Their God
#1
Their God

Their God allows outrageous things
to poke and prod their hopeful hearts,
and thrash at their too delicate wings.

Their God allows they name their sins
mistake, and lets them on their way
with their anecdotes in their coffee tins.

Their God allows our terrorist
imaginations to exist
like we're newborns stupidly making a fist.

Their God allows outrageous things.
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#2
Hey Paul-

First time through I was a bit put off, sensing that the poet was professing a moral high ground.

Second time through I noticed that the 3 stanzas may well represent the 3 Abrahamic faith traditions- Jewish, Christian, Muslim. I'm going with my second reading, as I believe you write with intent. Further, I interpret that the stanzas come in the order that each tradition appeared.

I came to this understanding because I have often heard each of the 3 refer to the "other" as having "their God".  I have always found this quite unusual, because as Abrahamic traditions they all point to the same deity.

Since this is MISC , I'm not going to do a line-by-line, but may come back later to do so.

You don't need to affirm or deny my interpretation, but it's what I'm sticking with.

Thanks for the read,
Mark

Ok Paul-

This may be MISC, but I'll offer comments, below:

Their God

Their God allows outrageous things
to poke and prod their hopeful hearts,
and thrash at their too delicate wings.  I trip on "too" every time

Their God allows they name their sins  "sins' " is possessive in this case, and needs an apostrophe
mistake, and lets them on their way May need to re-work this line : "sin's mistake" oddly puts the mistake on the sin, and not "they".
Also, "allows they name" is unusual phrasing vs "allows that they name".  Read the first line aloud and maybe you'll hear what I mean.

with their anecdotes in their coffee tins. "their" doesn't seem necessary here, one too many "their" there

Their God allows our terrorist  This is the stanza that causes me trouble.  Why not "their" instead of "our"?
imaginations to exist
like we're newborns stupidly making a fist.  I think this line needs to be re-worked, esp "stupidly" ("clumsily" ?) . 

Maybe:
Their God allows their terrorist 
imaginations to exist-
that some are born raising a fist.


Or something like that.

The problem I see with S.3 is that "our terrorist" seems confusing, eventhough it is "their God" that is allowing "our terroist imaginations...":  this last stanza (for me) equates "terrorist" with "our", when it is usually one group calling the other group the terroists.  Yes, yes, I get that it is "their God" allowing this, BUT I can't help but read it the way I do. 

OK, Paul, that's what I'm thinking.
Mark 


Their God allows outrageous things.
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#3
I like this for its mystery - to which [G]od does it, and what people does "they," refer (since the speaker is describing the deity of some other group)?  It could even be argued that "their" deity is Science, which is tolerant of "mistakes" as no other is.  Though it might be argued, against current practice, that like Catholicism Science requires confession of error and humility as to its possibility.

The meter's a little jagged and the rhyme slightly forced, but this is not inappropriate for the subject.   It could even be taken as a "grass is greener" envious look at a different religion that seems more forgiving, or a complaint that someone's not taking terrorism seriously.

Anyway, I like it.  Regulating the meter might or might not be worth considering.
feedback award Non-practicing atheist
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#4
I can certainly appreciate d.alien’s interpretation.

That said, there are areas where this needs to be tightened (while being left open to interpretation).

Thought provoking piece, Paul.

Mark
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#5
(05-27-2021, 03:10 PM)Tiger the Lion Wrote:  Their God

Their God allows outrageous things
to poke and prod their hopeful hearts,
and thrash at their too delicate wings.

Their God allows they name their sins
mistake, and lets them on their way
with their anecdotes in their coffee tins.

Their God allows our terrorist
imaginations to exist
like we're newborns stupidly making a fist.

Their God allows outrageous things.

Like Mark, I see the three Abrahamic faiths in the three stanzas.
The repetition at the end suggests that the cross accusation goes on forever, much like in real life
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#6
Hmmm....

If I try to read this according to numbers of "believers", then my Abrahamic theory falls apart, as the number of Jewish adherents is vastly smaller than even the number of secular/non-affliated folks. 

If I stick to the Abrahamic traditions theory (in order of appearance), then the last stanza still proves problematic (to me).

That said, the statement "Their God allows... does speak to choice: we can choose to believe, or not, and we can then choose to adhere to those beliefs, or not.  And if we adhere very strongly, then we may feel we can fault "their God", and vindicate our belief system.  It's worth noting that even, sometimes especially, under a certain "tent" there are strongly held differences.

Interesting that it's not "Their God forbids...".  If, in fact, an all powerful deity did "forbid", then the forbidden things just wouldn't happen.  In comes the arguement- why is it that "...God allows outrageous things?"- the "if God, then why evil" arguement.  That, I think, has a bit to do with why there are such large numbers of secular/non-affliated folks. 

