Humanist Perspectives: issue 181: The Gospel According to Zimmy: A Poem in Ten Cantos

The Gospel According to Zimmy: A Poem in Ten Cantos
or, Doggerel in Motion
by Brett Bazim

“In honour of the visit of Pope John Paul II to my hometown of Toronto in July, 2002.”

Canto I: In the Beginning

In the beginning, there was Otis.
And Otis did take unto him a helpmate, Haggard.
And Otis knew Haggard his wife.
And unto them was born a son, Cleetis.
And Cleetis and his descendants did take unto themselves wives,
Who shall be nameless for the rest of this catalogue.
So it came to pass that Bob, son of Cleetis, begat Snookums,
And Snookums begat Tim of the Buckéd-Tooth,
And Tim of the Buckéd-Tooth begat Keith,
And Keith begat Dave,
And Dave begat Ezekiah,
And Dave did pass on the sum of his wisdom to Ezekiah,
Saying, “Thou had better learn to fight – with a name like that.”
And Ezekiah begat Little Bill,
And Little Bill begat Leeroy,
And Leeroy begat Garth,
And Garth begat Johnny-boy and the twins,
And Johnny-boy begat Poindexter,
And Poindexter begat Fluffy and Spanky and Bruce,
And Bruce begat no one,
For he was gay.

Canto II: The Birth of the Priesthood

And the well of wives did dry up in the land,
So the descendants of Otis and Haggard did resort to inbreeding.
So Spanky took unto him his sister, Fluffy,
And it came to pass that they did do the “mattress mambo,”
And Spanky and Fluffy begat Web-toed Raoul,
And Web-toed Raoul begat Lip-less Larry,
And Lip-less Larry begat Hornéd Shemp,
And Hornéd Shemp was the first priest.

Canto III: The Invention of “God”

For Hornéd Shemp did seek power over the people.
And he knew the people were dimwits;
Yea, verily, they were morons and dunces and twits,
And did lack the power of critical thinking,
So he did invent a god, and made him omnipotent,
And omniscient, and omnivorous,
And gave him other attributes starting with om.
And Hornéd Shemp did set himself up as the go-between,
The interpreter of the god’s words, intentions, and wants.
And, lo, the people did fall for it!
And that was their undoing.
And Hornéd Shemp did gather unto himself other knaves,
His appointed buddies,
And a priesthood created he them,
And they did lord it over the people in the name of their god.

Canto IV: The Invention of “Holy Scriptures”

And to further intimidate the men and impress the chicks,
Hornéd Shemp and the priests did write a “Holy Book.”
And they did make it unreadable,
So that the people would not have the patience to understand it,
And would come to the priests for explanation and guidance.
And, lo, the people did fall further under the power of the priests,
Who did load their “Holy Book” with annoying stylistic devices
Such as many ands and begats and Thou shalts.
And the use of many ands they called polysyndeton,
And they did use childish repetition and heap-plenty parallelism,
And dehortatio, whereby they did exhort the people not to do this or that,
And adhortatio, whereby they did exhort the people to do this or that,
And finally a particularly annoying device of repetition:
And palindrome was the name of the device,
And the device was of the name of palindrome.
And the priests did load their “Holy Book” with all manner of sins,
Like murder and incest and rape,
Infanticide and fratricide and genocide,
And they did pronounce it a “moral guide”,
And the people did follow it.
And the priests did load their “Holy Book” with numerous contradictions,
And, lo, the people were sore confused
And even more dependent upon the priestly exegesis.
And the priests looked, and saw that it was good.

Canto V: The Invention of “Hell”

And to further browbeat the people,
The priests did turn their god into an angry god,
A vengeful and jealous god,
A psychopathic son-of-a-bitch with anger-management problems.
And they did invent a mythology of little hornéd guys
With red pajamas, cute little pointed tails and pitchforks,
And they did pronounce them devils
Created to torment anyone who opposed the will of the priests.
And, lo, the people did fall for it!
And the priests did show the people volcanic vents
In the mountainside, oozing lava and stinking of brimstone,
And said, “Behold! That is the everlasting Hell
Where all shall go who oppose us!”
And, lo, the people were real intimidated-like,
And so became as sheep.

