Wednesday, 5 November 2014

The Popish Plot

Under the hallowed halls
the noble band had hid
cask on cask of powder
as stalwart Fawkes had bid.
The morn before King James
came to address his Lords
they crept unseen through darkest gloom
most unaware of their fell doom
down narrow ways unto that room
where waited men with swords.

To deeds extreme Fawkes had been led
by agents of the Crown,
who sought full long,
through shire and town,
some hapless man who’d loose his head
when he had carefully been fed
a silly, hopeless plan.

“Alas, we are found out!”
cried Fawkes, full of alarm.
“We are betrayed! Flee if you can!”
as he did spy the harm
that waited in the form of men
intent to thwart his naïve plot
to kill the King, the royal Scott,
and so to end the state’s foul rot
that stank as stagnant fen.

The brave souls were beat down
and trampled under foot
their hands were bound,
their necks were bent
their hope was from them cut.
They were brought forth in day’s sad ray
their love for Pope and slight of King
made plain for all the folk to see:
and they did anthems sing!

Unto a gallows tree
the plotters were soon brought
and they did dangle most merrily
as of the Earth their feet came short.
The people did rejoice
and tell with glee full keen
how good it was that popish plot
had wisely foilèd been.

And now we labour hard
’neath traitors’ iron hand
(of Whiggish temperament
who of their ill will not relent)
and hanker after that good Guy
who would have downcast tyranny
and set fair justice on the seat
so all might have what’s meet.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

For Esdras

Q. What about those poor folk whose life is so limited that they cannot possibly benefit from it?

A1. You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.
A2. Processes sometimes have unavoidable waste- or side-products.
A3. God’s justice will certainly prevail; even if we can’t see how at present.
A4. Perhaps some souls are reincarnated.
A5. Perhaps some homo-sapiens are not full human beings, but only un-inspirited shells.

Esdras asked the angel: “Why does God allow such waste?
It seems to me that there are many birthed – or die before they’re born
who have no joy of life and insufficient chance to learn
what’s good and bad. I mean the congenitally insane,
the destitute who starve, those formed without a brain;
those subject to atrocities which scarred their soul,
unable to entertain hope and never to be whole.”

The angel replied to Esdras: “This is a mystery, I know;
but here are certain clues. First: in this world of base matter,
the begetting of a diamond is part of a much greater scope
which, though it yields barren clinker.
is necessary if that best bright crystal and celestial star
is to be made, as sacrament of sure terrestrial hope.

Second: as God is good the Heavens must grant
to every sentient being the fullest chance of grace
(afforded well by overflowing might exuberant)
sufficient to come safe home by their final pace;
for else a cruel tyrant God would surely be,
and that is not the aspect of those Persons Three
who are Creator and Redeemer of this place.
This means that every soul that’s blessed with consciousness
must have a life that’s apt and adequate for its full education.
Hence if a person’s lotted span and quality of days
does not fulfil this goal, they must be giv’n a supplementary term.
The fact that when they’re reborn they have no recall
of their past life, tells clearly that it was of no account at all.

There is a final possibility: that some who tread the boards
of this narrow and fragile stage are not quite what they seem to be;
but only bit parts in the play. Their outward form affords
a disguise of behaviour; but being mere androids, they
aren’t proper men who know and understand and see.
So many folk seem fake: paper people, folded origami.
Perhaps this seeming is reality and each is a mere zombie:
undead rather than living – souls without a spark.
Such cyphers have no need for any lasting fame;
but can, without complaint, pass on into the dark.
Being devoid of a conscious flame;
their only purpose is to be the context and the frame
for those fair spirit gems which are God’s final aim.

Job's Complaint

Q1. Why doesn’t God prevent natural disasters?
Q2. We don’t seem to have anything to learn from “Acts of God”!

A1.F or all we know God regularly intervenes to prevent and mitigate natural disasters. How can we know what God averted given that it was averted? If God preserved ignorant human beings from natural disasters the foundation of “moral hazard” would be undermined.The end in view is of such great value that it justifies the necessary means, the down-side of which pales into insignificance once the final outcome is grasped.
A2. If God averted all natural disasters this would amount to subverting the very basis of Physical Law which holds the whole world in being. Although this would be possible it would make the world fundamentally irrational and at the best very difficult for human beings to “do science”. In deed it might very well entirely demotivate them from this enterprise.

The voice of Job cries out to Heaven: “What have I done?
There’s no just cause for all my liability
to suffer earthquake, hurricane and techtonic eruption.
Why must my best laid plans all end up in futility?
I’m plagued and starved and threatened by corruption
and after my set time by prospect of senility!”