Now Paul, the fact that you are making observations does lend itself well to multiple interpretations.  Still, as I mentioned in a previous post, there are areas that need to be reworked.  In such a short piece that will be very difficult to accomplish.  Or, since this in MISC, your'e not intending changes, but merely cutting it loose (having taken it as far as you wanted to go, and there is definitely wisdom in that approach, or you'd wind up with several volumes of books). 

At very least, ya got us thinking,
Mark
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#7
(05-27-2021, 03:10 PM)Tiger the Lion Wrote:  Their God

Their God allows outrageous things
to poke and prod their hopeful hearts,
and thrash at their too delicate wings.

Their God allows they name their sins
mistake, and lets them on their way             I thought maybe "mistake" just needs to be "mistakes"
with their anecdotes in their coffee tins.

Their God allows our terrorist
imaginations to exist
like we're newborns stupidly making a fist.

Their God allows outrageous things.

I didn't see this as singling out particular religions, but I can understand how it could be interpreted that way.  I guess "God" singular implies monotheistic ones.  I really like the comparison of terrorist and baby fist in stanza three, but it doesn't read as smoothly as the first two, as others have said.  Terrorist makes it tough to come up with alternatives though.  If indeed it's alluding to religious fanaticism, then maybe some other word, like "martyr" could be employed as well or instead.

Anyway, it's an interesting read.  Really love the "coffee tins" line.
"Poetry is the rhythmic, inevitably narrative, movement from an overclothed blindness to a naked vision."  Dylan Thomas
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#8
(05-27-2021, 03:10 PM)Tiger the Lion Wrote:  Their God

Their God allows outrageous things
to poke and prod their hopeful hearts,
and thrash at their too delicate wings. I like "too". It's one of those rhythmic touches I find endearing. Here's a stab: if I went with Mark's reading, which I really like, then maybe wings as in "they rise above others in the eyes of God", delicate as in "through thousands of years, they've existed as a distinct entity, even as they've thoroughly assimilated into their locales", and too as in "as they are esteemed, so they are tried; as they are distinct, so they are persecuted".

Their God allows they name their sins
mistake, and lets them on their way The sense I find in this grammatical error is that "Their God allows they name their sins / 'mistakes'", like Base.
with their anecdotes in their coffee tins. Tripped. Better: "with anecdotes in coffee tins".
This is where Mark's interpretation  starts to loosen its grip on me. Christianity, if this is Christianity, is just so divided that there's rarely one-size-fits-all. Going by personal experience, many Evangelicals emphasize the total depravity of the unsaved, but when one is "saved" there's the impression of an almost blasé treatment of sin on a personal basis -- confession, for many of its sects, isn't a sacrament -- while, on a sociopolitical basis, total depravity rears its hypocritical head to condemn the Catholics, the gays, the abortionists, etc; and then there are the Catholics, of whom I speak generally, since it's a common-enough joke to associate Catholics with guilt.  

Their God allows our terrorist
imaginations to exist
like we're newborns stupidly making a fist. Maybe "as if we're newborns making fists"?.
And this, I think, is where I'm finally free. "Our" indicates universality, which if this were a condemnation of extremist Muslims could merely indicate that this is the part of their religion that appeals the most to its (potential) followers. But equating extremist Islam with terrorism feels way too obvious, compared to the subtler criticisms of the earlier stanzas, and there's at least a natural progression from the skewed -- misplaced optimism -- to the problematic -- denial of humanity's sinful nature -- to the outright wrong, that the original interpretation feels unnecessary. But I wouldn't advise against keeping that interpretation viable. It keeps things spicy. 

Their God allows outrageous things.
Interesting. Likely, there's more to write about here, more to address -- arguments about God and religion and whatnot -- but I'd rather not go beyond the scope of interpreting the poem. And, one far more important interpretation, which circles back to Mark, this time to his first impression: I kinda agree that the poem is kinda smug, and considering how interesting it is, I feel like you can tone it down. The speaker could be as smug as I am, sure, but that would be far better as an impression that develops while one reads the piece. And, really, the piece itself is short enough that it can be read in an instant, which is why the problem, I feel, is not so much in the body as in the head, or rather the title. What each stanza opens with, Their God, is pungent enough: pick another title.
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#9
Good assessment by notch.

My only real issue lies with S.3, as "terrorist" just seems out of place. It does rhyme with "exist" and "fist", but there are plenty of other "...ist" rhymes you could've gone with. BUT you obviously chose these intentionally. So, it is what it is.

Since you posted this in MISC, Paul, I imagine you can just leave it alone as a thought provoking piece, because it certainly did accomplish that, all nits aside.

