POEM: Believe Ability

As you may know, I am a convicted felon, for refusing to register for the military draft, way back in the 1980’s when draft registration was reinstituted. I found such a mandate offensive to my conscience and world peace. I don’t do war. There is a quip that is meant to confirm your earnestness as a Christian: If you are a Christian, would you be convicted of it in a court of law. I suppose as a Christian pacifist this proved to be true for me. Nonetheless, I am a great fan of Gandhi’s perspective of “I am a Christian, a Muslim, a Hindu, and a Jew.” I would add a few others, such as Buddhist and Taoist. Of course, the above quip applies equally to the adherence of any serious belief system, as to how does it perform in the real world. What I am not a big fan of is the criminal justice system. Thus, this poem.

Believe Ability

In earnest he asked
Are you a Christian?
I replied
Tried and convicted
In a court of law
Though I must say
In awe sincerity
I am not convinced
You can trust
The criminal justice system

Legalism, however exacting, cannot truly capture the sublime wisdom of the heart and conscience, nor the courage to transcend legalism. Legalism is better at capturing bodies. Legalism is fundamentalism, the enemy of true religion. And sometimes true religion requires that we become enemies of the state.

I am quite convinced that there are many many Christians who would not consider me a good Christian. Similarly, I suspect that there are many Hindus, Muslims, and Jews, who would not consider me a good Hindu, a good Muslim, or a good Jew. Still, I could die in peace with the epitaph: “He was not easily branded.”

If you like this poem, you may want to check out “I am” and “Not the Usual Joke” and “A Bout a Helpful.”

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