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,
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.