Poetry and Hope for Texas – An Easter Tale

Wednesday evening, I came home from somewhere or other to catch the tail end of a conversation between the house’s 15yo girl — she’s a year ahead of herself at High School, I think they call her a sophomore — and her mother. To summarize:

It was so unfair. We were reviewing a poem in class and it was full of religious references that none of us understood. We shouldn’t be penalized because we don’t care about Christianity.

As I continued to eavesdrop, I heard her say that more than half the class had no idea what the Second Coming was, and two things happened to me. First, I barged into the convo and asked, This pome, was it Yeats?

Close, said the house’s 15yo girl, it was Yeets.

At which point, I recited — almost word perfect I’m sure — the first stanza, which happens to be eight of my very favourite lines of poetry.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

15yo girl’s jaw bounced off the floor. And her mother mock-fainted.

Because I am nothing if not a complete twat, I then spent a good ten minutes berating 15yo girl for not knowing what the Second Coming was. Or the Beast. Or the End of Days. The argument went roughly:

— But I don’t care about The Bible
— You don’t have to be religious to know about the Second Coming of Christ. I’m not, for a start.
— But why should I know about it, if I’m not a Christian?
— Because it’s culturally important and you should be better read — just look at all the books around this house — and you would be if you spent less time on the Instagram, the Twitter, and the God Knows What …
— But …
— Because every month or so, some religious nutjob tells us it’s the End of Days and the Rapture’s coming
— But …
— Because at least one of the Republican presidential morons has said we’re heading for the End of Days
— But …
And you’ve seen ALL the Omen movies!
— So. Unfair.

Yes, I’m not very good at this whole parenting lark.

The second thing that happened made me smile. I caught a glimpse of the future.

We live — at no small sacrifice — in one of the best school districts in Texas. We also live within Texas’s 22nd congressional district, the suburban wonderland that elects politicians like Tom DeLay and Ron Paul. The most self-described “Evangelical Christian” congressional district of them all.

In 2006, when DeLay was indicted for violating election law, the district also identified itself as 52% Republican, 32% Democrat, and 16% independent.

And yet, the only statistic I care about, the one that gives me hope, is that MORE THAN HALF of a sophomore English class in one of the best schools in the state knew absolutely nothing about The Second Coming of Christ and cared even less, because they don’t give a shit about the Bible. Or the people who thump it and insist it gives them the right to tell everyone else how to live.

The election after this one, these kids will be old enough to vote.


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