The Republic

utopia

‘Twas Plato erst planned out the perfect state
(Slave-based, of course.) Where citizens perfect
Ordered their city chained to benign fate
While guardians oversaw that no neglect
Occurred. Where warriors’ force the state uphold
And reason reigned supreme. Or so we’re told.

The perfect citizen: every state’s dream!
Where states are gods whom every man must serve:
Not question. For their good, all are a team:
One mind, belief, opinion. Brain and nerve
Serve the state only and for it exist.
This belief down to our own day does persist.

The state is god. To rebel: evil crime.
So Plato thought: for if the state is good
Divergences are evil, and in time
Suborn all else. All thought-crime therefore should
Be caught, corrected, isolated. Cure
Or kill. By such means the state remains pure.

An agony of drear conformity!
A band of trumpets braying on one note:
Unvaryingly banal. The same reality
Replaying over. Boredom learned by rote.
Hell is the same existence eternally
Where heaven is keyed to individuality.

Rubaiyat – Death & Life Duo

Rubiayat

From dust to dust. From clay to clay we live.
While living: may our souls find ought to give
To God and one another. Lest we find
Our time has gone: like water through the sieve.

So when I die: plant over me the rose
Whose scented blossoms delight my repose.
And let my mortal clay nourish the ground
While scented thorns my flesh to blooms transpose.

What though Death’s angel greet you in the morn
And ask you kindly sip the mead-filled horn
To pass from earth into eternal paths
Destined for us before we each were born?

Is Your Church a Family Franchise?

Church Franchise

Has your church transmogrified into a family business franchise? It happens all too often: for no denomination is completely immune to this disease (and independent churches appear to be quite susceptible.)

But don’t panic: help is at hand! The process of becoming a church franchise follows an easily discoverable pattern: key features of which are described below. Anyone can use the following points as a checklist to identify whether their church is turning into another family-run and operated business franchise. So how does your church stack up?

1. Nepotism.

Churches have a small number of remunerated positions and an infinite number of volunteer positions. The latter are fobbed off as “rewards” to energetic church members: but the former are zealously reserved for the pastor’s family members, relations, and closest friends. Whenever you notice salaried position becoming available: note carefully to whom the job is awarded. Nepotistic appointments are quiet affairs – made without advertising or drawing attention to the fact – until public announcement of the fait accompli.

When speaking of “renumeration” we refer to more than mere salaries: petrol allowance, phone allowance, and expense accounts are common types of additional renumeration awarded nepotistically.

2. Group Think.

Group-think is strongly encouraged in family franchise churches. Just as in any family business, open dissension is costly and is therefore avoided. One common reaction is to endlessly circulate propagandist-mantras such as “our church must be of one mind”. Public discussion of real issues is strenuously resisted to protect: the pastor’s freedom of action, the pastor’s income and system of patronage.

Church members who disagree with what their church is doing retain only their right to “vote with their feet”: and many do just that.

3. Financial summaries.

Church financial summaries are glossy, positive, and absent of any detail. Externally audited financial statements are impossible to come by: either they do not exist, or they are seen only by salaried staff. Detailed questions from church members are discouraged: avoided, dodged, or glossed over. Congregational meetings – if required – are always used to divert attention away from: who is getting paid how much to do exactly what.

It is fascinating to note how church family business franchises consistently ignore all accountability towards the people who actually pay their weekly salaries!

Go Save the World

Save the World

The socialism of today does cry
“Do something! Yea – do something”. Oh – must I?
“You must give something back!” they now demand.
Since when did such self-righteous snobs command?
I must admit it came as a surprise
The world wished good for me – or cared likewise.

The Church is just as aimless as the rest
Good works without the Gospel – who is blessed?
Good works are surely comforting and well
To help the body – while souls go to hell.

“Faith without works is dead.” the Scriptures say.
Do works without faith help aught anyway?
I think not. What to do? Who to obey?

“Do Something.” Anything? What shall I do?
Just pointless busy-work? That can’t be true.
To bear fruit, Jesus, I must follow You.

Legends of King Arthur – Sword from the Stone

Banner - Legends of King Arthur - 500w

Steel cased in stone. By harsh daylight
It had resisted all the might
Of every squire and every man
Who did what merely muscle can.
But now upheld for all to see:
Excalibur! Excitedly
The people cheer. Knights shake their head.
Will Arthur dare take Uther’s stead?
The mighty Barons standing near
Don’t bother to withhold a sneer.

“Whoever pulls me from the stone
Wins for himself this kingdom’s thone!”
This epigram in letters clear
Around the stone in gold appear.
The kingdom’s throne of which they spoke
Presages anarchy which broke
Out soon as one that sword held high.
King Arthur will his foes defy!

Quick Merlin hastens to his side
To whisper warning. Woe betide
Unwary kings! King Uther’s dead:
A still corpse on its chapel bed
To soon rest ‘neath layers of stone.
Not long had he resigned the throne –
His corpse is hardly buried when
A civil war explodes again.

The new King Arthur cries “To me!”
An awkward pause. Then suddenly
Threescore well armed and valiant men
Surge forwards in a group to then
Stand Arthur’s guard, ring him around
With drawn blades. Within that ground
He stands secure from attack.
The Barons and their knights forced back.
For now discretion trumps valour:
There’s time enough soon to wage war.
“The castle!” King Arthur commands.
A passage forced by armoured hands
Through yelling crowds they make a way
And Arthur is crowned king that day.

The commons cheer. The Barons curse.
Things quickly change from bad to worse.
Though none openly oppose him yet
The Barons will make good their threat
To replace Arthur with their own
Compliant weakling on the throne.
All call up men and fashion arms
Ready to answer war’s alarms.
For now, the King upon the throne
Prepares to face down rebellion.
The sage Merlin is by his side
To council him whate’er betide.
A silence settles on the land.
As though a storm were near at hand –
A tempest come, about to fall
Upon the kingdom. On them all!

The King’s levies assemble first.
King Arthur soon expects the worst.
Should he march south? Or march up north?
Which enemy will first come forth?
He gave his future to the fates.
King Arthur watched. King Arthur waits.

Unloved

Frozen Heart

Two lovers sat.
Perhaps ex-lovers really.
Their memories of love and joy and happiness all frozen
Turned to solid ice
While they go through love’s motions.

Their love was real. Once.
Passionate and soul-enthralling.
Not now.
A frost has come – first one heart froze. And then the other cooled also.

What now?
What can he do to win her love again?
For love once lost is harder to reclaim.
Does she want her heart reclaimed? By him?

One lover sat alone.
The other’s gone to work. She may come back.
Or not.