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Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

Personal thoughts during a visit to a museum in Leiden, the Netherlands, primarily to view its Etruscan exhibition

Etruscan

Looking at pots, trinkets, wares left behind
By those lost in time but the same human kind
Living their lives in the way they knew how
Much still mysterious to us here now

Where did they come from? No one is quite sure
Perhaps from the north to that Italian shore
Ancient Greek influence, gods that abound
No written texts but one have yet been found

Much that we know of them comes from their tombs
That we have the right to rob now one assumes
Personal items fill halls of renown
Next to the statues whose eyes look not down

Others

Romans next-door and Egyptians nearby
Both telling their stories whose bones are quite dry
To eyes and ears of those distant in years
Advanced in some ways but with much the same fears

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Crossroads

Will they be there at the end
Those who once called me a friend
And my family, as I remember them?
Will they also be there too
Ones I wronged all shouting boo
Or allowed in others ways me to condemn?

I imagine them all there
At those gates above the stair
In that terminus where one goes up or down
Where forgiveness might be found
Or damnation underground
When those highly thought of judges go to town

Cloudscape

My friends the clouds go drifting by
So unassuming, low and high
I wish that I could float with them
Above the din of man’s mayhem

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Apprehension

Do my prayers all get diverted
to that region down below,
heard by those with tails and eyes red
gloating ever midst the glow?

Is up there the door closed to me?
Messages no more received –
if they ever were, I must say.
Have I truly been deceived?

Faith one must retain, they tell me,
to secure a better life
filled with joyousness and laughter
at the end of hope and strife.

Hypocrites most seem to be now,
those who others must condemn
to feel free for just a moment
from desires that eat at them.

All around there is confusion.
Help still seems so far away.
Will HE, if HE comes, be met by
only goats on judgement day?

As you see, I dare to question
though I feel then so alone
when the doubts return to haunt me
stronger than truths that have flown.

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Inspired by the film “The Discovery of Heaven” derived from the novel of the same name by Harry Mulisch. The poem is based only loosely on the original plot.

He searched for Heaven everywhere
each night by choosing one new square
of night sky where those islands lay
mysterious and far away.

His calculations suddenly
showed where it could and well might be:
a region outside time and space
that negatives of each embrace.

Alarm when there his thoughts were heard
bells ringing out with every word
of that which mortals was denied
until they came when fear had died.

Discovery would break the seal
destroy the spokes of Heaven’s wheel.
Duality derived from sin
would make the walls come crashing in.

It now must end what was begun.
What man had forged must be undone.
On burning wings their answer came
to silence in a burst of flame.

The stars still burn to light the night
and those of Earth still fail and fight
but gates of Heaven, now secure,
are closed to man for evermore.

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The church was full of hope and soap
Scrubbed souls, mopped floors, stained windows glare
Dark pillared roof glowered down at those
On cushioned knees, in humble pose

Hands clasped together, heads bowed low
Soft words, then voices raised in song
As organ growled its mournful dirge
To rattle bones and sinners scourge

A doubter, troubled, there alone
With thoughts now louder than the rest
Let flow a helpless, sorrowed tear
Wiped quickly by the hand of fear

Solemnity stood there on high
Twixt God and man, in shabby robes
Its fingers stroked the chosen page
Would it bring ordained calm or rage?

Hearts wishing, begging, for relief
From earthly woes and fettered gloom
Were rent by a small child’s shrill cry
Heads turned to glance, an evil eye

The chastity of grace disturbed
Coughs rang as if to hide the shame
That one so innocent and free
Irreverently had to pee.

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Inspired by Dan Brown’s book “The Lost Symbol”

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Is it time for some lost symbol,
ancient archetype, to bring
now an end to wasteful daydreams
so our hearts can truly sing?

Can the pyramid and apex
come together, fused at last?
Can the cube unfold to show us
a new future without past?

Is there one who’ll wield the power
not from crippled thoughts of gain,
but to free us from the dangers
of our self-inflicted pain?

Can then peace and understanding
rule at last in place of war?
Will the gods return to guide us
from that distant, golden shore?

