The Exodus

Frans Francken I. Hans skola: Den rike mannen och Lazarus. NM 429
I have seen your religion, and I hate it.
I have heard your doctrine, and I loathe it.
Take away your empty praise songs,
your vacuous worshiptainment.
Your mouth is full of religious words,
but your proverbs are salted manure.

 

“The sick deserve to be sick.
The poor deserve to be poor.
The rich deserve to be rich.
The imprisoned deserve to be imprisoned.”
Because you never saw him sick, or poor, or in prison.

 

“If he had followed police instructions,
if he had minded the company he keeps,
he would not have been killed,”
You say in the hearing
of a man hanging on a cross
between two thieves.

 

“People who live good lives
do not have pre-existing conditions,” you say,
carving these words over the hospital door:
“Who sinned, this man or his parents,
that he was born blind?”

 

“It is the church’s job, not the government’s,”
say you fat sheep,
defending your fat shepherds,
shoving and butting with shoulders and horns,
while you foul the water,
grass,
and air,
and scatter the hungry sheep.

 

You watch the melting glaciers and say to the waves of the sea,
“this far shall you come, and no farther,”
as if your will could change the weather,
as if your will could be done in the heavens as it is on this earth,
as if you could drill the sky the way you drill the soil.

 

In your telling,
in the story of the starving of the five thousand,
there are not twelve baskets collected of left-over food;
In your story, God’s abundance becomes scarcity,
and the crowds devour each other.
“Send them into the villages to buy food,”
and let the Invisible Hand’s miracle of the free market sort them out,
the worthy from the unworthy,
while you eat the two fish and five pieces of bread
volunteered by a child.
These ungrateful poor,
the welfare queens
with their anchor babies,
stop before your disciples’ raised palms;
they hear you say,
“The Master cannot be bothered to bless your children.”

 

You see Hannah drunk,
and you jail her for fetal endangerment.

 

Like Haman, you hide behind the skirts of the king;
you make laws and pay bribes
that allow vigilante violence
and private discrimination
against those you hate,
sheltering underneath plausible deniability.
“It’s not a Muslim ban,” you say one day.
“It’s about religious liberty,” you say another.

 

This Bible you wave, this word you claim,
it is sharper than any two-edged sword.
You wield it poorly; it slices you on the backstroke.
You know neither the scriptures nor the power of God.
You tie up heavy yokes for others
whose burdens you do not bear,
but you will not lift a finger to help them.
To some you say, “Do not marry, but burn.”
You lock them out of the kingdom of God.
You cross sea and land for your missionary work,
and teach others to be as hateful as you.

 

Your kingdom is not the public park of Zechariah,
where children play in the streets
and old men and women lean on their canes for very age.
It is not the land where every fearless household
has its own vine and fig tree,
their own means of production and shade for their rest.
It is not the land where everyone has a home.
Your kingdom is the one with gates,
where homeless beggars have their sores licked by dogs,
where people who have the audacity to grow old
pay a premium for their insolence.
Like Ahab, you covet all the vines, all the fig trees,
letting your domain stretch as far as your eye can see,
adding house to house and field to field
until, in your gentrified land
there is room for no one but you and yours.
Like Pharaoh, you call those who refuse you “Lazy, lazy.”
You build walls, and walls, and walls, and walls,
and you stuff your ears to the sound of protest songs
that will shake those walls down.

 

I have seen your christ, and he is my antichrist.
He is the herald of a violent god,
a god of fertility but not fruitfulness,
a god of embryos but not emancipation, pro-birth and anti-life,
a god of war and retribution but not of justice,
a god of order but not of peace,
a god of might but not of mercy,
a god of marriage but not of love,
a god of sex but not of pleasure,
a god of platitudes but not of wisdom,
a god of work but not of sabbath,
a god who demands sacrifice from the poor but luxury and reward for Pharaoh.

 

Your religion is the religion of pyramids pointed heavenwards,
towers built to reach the heavens.
Supported by their flat base, built by slave labor,
they are stable monuments to wealth and death.
You fill their secret rooms with gold so that
in the afterlife,
you may cross to paradise
on the backs of the oppressed,
and live in forgetful pleasure for eternity.
Your gilded gospel is rusty ruin.

