Sunday, June 06, 2004

Conversation Between Heaven and Hell

I had a great idea for a poem this morning, although I don't know if I'll ever get around to writing it. The theme of the poem would be that our life on this earth is a conversation between hell and heaven, which, stripped down to the bones, would be as follows:

Hell: Why won't you send us some crumbs to save us?

Heaven: You have already been given a feast; if you won't feast on that, what good will crumbs do?

And it would then portray this conversation as the monotonous theme of history: we already have what's good for us, but we don't want it, and instead demand something else. I got the idea from the parable of Lazarus and Dives, particularly verse 31: "He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'" It struck me that this is the way human beings are at everything; we expect our problems to be solved, but, unwilling to accept the solution, we demand some other, more spectacular, solution. But if we won't accept the solution in the first place, what good will we get out of any alternative, however spectacular? We always already know what we should do; but we always want something amazing to come along to force us to do it. It's astonishing, really, how much of human history consists of people waiting around for someone to tell them how to act when they've been told again and again by the wisest people in the history of the earth. What more could we reasonably want?

Anyone's welcome to try their own hand at it.

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