They seek him here; they seek him there.
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
Is he in heaven?—Is he in hell?
That damned, elusive Pimpernel! 

—The Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness Orczy

“Come now, let us be reasonable men
as befits us in this epoch, this age,
of enlightenment. If such it be, then
why must we continue our thoughts to cage
with specious articles of faith when
sweet reason demands that we disengage.
We are well rid of faith, say I.”

“Hear, hear!” they all exclaim, in the salons
around town; and from academic gown,
sentiments the same—with sharpened talons
drawn.  “I heard one of fame and great renown
proclaim what scurrilous felons
rough might fear to speak, lest to Hell damned-down:
‘Even should God, I prophesy,

have ever truly been alive, in short
order we shall find Him dead.’ So what need
we more? ‘Tis proof enough for any court:
seekers found a pilfered tomb and a creed
bereft. Nothing there! Nothing, save la morte.
God Himself guilty stands of grave misdeed.
We are well rid of Him, say I.

Let nothing henceforth be sacred called; hold
reason, science, this paragon of man,
instead in regard. We shall not be told
morality; individuals can
themselves properly deem their good. Be bold
in this, our free-thinking rebellion.
To Hell with religion, say I.”

So, the egalitariat, fractious,
frenzied with rampant libertinity,
anarchizes fraternity; factious
rival sects lose their heads collectively
as neighbors denounce neighbors, detractious.
It agitates into psychopathy;
they rage at nothingness, then die.

But among them, incognito, he flaunts
the tricolor subversive, as symbol
of another Trinity. Rumor taunts
their revolution; radical love nimble
and fierce thwarts their plans. Resurrection haunts
their thoughts: “Not trapped in the tomb,” they tremble,
“why then He’s everywhere, He’s nigh!”

(Fourth Friday of Lent, A meditation after the Stations of the Cross)

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Notes:

[1] “Even should God, I prophesy, have ever truly been alive, in short order we shall find Him dead”: Foreshadowing Friedrich Nietzsche: “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.”

[2] “Be bold in this, our free-thinking rebellion. To Hell with religion, say I”: The libertine Marquis De Sade (post-Revolution, Citizen Sade,) aligned with leftists in the French Republic’s National Convention, was the author of pornographic novels and political treatises arguing for the absolute rule of the individual through the extirpation of the roots of Christianity and deliverance from both “the sceptre (anarchy) and the Altar (immorality),” such individual freedom to be expressed through acts of the “unfettered desires” of sexual perversion, et al.

Editor’s Note: The featured image is “The Empty Tomb” by George Richardson.

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