Thursday, January 8, 2009

traveling without god


With London Transport I won’t cavil,
although their message seems most odd,
declaring to the folk who travel
on buses that there is no God.
They’ve other slogans, e.g: “Stay
in bed on Sunday mornings,” chorus
a Jew on Sabbath might obey
if he were a great apikorus.
Stop worrying, and enjoy your life,
is what these transporters purvey.
“If you do not believe your wife
can see you, why not play
around?” is what I’d like to see
on London buses and the trains,
and if the Lord not agree,
I’d like to see if He complains
if this appears, because it seems
He’s just a figment in the mind
of so-called thinkers, who’ve had dreams
about Him, and yet cannot find
the place where He hangs out. My wife
believes He does exist. I think
she says this to control my life,
and keep me far from demon drink,
all other women, all the sort
of things of which He disapproves.
I will, if He exists, report
Him to His enemy with hooves,
The one who got a great-up
in Milton’s book on Paradise.
With such a one I'd love love to sup,
perhaps with other devil guys,
and tell him to take care of God,
so I can live my life without Him.
If you believe my wish is odd
it means, unlike me, you don’t doubt Him.

Inspired by an article by Sarah Lyall in the NYT, January 7, 2009 (“Atheists Send a Message, on 800 British Buses”):
The advertisement on the bus was fairly mild, just a passage from the Bible and the address of a Christian Web site. But when Ariane Sherine, a comedy writer, looked on the Web site in June, she was startled to learn that she and her nonbelieving friends were headed straight to hell, to “spend all eternity in torment.” That’s a bit extreme, she thought, as well as hard to prove. “If I wanted to run a bus ad saying ‘Beware — there is a giant lion from London Zoo on the loose!’ or ‘The “bits” in orange juice aren’t orange but plastic — don’t drink them or you’ll die!’ I think I might be asked to show my working and back up my claims,” Ms. Sherine wrote in a commentary on the web site of The Guardian. And then she thought, how about putting some atheist messages on the bus, as a corrective to the religious ones? And so were planted the seeds of the Atheist Bus Campaign, an effort to disseminate a godless message to the greater public. When the organizers announced the effort in October, they said they hoped to raise a modest $8,000 or so. But something seized people’s imagination. Supported by the scientist and author richard Dawkins, the philosopher A. C. Grayling and the British Humanist Association, among others, the campaign raised nearly $150,000 in four days. Now it has more than $200,000, and on Tuesday it unveiled its advertisements on 800 buses across Britain. “There’s probably no God,” the advertisements say. “Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Spotting one of the buses on display at a news conference in Kensington, passers-by were struck by the unusual message.

© 2009 Gershon Hepner 1/8/09

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