 

You are why the ancient Hebrews
seldom talked about an afterlife,
weary as they were of working
for Egypt’s dead heaven.
Your idols and your religion
are why those slaves left the yoke of heaven,
the land of binding,
for a wide wilderness,
for a nameless, faceless God
who told them they—even they—
were made in God’s image.
You are why your churches are empty
of those who love and believe in freedom.
You are why the Gentiles blaspheme the name of God.
You are the reason for the Exodus.

 

And if you pursue, may God throw you into the sea.
And the horse you rode in on.

 

References:
Amos 5:21-24
Luke 14:34-35
Matthew 25:31-46
Luke 23:33
John 9:1-12
Ezekiel 34
Job 38:11
Matthew 13:14-21
Matthew 19:13-15
1 Samuel 1:12-20
Esther 3:8-11
Hebrews 4:12
Matthew 22:9
Matthew 23:13-26
1 Corinthians 7:9
Zechariah 8:4
Micah 4:4
Isaiah 65:21-25
Luke 16:19-31
1 Kings 21
Isaiah 5:8
Exodus 5:17
Joshua 6
Genesis 11:1-9
Exodus 15:21
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190 thoughts on “The Exodus

  1. I read this and it has been piercing my heart for two days. I used to be a Christian, believing in Jesus, tithing, feeding the poor, helping the needy, praying daily, reading the Bible everyday. Then, it all fell apart and now I am an atheist. I was and am sickened by the church and the preachers who prey on their flocks. However, reading this has caused me to rethink and question my current beliefs. I didn’t take this as a criticism of the church or Christians, but as a plea from someone whose heart is begging for true righteousness to explode from the hearts of God’s true people.The contemporaries of the Biblical prophets hated the prophets and refused to believe-but those whose hearts were turned towards God would always listened and repent.

    • Thanks, Andrea — I appreciate your words. I think it may have been Brian McLaren who I heard say, “Sometimes I hear people describe their version of God and I think, When it comes to that God, I’m definitely an atheist!”

      • This writing and then the response from Andrea give me hope that the church can overcome its removal of justice from the gospel. Thanks to both of you, I have hope this morning.

      • Just encountered your blog today, Dave, and I’m invested in exploring it. I was a kid who didn’t know or care about anything religious, beyond accompanying grandmothers to midnight mass on Christmas Eve. At the age of 14, an overzealous Christian camp counselor used me as “Exhibit A” of devil worshiping because of my collection of Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult and Molly Hatchet concert T-shirts.

        I’ve been an atheist for most of my life because of the actions of those who sign the praises of their religion.

        So my line has always been, as a logical, skeptical, scientific mind;

        “There may someday be proof that god does indeed exist, but can guarantee that whatever it is won’t look anything like what 5/6 of the world thinks they are talking to on Sundays”

      • Thanks for sharing. Yeah, I grew up in the 80’s, when the evening news shows were full of the dangers of heavy metal and Dungeons and Dragons, which turned me off in a big way to that brand of Christianity.

    • Interesting, in reading it and then after looking through the comments, including Daves, I am moved into the same direction rather then digesting it as scoffing Christianity.

  2. Wow! my heart cries for the author. I too turned away from ‘the church’ in my youth because of hypocrisy and just plain meanness. I came back to the Creator, not a church. The Creator who says ‘this is true religion; to minister to widows and orphans in their distress’ and ‘love the Lord your god with all your heart, soul, and mind; and your neighbor as yourself’. I came to understand that churches are run and inhabited by humans and so will always have the potential for evil. I make no excuses for people who judge unrighteously, who show no compassion, who say they are Christians but don’t act like Christ. That does not negate what I see in biology, quantum mechanics,geology, cellular biology, astronomy, and epigenetics: evidence for a designer who is outside of our space-time. I have learned to trust the lessons and advise for living as presented in the bible. A Creator reaching into His creation in a way that finite minds can understand. May the author find his way back to the ONE who loves him best(and learn to ignore his fellow humans, who are flawed)

  3. Dave, this is a masterful piece. And painful, for many reasons. I am grateful you made time to write it, and share publically this creative rendition of the ongoing dialogue between Jesus, the prophets and those of us who claim to give them authority in all matters concerning the common good. Keep going…

    • Sean, I really appreciate the last bit of this comment and find tension within it. As one of those who “give them authority in all matters concerning the common good,” I struggle with those who are willing to toss out their authority, claim individual feeling as their authority, hold onto some of the ethical stories in scripture, and cry out for justice and against a church eyeball deep in identity confusion.

