Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Repent While We Can!

[Not that there's anything wrong with that]

I am happy to have come across this gem from a person, Nick Duliakas, who clearly is not a fan of Richard Dawkins.
After the manner of "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time" by Robert Herrick. 1591–1674 (Gather ye rosebuds while ye may)

With slight corrections ~

Gather, ye atheists, while ye may,
Do your heckling and high-fiving,
Ye may be laughing at us to-day,
But, to-morrow ye'll be crying.

The glorious Light of Heaven, the Son,
Tis soon that He'll be coming,
And days as ye know it will be done,
Into His arms ye should be running.

The age is best which will be last,
And that is fast approaching,
Put your unbelief in the past,
Upon His grace, ye've been encroaching.

Be not fools, but redeem the time,
Away from the pit of hell, He'll carry,
Into a place beautiful and devine,
Where ye may forever tarry.

March 21, 2010 ~ Composed and written by Nick Duliakas. If used, please give proper acknowledgment. May not be used for profit without permission. (nikosd99@hotmail.com)
How wonderful that Herrick's lusty lyric should be made to scold the bad, bad atheist who must repent or face the eternal fires and torments of the big realm of h-h-h-hell. Unfortunately, Nick has mangled Herrick's iambs -- I am a fan of versification, after all -- but let's focus on content.

Stanza 1 - Apparently we atheists are troublesome rabble who heckle the faithful (presumably the Christian faithful, even though Dawkins begins his piece describing a dialogue with a rabbi). I particularly like the image of atheists high-fiving. I can only wish the poet had been able to find a rhyme for "chest bumping." But the point is that we atheists will get our comeuppance for being so disagreeable. Question for Nick: Is the idea appealing to you that you will be proved right and that we unbelievers will roast in humiliation? Is this part of the attraction to the position you take?

Stanza 2 - Jesus, differentiated from God, is said to be returning to earth to open a can of whoop-ass. Things will apparently be different when this happens. Again, we atheists and non-Christians are told that we should have been seeking to worship God via Jesus or Jesus via Jesus or whatever. Question for Nick: Are all Christian denominations equally in good standing with mighty Jesus, or are some denominations better than others? Why?

Stanza 3 - My favorite, if for nothing else than its inclusion of the contraction "ye've." Usually the poets and preachers warn that our present age is the most corrupt and turbulent OF ALL TIME. Yeats warned of it. Arnold, too. The Anglo-Saxons thought the end was nigh for their corrupt age. Heck, the folks in the Gospels think that the return of Jesus is imminent. But in Nick's stanza, we are told that our age is best for being last. We happy happy few will get to greet the magic Hebrew when he comes back to collect his souvenirs. We are exhorted to put away our unbelief as if it were but childish obstinacy. Question for Nick: Do you think your tone here approaches the kind of heckling that atheists exhibit toward religion?

Stanza 4 - The fun ends here, as the ol' "fool in his heart" allusion comes up yet again. We are supposed to be made fearful of this pit of hell and instead yearn to be man-carried by our big, strong, ripply-muscled Jesus up to heaven. The misspelling of "devine" (for divine, obviously) redeems the stanza for me. Question for Nick: Seriously, and with no judgment whatsoever, is the homoeroticism surrounding the relationship of the male believer and Jesus part of what makes the religion attractive? I mean, does the scene of worship allow straight men to play out homoerotic impulses?

I must admit I prefer Herrick's original. Herrick advises the virgins to seize the day:
Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may go marry:
For having lost but once your prime
You may for ever tarry.
Don't play a silly game of pretense, Herrick urges, but rather be open and industrious. Have a sense of urgency about finding love and living love. Herrick counsels that we live this very day with the very people around us. Herrick is a realist. I do not think it's very sporting of our Nick to have bent Herrick's happy verse. But I don't like to think of any poetry as bad, so I'll applaud Nick's effort.

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