Que Sais-je?

This page focuses on Jean-Luc's struggle to separate the supremacy of the Abrahamic tradition from belief in God, love, redemption, and mercy.

What We Knew  -  What He Knew  -  Eucharistia  


What We Knew


Jean-Luc resigned himself to the fact that there was more than one creation and more than one resurrection. In the beginning of time and space there was a spark, an explosion of light.

 In the beginning of life there was water

and cells and movement that eventually swam in the water

and moved across layers like the layers of outer space

but here on earth, onto earth, and eventually above the earth

and in the skies where finches flew

an Alpha without an Omega

documented in the holy book

about the origin of species

for it too was a work of devotion and truth


In the beginning of civilization there was a hammer

that fell onto a stylus

that pressed itself into the clay of another holy book

read by George Smith in 1872

the cuneiform account of The Flood

read to a convocation of educated birds

who witnessed, but may not have understood the implications

of this resurrection of clay tablets that were extant

like the stele of Hammurabi's code in the Louvre that were proof

albeit truth of an infuriating Modern sort

read aloud in London in 1872, anno horribilus, that told us


for the last two thousand years we only knew half of what we pretended to know


What He Knew



He knew that for the last two thousand years we only knew about half of what happened

since humans have written down what they knew

since that fateful day in the Garden

of Eden or Dilmun (what did it matter?)

that symbolic Garden

(the Hebrew story no more and no less convincing than the Sumerian)

where Enkidu was created by the gods and lived as one with nature


Enkidu, like Adam, was tempted by the harlot Shamhat to enter the bronze city of Uruk

where Enkidu learned to drink and copulate

and where he lost forever his contact with the wild beasts of forest and hill

The Fall



And he knew that the ideas of Moses weren't as original as they seemed, and that the Bible was adrift in seems. He knew that the Bible came from the strangest of places, from the Queen of the Deep, Ereshkigal, and from the temple of Ishtar

and that this God who commanded total allegiance wasn't the only one to do so

Aten, Marduk, Ahura Mazda

all commanded total allegiance

and in their day were more powerful than Yahweh

And he knew that across the hills of the Holy Land, beyond Jericho and Jerusalem

was another Holy Land, populated by stranger gods

the holy trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva

and beyond that the Holy Ghost spread its wings and became Brahman

transcending even the gods, who themselves pointed to that great beyond

to the peak of Kailasa where Shiva created universes and destroyed them

and to Buddha's distant shore, beyond which the Absolute

iconoclastic beyond any recognizable belief

and astride that the Dao

intangible to words



He knew there were twelve tribes 

and there were twelve thousand tribes

He knew that his particular version of God was a reaction, like Al-lah

to the evils of Ba'al and Al-lat or whoever the God was

of the enemy of the time



he couldn't help noticing  that this jealous God of his had the temper of Enlil

who smote the world with thunder and alluvial flood-plains of rain

until some kinder God took pity, Ea, the god of sweet waters, friend to humankind

and in went the animals, two by two



he knew that many of the great Jewish ideas came down to us through the idolatries of the Babylonians

strewn in sacrificial blood and taint, they stretched way back

even the laws: an eye for an eye; so many shekels

old as that sacrificial goat Hammurabi

and before him, Ur- Nammu

and he knew that Moses wasn't the first  to imagine an ark or a tyrant like Gilgamesh




These things didn't destroy his faith

because he never believed in the literal meanings


He could see the things that weren't there

in the things that were:

bread was the blood of Christ

and also the baguette he slathered with pâté

and ate with wine, dark as Enkidu's blood, for lunch


He knew that the secret of eternal life was stolen by the snake long before Eden

but that it was also now

that the serpent slithered up the apple tree or snaked its way to the bottom of a river 

now and 5000 years ago

snatching it from the grasp of Gilgamesh

just as now it snatches eternity from beneath our very noses

Rhein gold and Gollum

just as then in the land of Sumer

that brought the Fall 



Eventually, inevitably, perhaps by pure chance

three thousand years later love broke out from the hardened clay

into a real life (or a metaphoric life -- he didn't have a clue 

40 or 40 million years in the desert — what did it matter?)

until the thorns and the blood and the overturned tablets 

the shattered commandments & the laws

forgiveness broke through 

forgiveness tangible

not some far-off story of a legendary god, but a human birth

in the womb of a lady of immaculate worth

mary halo.jpg

Yet the human god was misunderstood

everyone thought he was bringing vengeance, political revolt, or a new set of laws

equally complicated contradictions to the existing laws

when in fact or in fiction — what did it matter? — he brought light


He brought freedom from the logic of hatred

the rapture of the self exploding in a million stars


He brought only light in the face of all that darkness

in the place of all that death


Into the darkest chambers of Ereshkigal's gloom he brought life to the dead corpse

to the dry dust

to what we all become

bodies floating down the Euphrates


He brought hope to the despair of Gilgamesh

and to the existentialist pain that ended only in the boat of Magilum

no grimmer than

for this boat has no Charon, no Urshanabi to guide us 

back to Eden or Dilmun (what does it matter?) because for Gilgamesh there was no other side

just six fathoms deep

after the exploits, after the defeat of Humbaba

with Shamash and Enkidu by his side, no more by his side

only the swirling depth of the Euphrates

six fathoms deep 


The boat of Magilum


All that was left was Gilgamesh's great pain at the loss of his friend Enkidu

Gilgamesh's great despair, his matted hair, as he roamed the forest

his third millennium selva oscura

like a wild beast of forest and hill, the great king of kings

this Ozymandias with his sneer of cold command

trapped in his own powerful ego


even to him Jesus brought release



Next: Priest & Pastor

Back to top of this page.

Table of Contents for The Priest’s Dilemma