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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Tuesday, August 20, 2002
    Contains profanities
     
    Greenbelt is only hours away now and I'm being constantly reminded of it. Today I've enjoyed reading the new Wild Goose magazine with news of friends and excellent insight from John Bell; and also the current LGCM magazine, which carries this poem, which makes me well up with some sort of holy thrill the more I read it. I hope Rosie Miles won't mind me reproducing it here because it says so much about what Greenbelt's about, and the possibilities it suggests.

    GODAWFUL BITS
    For all the Godawful Bits of the Bible

    (For Sara Maitland)

    For the texts of terror:
    For the rape and the pillage and the shame
    Of these sanctified words;
    For the whatthefuckdowedowiththis verses
    That make no sense at all
    To us, now;
    For their endurance in our lives;
    For the utter brokenness
    Of God's human words;
    For knowing how these words have
    Prevented love,
    Stifled life,
    Stunted growth;
    For still somehow reading on.

    And yet,
    In spite, or even because of all this,
    There are theologies
    Or irreverence and mischief
    Winking their way into our lives;
    Playful theologies of craft
    Weaving the weft against the warp,
    Shuttling untold designs
    Into new patterns;
    Theologies of art and lies
    Telling us stories we never knew.

    These painful words will endure,
    Or maybe be forgotten.
    How we inhabit their shadow
    Is no longer a question
    For those who think they know,
    But for the loving potters,
    the waiting poets,
    the holy clowns.