Jesus, you came with Peter Rabbit,
Mowgli and Pooh Bear.
School tried to make your prayers a habit
But it was hard to care.
Teachers said do what you said
(Though things you did were odd),
But didn’t follow where you led –
So, just a load of cod.
I saw you as a man forthwith –
If you were real at all,
And not some mushroom-inspired myth,
Tales primitive and tall.
Though stored away up in the attic
The image of you stays:
Wit, healing, laughter… enigmatic
Violent angry frays…
Bush/Cheney occupied Iraq
As Rome did Palestine;
Bin Laden tales came down a track
With yours to intertwine:
Lean, bearded, robed and cinematic
Striding over hills,
Laughing and angry, the fanatic
Invokes, inspires and kills.
Pig-eating, beardless Westerners
Uniformed and well-armed,
Are just thieving idolaters
Who leave God’s people harmed.
Seize, cleanse the Temple at Passover,
King of the Jews! But all
Faith fails against Rome, you discover…
(The tale was changed by Paul.)
Whatever Jesus was, he wasn’t “meek and mild”. The Gospels have him cursing and withering a fig tree, telling his followers to get weapons, trashing the moneychangers in the Temple because of their handling of idolatrous coins; early legends of his childhood have him killing and blinding other children in fits of rage.
Occupied by the Romans, Palestine went into revolt every 20 or 30 years for a couple of centuries, until Rome finally tore the place apart and exiled all the Jews. Jesus had a minor role in the political history of this (but, thanks to Paul, a greater religious impact). My novel on this is The Gospel According to the Romans.
The poem was published in Snakeskin.
Photo: this t-shirt is available from Zazzle