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Elevator

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Painting by William Blake (b. 1757, London, d. 1827, London)
“Dante and Virgil before the Angelic Guardian of the Gate of Purgatory”

If Heaven’s up then Hell is down
and sure enough, the Earth has fire,
below the often-scorching soil
where flesh would burn and blood would boil.

Have I arrived in penitence
for sins somewhere along the way?
Yes, it could be so very true
that we were meant to serve as two.

Perhaps we’re at some crossing point,
halfway, to pass some extra test,
a lifetime here to pay our dues
to gods who still our pleas refuse.

How many times have we been here
together or so oft apart?
Some others seem familiar too,
a multitude just passing through.

I’m sure now Hell is quite close by
and Heaven still so far away,
a twinkle in some nighttime sky
to where one day our souls may fly.

Man hovers between good and bad
or good and evil if you please,
but fuse the two and recognise
what roams the heavens in disguise.

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Walkabout

An aboriginal in the far north (of Australia) can understand an aboriginal from the far south without understanding his language; he translates the melodies of his songs and therefore knows which path he is walking and where he is from.
From “The Songlines” by Bruce Chatwin

The cause is greater than the man
whether god’s or devil’s plan.
Danger lurks when minds unfold
the nature of Creation’s mould.

A levelling is what we need.
Sever peaks to find the seed
that when tended shall reveal
the secret of the turning wheel.

So sing the song to stir the Earth
and hear the voices of rebirth.
See the road laid out so clear
the one that leads away from here.

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Photo courtesy Matt Banks

The church bells say it’s time to rise
and enter walls of cold gray stone
to sit in whispered stain glass glow
with thoughts for which we must atone.

I look round at the gathered few.
Smiles mixed with sternness gaze my way.
Just muffled talk and coughs disturb
a reverence the leads to pray.

The organ wails and as all stand
the one appears to whom we clasp
with faith that now the words will come
to free us from old Satan’s grasp.

And having listened, urged and sung
we shuffle once more to the door
into the warmth of springtime sun
and back into that world once more.

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Picture partly thanks to Dr Joseph Valks

 

I’ve written a lot on injustice
but still it’s increasing each day,
no sign of the change that some hope for,
the message for which many pray.

The mountain of lies is still growing;
the truth buried somewhere beneath.
The few, grin at those who are groping,
and fear no more to show their teeth.

It seems that a miracle’s needed,
a big one to light up the sky
with letters built up out of rainbows
saying something like “This is goodbye”

Where angels descend with hair flaming
and devils rise up from their lair.
Another fight in the arena
while all we can do is just stare.

When minds are purged it will be over.
No more will a fist meet a face.
No more will a boot find you kneeling.
No more will to fail bring disgrace.

I long for a fresh start for mankind;
farewell to hate and all that jazz.
I trust you’re not one who’s just laughing
at this one man’s razzamatazz.

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On the hypocrisy within the Catholic Church

Religion teaches many things:
believe in God a must
an afterlife on tranquil planes
and in him put your trust.

Temptation to damnation leads;
see now the sweating brow.
Hands clasped in prayer to save the soul
of one who took a vow.

Suffer the little children lost
the good book thrown aside.
Thought torments from the shadows long
shows what has been denied.

The cause surmounts all faith and hope.
Hands firm on shoulders lie.
Inside behind the cold stone walls
unheard the mournful cry.

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It’s rising up to heaven
or falling down in sin:
the one true firm believer
no longer held by skin.

Its former expectations
will now be put to test,
no one to know its future
or one to be impressed.

To speculate is fruitless.
Thoughts are of yesterday.
Religion’s of tomorrow
when we at last must pay.

Hope is the only doorway,
forever locked in life,
the gateway for immortals
who never know of strife.

That matter of creation
contains our troubled minds,
the memories of daydreams,
ideas of different kinds.

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It would be no small blow to science
if there’s one who lends compliance
working back in time to give
a kick start to all those that live

and to things called inanimate
cooperation to create
no more just bits that chance to meet
demanding an astounding feat.

Tunes coming down from far away
can raise a voice somewhere today.
Another genius is born
to rearrange what’s old and worn.

Man struggles on to clarify
what’s seen through his myopic eye:
a universe that never tires
and unencumbered by desires.

No doing but what’s needed done.
One step ahead to spoil the fun
the future mirrors what has passed
to man so small in that so vast.

