The Collapse of Eden

I will not cry out to God today
who is otherwise occupied
in the corner
nursing his shame.
God knows he has failed
and I will not assuage his guilt
with prayers, although we might
eavesdrop on the Holy One
muttering to his triune self:
“We didn’t anticipate this,
we didn’t know,
we weren’t prepared
for the violence of Adam
upon discovering his nakedness
upon being told the truth that
Eden is not his own.”
Coax God with your lament
if it eases your soul, but
of what use are prayers to a God
who didn’t forecast
Adam’s fabrication of a
self-image…and then his rage
at the revelation that his invention of
whiteness is only and ultimately
nakedness, is only and ultimately
an ensemble of the emperor’s new clothes
not armor or godliness or prerogative?
Of what use
are prayers to a God
who didn’t see that coming,
who isn’t able to protect his people
from the violence of Adam’s vulnerability?
Tell God to keep his head
hidden in his hands
but for once
let us not do the same;
finally let us take Adam to task
as God has neglected to do
…but let us be clear:
we are Adam, Adam is us,
o my white brothers & sisters,
no matter our intentions, no matter
our liberal do-good-ness, our down-ness,
our degrees of self-righteous separation from
organized white supremacy,
because this garden
in which we live
white supremacy;
Eden’s very atmosphere
is inherently organized to sustain us.
So before we point fingers
at Adam as if
he is someone else,
we should be absolutely clear
that at stake in naming our white nakedness
is our necessary eviction from this lie called paradise,
a garden that we must desert and then burn
to prevent ourselves from returning;
at stake is our willingness to live
humbly as refugees with only
the hospitality of others
to cloak us;
at stake
is God’s abandonment
of the corner where he is brooding
where we have sent him
so he might not see
our desperate attempts
to prevent
the collapse
of Eden.

Pray Hard, White America

White God,
Right God,
How are you holding up?
So many people are giving you a hard time these days,
saying that you don’t embody enough diversity
that you’re too removed from the streets.
They don’t know how hard you work
to keep your name palatable
among white churches.
Stay strong — don’t
cave to pressure.

White God,
Might God,
Can your masculinity survive
all of these heretical associations and insinuations with
non-cis non-white non-male non-hetero folk?
Take care! They’ll drag your reputation,
compromise the ineffable credibility
of your most holy testosterone
by their proximity, and then
who will conquer
the world?

White God,
Bright God,
They are spreading rumors
that the nighttime is holy too, but you and I both know:
darkness teems with uncertainty and suspicion
while righteousness rivals the noonday sun.
So let us believe that absolute truth
is only for those who can shine
in reflection of your pale
countenance against
the shadows.

White God,
Spite God,
Don’t let them coax you
from your judgment seat or persuade you to lessen the power
of damnation with all of this “inclusive grace” nonsense.
That’s the devil’s doing, the whispers of a serpent
telling people that they know better than you.
Cast out those smooth-talking demons,
strike down the liars with wrath,
stand fast with your sword
lest all hell break loose.

White God,
Right God,
how are you holding up these days?

A satirical prayer (just to be clear), wrestling with the racialized subtext of current events and religious culture in the U.S., in an effort to illuminate the sins of our systems and doctrines.

Perfect Indicative

“God has declared victory!
God has remembered God’s faithfulness!
All the ends of the earth have seen God’s triumph!”
so the psalmist says
but apparently
I missed it — perfect and
indicative though it may have been.

Already victorious, O God,
while still our wars rage and ravage?
Already triumphant,
while your people struggle
and weep in the streets?
Something is not quite perfect, I think —
tell me where does this world indicate you?

Let the psalmist sing to his own glory,
strum in a corner on his harp.
You, O God, are either
far more fantastic and able
— or far more vain —
than I have given you credit for.
Let the dangling preposition
bear witness to the imperfections.

One Hundred & Baltimore

If the Spirit did not sigh for us, over us,
I wonder who would.

Who would hear our stories in their rawest honesty
and sigh in agreement, “Never again”?

Who would sit with us in the silence of shadows
and trace the dust of memories?

Who would hold out the bottle in an act of grace
saying, “Poured out for you,
in remembrance of them”?

Who would light the candles with us, each flame
representing one too many?

If the Spirit did not sigh for us, over us,
I wonder who would.


Lent 34 (Theodicy)

You have not failed, O God.

Let me continue to grasp this reassurance
while the world rages in endless war,
while the bodies of young men are left in the street,
while their sisters disappear from sight
without a sigh of public lament,
while the defenses of hatred
continue to be signed into state law,
while those called to love deepen their trenches.

It is not as though you have failed, O God…

. . .

…but sometimes it feels that way.

Romans 9:6a