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The Greatest of the Four


I am a modern cleric,
And I hope it’s not too late
To dust the poor old churches off
And bring them up to date.

I’ve tried my best, in recent years,
To climb down from the steeple.
I study social sciences,
Like all fair-minded people.

I’ve tried to jazz God up a bit
With catchy little songs
And colloquial translations,
But they’ve hardly drawn the throngs.

They say that I’m irrelevant,
My doctrines airy-fairy.
Perhaps I should wheel Martha out –
They’ve had enough of Mary.

In hope to find some guidance
I peruse the holy writ.
‘Go, love thy neighbour as thyself . . .’
What did he mean by it ?

When neighbours are so various
It’s hard to contemplate
How loving one won’t hurt the next –
How to discriminate ?

And at what point should love’s demands
Give rise to the illicit?
Alas! On social matters
Christ was sadly inexplicit.

‘Forgive your enemies,’ he said.
Yes, this I try to do;
But other people’s enemies –
Should I forgive them too ?

Enough of all these pros and cons,
It’s time to take a stand:
To those who fight for equity
I’ll lend a helping hand.

Hurrah for LGB and T,
Plus QIA2S,
And down with pronoun heretics,
For causing them distress!

God bless the climate terrorist –
He isn’t a marauder:
He merely sees no other way
To change the old world order.

Pity the helpless rioter,
Who is compelled by race,
Class, poverty to throw his bombs
In the exploiter’s face.

If we’re to save his soul for God,
We have to solve this teaser:
He’ll never be converted
While we’re sucking up to Caesar.

So pass the plate round once again:
Instead of clothes and bread,
Let’s buy the poor some nice new guns
To shoot the baddies dead.

It’s true the old apostle said
That there abode these three:
The first was faith, the second hope,
The third was charity;

But now, it seems, the time is ripe
For us to add one more,
And social consciousness shall be
The greatest of the four.

Where faith divides and hope belies
Love’s little consolation:
Fight for a new society,
All ye who seek salvation!

Yes, one is good, and two is good,
And so is number three,
But best of all is number four.
(Oh muddled, fuddled me!)

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Gillian Dymond
Gillian Dymond
Gillian Dymond is 78, a mother and grandmother living in the north-east of England.

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