.

Act I Scene I

NARRATOR
Imagine now the scene: the angry engine,
Its beeping brain, its smooth and metal muscles
That barely seem to strain beneath the mighty load;
And standing all around no creature rustles,
For it’s a moonless night that has been chosen
To haul away the Ten Commandments art
Outside the Capitol in Oklahoma,
Avoiding any protests day may start
By drawing on the brilliance of the sun.

Just as the monument is raised with care,
The cameras start to roll and pictures snap.
A sort of priest is interviewed on air.
.
FATHER ROB
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me,”
This kind of statement you would find in church,
And that is where it should always belong
Not in the public where the free must search
For truth and where our laws are made for all.
How would the Christian feel if these were Muslim
Laws, Satanic ones, or atheists’
Invention? Would he say “That’s fine; I trust them?”
No! And trust is what a government
Must have. Besides, should we not do to others
As we would have them do to us? Well then
Remove it from the sight of those it bothers!
.
NEWSCASTER
And what of those who say they’re values that
Are universal, “Thou shalt not steal” for one,
And then “Thou shalt not bear false witness,” which
Means not to lie. Such words, who’d want to shun them?
.
FR. ROB
Those are laws already from the state
Your workplace or your school. They’re common sense.
No one would shun them other than someone
Who knows they’re wrong and has no clear defense.
.
NEWCASTER
Thanks for your insight, Father Rob. This is
Val Toire, reporting for News Channel Nine.
.
SOPHIA RITORINNI (FILMMAKER)
Excuse me, Father, can we get a word.
Our film is on America’s decline.
.
FR. ROB
Of course, my church is down the street. Now should
I spell my name? Oh wait I have a card—
.
SOPHIA
It’s fine, we’ve seen you in the news a lot.
If this were all a play, you would have starred!
.
FR. ROB
I’m just a priest who’s speaking up, that’s all.
.
SOPHIA
For you then, as the local vocal priest,
Do you think that corruption threatens us;
That negative views of theft and lies decreased?
.
FR. ROB
Oh I don’t think we could say that, for after
All we live within a time more equal
And more just than any one before.
Crime rates are down…
.
SOPHIA
But what of deeper evil?
High taxes to support a welfare state
Or to give healthcare someone does not want.
“Thou shalt not steal” isn’t that for government
As well. Will socialism later haunt us?
.
FR. ROB
Well, sharing is encouraged by the Bible;
The rich man should give riches to the poor.
.
SOPHIA
[aside] That’s some strange sharing when you’re forced to share!
Shoplifters should get thank-yous from the store!

[to Fr. Rob] And those who feel impoverished by such tax?
Or those who see no reason to work more,
When they are handed checks right from the state,
Improving not, like thieves fat from their score?
“Thou shalt not kill” and yet abortion’s fine?
Can’t government and everyone reflect
Upon ten treasures from tradition’s vault?
And if we do not, then can we expect—
.
FR. ROB
I think that you’ve gone off the point. Are you
Some agitating right-wing journalist?
The courts have ruled: this thing must go, and so
It shalt. Will you excuse me?
.
SOPHIA
[aside] He looks pissed.
.
The priest walks away. A homeless man sitting on the street calls to him and he takes notice.
.
HOMELESS MAN
Dear Father, cast on me thine eye.
No need to loose thine purse’s strings,
Just let mine breath, though sour, fly
And hear this song this augur sings.
.
FR. ROB
What’s that?
.
HOMELESS MAN
A darkness shall engulf mankind
As these commandments are uprooted;
The people loseth breadth of mind
And let their conscience be refuted.

They chase a righteous leader with
Strange claims for years whilst trapped in fog,
Believing a false witness myth,
Attacking like some killer dog,

Whose jaws tear through democracy
And rip through honest voters’ ballots—
Whilst scrounging for supremacy
With tricks well hid from judges’ mallets.

This stealing, lying bitch unleashed
Will leave the floodgates fully breached.
.
Fr. Rob shrugs off the homeless man and walks away.
.
FR. ROB
[aside] An augur? Really? Are we in Medieval
Times? The year is twenty-fifteen, so
I wouldn’t heed some loony’s prophecy.
Progress was made today; there’s more to go..

He exits.

.

.

Evan Mantyk teaches literature and history in New York and is President of The Society of Classical Poets.


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20 Responses

    • Evan Mantyk

      Thank you, Court Reinland! If there is a huge groundswell and funding perhaps it will come to fruition.

      Reply
  1. Cynthia Erlandson

    This is a great idea, to put the situation into the form of a poetic play!

    Reply
  2. Norma Okun

    I remember reading that Master Cecil B. Demille promoted his film Ten commandments by pulling a publicity stunt and placing a granite replica of the Commandments placed outside the Texas Capital. The Fraternal Order of Eagles were glad to foot the bill. They thought it might prevent juvenile delinquency in 1951.

    Reply
  3. Margaret Coats

    This Father Rob is an interesting choice to represent the point of view that Ten Commandments monuments should be removed from public spaces. Catholics know him all too well, and can recognize in his speech some of the “verbal viruses” that were discussed in Comments on Julian Woodruff’s “Catholic Bishops” poem. Even more, though, Father Rob seems to display the maddening murkiness of intentional ambiguity, identified by Brazilian scholar Atila Sinke Guimaraes. Guimaraes’ book “In the Murky Waters of Vatican II” devotes a thick volume to proving (through many quotes from influential theologians) that vocal Catholic leaders are purposely unclear in public statements intended to advance their revolutionary agenda for the Church.