  4. My Christ is not the anti-christ describe so eloquently, but the one who declared a new covenant of love. I decry the acceptance (and inappropriate claims by those you describe) of the label Christian and realize that humanity has not learned the true lessons of the necessity for stewardship of Creation and the realities of the results of dominance as it is opposed to peaceful coexistence and fruitful management of “our” planet. LOVE/PEACE

  5. I too have turned away from the church, but not from God or Jesus for i found them deep within my soul…without the aid of the church. Church puts too many conditions on unconditional love.

  6. Thank you for this. Processing this piece is like pulling off a band-aid–you don’t want to, but you know it must be done. It breaks my heart to read comments by people who say they are now atheists thanks to the loveless Christians they’ve been subjected to. I would beg any of those people to please, please understand that not all Christians are that way. We are flawed, rather horribly, but some of us are trying to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

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  8. I so deeply struggle to know how we should rightly respond to those who are guilty of these words, but as I read it again in its fullness, I realize that there’s not really anyone in North American Christianity who isn’t guilty of some of these things. I’ve taken the bible as a sword and sliced those who I felt didn’t care for creation or marginalized people groups, and I no longer consider myself an evangelical. But I’ve used the bible as a sword against those who are. So, I’m grateful that we all stand in need of hearing these words, and if we don’t think we do because we’re “left” or “progressive” or “not that group of folks,” then maybe it’s us who needs to hear them the most.

    Domine Iesu, dimitte nobis debita nostra

    • Thank you. You said very eloquently what I was struggling to put words to. None of has the moral high ground.

  9. I am not a believer but I wish with all my heart that what you say was not true. I would gladly join with a community that followed the new testament message of mercy and acceptance, even if I did not believe.

  10. Oh, wow! This is a most serious indictment against the church. Whether or not it is warranted, each and every believer must search their souls for an appropriate answer.

    Of course, reading the ‘poem ’ is essential to gaining a proper perspective from which to judge – but judgment, no – DISCERNMENT must be exercised. An objective reading of the comments posted below the ‘poem’ should provide more fodder for your cannon.

    The idea that this was produced by a true born again believer is NOT consistent with my experience or theology. But that is NOT an excuse, nor a reason to nullify the reality of the criticism. The FACT is many like-minded persons have similar LEGITIMATE gripes against their perceptions of the church, and worse – Christ.

    It is no sudden revelation to realize that in many places, in numerous ways, Christ is completely misrepresented by persons claiming to know and love Him. Hypocrisy, traditions of men, false doctrines have plagued the church for centuries and taken captive many who have become disillusioned by such blight.

    But it is nothing new, and true believers know that Jesus Himself warned about such things. Grace prevails and constantly under-girds our faith so that it remains true that “greater is He that is within us, than he that is in the world” – 1Jn. 4:4.

    “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many”- Mt. 24:5.

    As sad as it shall always be to think that one once thought to be numbered among us has betrayed his former faith and denounced the Lord, Scripture also warns that while this may appear to be the case, in reality – it is merely another deception.

    “These enemies of Christ were in our fellowship, but they left us. They went out from us;  probably to form a rival fellowship. They never really belonged to us; they were not of us. For if they had been truly a part of us, they would have ·stayed, remained and abided with us. But they left, and this shows [or so that it would be shown] that none of them really belonged to us” – 1Jn. 2:19.

    The ‘poem’ represents an ideology prevalent in today’s society. The classic case of ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater ’is evident. Rather than investigating the true source of their discontent”, they blame GOD, while claiming they do not believe in Him!

    Accusations against the organized church are never-the-less appropriate where the church is apostate. A reading of the first three chapters of Revelation (the letters to the seven churches) support the claim of the hypocrisy, false doctrines, and debauchery existing within the so-called church. However, religion was NEVER intended to replace a right personal relationship with God in Christ. Take heed!