The voice of God replies to Job: “Mark well these words my son,
you’ve no just case against me.
For you have no idea what I’ve already done
for all my folk who live beneath the rainbow gay
which is my favour’s pledge to all humanity.
Your notion of what by physic’s law must come
is based on what you see from day to day
but this is full of my preventive action
how will you then renormalise my grace away?
If I were reticent in giving benediction
the state of things would be much more awry!”

Now Job retorts, in flaming woe: “It would be hard to bear
if only sinners came to such calamity,
but often it’s the just and kind who suffer
this seems to me a great profanity!
You exploit the innocent for sport.
Not content with their servility,
You love to see their red blood spurt.
Delighting in their vulnerability
you shoot your barbs, and cut their sad lives short!”

God makes response, with kindly sense: “But pain and death are not as bad
as they may seem; for there’s a life beyond the grave.
I take no pleasure in what makes you sad
it is my will to prosper you and save
you from all ill. I have no need
for entertainment of that kind
or any other! I want you to succeed
and in this wondrous world to find
much joy! My business is for you to learn
to tell what’s good from what is not,
and my unfeigned respect to earn.
Moral hazard’s necessary if your sort
is ever to exceed what’s natural
and so be worthy of the Life Eternal.”

But Job is not remotely satisfied and shouts: “You say that we
must learn to tell what’s right from wrong
by finding out the upshot of our agency;
but the actions of which my feeble tongue
makes its sincere complaint are Thine,
O God inscrutable –not mine!

What am I supposed to learn from them?
It seems, at best, that You don’t care;
for if You did, You’d intervene
to stop them taking effect where
the innocent would elsewise suffer –
if You were at all just and fair.”

God answers Job, most patiently: “An option’s risk being understood,
if you take it, then that’s your doom!
Choose active fault line as your neighbourhood,
or else the shadow of volcanic cone,
or plateau scoured often by tornadoes,
or shore which tzunamis frequent;
than you must accept all of those
outcomes which flow – or else repent.

The evils of which you make moan
are not my acts intentional
but certain and most sure outcome
of Cosmic rule conventional
which solid holds the World as one.

I must not subsidise your folly
for then you could not learn.
The preservation of your autonomy
(which is a great and glorious good )
requires that I am resolute and stern.
This of my business is foundational
though repent of it I now would;
were making Man divine not my whole goal.”

A final point, Job pleads with God: “You should at least the ignorant show pity
averting dangers of which they don’t know.
If they are unaware that their fair city
sits on a crack that’s fit to make it rock and roll,
or have no clue their scenic mount
is filled with magma, and so soon
with pumice and with flame will fount
and like a lanced carbuncle spume;
then You should reign back every law
for they're secure only as far
as You allow. You’re able to act for
the innocent, if for them You do care –
as You claimed when challenged, after
Your first supper, with your dear friend, before
the fiery doom on Sodom and sad Gomorrah
was cast down. Then the innocent You saw
and You did a good while forebear!”

God then replies from the gyre of His grace: “If the volcano’s blast ne’er hurt
those who knew not its power to harm,
and I always shielded the ignorant,
this would discourage the naïve to learn.

Ish and Ishsha were secured in Eden
by My strict pedagoguey of their innocence
but to explore beyond that narrow glen
they had to taste experience.

If things were not how they are now,
you’d have no reason truth to know.
The more that you came to see how
things work, and did in wisdom grow;
grasping the designs of the world:
the less you would be able to rely
on my sure aid, as being curled
up in my gentle arms, safely.

No sooner than you realised this fact
you’d seek out that knowledge no more
which your first paradisial state had lacked;
but rather your naïvety you would try to restore!

This would undo human autonomy
and worthy self-respect
and its an outcome which I hope you’ll see
I rightly do reject.”

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Heaven and Hell

Why do we have to learn about good and evil in this life?
What use is this knowledge in the next life?
If there is no evil in Heaven why do we need to know about it at all?

In the future we will live together
(and with mighty God) for ever.
Now, God is fire, and “Hell is other folk”
(a truth that once a cynic spoke)
so we must learn to be most careful
if we’re to prosper in that state eternal.
Heaven and Hell are the same country:
both are God’s proximity. Whether we
are damned or blessed depends on our soul’s state.
A feast is set, but will we fight
over it’s spread – or each other fète, and so full sate
our hunger for what’s best? A hearth is stoked, but will its heat
for us be vital energy or else vile enthalpy our souls to sublimate?

