He was known as Christian Fred
For the Bible things he said,
And the way he went to church just once a week;
But he troubled me, and others,
Not his critics, but his brothers,
For his Christian life seemed limited and weak.
Now one time he was off work,
And he was not one to shirk,
So I called on him for fellowship and prayer;
It was time, I thought, to talk,
Both to help him in his walk,
And to see if he had problems he could share.
I had fixed a time to meet,
So I walked along his street
But I had a sense that really was quite odd.
As I stepped into his room,
Through the clutter and the gloom
Gleamed the red eye of a little square screened god.
He explained it all to me,
Tho’ in fact was plain to see,
That the red eye meant the god was all alert:
“You just press this switch,” he showed,
And the god’s square screen then glowed,
And there came out all obscenity and dirt.
He showed me for an hour,
This god’s wonder-working power
In bringing news of sin from far and near.
Drugs and rape and fornication,
Murder, quarrels devastation,
interspersed with plugs for gambling and beer.
I sadly asked him why
He let all this fill his eye,
But he said “There are some good things in between.
There’s a smashing cooking course,
Nature (evolutionary of course)
And occasionally pictures of the Queen.”
“This god tells you how to spend,
How your food and drinks to blend,
And the way to change your room and decorate.
We’ve updated furniture,
filled our garden with manure.
And papered through six times – or is it eight?”
“There’s a Christian slot, you know;
Rather bland, but, there you go,
You can’t say things on TV that would offend.
Then, there’s news that one must see,
(it’s dumbed down, but it is free),
Though an annual fee for licence I must send.”
I asked him of the hours
He spent under this god’s powers,
But I found he could not bring himself to say.
“Two hours, or maybe three”,
He muttered shamefacedly.
“What each week?” I asked. `’No, actually each day.”
It hardly needed to be said,
But it hammered in my head,
This contrasted with the time Fred spent in prayer.
Or the time and thought and love
He gave to the God above,
Through His Word, or Church, when he is hardly there.
So I read to him and prayed,
Tried to reason while I stayed,
Bringing love and Scripture rather than the rod.
But as I left him there,
I saw the baleful glare
from the red eye of the little square-screened god.
© Stanley Jebb 2003 (With acknowledgements to Rudyard Kipling’s “Mad Carew.”)