I wrote this poem-cum-rant some years back having been somewhat insultingly condescended to by a well-meaning but profoundly insensitive Christian when talking about my depression, an illness I have fought unstintingly since childhood. Since then I have been in many disputes with evangelical and ‘born-again’ Christians who cannot understand how anybody could disagree with their view of things and yet live a fulfilled life. I respect Christians whose faith allows them to respect those who do not share that faith, just as I do Judaists and Muslims: but I do not like Christian evangelism,or any other kind of religious evangelism, and this is why:
You tell me that you know
what is at the root of my troubles,
why I find it so difficult to deal
with my illness and pain.
You say it is because I have no faith,
because I do not believe in God.
that I must learn to believe in Him,
to accept Him into my life,
to humble myself before Him, as you do,
because life can have no meaning
for those who choose to live without Him,
for those who refuse to live according to His Word;
no hope for those
who do not seek out
the kind of comfort that only He can give.
You say too,
that you will pray to God
to offer me guidance
so that one day I might see the truth of this for myself.
And then you tell me
that God is supreme over all things
and no mortal creature can ever comprehend
the true extent of His powers
or presume to know His intentions.
So can you explain:
If the contents of God’s thoughts
are as far beyond the grasp of humankind
as you say they are
then how can you know
what God wants or needs from us,
or if He wants or needs anything at all?
If the Will of God is such a profound mystery,
precisely how do you set about obeying it?
Do you yourself know God?
Has He told you all those things that you tell me
it is impossible to know?
Has He taught you the workings of the Universe
in every tiny detail?
And through knowing Him
do you also know the workings of every human Soul?
Have you searched the depths of my Soul
more intensely than I have?
Is your understanding of its complexities
more thorough than my own?
And surely you as well have been unhappy.
Even with God to help you, have you not suffered?
Have grief, anger, confusion, despair,
played no part in your life?
Are you really so content that you can instruct others
in the art of contentment?
And despite all your efforts to adhere to God’s Law,
have you never sinned against another human being,
never been cruel or mean or neglectful
Are you so perfect that you can instruct others
in the arts of perfection?
And tell me this also:
do you really believe
that God’s compassion only extends
to those who tell Him they love Him?
Is this your idea of humility,
that our existence on Earth
is a competition
that only those who share your belief
I beg you, please, for both our sakes,
do not condemn me
simply because when I look at the world
through my eyes
I do not see what you see
when you look at it through yours.
If God exists as you say He does,
He will pass His judgment on me without your help;
and He surely will pass His judgment on you too,
when on the Last Day
He comes to weigh your actions,
and see how slight is your love for Him
when measured against your own self-love.