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Philip Appleman




I am modern. And educated. And reasonable.
And I believe in Jesus Christ, son
of the living God.
When they tell me He
was born of a virgin, I say, well,
it's unusual, of course, but in the arms of God,
anything is possible...
When they tell me that a bright new star
appeared in the eastern sky,
shining over His manger, I say, well,
I know it's not customary
to improvise stars like that, but remember,
we set up searchlights now, just
to open a used-car lot, and after all,
this is the Son of God, isn't it?...
They tell me He cast out demons,
and I say, well,
you have to understand the peculiar idiom
of a given historical time...
They tell me His voice could calm a tempest,
and I reflect on all the unexplained
of our physical world...
They tell me His touch cured blindness,
made the lame walk, the lepers clean,
and brought corpses back to life -
and I'm reminded of the psychic component
of so much modern medicine...
They tell me He fed five thousand
with five loaves and two fishes,
that He walked on the surface of the sea,
that He rose from the dead -
and I relish the poetic truth
of those venerable symbols.

In the backward villages of Asia,
the gods have as many limbs
as spiders, and take on monstrous forms
as quickly as a cloud. The natives,
shrouded in their age-old ignorance
and superstition, believe
the most bizarre tales about them,
despite the best efforts
of our enlightened missionaries.

© Philip Appleman
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