Friday, August 16, 2013

The Song of the Strange Christian, by Moi

A recent conversation on Facebook about how this article doesn't go far enough in condemning the childless life (or as the article says, the childish life) reminded me of a poem I wrote a little while ago.

I do soar to artistic heights occasionally, and poetry is like writerly push-ups. Even when it's bad (and I apologise for that) it still makes you better.

This is a parody of GK Chesterton's hilarious and wonderful poem, The Song of the Strange Ascetic, which takes a number of good shots at atheism. Mine aims at Christian brothers and sisters, and thus perhaps a couple of caveats are necessary. Please note that, in poetic form, one is not able to wave a sign saying "Tongue in cheek!" or "Only deepest sympathy is due to those of my friends who would like to have children, but haven't been able to so far." Without further ado, then...

Hilarious hipster statues courtesy of Leo Caillard
The Song of the Strange Christian
(With apologies to GK Chesterton)

If I had been a Christian,
In books I'd drown my days;
The doctrines grand of saints and seers,
The poets' joyful praise.
But Jenkins is a Christian,
To his telly tethered down;
Unless he's closely studying
The doctrines of Dan Brown.

If I had been a Christian,
I'd have wed a lady fair,
I'd be her lord and patriarch
And she my ruby rare.
But Jenkins is a Christian,
Whose girlfriend's in despair,
For hope that he might marry her
And fear that he won't dare.

If I had been a Christian,
I'd have ridden out by night,
To raise the Commonwealthsmen,
A tyrant king to fight.
But Jenkins is a Christian,
And eagerly complies
With graduated income tax--
“It's going up,” he sighs.

If I had been a Christian,
My olive shoots should be
Boys and girls of every size
Crowded on my knee.
But Jenkins is a Christian
And can't pay for offspring yet--
He has a mortgage to maintain;
The latest car to get.

Now who that runs can read it?
This riddle that I set,
Of why this poor young Christian
Blunders on into regret.
But I, I cannot read it
(Although I run and run),
Of them that say they have the faith,
But will not have the fun.

(Copyright 2013 Suzannah Rowntree. Feel free to share, with attribution.)


Joseph Jalsevac said...

Great poems, both of them.

I can state the problem here in one word - comfort. Hamlet would have been right if he had said "Thus comfort does make cowards of us all/ And thus the native hue of resolution / Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought / And enterprises of great pith and moment / With this regard their currents turn awry / And lose the name of action"We young Western Christian men are too comfortable. We live in a society whose working philosophy is hedonism. We profess to believe in Christianity, the religion of the Cross, but the culture we inhabit is diametrically opposed to this asceticism. So we live for comfort and pleasure and we have become weak, and with weakness comes fear. Marriage is an adventure, but we wrongly consider it to be an inconvenience, and so we fear it. We fear the responsibility it entails. Our society is so designed that it puts up a thousand road blocks to living out a healthy, normal, married life while exerting enormous pressure on people to follow a selfish individualistic life. It just goes to show you the power of culture. Culture is belief in action. So we have this situation in the West where we have Christians professing one thing, and living a culture which expresses something deeply contrary, but we hardly even seem to notice.

But as any good Chestertonian knows, hedonists ultimately fail to achieve the thing they are living for, precisely because they are living for it. Ascetics have all the fun.

I think the good Lord is going to have to take away our comfort by force before we see the return of Christian manhood. By this point we are confirmed addicts, and addicts require extreme measures.

Suzannah said...


Just skimming the blog of my favourite theologian now and enjoying a quote he posted from one of his books:

"The Christian pattern of self-improvement is to die and rise."

I've been blessed, however, to witness a lot of up and coming young-manhood which puts the culture to shame. Among my acquaintance are some truly remarkable young men growing up to take responsibility, plan for a family, and preach the Word in season and out, not always with words. These men are turning their hands to the plough, and not looking back.

They also, incidentally, all come from Christian home educating families.

Suzannah said...

PS. I do, however, think there is a variety of hedonism which is necessary to the Christian life, and for that I recommend you to the books Desiring God and Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl

Joseph Jalsevac said...

Ah you're right, I shouldn't be so bleak about it. I, too, know many truly Christian young men who are setting out on the great adventure of marriage with courage and selflessness, not clinging to the safety line of contraception and childlessness. They are truly admirable guys, and I hope to join them someday soon myself. And many of them were not even home educated, now that I think about it. But they did all go, at least, to orthodox Catholic universities, and imbibed the culture there.

Anonymous said...

Bravo! This could become a classic for Christian anti-modernists! I found myself convulsed with empathy and laughter while reading. Your portrayal of Jenkins is a saddening accurate portrayal of so much of Christian culture today. I know the folk of the days of yore had their problems too, but it is still most wonderful to be reminded of the honor and courage of the old-school's value system. Thank you. I can just see John Bunyan with his coattails flying, as he rides out to raise the Commonwealthsmen, Bible in pocket, flintlock in holster!
"I perceive the way to life lies here.
Come, pluck up heart, let's neither faint nor fear,
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe."

Andrew of the House of Lacey

Suzannah said...

:D I'm glad you like it!


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