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An Atheist’s Lament

By William Craig Rice

 

I

 

Why do I marvel when the faithless stray,

when friends whom I supposed completely safe

against belief go falling for a god?

If memory serves, their doubt was no façade,

not some timid catechismal phase.

It was emancipation underway!

 

II

 

Was it business drove them to the churches

in finery and numbers? Or in-laws

demanding they observe those ancient rites—

burial, birth, and marriage? Did avoiding fights

become the thing? Plus, why dwell on flaws

of faith? What’s so wrong with spiritual searches?  

 

III

 

Our skepticism triumphed to a fault, perhaps,

as laughter, apostasy, and reason

grew cold and tight in their alliance.

A fearsome thing, self-reliance!

Yet these seemed stalwarts every season:

What caused their sturdy minds to lapse?

 

IV

 

What was missing in our merry heresies,

our poking at believers for their folly?

Just think, we had all Sunday free, a prize

we claimed in full so as to energize

mind and body, and make the Sabbath jolly:

we pagan revelers amidst the Pharisees.

 

V

 

I’m out of answers. The question still remains.

I marvel, as I say, and never would begrudge

the clueless any creed. Still, it does hurt

my small reserve of pride that an inert

and slavish faith could for a moment budge

the friends I surely thought had guts and brains.

***

4 July 2014

William Craig Rice has worked as a schoolteacher, auto mechanic, college teacher and president, and federal official. He lives in Washington, DC.