The story can feed the active mind,
Whether heard or read—
And whether it really happened or not.
What difference does it make, then,
Just what kind of story book the Bible is
If you’re not going to think it through?
What’s a book of any kind for,
If not for thinking?
On the extremes, some camp will say
It’s 100% literal in every way, and another,
That it’s all figurative, cover to cover—
Yet both camps have an overabundance of
Mindless people who, though they are very
Proud of where they stand on this question,
Will not lift a finger to consider what all
May be learned from the Bible’s stories.
No matter the nature of the writing—
What’s the point if it’s not bringing about
The meeting of the minds—
Yours and God’s, that is—
That God intended?
Or have we forgotten that the Master himself
Was a storyteller extraordinaire,
Who expected some to understand
And the rest to wander off in the weeds?
And I don’t know about you, but the Father and Son
I read about seem both bold enough in love to require
Mankind to think in order to do well—
And at the same time, quite powerful enough to make
A magnificent story out of actual history when they want.
So, what do I care how they try to reach my mind
Through these texts?
In my world, they’re allowed, either way—
And I have no house rule against thinking.
The world is menaced by those who pretend
That they can properly trump all the reading and study
By way of an indwelling of the same Spirit
That is supposed to have inspired
The very scriptures they avoid—
And they do not seem to notice that this same indwelling
Apparently fails in so very many cases
To inspire the indwelt ones to believe and to practice
The things He had the prophets write so long ago.
If He had changed His mind, He might have let us know
On the record somewhere!
They will swear up and down that they would never
Reject what the Spirit says—yet they do not seem to see
That the only message they’re amenable to from him
Is whatever might be whispered in their ear, and such
As will agree always with their own inclinations.
And never will they consent to a message that is—
The way they see it—reduced to the cold,
Hard, and inflexible words that must
Be pried out of a book by way of a course of
Rational contemplation and study, coming from all
Their heart, all their mind, all their soul, and all their strength—
For this, apparently, it simply too much to demand of anybody—
Even for an eternal reward of indescribable treasures.
And where do I get these crazy ideals
But from the very book that
They will not study?