A politics of Jesus in our time would must recall Luke’s version of the Beatitudes, and remember that Luke includes woes along with his blessings, and thus inspires, perhaps, other odd and poetic voices deeply disturbed by the facts on the ground.Wendell Berry wrote this poem in January, 1991, during the first Gulf War. Hardly a day has passed during the ensuing 21 years – the entire lifetime of my eldest child – when the words of this poem did not ring sadly true. Berry’s remains a singularly prophetic voice, and one that anyone pretending to articulate a politics of Jesus ought to study with care.The year begins with war.Our bombs fall day and night,Hour after hour, by deathAbroad appeasing wrath,Folly, and greed at home.Upon our giddy towerWe’doversway the world.Our hate comes down to killThose whom we do not see,For we have given upOur sight to those in powerAnd to machines, and nowAre blind to all the world.This is a nation whereNo lovely thing can last.We trample, gouge, and blast;The people leave the land;The land flows to the sea.Fine men and women die, the fine old houses fall,The fine old trees come down:Highway and shopping mallStill guarantee the rightAnd liberty to beA peaceful murderer,A murderous worshipper,A slender glutton, orA healthy whore. ForgivingNo enemy, forgivenBy none, we live the deathOf liberty, become
What we have feared to be.
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