THE GNOSTIC SEMINAR
“From this (Revelation) we learn that the forma Dei consists in the grace in which God himself assumes and makes his own the forma servi. We have to hold fast to this without being disturbed or confused by any pictures of false gods. It is this that we have to see and honor and worship as the mystery of the deity of Christ.”
—Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics
The harmless, homespun checkered tweed
With piped lines as thin as cross-hairs,
The call to order, and democratic beads—
The faithful have no more need to fear
Mystery’s sharp, untutored ills;
The scandal is on the velvet,
And the scholars mean to kill
Every horrid accretion and lunatic tenet,
Passing for the gospel taught by Jesus.
The naked Christ is after all a hungry democrat,
No welkin child, but injuria comprehensus,
Who alone saves us from the fist and boondoggle of the tyrant.
Into the valley of appalling social sins,
He delivers bread by the anarchist’s hammer blow
To the stingy hoarding what’s everyone’s in bins,
And to the blameless and anti-mythological thrall he shows
The ethical life re-discovered by Kant.
So harlotry ends with disinfectant and conscience,
With no further need for the ludicrous slant
That grown men will sit on a fence
Until challenged to own their selfish justice,
And quietly put down their stones.
But memory fades in the bullring of academic practice,
Bottled water clinks, Epistles
Are redacted, and the Good Revolutionary
Given up to howling pariah dogs for food.
And that Cross which the superstitious carry
Up the dolorous way, is no rood
For God, they say, while the pipe smoke curls,
But merely history’s opprobrium
Reserved for every forward looking, egalitarian churl.
A full moon westers, and the Holy Ghost
Is tabled for the following Monday;
Laughter rises along a gloomy Euclidian colonnade,
As reporters wrangle a line or two
To contrast with their readers’ biblicist views—
The doors are shut, the lights are dimmed,
Easter is tomorrow, and a dirty wind blows
Blood of the martyrs and their King
‘Round the scruffy, scholar championed proles,
Who in their cramped, candlelit incense vigil,
Solemnly for the miracle of “Aneste Christos” sing.