To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Speaking To The Faithful: A Poem For Mark Y.A. Davies

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BY SHARON MARTIN

I asked my mother, the preacher,

If you have to make a vow to Jesus

to go to heaven,

what happened to all the people who died

before he was born?

What happened to the people

who were never told about Jesus?

What happens if your preacher

tells a different story?

 

Of course, she had no good answer,

but her faith was unwavering.

Faith in faulty logic

didn’t work for me.

 

I wanted her to be the kind of Christian

who believed in tolerance,

who believed in choices,

who believed in Jesus, the poet

who delivered the Sermon on the Mount,

in Jesus, the social liberal

who fed the crowd because they were hungry,

in the feminist Jesus who welcomed women

into his organization,

who understood that the prostitute

may have had no other good choices,

who believed we all deserve the chance

to be forgiven,

to be healed,

to be loved,

to be with him in paradise.

 

If that isn’t acceptable,

maybe I’m not a Christian at all,

a dangerous idea where I’m from.

But I believe

 

in the power of love,

in justice,

in forgiveness,

 

even when I have trouble forgiving

those good Christians

who hung the witches,

who kicked my gay student out of their church,

who voted for a psychopath and endangered the whole world

because his brand of Christianity as power,

Christianity as exclusion,

was their brand.

 

Forgive me my unbelief

even as I send up my prayers,

ask for grace for us all –

the true believer with hate in his heart,

the doubter with love in hers,

for every last child of God

 

who lives and dies on this rock,

one of billions in the universe,

whose creation is still as much a mystery to me

as is the faith that doesn’t allow

for logic or tolerance.

 

Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. She read this poem at the Woody Guthrie Center last Sunday. It also appears in Speak Your Mind. You can order a copy of this 2019 Woody Guthrie Poets Anthology by sending $12.50 plus $2 for postage to Village Books Press, 517 Barela Lane, Santa Fe, NM 87505.

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Sharon Martin
Sharon Martin
Longtime Oklahoma educator Sharon Martin's latest book, Not A Prodigal, is available in paperback through Barnes and Noble. Her recent children’s book, Froggy Bottom Blues, can be purchased in hardcover from Doodle And Peck or in hardcover or paperback from Amazon.

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