Into the Wilderness (version 2)

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CalebPerry
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Fri Mar 01, 2024 6:57 pm

Into the Wilderness (version 2 -- free verse)

As a hedge against damnation,
the preacher made himself the strictest
of the strict interpreters
of precious texts, so to convince God
of his impeccable faith; but men
who hedge their faith are men who feign.

When his reckoning came, God discerned
his subterfuge, dispatched him
to the bare and broken plain — without
a tongue or name — to wander
with the ever unrepentant Cain.

================================

To Heaven's Gate (version 1)

As a hedge against damnation,
he became the strictest of the strict
interpreters of sacred words,
so to demonstrate to God
his ever unwavering faith; but men
who hedge their faith are men who feign. -- [their faith/their bets/the truth?]
At his reckoning, God discerned
his subterfuge, condemned him then
to wander the bare and broken plain
with the ever unrepentant Cain,
and to never understand his fate.



John will be able to tell me if I understand biblical concepts and stories and the Christian God well enough. I'll explain what caused me to write this poem later.

I probably owe the board some critiques.
Last edited by CalebPerry on Sun Mar 03, 2024 7:11 pm, edited 23 times in total.
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jisbell00
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Sat Mar 02, 2024 3:25 am

Hi Caleb,

Yes, Cain would be unrepentant, for an orthodox thinker, and God hates hypocrisy, so you're on solid ground here IMO. I like the poem quite a bit, the narrative is crisp and clear.
You might be able to make it two 5-line stanzas, I think that could be nice.

Cheers,
John
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CalebPerry
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Sat Mar 02, 2024 4:20 am

Thank you, John. The poem still needs refining in a couple places.

Here is the story: My best friend as an adolescent was someone named Todd. We were both around 12 or 13, and we knew each other only for perhaps half a year before my mother moved the family 200 miles away. Even at that age, Todd was a devout Christian (also, a diabetic who had to inject insulin, which I think influenced his character). As an adult, he became a minister. His claim to fame was/is that he interprets the Bible literally, even the parts which other theologians see as symbolic (like the creation). It is his claim to fame that, despite being an otherwise sophisticated man, he sees the Bible as the literal word of God, and preaches that accordingly.

We were never close as adults, having contact just once in a while. I learned that he believes his parents went to Hell because they weren't devout enough, and he believes I will go to Hell for not being Christian, and for being gay. I recently started to examine, both in my mind and in emails to him (which he isn't answering), why he chose to be the most conservative of the conservatives. I have recollections of him as a young man in which he toyed with progressive beliefs, only to reject them because they weren't consistent with the Bible. I concluded that he is afraid of damnation, and that his "most devout of the devout" posture is his "hedge" against damnation. Indeed, the Old Testament God isn't a loving God who ever forgives anyone. That God is, in fact, very much like Trump -- selfish, narcissistic, calculating, capricious, etc. I began to wonder if Todd may feel, despite his over-the-top devotion during a long life, that he hasn't done enough to be saved. And then I realized that assuming a posture of devotion to convince God of one's faith is actually expressive of deep-seated doubts, and those doubts may work against him in his final judgement. That is what gave rise to the poem.

The word "reckoning" in the poem refers to his judgement after death, but I'm not happy with that. So I still have work to do.

I'm not sure the final line belongs in there; I put it in for a reason involving syntax.
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jisbell00
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Sat Mar 02, 2024 4:44 am

Hi Caleb,

Interesting story. Sorry to hear about your friend. I think Jesus would feel your friend has gone badly wrong. I am willing to bet he doesn't follow Judaism's 622 commandments; in that case, he should try Jesus, but the actual Jesus, not the mythic MAGA Jesus. The one who says to love and forgive.

I had a gay friend - I may have told you - whose mother, yearly on his birthday, sent him a little cassette saying he was going to Hell. Now that, Jesus would have a problem with.

Good luck with your edits! You've got the gist of the story, I think.

Cheers,
John
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CalebPerry
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Sat Mar 02, 2024 6:37 am

Thank you, John.

I read about a young man once whose Jewish family started sitting Shiva for him when he told them he was gay.

I should tell you that I am trying to convince my friend of some of the ideas in the Seth Material. The God described in those readings is a God everyone would want to have.

My second version is posted -- more fluid.
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jisbell00
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Sat Mar 02, 2024 10:15 am

Hi Caleb,

Yes, I prefer your Version II, the last line as well. I stil lthink you can split the poem into 2 stanzas.

Cheers,
John
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CalebPerry
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Sat Mar 02, 2024 11:55 am

Thanks, John!

So, if I just split it after "feign", you think that will improve it?

To add a little meaning to the poem, I refer to the protagonist as "the preacher" in the second line now. That justifies the line in which God takes his tongue and name from him, since preachers do a lot of talking, and some of them develop a following. I've also rearranged the ending lines.

I think the poem is now in its final form, although I'm still considering your idea of splitting it in two.

Actually, I'm worried that the poem is now too heavy with rhymes.
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jisbell00
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Sat Mar 02, 2024 12:47 pm

I'd split it there.

I like the 'plain' line as is, but if you want less rhyme, you might try 'field' or some such.

Cheers,
John
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CalebPerry
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Sat Mar 02, 2024 8:29 pm

I've divided the poem in two, replaced "consigned" with "dispatched", and eliminated some descriptive words, as poems about the Christian God work best when they are stark and plain.

Thanks again! This poem is a keeper. Whether I'm going to show it to my religious friend, I haven't decided yet.
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jisbell00
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Sun Mar 03, 2024 2:39 am

Yup, I like where you've taken this. Nice title too.

Cheers,
JOhn
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CalebPerry
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Sun Mar 03, 2024 3:22 am

Thanks for giving the poem so much attention!
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