.

The Faithful Who Have Chosen
Not to Wait

He rose and told us He would come again
To supervise a world of righteous men
And women who believed in what He’d said,
That both the living and the wakened dead
Should nevermore of chrism be bereft.
But what of those who say He never left?

.

.

A Thought for Today

Profound theology,
Our souls’ geography,
Is with us yet,
Though we forget

This simple canon:
Obey the Lord
And let His word
Be your companion.

.

.

Caricaturing the Infinite

Theology is like a thought balloon
Above the figures in the land of Nod,
Where characters in some absurd cartoon
Attempt to explicate the mind of God.

Our predilection is to board a train
To hidden meanings of the universe,
That we might minimize our toil and pain
And at the pap of sacred knowledge nurse.

However gladly we applaud the moon
Arising brightly over frozen sod,
Perfected understanding comes not soon
Enough to spoil the child or spare the rod.

.

.

Apologia

As I walk down the straight and narrow,
Exempt from Hell’s repentant moans,
I feel a longing in the marrow
That fills the hollows of my bones

For something perpendicular
To what best threads the needle’s eye.
There’s nothing in particular
I need to do before I die,

But just for once I’d like the feeling
I’ve done that which was asked of me—
Without the crossing and the kneeling.
Forgive my pride, for piety

Is not what I am best at.  You,
Who let your offspring pay a price
As steep as any other Jew
Has ever paid, may not think twice

Before assigning this old goy
To decades on a rocky hill
Or centuries below.  Your boy
And I are friends these days, your will

The central topic of our long
Exploratory colloquies.
I trust You’ll never deem it wrong
For us to ponder how to please

A father such as You.  I’d hate
To start another controversy
Because the hour is growing late.
As always, I am at your mercy.

.

.

C.B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden.  Hundreds of his poems have appeared in scores of print and electronic journals out of North America, Great Britain, Ireland, Austria, Australia and India.  His collection, Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder was published in 2013 by White Violet Press.


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27 Responses

  1. Mike Bryant

    Mannnnn CB… who knew you were a theologian, and a damn fine one at that! Absolutely perfect poetry, minimized by the hard won philosophy.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      I’m not a theologian, Mike. I just like to dabble in speculative theology

      Reply
  2. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    C.B., I must say, you have turned my head and touched my heart with these ‘Four Poems of a Theological Nature’. The older I get the less I know, and the more I study, the more confused I become. Your honest musings on an unfathomable subject speak to me in words that connect with my soul. My favorite is ‘ The Faithful Who Have Chosen
    Not to Wait’, but the one I most admire is ‘ Apologia’ for ‘Exploratory colloquies’ – perfect! But, most importantly, for its message. The last two stanzas brought a tear to my eye. C.B. – thank you very much indeed!

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      It’s always good to learn that one has touched someone’s heart in the right way, Susan. And I always try to be honest, even when I deal with subjects I don’t know enough about. As it happens, the idea for “The Faithful …” came from an answer given by Hazrat Inayat Khan, once the leader of The Sufi Order of the West (a position his grandson now holds), when he was asked what he thought about the second coming of Christ. He said, “For me, he has never left.

      My relationship with God is complicated, as you can well understand, but did you know that there is a high-end Irish whiskey called Writers’ Tears? It touches my own heart to learn that I have brought one of these to you.

      Reply
  3. Joseph S. Salemi

    Remember my invented acronym: K.A.N.D.

    Kip Anderson Never Disappoints.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      Just wait, Joseph. Someday I will disappoint you, and you will shrug it off.

      Reply
  4. Margaret Coats

    Are you Augustine or the cherub? With these poems featuring fine use of scriptural and doctrinal snippets, I’m sure you know the story, but I’ll repeat it anyway. The great Father and Doctor of the Church was walking on the seashore pondering the mystery of the Trinity, when he came upon a child digging a hole. The child said he planned to put the ocean in it. When the master theologian explained that the task was impossible, the cherub pointed out that so was Augustine’s. You end up with a comparable and perceptive line, “As always, I am at your mercy.”

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      Only you and a few others here, Margaret, would have been capable of sniffing out the allusions peppered through these poems. I didn’t know the story, but I am glad to have read it at last, and I think it is very likely that I am more the child (cherub) than I am Augustine. And yes, I am rather happy with the controversy/mercy rhyme.