      • Thank goodness for your perception of this. Choosing to remove ones faith and putting ones self in this barren and desolate wilderness, gives a minor victory to the opposer of all that is good and true!

  11. Psychopaths have been exploiting religion and basically every ideology (communism, fascism, democracy) for thousands of years. It is natural to be frustrated,and hopeless even, with the state of humanity, us being used as beasts of burden by these snakes in suits, but NEVER loose faith in God
    Psychopaths salivate at the thought of being worshipped as”gods” by us. Don’t give in. God is good. God is real

    Peace

  12. Christ Loves You

    You say, “I have seen your religion, and hate it”,
    You hate,
    You have hate,
    You say hateful, hurtful things,
    Christ came to love,
    Christ loves you,
    You say, “I have seen your Christ, and he is my antichrist”,
    Christ came to love,
    Christ loves you,
    You say, “If you pursue, may God throw you into the sea”,
    You hate,
    You have hate,
    You say hateful things,
    Christ came to love,
    Christ loves you,
    God is love,
    Christ is love,
    How could you miss that,
    Christ came to love,
    Christ loves you, too!

    Peter Paulson

    • I do believe that Christ loves me. But I think too many Christians confuse pity and paternalism with love. It is a kind of rhetorical ju-jitsu to take the words of the prophets and the complaints of those who are oppressed and describe them as “hate.” As if protesting the disproportionate slaying and imprisonment of black children is “hate.” As if objecting to for-profit sick-care is “hate.” As if decrying Christianese support of militarism and fascism is “hate.”

      So while I appreciate that Christ loves me, and I have full assurance of salvation through the Holy Spirit, I have no interest in a “love” that does not rejoice in the truth. Nor do I have interest in a religion that can only speak of “good news” if the oppressed are silenced.

      Peace,
      Dave

      • This troubles me – was this poem and post made as a way to attack political opponents? I have a hard time believing that is what God/Jesus intended with their words.

      • If by “attack political opponents” you mean “resist the oppression sanctioned by white American evangelicals,” then yes. Feel free to read any of the scriptures cited for references.

  13. No. Not a poem.

    Prophecy.

    It describes the current reality; the ‘god’ of many churches today is ‘the god of this world.’
    They have the ‘superficial’ appearnce of righteousness, but not its substance – and now,
    even that appearance is wearing thin.

    They do evil, and preach witchcraft – whatthat supposed prosperity ‘gospell’ is in truth -and the key to the whole mess is the ***magic(k)al*** idea that each man/woman has the power of god ‘to change reality, in accordance with his or her will.’

    The concept is self-deification, and its originator is the devil – and those who follow this accursed creed are the devil’s brood.

    Hence ‘come out from among them, and be separate’ is the only workable choice when faced with such evil.

  14. I just found your site yesterday via Facebook. IN an age where Republicans have co-opted religion as a wedge to declare who are the “good” people and who are the “bad” people of the world, and that health care is something never to be touched by large governments because….charity ….. will be able to manage these things…. I thought I would relate a story of how charity works in 2017.

    In my hometown of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, there used to be two hospitals. The first to be built was in 1947 on the campus of what was a maternity hospital from the 20’s; it’s one of the highest hills in a town that has the highest elevation of any city in Pennsylvania. That hospital was named “St Josephs”. In 1974, another hospital was built across town called “Hazleton General Hospital”.

    About 12 years ago the two were bought out – “consolidated” – and St. Josephs was closed in 2005. Strangely enough, that term (consolidation) was the euphemism also used by the Archdiocese of Scranton when they closed many of the Catholic churches. The site of many weddings, funerals, weekly gatherings where people had assembled the most important moments of their lives were closed, erm – “consolidated”.

    The side of St Joseph’s Hospital which faces the main road through town, Rte 309, is where the main entrance USED to be. It’s reasonably ornate, done in granite, and there are two large granite panels on either side of the main door with engraved inscriptions:

    One of them reads:

    “THE CHARITY OF CHRIST CONQUERS ALL”

    Perhaps I’m the only guy who finds some sad irony in this; that Christ’s charity was not enough to overcome the financial bottom line of what has become an industry; people used to go to hospitals not so much for modern medicine, but to be sure there was a priest nearby who could administer last rites when nothing else could be done, so that one could die in peace.