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"Whenever we encounter the Infinite in man, however imperfectly understood, we treat it with respect. Whether in the synagogue, the mosque, the pagoda, or the wigwam, there is a hideous aspect which we execrate and a sublime aspect which we venerate. So great a subject for spiritual contemplation, such measureless dreaming — the echo of God on the human wall!" – Victor Hugo

If I could grasp infinity
that wholeness steeped in mystery
unknown to thoughts of time and space
then where would be this secret place
in which I hide to look upon
the mask presented by the one?

Strange as it seems twixt nought and one
are numbers endless in their girth
but none can reach that distant shore
on which God sits in gentle mirth
as man attempts to reach beyond
the borders of his muddied pond.

The universe must have an end
a place where none can come or go.
Somewhere that’s different from the rest
so one may say, “I told you so.”
But man’s time’s better spent it’s true
the bounds of knowledge to pursue.

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Updated 29 December

A Nigerian engineer with purported links to al-Qaeda breached impenetrable security precautions and boarded a plane at Amsterdam airport without a passport and aided by a well-dressed man, see this report. It is noteworthy the latter was not reported by the mainstream media. Just before landing the Nigerian attempted to explode some device containing a  “powdery substance”, but only succeeded in setting his legs on fire before he was incapacitated by passengers and crew. Hmm.
It’s been a while since “terrorists” did anything in the West to warrant the continuation of the devastating “war on terror”, so I suppose something might have been needed to fan the flames of dying revolt.

US Congressman Ron Paul’s comment here

So now on down to New Year
it seems not much has changed
no one to stir the millions
waiting for what’s arranged.
Old Lucifer is dancing
with hunger in his eyes
the thirst for blood still surging
as he designs his lies.
His servants feast and wonder;
another year’s success.
The light has grown still dimmer
on man’s road to progress.
But more and more awaken
and leap with torches bright
to join their fellows storming
the paper walls of night.

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Inspired by a scientific analysis of the Bible’s Old Testament message.
(The helix refers to the Earth’s true orbit through space)

An ancient text not understood
just symbols to an alien mind
that dredges thoughts from rivers deep
to paint worlds of a different kind.

Myths, legends, show a truth disguised
from those to whom the written word
emerged from Nature’s wondrous hand
and voice that beckoned to be heard.

Three thousand turns the helix makes
as on they speed to journey’s end
those motes searching for paradise
that’s waiting always round the bend.

Perhaps one day when hope’s denied
these revelations will be clear
and man will see with opened eyes
what lies behind the web of fear.

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I thought of a message for Christmas
with Santa and sleigh bells and all
and best wishes for the world’s people
the hope that good things them befall.

But seeing the turmoil and hardship
that many souls suffer today
it seems that the Shepherd’s forgotten
why many of His flock still pray.

So let those pretend and be merry
the ones who still can and are free
that there’ll be someone to protect them
from fools who think they hold the key

while others who hardly see daylight
and know only hunger and pain
look on with eyes tired but not clouded
by dreams that beguile the inane.

Our futures are born of past longings
our moments pale ghosts in the night.
So I wish that we’ll soon awaken
to walk once again in the light.

