wordsout by godfrey rust

The dangers of theology

Where the apostles (fortunate of men
to understand your mysteries) had then
only you, Holy Spirit, to draw on
we have concordance and the lexicon,
such commentaries and textual critiques
that keep our curates occupied for weeks
as verse by verse they plumb divinity.
The angels, awed, stand dumbly by as we
religiously apply the apparatus
(each new translation failing to placate us),
prod at your secrets, first this way then that,
as schoolchildren dissect a classroom rat
until Atonementdies before our pens
like blood under a microscopic lens
and Love, before which once we dared not speak,
becomes a mistranslation from the Greek.

Every good gift is worthy (and forbid
that fruits of scholarship should be kept hid)
but subtle is the pathway to disaster
when all the scholar's study is his master.
O you who prayed to keep us from temptation,
save us now from our imagination
lest—thinking in our ingenuity
it's you who falls beneath our scrutiny—
we file and reference till we can recall
only the doctrine, not the All-in-All

and let you Lord (it will not save our necks)
be crucified again, by card index.

Godfrey Rust 1982, godfrey@wordsout.co.uk. See here for permissions.