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Poetry

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A Poem for Epiphany
 

I began writing this poem after reading several threads in a Christian discussion group on Facebook which centered around various views of how Jesus "saves" us. The arguing grew rancorous, with debaters demanding "once saved always saved" versus "if you sin you were never actually saved", contrasted by a few quiet voices claiming the salvation Jesus procured was universal. The Bible was thumped to the tune of all-caps fist banging, and it all felt futile and absurd.

The words you'll encounter below are a reflection not of my views on God, but of the Christianity many people demand we believe. They don't recognize the monstrosity of the god they've created, and yet this is the distillation of the good news they offer.

Surely a god who is love couldn't be this thing. Surely the magi saw something different.

Hear the Good News

by Suzanne DeWitt Hall

1/6/2022

 

A blood-thirsty creator belched out the world

and filled it with self-images

who lived, reproduced, danced,

stole land from their neighbors

fawned, and eventually forgot.

 

The creator bellowed

“How dare you betray me?

Give me blood, or you die

worship me, proclaim my love

and give me blood.”

 

The self-images hurried

to kill doves and pigeons

sheep and goats

rams and oxen.

“Mea culpa,” they screamed

bowing down, abject

pouring out still more

a red sea of apology.

“We will roast the organs for you

dash the sacred pulse against the altar stone

pour out gallons of scarlet atonement.

Forgive us?”

 

The creator gulped and burped

but it wasn’t enough.

its need for vengeance unquenchable

the self-images too rotten,

too riddled with weakness,

too easily distracted from its gaze

and in that forgetting

its hunger raged

the taste of mere beasts no longer luscious

in their millions.

 

It called for a new sacrifice.

“Offer this one,” it said.

“When he grows tall and juicy

kill him, instead.

The lifeblood of my mini me

will satisfy my hunger.

Surely.”

 

It drank the lesser offerings

for thirty-some years more

until the day arrived, deliciously.

The creator was pleased

as his blood poured out:

Immanuel

flesh damp with sweat

the scent of nard

so different from animal dung.

 

The self-images sighed, satisfied.

“We did it!” They proclaimed

“We are saved by the blood!

Our sins forgiven!

Forever!”

They danced in their chosenness

danced that they knew the key

danced that they could point at others and growl;

“Hear the good news!

Worship or die!

The creator still thirsts

and will drink its fill of you

but we gave it what it wanted

painted ourselves forever crimson.

Join us

obey us

for the thirsty one aches

for the roasting of your flesh

in the place where it waits

we call heaven.”