The Angels asked their Father God,
why gave He them a will so bold:
to choose glad life and death between:
the fire of Hell and light of Heaven.
Confused, they pondered it were best
that they had been constrainèd fast,
and held to good and wholesome life;
protected from the pains of strife
as clockwork watch is surely bound
to tell the time when wound.
For choice implies the bane of ill,
and ignorant mistake and fall,
and pain and mis’ry tightly held
(for comfort’s sake, if truth be told)
and none of all the host would dare
(not out of fear nor want of care)
assert their certain sight of right
(for all their power and all their might)
beyond a thirst and hunger barbed
that’s not so soon denied.
Better, ’twould seem to have at heart
an instinct: knowledge to impart;
to speak and powerfully direct
the will to all that’s just and right,
and ’gainst all choices curst and wrong.
Then joys would surely ’bout them throng
and sin ne’re mar the spirit bold
but all would be in concord held
by fearsome chains and fastest bond
of tutelage so fond.
“But there’s the snag, my fiery folk,”
their Heavenly Father gently spoke.
“If I held fast your wills by might
(as is my power and is my right)
what space would be for you to know
for your own selves; to see and show,
by trial dire, the right and wrong
of life: to feel within so strong
its pains and pleasures oh so dear
its clarion call so clear?”
“All you would know was slavery
arrayed in shrouds, most drear and grey.
Autonomy would ne’re be yours:
automatons you’d be, wills fixed by laws.
No proper understanding you would have
of woeful hate or wealthy love,
the cost or prize of selfish action
the bliss of righteous satisfaction:
never sound merit to accrue
nor joy of knowledge true.”
“And so, instead, I set you free
and take the cost and pain to me
Creator and Saviour, both Am I:
no callous clocksmith deity.”
“Else trust my word, heed what I say
and learn yourself the righteous way
or shun that path and take your own
though it be sad and makes you moan.
You can have life or death, you know:
choose life, I urge you now!”i
i“I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live.” [Deut 30:19 RSV]