The desert bush was not consumed
by God’s self revelation.
The Jewish threesome stood secure and sound
within the conflagration
which was lit by whim
of Persian King’s decree; for they
were tended by the seraphim
with flaming wings: angelic serpent fey.
The lake of sulphurous flame of which we’re told
can be the purging fire of the divine Eros
– which smelts the slag of sin from spiritual gold –
or else the doom of souls that are no more than dross.
In this world we are remote from God’s fierce heat,
and can train ourselves by stubborn perseverance
in works of love, until we’re holy and complete
and ready to endure for endless days God’s countenance.

Necessary Evil

Why doesn’t God nip all evil in the bud, so as to eradicate suffering?

Our business is to learn that death is sin’s most necessary recompense;
and so to choose what’s right, not wrong, without a hint of diffidence.
This we can only do if every choice has its sure consequence.
There must be moral hazard, founded on unswerving law;
or else between wisdom and folly there would be no difference,
there would be no divide between what’s reckless and prudence.
If on jumping from a precipice I did not fall to stony floor,
always being rescued by an angel’s hand; presumption hyperbolic
(that’s filled with risk and self-despond) would be remade as merry frolic!
– which would, after not long, become most tedious, and nothing more.

An uncomfortable truth

Why is there any such thing as evil at all?
Why does suffering arise as a possibility in the first place?

For life to exist, there has to be
of life’s compromise the possibility.
Flux can only produce stability
in the presence of non-linearity
and this necessitates catastrophe –
that’s a mathematical certainty.
Hence life implies calamity.

Answering Epicurus

Doesn’t the existence of suffering in the world make it irrational to believe in God?

“If God is just and of great might then why does pain abound?
It seems that either God does nothing care, and so cannot be kind;
or else that God cannot save us, and so cannot be powerful.
So if you insist that God is good and omnipotent, if God be real at all;
then God cannot be real: for suffering is certain sure enough!
Nature’s red in tooth and claw, and merely to survive is tough!
Unanswered, Abel’s blood to heaven does clearly call!”

The Hindu says that suffering is always well deserved.
Those who seem innocent are guilty nonetheless.
Karma’s been accrued by them in a life previous.
The evil they did do before has been conserved
and justice now its sure revenge is taking
Each victim is their own atonement making,
for sins committed in the past they’re paying.

The Buddha tells us suffering’s not real, but a delusion:
attachment to the things of matter causes us confusion.
The soul must be freed from physical encumbrance,
and rise above the realm of pain and find its peace
in merging selflessly and wholly with the One
by meditation, and ceaselessly repeating “Om”.

The Deist tells us that God’s justice is remote.
For after all, we’re tiny things, of little note.
God observes the world from a great distance,
caring nothing for our plight.
For though God’s great, He looks at us askance.
He has no empathy with our life’s fight
’gainst suffering, decay and faction:
our pain is not a worthy motive for God’s action.

The Gnostic claims the Cosmos is imperfect.
The World was neither God’s intent nor act.
God is omnipotent, and just and whole;
but the Creator was incompetent in craft.
The Universe is flawed, but this is not God’s fault.
It never was God’s business, its making not His goal.
The Cosmos cannot be redeemed. Matter is sick at heart;
but freedom can be won, by means occult,
for spirits in it trapped, who thence for Heaven depart.

Calvin says that our idea of good is not correct.
God rightly gives us pain: for we deserve no better!
If God elects to help, His power can this effect:
for nothing may God’s sovereign will impede or fetter;
but being ill, we have no right this to expect,
and if God damns us, we may not object. 

Satan says that God’s not just, but is a monster.
His entertainment lies in causing us to suffer.
There is no good or ill; but only power,
and those who are afraid to exercise their share.
In order to survive, you have to fight and strive.
Don’t look for any help. You’re on your own.
Learn that you can only live and thrive
at the expense of those you’ve battered down.

The wise believe that suff’ring has a purpose.
Our business in this world is for ourselves to learn
the difference between what’s wrong and right:
to ready ourselves for being with each other
and with the tri-une living God for ever.
As yet, we are from God’s great flaming disk,
remote: and may awhile prepare ourselves to bask
in God’s most searing, bright and fearsome light.

Friday, 31 January 2014

The Madness of Frederick

As a boy
I was taught
right from wrong
by parents
and by clerks
dressed down in fulgin cloaks.

I was told “thou shalt not”
by belligerent busibodies
who owned the divine rules
as their own shackles
and urgently pressed
those moral chains
on my full-virile frame:
seeking to hold me down,
so they might rape my mind.