      Reply
  5. Brian A Yapko

    C.B., I never fail to be enriched by your poetry and I almost always am inspired to read through them multiple times.

    “The Faithful” and “Thought for Today” are both short and deceptively simple for poems — they carry deep theological implications.

    “Caricaturing the Infinite” (brilliant title) sets forth a difficult yet necessary truth. Mere mortal men cannot “explicate the mind of God.” I love the unexpected rhymes here and am especially pleased by your ability to rhyme God so deftly. But even more, I really like the combination of child imagery with theological questions of great profundity. The “thought balloon” and “absurd cartoon” contrasted with “the mind of God” and the “hidden meanings of the universe.” Your message comes through loud and clear. We’re self-centered toddlers – maybe infants – when it comes to our inherent inability to understand God and we are not destined to find “perfected understanding” in this lifetime.

    Your Apologia made me laugh and brought a tear to my eye. I especially like your tongue-in-cheek reference to the Jew and “this old goy.” For some reason, the line “your boy and I are friends these days” moves me deeply even though the language is so casual and breezy. You have this utterly unique and amazing ability to articulate the most profound thoughts in the most understated, conversational way.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      If I’m as good as you say, Brian, I should be a multimillionaire by now. And I always get the sense that you enjoy reading poetry much more than I ever have. Regarding any other abilities you attribute to me, I can only say, you know better than I do.

      Reply
  6. Roy Eugene Peterson

    Four poems that make one ponder the imponderable. I was particularly taken with the phrase in “Apologia,” Exempt from Hell’s repentant moans,” that exemplifies the life and afterlife of the believer.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      What else, Roy, can we do with the imponderable but ponder it? Beliefs are one thing, and they come and go, but faith is a species of knowledge

      Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      I’m glad, Cynthia, that these poems worked for you. “Thoughtful and cleverly expressed” is as high a mark as I could ever hope to attain.

      Reply
  7. Joshua C. Frank

    I like all of these, but my favorite is the first, especially with the last line: “But what of those who say He never left?” Much to ponder.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      There is indeed, Joshua, much to ponder, and if any of this is true, then there is little else we should be spending our time thinking about.

      Reply
  8. Geoffrey S.

    The provocative first two lines of “Caricaturing the Infinite” might some day become an entry in Quotable Quotes. I like the way you duplicated the rhyme scheme in the first and third stanzas. I don’t know why exactly, but it seems to emphasize God.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      Yes, Geoffrey S., you are the first to point out how I replicated the rhymes in the first and third stanzas. I did it on purpose, just to see whether anyone was paying attention.

      Reply
  9. David Paul Behrens

    The theme throughout these poems reminds me of many similar thoughts I have experienced nearly all of my adult life. Outstanding subject matter and of course, as always, well written. Thank you, C.B Anderson!

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      Let me send similar sentiments right back to you. The Lord has a plan for each of us, no matter how far we have strayed from the original script. Wouldn’t you like to hit the road again?

      Reply
  10. Satyananda Sarangi

    After a long time, CB Sir!

    I came here after quite some time. What a pleasure to have come here and to read these poems, which are uncharacteristic of you. Versatility is an art, and thus I’m never disappointed after reading your poetry.

    Keep inspiring.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      Well, Satyananda, it was a pleasure to write them and an even greater pleasure when someone tells me that he or she got something out of them,

      Reply
  11. Shaun C. Duncan

    A fine set of poems, but “Apologia” stands out as particularly great: plain-spoken but profound and written with great sensitivity. It’s as moving as it is witty and it reads as an honest expression of a deep, personal faith won from introspection.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      I appreciate the thought, Shaun. Speaking plainly is the only way I know to do it. If there is another way, then please tell me about it.

      Reply
  12. Monika Cooper

    These are mind-bending, brain-teasing poems, that set the wheels of thought not spinning but milling slowly. It is “Apologia” that gives me the most to catch onto and relate to. Those “long Exploratory colloquies”: delectable, more to Him than to us, if we can even grasp that. How closely the Father leans to hear what the soul discusses with His Son. Thank you.

    Reply

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