Religious Instruction – a prose poem by Rupert Loydell

Religious Instruction

‘The instruction manual called God’

– Dan Beachy-Quick, ‘Confessions’

 

The instruction manual called God lies discarded in our room. It feels out of touch and inappropriate, although it has intriguing and different answers that sometimes make sense, although it would be hard to put in to practice without a lot of changes and unrest. We couldn’t cope with that.

Some people say it is a book of stories, some a set of rules. Others use it as motivation for hatred or censure, some to make themselves feel better than everyone else. Others beat themselves up after reading it and are never themselves again. I am wary of those who say the instructions need interpreting or revising for the present day, but just as suspicious of those who use it to make demands on everyone else and argue for their own way.

The instruction manual called God was given to me by my parents, who both used it as the answer to everything. I didn’t question it as a child, although it seemed to exist in several different versions and with many different covers. Some looked more appealing than others, but they all said the same thing inside, although the instructions in it weren’t always straightforward or clear cut.

The instruction manual called God is gathering dust on the shelf of non-fiction by my bed, next to a monk’s zen reminiscences and an ex-bishop’s book about doubt. Sometimes I put it with my favourite poetry, other times I hide it under the bed. It feels out of touch and inappropriate, although it has intriguing and different answers that sometimes make a kind of sense.

© Rupert M Loydell

 

Rupert Loydell is a writer, editor and abstract artist. His many books of poetry include Dear Mary (Shearsman, 2017) and The Return of the Man Who Has Everything (Shearsman 2015); and he has edited anthologies such as Yesterday’s Music Today (co-edited with Mike Ferguson, Knives Forks and Spoons Press 2014), and Troubles Swapped for Something Fresh: manifestos and unmanifestos (Salt, 2010).

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