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The Word of God -- Catherine Faber

Guest poem sent in by Rob Bos
(Poem #803) The Word of God
 From desert cliff and mountaintop we trace the wide design,
 Strike-slip fault and overthrust and syn and anticline...
 We gaze upon creation where erosion makes it known,
 And count the countless aeons in the banding of the stone.
 Odd, long-vanished creatures and their tracks & shells are found;
 Where truth has left its sketches on the slate below the ground. [1]
 The patient stone can speak, if we but listen when it talks.
 Humans wrote the Bible; God wrote the rocks.

 There are those who name the stars, who watch the sky by night,
 Seeking out the darkest place, to better see the light.
 Long ago, when torture broke the remnant of his will,
 Galileo recanted, but the Earth is moving still                  [2]
 High above the mountaintops, where only distance bars,
 The truth has left its footprints in the dust between the stars.
 We may watch and study or may shudder and deny,
 Humans wrote the Bible; God wrote the sky.

 By stem and root and branch we trace, by feather, fang and fur,
 How the living things that are descend from things that were.
 The moss, the kelp, the zebrafish, the very mice and flies,
 These tiny, humble, wordless things -- how shall they tell us lies?
 We are kin to beasts; no other answer can we bring.
 The truth has left its fingerprints on every living thing.
 Remember, should you have to choose between them in the strife,
 Humans wrote the Bible; God wrote life.

 And we who listen to the stars, or walk the dusty grade         [3]
 Or break the very atoms down to see how they are made,
 Or study cells, or living things, seek truth with open hand.
 The profoundest act of worship is to try to understand.
 Deep in flower and in flesh, in star and soil and seed,
 The truth has left its living word for anyone to read.
 So turn and look where best you think the story is unfurled.
 Humans wrote the Bible; God wrote the world.
-- Catherine Faber
  Lyrics and melody © Catherine Faber, 1994

  [1] Pun on slate, kind of obvious but I wanted to point it out explicitly.
  [2] Galileo was reputed to have said after his recantation, "and yet it
  [3] i.e, on the moon.

This song, and this poem, encountered me recently.  Let me point out that as
an atheist, I have long wanted to reconcile my own beliefs with my sense of
wonder at the world.. I found this song significant in many ways: the idea
that 'should you have to choose between them in the strife', a choice
between the Bible, words written by humans, and the universe, words written
by God.. when we have to make the choice, the world should take precedence.

The idea of the world as a puzzle, as a book, left to us by a Divine to
decode, is an evocative one. There are several lines in this song that
simply give me shivers since they express a spiritually agnostic viewpoint
so clearly.

Lyrics: [broken link]
Recording:  (performed by Leslie

Rob Bos}, alive and kicking.

[Martin adds]

  A quick note on filk - like many other genres, it is impossible to define
  both concisely and accurately. This has not, of course, stopped people from
  trying - an extensive list of definitions can be found at

    [broken link]

  A lot of the links seem to be broken; one that works, and provides a good
  introduction to the topic is [broken link]

  [broken link] has a lot of filk-related links

  And finally, there's an active filk community on usenet,

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