Theme: Religion

The Bishop's Dilemma

The most we can do today, the bishop declared,
is to fulfil our role: speaking on behalf of all,
as he orated from the soaring pulpit
in foreshortened perspective pinned to the face map
of the televised cathedral audience,
on this great national religious festival day.
He was not arguing a case, he realised,
nor would it affect the simple truth so to do:
his words the nation expected: he was doing
what his office required of him: to make
a pronouncement; not to seek further to expound,
but having spoken, let the word carry its power through.
It is with a word that things are done - not
argument; when a word will state the truth,
is against all the arguments that can be raised;
such is the case when a goal is declared, the news read,
or the winner of the lottery announced:
these are not themes for argument when pronounced.
The bishop now thinks about returning to his palace,
ensconced within the community of the diocese,
and compares his position to that of other leaders
of religion, made self-sufficient to the degree
that enables their independence: a closed affair
each, grouped within the wider establishment of society.
The bishop realises it is as one community
the whole society operates: and this perceived
in terms of its future, once secured, the need
is removed for additional prospects: his message
finds its context there: it is superfluous
unless it enters and fulfils that one prospect of life.
What, in this context, does Christ offer society
that is practical? - Except it be each ensures
he is alive for others, fulfils his role;
no talk of seeking the death that enters new life,
but to live in the world, where it's considered proper
to be human, virtues and weaknesses, all told.
Paradoxically, the bishop sees the life of Christ
does not change but is the life of each man;
fulfilling his role, each life is Christ Himself
living in our midst; and the role each must fulfil
precisely each enacts, law-abiding or criminal;
integral: which is why the bishop silently leaves.


More By  :  R. D. Ashby

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