Bible having ANY authority is criminal.

I am also of the informed opinion, one shared by virtually anyone un-brainwashed and honest (even Christian Albert Schweitzer), that there was no historical Jesus. The symbolic story is of pagan origins, and has Gnostic meaning, re the spiritual agon of EVERYONE -- exclusivist belief in the cult of messianic salvation is mental illness.

Your same-gender couple would have been better served to see all that coming. Salem never died.

Borges noted that theology is a branch of fantastic fiction. I think he was too generous.

One more note: Without digging up the etymology, it is my understanding that "sin" means "missing the mark," rather than some item on a humorless mythic Parent's "don't-do" list. Missing the mark means to believe something instead of allowing naked object-less Attention to clear the psyche of rubbish.

Consciousness is all there is. "God"=Consciousness. Delusions to the contrary fuel the nightmare of history and misunderstood mythology.

Posted 10 Years Ago


"Why not embrace the sinner if they share God's discern? " This is my favorite line in the entire piece. It has so much depth, so much truth.

You're a gifted writer Linda, keep writing.

Posted 10 Years Ago


Such a moving story...I don't usually read or review christian related writing, but this caught my eye and held my emotions. I agree with your lines,

"Judge not, lest ye be judged;" but they do at every turn.
Why not embrace the sinner if they share God's discern?

Those women were very brave, to stand up to show their "sin"...to be called names and laughed at. While I am not a believer in christianity, I still know that we all have our sins, things we are ashamed of. Your poem is very well written, with words and rhymes that flow nicely. I am glad I read your poem.

Posted 10 Years Ago


Touching piece of work. It tells about the person that you are, about how open your mind is to the world. And yes, an open mind and an honest heart is all that is required to be a writer. That's what I have perceived till now.

I agree, hypocrisy is worser than atheism. In all these years of keeping the legacy of religions, the very advocates of God have forgotten the main reason this institution of religion abides to. They have turned blind to the very message religion gives--that we all are equal. We all are the rulers of our destiny. No sin is greater than inhumanity, hate and greed. For we hold a meaning, only when we are together.

A very good message, i must say.
My fav lines have to be...
"And I couldn't help but think of the faithless in their fear,
of how they live contrary to the things that they revere.
"Judge not, lest ye be judged;" but they do at every turn.
Why not embrace the sinner if they share God's discern?"... (i doubt if discern suits here)

Even if this poem isn't as symbolic as your masterpieces, but perhaps a fit of rage and outburst of emotions has made you write this.

Always enjoy your writings.
:)


A great mind had once said "The purpose of education is to replace an empty mind with an open one"

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on July 17, 2010
Last Updated on July 17, 2010
Tags: Hypocrisy, Prejudice, Ignorance, Love, Hate, Religion, Faith, Faithless

Author

Linda Marie Van Tassell
Linda Marie Van Tassell

VA



About
Poetry has been my passion since I was about fifteen years old, and I love the structure of rhyme and meter moreso than just randomly throwing words upon a page without any form whatsoever. Whi.. more..

Writing

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