‘Call Yourself an Atheist?’ A poem by URC poet-minister, Lucy Berry

mayhem imageOften it happens that strangers, to whom I am introduced, hear that I am a minister and expect me to be a lunatic. Kindly, and in order to spare me the pain of trying to convert them to Christianity, they break it to me, as gently and as soon as they can, that they are atheists. Perhaps they have suffered at the hands of pernicious religion, or been inculcated, early, into sloppy thinking.  Whatever their reason, they make the mistake of attributing to me a faith that I couldn't possibly hold. In future, to avoid all this, I may well hand out cards on which this poem is printed. 



Ok, call yourself an atheist.
But please don’t believe
that I believe
in the god that you
don’t believe
in. Believe
it or not, I don’t.
I don’t believe
in the god you don’t believe
in. Believe
me, I’m as comfortable
not believing
in the god you don’t believe
in, as you are.
If I believed
in the god that you don’t believe
in, I’d believe
in a forensic,
static warmonger
(very like ourselves),
who invented us
to control us and hurt us.
I don’t believe
that. But, if you don’t believe
in the god I do believe
in: love,
and courage,
then you don’t believe
in the god I do believe
in. And I believe
you. You really are
what I call
an atheist.                                                                                        

©Lucy Berry
Photo: Peter Hershey/Unsplash

Lucy Berry is a poet, a mum, and a minister of the United Reformed Church. Her website is at www.lucyberry.com and she's available to perform, preach and lead workshops.