Mark
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#10
The title is what sells this.

Their God can't exist without Our God. So, the poem will always be viewed by each side as talking about the other.
The secret of poetry is cruelty.--Jon Anderson
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#11
Hey guys. Thank you for all the reads and thoughtful commentary. Apologies for not replying sooner but I couldn't really think of a way to respond that didn't somehow weaken the poem. What I mean is, (and Mark touched on this) I felt like the interpretations and conversation around the piece were much more interesting than anything I could add by either confirming or denying anything you guys read into it.
I will say that, as in a lot of my writing, the writer and the N are two completely different animals. This writer is by no means a fan of the N in this piece. So, in reality, "Their God", is my God and vice versa. If the N were to resemble anyone, it might be someone like Richard Dawkins, whose brand of terrorism gets a pass, outrageous as it might be.
As far as meter goes, I come from a musical/singing background, so I can easily stretch one syllable into four, or cram four into one, and read it without a glitch. Sometimes it translates to the reader, and sometimes it doesn't. The word choices take precedent but not always without cost.
Thanks for the discussion and thoughtful input.
Paul
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#12
Hey Paul,

The debates I've seen with Dawkins and Lennox were very interesting indeed.  I have found the books by Bart Ehrman to be quite compelling, as well. 

That said, I now see in S.3 what that "...ist" word would have given away:  "atheist" "scientist" or "biologist" all would have worked, and I have a feeling that you considered at least one of those.  But you didn't, and went with the more combative "terrorist" and "fist". 

You said, "...Dawkins, whose brand of terrorism gets a pass, outrageous as it might be."  Terrorism?  Gets a pass?  Meanwhile, I lean toward the probability of God, but remain mostly unaffiliated as far as religion goes.  Still, I very much like studying (and arguing about) the various faith traditions. I've spent many, many hours enjoying the community of church (esp the music), and participating in Bible study, while remaining at arms length from most of the doctrine/dogma.  I just like people too much to let faith differences overwhelm my appreciation of various view points (and people). I am utterly fascinated by it all... My only (big) problem comes when folks justify harmful behavior predicated on their beliefs.

My favorite Dawkins quote, "By all means let's be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.”

Thanks for the clarifying reply,
Mark
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#13
(06-02-2021, 07:52 PM)Mark A Becker Wrote:  Hey Paul,

The debates I've seen with Dawkins and Lennox were very interesting indeed.  I have found the books by Bart Ehrman to be quite compelling, as well. 

That said, I now see in S.3 what that "...ist" word would have given away:  "atheist" "scientist" or "biologist" all would have worked, and I have a feeling that you considered at least one of those.  But you didn't, and went with the more combative "terrorist" and "fist". 

You said, "...Dawkins, whose brand of terrorism gets a pass, outrageous as it might be."  Terrorism?  Gets a pass?  Meanwhile, I lean toward the probability of God, but remain mostly unaffiliated as far as religion goes.  Still, I very much like studying (and arguing about) the various faith traditions. I've spent many, many hours enjoying the community of church (esp the music), and participating in Bible study, while remaining at arms length from most of the doctrine/dogma.  I just like people too much to let faith differences overwhelm my appreciation of various view points (and people). I am utterly fascinated by it all... My only (big) problem comes when folks justify harmful behavior predicated on their beliefs.

My favorite Dawkins quote, "By all means let's be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.”

Thanks for the clarifying reply,
Mark

I love John Lennox. Ravi Zacharias was another favorite. I wrote a poem once on Ravi's outlook on Nietzsche. Can't remember it right now so it likely wasn't very good. This one wasn't really about Dawkins in particular. What irks me is that we have the taboos of anti semetism and Islamaphobia which are quite rightly condemned, yet Christians can be openly "mocked" and somehow are not protected under the same umbrella. It's almost commonplace to say things about Christians that would land you in jail for hate speech if you said them about a Muslim or Jew. Anyway, I'm rambling now. Thanks for coming along for the ride.
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#14
An interesting quote from Bernard Haisch, The God Theory: Universes, Zero-Point Fields and What's Behind It All :

“Ultimately it is consciousness that is the origin of matter, energy, and the laws of nature in this universe and all others that may exist.  God experiences the richness of his potential through us because we are the incarnations of him in the physical realm."

Or John 14:12: “In all truth I tell you, whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself, and will perform even greater works..."

Or Einstein: "The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible."


I happen to believe that the brilliant discoveries of humankind point to a never-ending quest of ours to get closer to whatever it is that creates within us a desire to understand the universe.  For me, science does a great job of building upon knowledge by providing evidence, and faith traditions do a great job at examining the intangibles of love, forgiveness, compassion. 

In my mind, there is plenty of overlap....
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