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I’m sure our local morning paper is mostly a source of cold amusement or boredom to those of a more skeptical turn of mind, like me – those not easily fooled by shoddy propaganda. Its sudoku is also too easy, damn it! Why don’t I take another? Well I did switch to a national paper of a definite higher quality for a while (with harder sudoku), but it had the irritating habit of arriving after eight o’clock on weekdays and as late as one o’clock in the afternoon on Saturday, if it arrived at all – inexcusable, of course. The one redeeming feature of our present publication is the local gossip.
The government here has a problem: it’s always made up of at least three political parties and presently we have a mixture of centre Christian Democrats, rightwing Christians Fundamentalists and leftwing Socialists – a motley crew.
Due to the inevitability of compromise they’ve all joined forces somewhere in the middle, producing a rather tasteless, thin political soup. The opposition comprises about three hundred parties (slight exaggeration) all constantly fighting each other and as such not really forming any effective opposition to the ruling coalition. As in many western nations, the more rightwing parties have gained in popularity the last few years, largely due to bungled immigration policies and their repercussions.
The upshot is that our leaders (well, let’s be kind) like to push important decisions as far into the future as possible and let the less important ones sink into the quagmire of seemingly endless official and public debate, where they lie dormant until some irritating journalist inevitably resurrects the underlying issue, hopefully at a much later date.
The largely disillusioned public doesn’t really care, anyway. Elections are a mere distraction and unlike many special days on the calendar one is not even given time off. Well it’s true, as I’ve said, that many do have an obsession with immigrants who can’t fit in and generally seem to lounge around, some descending into criminality, and there’s the persistent sore of different cultures and religions not getting on too well. Oh, and politicians who propose legislation that obviously steals from salaries don’t last long.
The latest important decision has been to introduce a kilometer levy on vehicles from 2018. Yes, you read it correctly – 2018. No more purchase and running taxes but a distance-travelled tax (sorry levy) instead, and (how could it be otherwise) there will be a reduction for vehicles producing less CO2 than their guzzling counterparts. The people I referred to in the first sentence think that, at an estimated guess based on experience, the sending out of nine million bills per month might stretch the capabilities of even a most industrious future administration to breaking point, and that the whole system will ultimately prove to be too expensive anyway, as so often has happened in the past.
Perhaps in 2018 we’re all driving clean vehicles with only their drivers producing CO2, so it would seem a safer bet to just heavily tax breathing and be done with it. Perhaps in 2018 little green men will have taken over the Earth and turned us all into slaves – without vehicles. It’s all possible.
After years of research and debate involving the unions, the government has decided to raise the pensionable age from 65 to 67 with effect from 2017, yes 2017. Most unions are steadfastly against the move, as they see it as their members having to contribute longer for less. Anyway, there’s plenty of time left to iron out the details. Of course, many of those higher up can even now go on as long as they are capable if they wish.
On a lighter note, according to the media in general the western economies are easing out of economic depression (or is it recession?), crawling it’s true and likely to slide backwards at any time, but momentarily making slow upward progress. All except Britain it seems, which is making Prime Minister Brown’s severe headache even worse. Well, he can perhaps still manage a thin smile thinking about the coming utopia of the New World Order (perhaps as late as 2018), in which he imagines his personal problems will be over. How naive can one be?
Oh, and the NASA has found water on the Moon, several bucketfuls I’m told. So the future seems a little brighter for those of us who will have to survive on our sister body while raping it of its natural resources or when the planet becomes inhabitable for humans or both – hopefully after 2018.
I’m sure there are those who, in their craziness, see man’s situation in 2018 clearly, but let’s all agree to do our best to ensure that their dreams don’t become our nightmare reality.

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There are those who believe that we
climbed down from some perch in a tree,
and while perusing gathered nuts
saw suddenly some ifs and buts.
These formed new pathways in the mind
those of the search-for-answers kind.

So somehow revelations came.
We stood, and went in search of game
with tools and weapons we had made,
worked by the fire that came to aid.
The cave gave shelter and safe rest;
we thrived, the equal of the best.

Our tools and weapons grew in size
Their forms took on a new disguise
And caves became new structures too
Where many lived, not just a few
No predators came in the night
Their eyes lit by the fireside light.

So did millennia pass by.
We never ceased to wonder why
and marvels wrought by hand and mind
changed how we thought of humankind.
No longer one with all the rest,
some of whom now were second best.

Fights turned to wars with millions dead.
A madness filled our hearts with dread
as death appeared to roll the dice
and saviors told of paradise,
the wrath of God and that called sin,
which drove our thoughts deeper within.

Although our origin’s in doubt
we still are here to rant and shout,
strike out at dangers all around,
ghosts born of fear, ideas unsound.
The peace man seeks that he once knew
stays close but ever out of view.

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Where is He?

Will He be there in the morning?
Was He there when came the sleep
While I lay counting my blessings
When thought had run out of sheep?

Is He there behind the shadows?
Does He shun the light of day?
Is He kind and warm and gentle?
Does He hear when millions pray?

Is He there when man discovers
Something new as old as time?
Does He smile with understanding
At the frailty of this rhyme?

Will He be there at the ending
When the curtains close at last
Or will dreams fade as the twilight
When my longest day has passed?

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