    This is exactly what I hear from Father Bob, especially in these lines about stealing and lying:

    Those are laws already from the state
    Your workplace or your school. They’re common sense.
    No one would shun them other than someone
    Who knows they’re wrong and has no clear defense.

    The first two lines are clear. But after invoking common sense, Father Rob enunciates a couplet that can’t be fully explained in any logical manner. It throws mystifying verbiage at the known situation. This is perfectly acceptable to the newscaster, while Sophia the filmmaker tries to probe the priest’s thinking by addressing related topics, and finds him incomprehensible. She must paraphrase or interpret his words to shed any light on them.

    Well observed, Evan, and well used to create this character. While I personally am happy to know priests and scholars who speak with traditional Catholic clarity on doctrine and morals, Father Rob is too much in evidence. This type character makes your play both believable and sadly amusing.

    Reply
    • Evan Mantyk

      Very insightful, Margaret. I did not have something specific in mind other than copying what I have observed, but you have crystalized the dangerous ambiguity well. Thank you for that!

      Reply
  4. James Sale

    A powerful indictment and some great lines in this. Ironic, of course, that Father Bob is a ‘Catholic’ – and as with other ‘Christian’ denominations is complicit in undermining the very foundations of our society. The only laws that really count are transcendental ones, for they have an unarguable authority above merely secular ideas. But of course, everywhere we find the Marxist process of substituting the secular rules for divine ones in progress (and called ‘progress’) – houses, institutions, and ultimately countries and civilisations that are to built on sand. Thanks Evan – great work. Hope you do more of it.

    Reply
    • Evan Mantyk

      Thank you, James. Every time I hear the word “progress” I think of you and how thoroughly you have, in the past, exposed the word.

      Reply
  5. Sally Cook

    By presenting the problems of today in this manner you draw necessary attention to them. We don’t get much of that from our so-called leaders.
    One big reason they hate Donald Trump so much is that he came into this morass from the outside, and put his finger on many, if not most, of the current slides into iniquity. The Trump haters must first destroy; in most instances they have nothing with which to replace our society. Theirs is a dark tumultous plan. Destroy !
    Thanks, Evan, for taking this on.

    Reply
    • Evan Mantyk

      Indeed, Sally. I think they have termed themselves the resistance. Truly, what should be resisted is the Chinese Communist Party’s takeover. Their efforts are so shortsighted and ironically self-destructive.

      Reply
  6. Andrew Benson Brown

    Am loving this so far. How apt that truth speaks through the mouth of a homeless man. Am guessing that if the final act takes place in 2020, it will end like a Greek Tragedy…

    Reply
    • Evan Mantyk

      Andrew, I can’t quite read your message’s meaning. If you mean a tragedy for Trump, I think not. It will indeed be a tragedy, but as you can see above, it will be the Fr. Robs who will face doom.

      Reply
  7. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Evan, Act I Scene I of your timely and topical play reveals the dark underbelly of today’s politics in an insightful, hard-hitting and wry manner. I particularly like Father Rob’s; “I think that you’ve gone off the point. Are you/Some agitating right-wing journalist?” – how vividly indicative of these cancel-culture times. I am looking forward to Act I Scene II.

    Reply
  8. C.B. Anderson

    It is clear, Evan, from from your narrative, that much more is being stolen from us by the evil, secular Leftists than just an election. We expect this kind of thing to happen in China, but not in the United States, and I use the term “united” advisedly. This site is a beacon of light in a dark world, and I once again applaud you for hosting, and contributing to, it. Just because I eat a banana every day, that doesn’t mean I wish to live in a banana republic. For as long as I am alive, I hope to contribute here. There is a collegial atmosphere on this site that is unlike anything I have discovered anywhere else, though I continue to submit poems to other venues, if only to keep myself and the various other editors not named Evan honest.

    Reply
    • Evan Mantyk

      Thank you, Kip. You are always welcome here. Over the years, the SCP has been discriminated against by the mainstream poetry world, as mentioned in the Journal intro. We will not discriminate in a similar manner. My attitude is that of Caesar entering Rome. A section of the history I’ll paste below:

      [Caesar] surpassed Pompey in the spirit of generosity and mercy with which he entered into the great battle. Pompey ordered every citizen to join his army, declaring that he should consider all those neutral as his enemies. Caesar, on the other hand, gave free permission to everyone to decline, if he chose, saying that he should consider all who did not act against him as his friends.

      Reply
  9. BDW

    It is good that Mr. Mantyk is on this topic. According to statistician Mr. Cicchetti with the Texas state lawsuit to the Supreme Court, the probability Biden won Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, after Trump’s evening leads in those states is less than 1 in 1,000,000,000,000—essentially impossible. Do Wall Street execs, high-tech oligarchs and their propaganda outlets really believe Biden won the election? Mr. Mantyk is correct: the Democratic Party is trying to steal the 2020 Presidential Election. God bless Texas.

    Reply
    • Evan Mantyk

      Bruce, the communist states of America is attempting to materialize before our eyes. This new, outrageous policy from YouTube (owned by Google) just came out. These social media companies should be shut down for treason.

      https://blog.youtube/news-and-events/supporting-the-2020-us-election

      Yesterday (12/8) was the safe harbor deadline for the U.S. Presidential election and enough states have certified their election results to determine a President-elect. Given that, we will start removing any piece of content uploaded today (or anytime after) that misleads people by alleging that widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election, in line with our approach towards historical U.S. Presidential elections. For example, we will remove videos claiming that a Presidential candidate won the election due to widespread software glitches or counting errors. We will begin enforcing this policy today, and will ramp up in the weeks to come. As always, news coverage and commentary on these issues can remain on our site if there’s sufficient education, documentary, scientific or artistic context.

      Reply

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