Rest well from your labors, thund’rous teacher
who prayed and fought the devil every day.
You claimed, by right of God we must obey
that if we would come to Heaven’s trencher,
we must to church, for to hear the preacher,
and demons in our hearts prepare to slay.
You found the black and white in shades of gray—
child of God and Aristotle’s creature.
So widely spread was your message of hate,
I never thought to hear Love’s embassage
at pulpit where ballot box was found.
And now, at your passing, it is too late
to sit with you at tea in parsonage
and learn which angels dance on common ground.
I can’t say I’m going to miss the man. The institutions he founded will be with us for decades at least, and they will carry on with fiery fervor the pretty, the ugly, and the uglier parts of his mission. Yet a preacher can’t occupy the same church and the same pulpit for decades on a message of fire and brimstone alone. His congregation had to have heard of Love, too, however much the media may have focused merely on one part of his message.
Or so I can hope.
So it still feels like a missed opportunity, to oppose him only and not pray with him; to ignore the hope that there could be some common ground; to believe there might be a ‘moral’ majority in this country who seek the betterment of society; that there might be a good and honest way to provide for the widow, the poor and the orphan.