Canto VI: The Invention of Misogyny

But due to his ugliness and the horn in the side of his face,
Hornéd Shemp did strike out with the women,
So the priests did come to hate and despise them,
And so pronounced them unclean and filthy.
And, lo, the people did fall for it!
And when the women sought to undermine the priestly powers
By controlling their own bodies,
The priests did forbid the use of con-doms.
And when the midwives took to birthing babies,
And usurped the functions of the priests’ doctor buddies,
The priests did cry “Witch!” and burn them alive.
And they pronounced Woman the Vessel of Evil,
And blamed her for all that is wrong with the world.
And so, renouncing the female, the priests did say,
“Send the little boys unto us,
Yea, send the little buggers unto us.”
And the priests did hush up the scandal for fourteen generations.

Canto VII: The Invention of “Heaven”

But the priests did hear the people grumbling,
For the people were not entirely stupid,
And, lo, the priests were sore afraid.
And so, seeking to deepen their emphasis on blind obedience,
They did sweeten the deal by telling the people,
“Whosoever disobeyeth the priests shall suffer eternal flame!
But whosoever obeyeth the priests shall know eternal glory
By the side of our psychopathic omnicidal god (who loves his children).
Blessed are they that cast off the shackles of critical thinking!
Blessed are they that douse the light of reason and science!
For whosoever followeth blindly, the god shall bless
With material rewards on Earth: the salaries of CEOs,
A yacht, and a winterized cottage in North Ontario!
And they shall feast on the beasts of the field,
And Jell-O pudding, and Cheerios, both original and Honey Nut,
And egg salad sandwiches, and bottled water,
And pizza from the Italian joint down the street.
And after death, they shall be blessed in Heaven with
All the cable channels, and 24-hour-a-day porn,
And domestic and imported beer, and erotic massage parlours,
And expensive designer clothes for half price.”
And, lo, the people did fall for it!

Canto VIII: On the Genealogy of Morals

And the priests did engage in a Nietzschean revaluation of values,
And employ the device paradiastole,
Whereby sniveling they called docility,
And groveling they called piety,
And contempt of self they called humility.
And they made a virtue out of stupidity,
And a vice out of intellectual integrity,
And a virtue out of superstition,
And a vice out of critical reasoning,
And a virtue out of blind faith,
And a vice out of skepticism,
And a virtue out of fideism,
And a vice out of atheism.
And whenever the head of Reason raised itself,
Their followers would strike it down.
And wherever the strength of Logic was made manifest,
Their followers would banish it to the far corners of the earth.
And wheresoever the infant Science would take its first steps,
Their followers would crush it and punish its advocates.

Canto IX: The Disastrous Consequences

And Hornéd Shemp did create a holier name for himself,
And “Pope George Ringo” came he to be called.
And in the priests the Will to Power begat arrogance,
And arrogance begat intolerance,
And intolerance begat cruelty,
And cruelty begat persecution,
And persecution begat torture,
And torture begat murder,
And murder begat religious wars,
And religious wars begat global suffering,
And the world became a moral wasteland,
A desert of ethnic and religious tribalisms.
And the priests looked and saw that it was good,
For they did retain their power over the minds of the mob.
“Behold!” said the priests unto themselves,
“Our religion is the greatest con game since the world began!
Beside us, politicians look like naïve boy scouts,
CEOs like preschool children,
Telemarketers like harmless old ladies,
Thieves, bullies, thugs, like girl guides!”

Canto X: A Saviour is Born, ’tis Secular Humanism

But the priests’ boast was an empty one,
For they did shake with fear and trembling,
For they knew that a saviour would be born unto the world,
In the irresistible process of time,
Who would crush their temples, reverse their “morality,”
And scatter their “Holy Book” to the four winds;
That some noble form, its hour come round at last,
Slouches toward their wasteland to be born,
And that saviour shall be called Secular Humanism,
And it shall rid the world of superstition,
And religious bigotry, and arrogance,
And fear of death, and ignorance,
And hatred of women, and intolerance,
And it shall glorify Reason, and champion Science,
And love and compassion, world without end.