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Stephen Dunn - At The Smithville Methodist Church

It was supposed to be Arts & Crafts for a week, 
but when she came home 
with the "Jesus Saves" button, we knew what art 
was up, what ancient craft. 

She liked her little friends. She liked the songs 
they sang when they weren't 
twisting and folding paper into dolls. 
What could be so bad? 

Jesus had been a good man, and putting faith 
in good men was what 
we had to do to stay this side of cynicism, 
that other sadness. 

OK, we said, One week. But when she came home 
singing "Jesus loves me, 
the Bible tells me so," it was time to talk. 
Could we say Jesus 

doesn't love you? Could I tell her the Bible 
is a great book certain people use 
to make you feel bad? We sent her back 
without a word. 

It had been so long since we believed, so long 
since we needed Jesus 
as our nemesis and friend, that we thought he was 
sufficiently dead, 

that our children would think of him like Lincoln 
or Thomas Jefferson. 
Soon it became clear to us: you can't teach disbelief 
to a child, 

only wonderful stories, and we hadn't a story 
nearly as good. 
On parents' night there were the Arts & Crafts 
all spread out 

like appetizers. Then we took our seats 
in the church 
and the children sang a song about the Ark, 
and Hallelujah 

and one in which they had to jump up and down 
for Jesus. 
I can't remember ever feeling so uncertain 
about what's comic, what's serious. 

Evolution is magical but devoid of heroes. 
You can't say to your child 
"Evolution loves you." The story stinks 
of extinction and nothing 

exciting happens for centuries. I didn't have 
a wonderful story for my child 
and she was beaming. All the way home in the car 
she sang the songs, 

occasionally standing up for Jesus. 
There was nothing to do 
but drive, ride it out, sing along 
in silence.

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Added: Feb 20 2003 | Viewed: 7333 times | Comments and analysis of At The Smithville Methodist Church by Stephen Dunn Comments (3)

At The Smithville Methodist Church - Comments and Information

Poet: Stephen Dunn
Poem: At The Smithville Methodist Church
Volume: Stephen Dunn -- New and Selected Poems 1974 - 1994
Poem of the Day: Jan 10 2013

Comment 3 of 3, added on July 18th, 2014 at 3:55 PM.

55eUtA I appreciate you sharing this article post.Really looking forward to read more. Much obliged.

link building from Jordan
Comment 2 of 3, added on February 18th, 2013 at 8:43 PM.
art of poetry

at the smithville methodist church

teahkuwii from United States
Comment 1 of 3, added on February 19th, 2005 at 4:56 PM.

I first heard your poem, "At The Smithville Methodist Church" in a lecture delivered by Marcus Borg. I knew I had to have a copy because it is so representative of the panic that many parents have experienced when a child begins to get serious about Jesus.

I am sharing this poem with a Lenten Study group I am
leading next Monday morning. It seems to fit in very
well with our session topic, "Meeting Jesus In Real Time." Thanks so much for sharing your poem on the Internet.
Del Roper

Rev. Del Roper from United States

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