I am not a mugwump atheist…sitting on the fence and calling myself agnostic. I call myself an agnostic out of belief in evidence and empiricism…and because I subscribe – at least in principle – to the decency of humility. I try to avoid the term belief altogether where possible, preferring faith, as the deepest meaning of this word is confidence. I fear scientists in general do a disservice to reason in calling themselves atheists until they are backed into a corner and forced to admit they are in fact agnostics. I would go so far as to say science is another name for agnosticism. I do not pretend to know what is not known…or knowable. It is not for the sake of clarity, but of convenience that scientists use the term atheist, although it is as legitimate  to say they don’t believe in gods because they have no reason or evidence to do so.

Agnostic that I am, I love hearing Bach’s B minor mass, the St. Matthew Passion, the Verdi Requiem and many other such works. I suspect they inspire no less awe in me than they do in somebody wearing a symbol of capital punishment around his neck. Awe is not belief. I am as in awe of the universe…as any saint! The christian myths may indeed recount “the greatest story ever told”, [although my vote would go for Prometheus, who pays eternally his love of mankind ] however it is just that: a story.

But getting back to so called sacred music: I used to love to sing hymns with the choir [and no choirmaster ever rejected my rather decent soprano because I was an avowed heathen ] One of my favourites was We Gather Together, a hymn of Dutch origin – Wilt heden nu treden – written by A. Valerius in 1597. Call me pagan, a devil, a witch, but I laughed before I cried upon learning it was composed in honor of a Dutch military victory over the Spanish. Nothing like the killing of a few thousand fellow christians to get the creative juices flowing, eh?

From century to century we ask…Is nothing sacred? Not Sacred Heart in Paris, that’s for sure. It was built to commemorate the crushing of the “socialist” Paris Commune. It is, in my view, a tasteless embodiment of conservative moral order, which says, basically, might makes right.

Is nothing sacred? Is nothing sacred? [Can you see me pulling what remains of my hair out?] Man was a wolf to man before the nazarene tale and perhaps even moreso since. Let me take a break from my turmoil to pass on a quote from the preface of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. I don’t care if you saw the show; read the book. He was writing about an earlier commune, but it hardly matters: So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.

Pretty stories and glorious music are not likely to get the job done, however…






Canto – definiens divina

The Divine is not
in a candle flame
a statue or a holy name.
The Divine is not
a thing to be bought
and sold – a book
or an idol made of tin
or even gold
The Divine is within.

Divine law – plain to see
is that all have value
and must be free
for the truth is that your family
comprises all of humanity.

Let Flora and Fauna
be your friends, your teachers.
Defend the habitats
of ALL Earth’s creatures.



How about a born-again god?

choose to deny
[which is fact]
to protect
an out-dated notion
of divinty ?
Have you no
imagination ?

Be informed brother
that Fred’s laws are never other
than Nature’s.

Fred just blurted  Fiat
when he sat
on the wrong end of a tack
and BANG ! that was that!
He set the all in momentous motion –
and all evolved – is evolving –
according to Fred’s laws.

Greater and greater numbers
have less and less use
for altars and temples –  indeed
for gods and goddesses

but if you are one who still hungers
after absolutes at least let it be
for an intelligent – and benevolent –
great soul, one which causes things to work
precisely as they do work

The chaos
the scholar speaks of
is not your top dresser drawer
it’s a law without flaw
no less than Newton’s
[or Wein’s or Boltzman’s]

Does the world really change colour
when you put on tinted glasses?

You are big beside an ant
and a mere bug beside Niagara.

Rationality and empiricism
have their uses
but if you still need
some nice divinty
to console you
[or to give thanks to]
may I introduce you
to Fred, the atheist’s god
[hey, can you prove
Fred doesn’t exist? Lissen Shorty
my divinity is better than your divinity!]

and Earth ?
well earth is a shantung pearl
in dark blue velvet infinity.



The double-edged sword

In the beginning was the verb

There is a moment of lies –
when WORDS plant
the seed of love’s undoing –
that initial illusion – beading
bogus similarities ‘til you say
     we were made for each other.

And there is a moment of truth –
when WORDS lead
a juror to understand
he cannot convict,
mitigating circumstances
overriding all else.

Both moments
have their root
     In language 


in passing, French translates the original Greek  
στην αρχή ήταν η λέξη στην αρχαία
 Au commencement était le verbe. 



Thanksgiving Clock

I had wanted something –
something special, almost religious –
a ritual to herald
our new meatless tradition

Secretly, a rite of compassion

Not really a part of the meal
more a holy communion
the baby I would choose
not to lose
along with the bathwater


Ringed on a white plate
like numbers on a clock face
cherry tomato halves, half a fennel leaf,
a shallot, four mushroom halves,
two potato halves and a thumb of red pepper.
A celery heart and a carrot
cut long like a finger
were the hands.

These were staples we had enjoyed all year
and now we would celebrate each
one at a time – giving thanks
to the earth, the elements
and the labour that brought them to us.

I’d microwaved them in batches
in a vegetable broth
sprinkled with curry powder
and now I’d turned all the juices
into a gravy with a pinch
of cornstarch…corn
witness to the history
of the Great Colombian Exchange
which is something we could
celebrate without lying
to ourselves or our neighbours

Next year I will find or make
a large mold in the shape of a turkey
to bake what I still call “the stuffing” in…




adhere to nothing
because of Tradition
adhere to nothing
because of Authority
adhere to nothing
because of Revelation…
[unless the aforementioned
was made to you personally!]

is mere say
and should never blind
a well-meaning heart
or a curious mind



Dicey (from: The New Sunday Nuggets)

That dude on the cumulus handing out gifts at nativities
Is either blind as a bat or uncaring – an ice block
He lacks a sense of equality ‘tho ripe with proclivities
That lead to murdering all – right down to the livestock! *
Some get barely a talent – so slight it could never bring fame
[more a trickle that leaves a rusty ring ’round the drain]
Still others don’t even get that – not one gift to their name
Some are sheltered and warm, others hungry and cold in the rain.
People say ya gotta believe what’s as old as the hills
Such reasoning strikes me as faulty, to logic it’s treason –
Malaria too has been here since before fish had gills
Religions – all of them – tether true insight and reason.
      I’d sure check the impulse to sign on to any old creed
      Intermittently sanctioning murderous bloodlust and greed

*The Pentateuch…for starters.

Heaven is Here and Especially Now

some supped-up
tinseled, glorified event
out of mind out of time
some fraction beyond
the ordinary – no
what she quakes to lasso
what she circles, hungry hawk
is the actual ,
that prior-to Eden
where cowboy fear cannot help
but lose its footing
as the long-imposed virtual
on which it strides in chrome-tipped boots
and its concrete libraries of the falsified
go up in smoke –
when ego-driven history is undone,
wrapping removed
to reveal The Present,
eternal unspecial moment
when those silk-worm borders
between soul
and limitlessness
are unspun