Musings of an Ethnomusicologist on Unrelated Topics

stop asking

stop asking me

if i’m a believer

as though that justifies me

to you. 


if i am a believer, 

it’s not for the reasons you think; 

it’s not because

jesus died

in my place

so that i 

could somehow live forever, 

as though that changed anything.

it’s not because

i figured out the one way

to be right

in cosmic matters

so that all others

might be counted as wrong

and be damned for it. 

it’s especially not because

i want to stand up next to you

and receive a pat on the back

and be counted in your exclusive club, 

as though any of that mattered. 


as though you mattered more than me

if i don’t believe whatever you’re demanding. 


i see you:

with enough to eat every day

and skin that shines white as the sun

throwing down your credit card 

at expensive restaurants, 

driving your lexus, 

wearing your prada, 

managing your corporation, 

throwing money at colleges and symphonies

so plaques bear your name; 

so you will stand up 

and be counted

by the chief executives, 

and the fashionistas, 

and the chefs and artists, 

and the doctors and lawyers. 

i see how they lie at your feet. 


but i do not. 

because i see you, terrorist. 


if you are a believer, 

why did you molest your daughter?

why did you tell your daughter she’s stupid?

why did you throw your son down the stairs?

why did you sneer at the homeless man?

why did you excommunicate your gay son?

why did you rape your girlfriend?

why did you torment the kid with a disability?

why did you tell your wife she was no longer pretty?

why did you call the cops on that innocent black child?

why did you make jokes about your mexican cleaner?

why did you buy that prostitute?


why did you ruin them 

as though they were little

more than dogs to you? 


why do you care that i believe

when you justify yourself by orthodoxy, 

yet fail to stand up and face

the terror you caused

in people forever broken

by your selfish hands?


if i am a believer, 

it is because i believe

christ came as an immigrant,

a child, 

a homeless man, 

a strange stranger,

lonely and abandoned 

and ugly and sick

and scared.   


if i am a believer, 

it is because i believe

in how christ saw


and light

and wretchedness

and the glow

embodied and emitted

by the woman at the well, 

by the leper, 

by the outsider,

by the thief,

and brought out

life in the dead man. 


if i am a believer, 

it is because i believe

that the price for christ

of loving the stranger

was gruesome execution, 

devoid of logic or justice.



if i am a believer:

if i am the sheep, 

i will love until i am empty, 

to reach the shame, 

and the disgust, 

and the unworthiness

that corrodes even the best ones, 

to breath life into the dead places.


if i am a believer, 

i love you. 

but i don’t stand up 

to be counted with you, 

regardless of your status 

and your money. 


i stand up to be counted

among my friends, 

the bruised, 

the raped, 

the molested, 

the damaged, 

the abused,

the excommunicated, 

the deported, 

the homeless, 

the christ who dwells 

in our midst. 

and with the part of you

who suffers, because

i know you wouldn’t hurt others

so much if you hadn’t 



but i won’t call myself a believer 

if you only want to hear that i believe

in order to count me

as one of your own. 


i know what i believe. 

we, the horrible ones, are god’s own. 

belief is inconsequential. 


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This entry was posted on March 29, 2013 by .
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