Monday, February 6, 2017

Kent Peterson


She moved here from another town where she was faithful
so when she got here she went to church.


The man at the big church preached the gospel of prosperity.

God, he explained, rewards his faithful for their faithfulness.
Your tax-deductable contributions contribute not just to the greater good
but come back to you, multiplied not just in heaven, but here on earth.

The doubters, the sinners, the poor lost souls
who wail and starve outside the golden temple
should be given thoughts and prayers and maybe the table scraps
we were just going to throw away anyway.

But don't feed them like your family, that only rewards faithlessness.
It undermines their spirit and their search for God.

God helps those who help themselves.
We've passed laws to make begging a crime.
Rewarding the weak only weakens them, you see.

She heard the man speak, heard the others say amen.
When they passed the plate she remembered that he'd said.
Begging is a crime and God helps those who help themselves.

Her hands were quick and clever and no one noticed
(except the Lord in heaven, who was well pleased)
when she dropped five dollars in the plate
and palmed and took a ten.

She just did it just that one time and she hasn't gone back since.

That day after church, the last time she ever went,
she stopped to talk to the
scruffy, scary, dirty man standing at the corner.

"I'm hungry," she said "and I could use some company, can I buy you lunch?"

That's what she does on Sundays now.
She goes to McDonalds instead of church
with some friend she's just met.

She still bows her head before she eats
and gives thanks to God for food and friends.

She doesn't preach but she's pretty good at listening.

Gerald So reads "Mother McMuffin":

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Kent confesses: "My parents made sure I grew up going to church, but I never really took to it. I've seen a lot of kindness and a lot of cruelty both inside & outside of churches. Recent cases of people being arrested for feeding the homeless strike me as very wrong and mean-spirited & "Mother McMuffin" is my reaction to that."

KENT PETERSON lives in Eugene, Oregon with his lovely wife, a friendly cat, several bicycles, and more books than most folks would think you could fit into a tiny duplex apartment.

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