    Now monster conglomerates make huge profits and pass that on to shareholders have shut it down for financial reasons.

    Neither “G”od nor his son Jesus had any comment on this closure…erm, “consolidation”.

  15. Christ Loves You

    You say, “I have seen your religion, and hate it”,
    You hate,
    You have hate,
    You say hateful, hurtful things,
    Christ came to love,
    Christ loves you,
    You say, “I have seen your Christ, and he is my antichrist”,
    Christ came to love,
    Christ loves you,
    You say, “If you pursue, may God throw you into the sea”,
    You hate,
    You have hate,
    You say hateful things,
    Christ came to love,
    Christ loves you,
    God is love,
    Christ is love,
    How could you miss that,
    Christ came to love,
    Christ loves you, too!

    Peter Paulson
    May 11, 2017
    Student – Asbury Theological Seminary
    Father was former District Superintendent Aurora District Northern Illinois Conference, the Rev. James L. Paulson graduate of Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary

    • In reading the original post and your response, I am struck by the offense and hateful response you seem to have to a valid critique of the perversion and distortion many churches make of the teachings of Christ of the presence of God. It saddens me that you have such animosity in your heart which ironically is the crux of the post.
      Highlighting yours and your parents “credentials” is quite arrogant and is a window into your heart that overflows with “hate”.

  16. Reblogged this on Wiccanwoman – my blog and commented:
    from one of the comments:

    “. . . realize that humanity has not learned the true lessons of the necessity for stewardship of Creation and the realities of the results of dominance as it is opposed to peaceful coexistence and fruitful management of “our” planet. LOVE/PEACE . . .”

  17. Thank you for writing this. I’ve long thought that faith and religion are separate. Religion is an artificial construct — created by men. One can have faith without having a religion. Too many people currently have a religion without, apparently, having any faith. Myself, I have faith but don’t follow any religion.

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  19. This resonated deep within my soul. I left the church pretty much for this exact reason. I used to preach sermons and tell my congregation, “I don’t know what god you are serving or what Bible you are reading, but I cannot live the way you live.” God is a God of ALL people. Not the select few we allow in our pews. If we are doing nothing to reach out to our city, state, and global community to end hunger, poverty, hatred… then we are NOT following the commandments of Christ, to love one another.

  20. I am so drawn to the way you used the Bible , in some spots it seemed word for word, and shining light on how we are supposed to love others…all others. And Jonah, poor guy, when God didn’t get those horrible people. There’s a lot of identifying favorite “sins” of the outsiders.
    I am so incredibly thankful for my Presbyterian (PCUSA) congregation who work for justice, who are merciful, and who are humble. Not perfectly ;- ) We keep learning and growing.

  21. Your fallacy is that you base your claims on men and their actions. They live in the flesh and not guided by the spiritual world. Only a fool would deny the existence of a God. The wonders of this world testifies His existence. It is only man that does not fit nor reason to exist. All other living things serve a purpose and contribute to the continued existence of this world. This world will survive without mankind. God’s world is a perfect world!

  22. My faith is in the God of love and grace, but I still attend a church where people may be thinking and doing wrong, and maybe even have a wrong understanding of God and our Lord Jesus Christ. May God guide and hold close all who read this writing.

  23. I can see you have had enough exposure to biblical writtings and religion to make you zelously angry. I get it. I understand. Your disgusted by the hypocrisy. And, You are free to hate religion if you want, so long as you dont hate God , for the short comings of man.

  24. He says my people perish cause of lack of knowledge
    Sometimes people do these things out of ignorance not necessarily cause they are wicked or greedy or what..
    .. We need to be ready at all times to learn and understand what people are going through

  25. Very provocative, all of us who struggle with modern life and our faith need things like this now again to shock us into redoubling our efforts.

  26. Hello,
    Shia Muslim from Lahore here.
    This is a really potent and I admire your knowledge and willingness to speak the truth. It is all our job to unveil the devils that have hijacked our respective religions.

    You have brilliantly described them and I’m sure these words will help others in seeing the wolves around them.

    Thank you for this!

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