?

Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile PenUltimate Productions Website Previous Previous Next Next
The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Ari and the Atheist"

This poem came out of the March 20, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from siliconshaman, who raised the interesting point of atheists in a world with active, present deities.  (Some ideas for different interpretations of "atheist" in a deity-rich setting also come from Bard Bloom's World Tree.)  A recent poll decided to sponsor this poem out of general funds.  It belongs to the series Path of the Paladins and you can find its other poems through the Serial Poetry page.

Courtesy of mdlbear, I'd like to recommend the song "The Atheist's Anthem" by catsittingstill.  While not composed specifically in relation to the Path of the Paladins series, it does touch on the same theme as this particular poem.


Ari and the Atheist


In the village square there stood a bread-cart.
It was the sort of thing that some priests provided
to feed those who might otherwise go hungry,
so the food was always cheap,
or free if you couldn't afford anything.

Ari headed for it at once, hoping to get
a pair of rolls for her and Shahana.
Yet the fading paint on the cart was plain,
no god-sign marked anywhere that she could see.
"Who do I have to thank for this bounty?"
she asked as she selected her bread.

"Just me," said the man with a gap-toothed grin.
"I'm an atheist, girl.
You won't find any god-sign on my cart."

"But how can you not believe in the gods
when they move through the world so much?"
Ari asked.  "It's obvious that they exist."

"Oh, I know they're real enough,"
the atheist said.  "I ain't blind.
I just happen to think they're all a bunch of dumbasses
and I refuse to worship any of them.
I mean, look at the mess they've made of this world."

"Well," Ari said faintly,
"I suppose it's hard to argue with that."

"Anyhow, I figure if I want to have
a world worth living in, I'd best fix it myself,"
the atheist said.

So Ari gave him a coin for the two rolls
and said, "Thank you for this bounty,"
and if it was decidedly odd to say that
to a mortal man instead of a deity,
Ari kept that part to herself.

When Ari returned with their lunch,
Shahana asked who was to thank for it,
and the girl replied, "That man over there.
He's an atheist.  But he makes very good bread,
and he's determined to fix the world himself."

"Well," the paladin said as she accepted her roll,
"he's doing better than some zealots I could name."

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Current Mood: busy busy

21 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: March 24th, 2012 07:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
I *love* this one! The same philosophy applies in this world; you don't have to be a believer in order to be a good person.

If you haven't seen many of catsittingstill's recent songs, check out The Atheist's Anthem.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 24th, 2012 08:07 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> I *love* this one! <<

I'm happy to hear that.

>> The same philosophy applies in this world; you don't have to be a believer in order to be a good person. <<

The prompt made for a great opportunity to show that not all of the (small but growing handful of) decent people in this setting are priests or paladins, or indeed, followers of any god at all.

Thanks for the pointer to the song! I've linked it from the main post.
catsittingstill From: catsittingstill Date: March 25th, 2012 12:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

I like this one a lot.

My philosophy differs a little in that I would say "If we want to have a world worth living in, we have to fix it ourselves. So I have to do my part."

But that doesn't detract from the fact that this is great.

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 26th, 2012 07:28 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

A subtle difference, but a thoughtful one. You probably know more functional people than that poor guy does, though.

I'm glad you liked the poem.
catsittingstill From: catsittingstill Date: March 26th, 2012 11:57 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

It's true that the practical difference in terms of what I should do is very small. It's sort of a "bardic thing" in terms of approach; part of what I can do is encourage others to do likewise. And a bread cart like that is a chance to reach a lot of people.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 26th, 2012 05:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

>> It's true that the practical difference in terms of what I should do is very small. It's sort of a "bardic thing" in terms of approach; part of what I can do is encourage others to do likewise.<<

I do a lot of that, in addition to some practical things.

>> And a bread cart like that is a chance to reach a lot of people. <<

Yes, it is! And the blank paint makes people think. What does it "mean" that it's blank, when they're expecting it to have god-signs on it? That sticks in people's minds.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: March 24th, 2012 10:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very good point and it's one many fundies miss when they sit and moan about the state of the world today: While it's true you cannot, by yourself, fix everything that's wrong with the world, you can do things to improve your own little corner of it.
:)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 24th, 2012 10:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

That's pretty much my philosophy. I can't fix everything, but I'll work on those things that are in my reach and my spheres of influence.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: March 25th, 2012 10:12 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

The world would indeed be a better place if more people simply tried to improve their own little corner of it.
:)
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: March 24th, 2012 11:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's the thing about being an atheist -- you can't assume that God will fix things, or that things were meant to be this way, or that you'll get your reward in the afterlife.

It's what's you do, here and now, that counts.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 25th, 2012 12:52 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

And it doesn't matter if you think the gods are nonexistent or just a bunch of incompetent baboons. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: March 25th, 2012 06:27 am (UTC) (Link)
I like this one!
laylalawlor From: laylalawlor Date: March 25th, 2012 04:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really enjoyed this!
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: March 26th, 2012 05:07 am (UTC) (Link)
It is nice to see a religious character acknowledge than an irreligious one can be doing the right thing.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 26th, 2012 05:18 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm happy to hear that.

The functional characters in this setting seem to be ... remarkably practical.
From: technoshaman Date: March 26th, 2012 02:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Here via mdlbear...

Interesting that the atheist's mindset jives with mine and with a number of others' who walk similar Paths... but not so much with the likes of those who .... oh, how to put it delicately... tend to wear their religion on their sleeves (and their back bumpers and such like..)

"Magic is the act of getting up off your ass and doing something." -- damiana_swan.

I really do like how that punches home that a lack of theology doesn't mean a lack of ethics, or a lack of caring. Indeed, most of the atheists I know care deeply...

Mind if I link to this?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 26th, 2012 05:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> Interesting that the atheist's mindset jives with mine and with a number of others' who walk similar Paths... but not so much with the likes of those who .... oh, how to put it delicately... tend to wear their religion on their sleeves (and their back bumpers and such like..) <<

Some people are all about following the letter of a religion, not the spirit. There's a marvelous scene about that in the Bible, featuring Jesus and the Pharisee. Also you may find similarities with some philosophical, rather than spiritual, paths that people follow.

>> I really do like how that punches home that a lack of theology doesn't mean a lack of ethics, or a lack of caring. Indeed, most of the atheists I know care deeply... <<

That's true for many atheists I know too. Religion is not the only source of morality, nor are religious people always moral.

I also thought it was cool that in a series so focused on spirituality, this counterpoint popped up. Because it's also a series about what happens when deities and people are irresponsible, so that raises the question of how folks are going to respond. They don't all respond the same way.

>> Mind if I link to this? <<

Please do! Signal boosting is always welcome.
eseme From: eseme Date: March 30th, 2012 12:30 am (UTC) (Link)
I also like this a lot. Not being religious does not mean one is not caring, or responsible or moral.

Thanks!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 30th, 2012 02:14 am (UTC) (Link)

You're welcome!

I'm glad you like it. I think this poem illustrates an important point that way. There are many paths to morality.
helgatwb From: helgatwb Date: May 18th, 2015 01:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like this, it reminds me of my response when people say that life's not fair. I tell them that people make life, and if they were fair, life would be, too. So be fair to people.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 18th, 2015 06:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

That's a good way to put it.

Another of mine is, "Life is not fair. The purpose of civilization is to make life more fair."
21 comments or Leave a comment