The tirade of their words made no sense to me.
Obedience and observance are no virtues
they merit nothing
for they comprehend nothing.
They are empty of soul and spirit
and dark as the deepest abyss.
To conform to imperial diktat
is to abdicate one's own crown,
to resign one's own humanity
and forswear one's own existence:
aping some abstract essence
foreign to one's own truth
which must be found and forged
in the coil of life.

Their God is dead for me.
He serves no use,
has no crevice in my life.
What need have I of any tyrant governor,
who seeks only to carp
and criticise my acts,
curtail my will
and circumscribe my manhood.

And yet, if God is dead,
and rule of good and ill is passed away,
than how can I survive?
What sets my way,
directs my path?
What aim or end
can hold my heart's intent
and give me hope?

Without an ethic, how can I live:
or even set life apart from death?
It seems I must make up my own
and pass beyond the fancy-land
of good and evil
to the unknown country
of want and will
from make-believe
to made-belief!
I must impose my will
on an empty world,
project my private rational account
on a futile public pageant,
bereft of sense.

But if this lore
is nothing other
than want and will,
how can it bind
or help or guide?
How can it be more
than wanton urge
of lowly brute,
not the noble aspirations
and lofty ambitions
of superior man?

Pursuit of pleasure does not suffice,
no lasting satisfaction provide;
but only fleeting respite
before the dismal dawning
of the next drear day.

If will to power is all;
then what is that power for?
What motivates its exercise,
directs its choice of act?
There is no point in ability to do
if there's no point in doing anything!
It seems my mind must know
(or at least glimpse)
what is desirable and what desire is for
before my will can reasonably desire at all.

I am confused and stare into the abyss
of my whirling thoughts
which will not rest and
where there is no peace
nor hope nor joy.
From out that chasm
of woe
my gaze is turned back
onto me.

At first I fear
and then I find a clue:
to know myself, that is my task:
and in that knowledge
disclose what's good for me
by virtue of mine own constituent form
and so unearth,
by delvings of my reasoned mind,
what I most need,
what I may do,
and what I must forego.
I have to mine within myself
a precious ore: the lode-stone
to direct my own way by.


First to go was David,
hostage to father’s work.
No adult cared ’bout what they did
the precious bond they broke.
I stood and cried outside
the house where I had played,
but which to me was now denied.
He was gone, I know not where;
but always for him I shall care.

My bedmate’s end was then decreed:
“That duck must be undone!”
I do not know who did the deed;
but his frail fabric off was flayed:
soap and flannel of him was made.
Of resurrection hope there’s none.

Karl was dear, we hugged and held;
but off to Oz he went.
Long years until again we spoke
were separately spent.
Then tears of joy did whelm my eyes:
till he did vanish into cyberspace,
with no clue of why;
or what then I could do:
or even of an act or unkind word
which I should sorely rue.

Next my mother went to heaven,
slaughtered by a stroke.
To hold me fast God promised then,
but my heart almost broke.

David danced into my life,
then danced again away:
except one latter day,
when he remembered naught
of that strange play
when I did nearly go awry.

Deepest loved was Adrian.
He better far than I my love did ken;
but Pete then Julie had his heart,
and so from me he did depart.
I’ll not see him again!

Nick and Philip, Tom and John,
shared faith and college years;
but seasons came and now are gone
and they did me forsake;
save John, who kept troth ’gainst my fears,
until that bond I’d sadly brake
for fear of hurt I could not take.

An elven flautist ’tranced my soul.
With questing mind and hopeful heart,
striding into my life he came.
He glimpsed the part and saw the whole;
but even his name does now my mem’ry flee.
Derek was dear,
he taught me much,
I slighted him, I fear.
To southern land he went
and we lost touch;
but grace was sent:
so rather than my sin full drear
should bind me in the grave,
he lately me forgave.

My heart, Keith warmed,
but Wales his formed:
the rock from which his being was wrent,
so he took off with glee for Gwent.

Of Pauls let less be said
than floods right through my head.
One despoiled my soul,
one despised me whole
one pursued his goal
to teach the poor
of Africa;
then follow the spoor
of feminine lure
to America.
All are for me no more.

Henry burst into my world,
as poet’s muse and mad daemon;
he gave me life, but now he’s gone
and I am dead within.

Last, Philip loved and learned:
the son I never had;
but off he flew, to Orient far,
in search of wife,
renouncing faith, he left my life
and made me sad.

And so it goes: the eternal train
of broken faith and forgèd chain;
of given love and taken pain.
My only hope for my own gain:
of this frail life I’ll soon be free,
for all of these are lost to me.