Ain't that what religion is for?

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Belong Be Love
Come as you are, that's how I want you,
Come as you are, feel quite at home,
Come to my heart, loved and forgiven
Come as you are, why stand alone?

Come as you are, Britney
that's how I want you, Peter Kennedy
Come as you are, Geoffrey Robinson
feel quite at home, Michael Morwood

Come to my heart, loved and forgiven
Come as you are, why stand alone?

No need to fear, nameless and hungry
love sets no limits, rapist and pedophile
No need to fear, itinerant, broken
love never ends, pretender and bankrupt
Don't run away, Catherine Deveney
ashamed and disheartened, Andres Serrano
Rest in my love, K. D. Lang
trust me again, Germaine Greer

I came to call sinners, Mother Teresa
not just the virtuous, Hans Kung
I came to bring peace, Adolf Hitler
not to condemn, Ben Cousins

Each time you fail, to live by my promise
Why do you think, I'd love you the less?

Come as you are, Marilyn Manson
that's how I love you, George Bush
Come as you are, John Kerr
trust me again, Gough Whitlam
Nothing can change, Pope Benedict
the love that I bear you, George Pell
All will be well, Julian
Just come as you are

Come as you are, Benedict
that's how I love you, Gough
Come as you are, George
trust me again, John
Nothing can change, Marilyn
the love that I bear you, George
All will be well, Julian
Just come as you are ...

–Marlene Marburg
Adapted. Deirdre Brown 'Come As You Are' ©

somewhere a church 
somewhere a church 

who accepts silence,
remembers before
all was spoken
from meandering minds,
who doesn't know about crying
rooms   

a church grateful for being

together simply

a church who tolerates hell
breaking loose
still glad to be
family

there is a church
who opens her arms
to divorcees,

welcomes
rainbows

yobbos and yuppies
and studs and tatts
and me
at the shared meal

a church who knows
her own addiction
his own dissension

who loves
the disgraced
with prodigal grace

somewhere a church
grateful for being
together simply
–Marlene Marburg

The Presbyterian Pump
Who needs Hare Krishna or Hatha Yoga
Druidic robes or Buddhist butter yellow toga
Gregorian chanting or ayatollahs ranting
when you are born to a creed that has all you need
and nothing more.
Ain't that what religion is for?

Forget the mosques and synagogues
the bribery of kings and demagogues,
the cathedrals glorious with spires victorious
so full of gold and priceless and old
the doors need locks —
nobody robs a bare wooden box.

What's the use of Sanskrit mantras,
or Hindu shakti bahkti mudra or tantra,
Tibetan mandalas and Viking Valhallas,
prayer-wheels that you spin and penance for your sins —
it's gilding the lily,
and anything more than just plain is just plain silly.

Do you think that Zen koans will still your mind
or sitting pretzel-legged in a frozen cave with a numb behind?
Then try contemplation on free will and predestination
or spend an hour or two on a hard wooden pew —
it's enough.
Committee work can wait till you're really tough.

Say goodbye to cantors, choirs, and solo sopranos.
All you need is a tuning fork or at most an organ or upright piano.
Pump the bellows of your lungs, pump the muscle of your tongue,
open up your mouth and boom so the hymn fills up the room
and that'll do —
God does all the rest, not me or you.
–Edith Speers


PoetMarlene Marburg is engaged in PhD research at the Institute of Christian Spirituality and Pastoral Formation (Melbourne College of Divinity). Her work is a poetic exploration of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. Marlene is a poet, spiritual director and formator at Campion Centre of Ignatian Spirituality.

 

Edith Speers

Born in Canada, Edith Speers studied biochemistry before moving to Australia in 1974. She's a poet, teacher, editor and publisher, and manages Esperance Press, located in Dover, Tasmania. In 2001 was selected as a recipient of the Centenary Medal for community service, offered in conjunction with Australia's Centenary (1901-2001) celebrations.

 

Topic tags: new australian poems, marlene marburg, Belong Be Love, somewhere a church, The Presbyterian Pump

 

 

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Existing comments

All three resonated, all three make their point. The third was, perhaps, the most exercising. I have to try to imagine a life's formation in an unadorned or starker religiosity. The chants and mantras of the alternatives are powerful seductive attractants and something like mothers' milk. It's pretty confronting in its way, but, after some reflection, it reveals and presents a common essence with genuine nakedness before oneself, one's demons and Brahma, which is the authentic encounter in the spirit and which we tend to shrink from or have in superficial spurts. Thank you Edith and Marlene.
Stephen Kellett | 14 September 2010


Thanks for making me grin ... and think ... this morning. A good start to the day!
Glen Avard | 14 September 2010


These poems don't seem to reflect Catholic teaching. They smack of "universal salvation" rather than "Many are called, but FEW are chosen."
Trent | 14 September 2010


Trent - Um, so what?

Lovely poems Marlene and Edith - thanks!
Charles Boy | 14 September 2010


Thank you, God, for inspiring Edith and Marlene.
Thank you, Marlene and Edith, for cooperating with the mysterious spirit of an incomprehsible God.
Thank you, Eureka Street, for publishing these poems.
I'm reading Henri Nouwen's Bread for the Journey at the moment. In their poetry Edith and Marlene capture some of Henri's creed which emphasises God's love and mercy in an unmerciful and selfish world.
Uncle Pat | 14 September 2010


I love these poems. they are all so fresh and vibrant and engaging. Thank you for sharing your gift with us Marlene & Edith
Cissy M | 14 September 2010


A song I find somewhat schmaltzy is transformed by Marlene's expansion of its meaning. Now I can enjoy it. Thanks Marlene.
Jan Watson | 14 September 2010


"All will be well, Julian
Just come as you are"

Oh, Marlene!!! Thank you, you just made me smile.
Sue | 15 September 2010


Isn`t including Hitler not going a bit far? Evil too may have a name and needs to be called to book and surely excluded from the community. We need those ordained with the authority to do that; if only they had the courage to do so!
eugene | 15 September 2010


There is something about institutions of religion that works profoundly against the joyful, liberating message that Jesus brought. he didn't like the institutions of his own time, I reckon. Hitler makes heaven too, my old Franciscan told me, only he lives in the Asylum. it's a question of how much grace you allow yourself to receive, after all.
Moira Rayner | 21 September 2010


There is something about institutions of religion that works profoundly against the joyful, liberating message that Jesus brought. he didn't like the institutions of his own time, I reckon. Hitler makes heaven too, my old Franciscan told me, only he lives in the Asylum. it's a question of how much grace you allow yourself to receive, after all.
Moira Rayner | 21 September 2010


Trent, as a former (Wee Free) Presbyterian, I found the doctrine of 'the elect' capable of being turned into attitudes that became selfish and judgmental. Who knows who is 'chosen' - all, including Hitler, are invited.
Moira Rayner | 21 September 2010


I think Edith Speers may have her tongue in her cheek, or else she has forgotten that there is more than one way.
Margaret Smith | 28 September 2010


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