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  #11  
Unread 11-21-2020, 12:27 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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I'd also find a new title.
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  #12  
Unread 11-21-2020, 01:08 PM
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RCL RCL is offline
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Obsessed as I am with the anti-Christ, Con Man Trump, I read it from start to finish as a satire of his embodiment of their destructiveness. I love the satire, even if not of what I see.
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  #13  
Unread 11-21-2020, 07:17 PM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Thanks for the very helpful feedback, friends. I was aware of some major problems with this poem, which is why I posted it. You collectively identified most of those, and suggested some possible detours.

But trust Eratosphere to also identify a few other problems--some of them also pretty major--that I'd had no clue were there. (A bit deflating to find out, but I'm of course grateful to you for letting me know.)

For example, I was very surprised to find that many readers seem to equate "Her God is Santa Claus" with "Santa Claus is her God." To me, those two concepts are not at all equivalent, even if they literally mean the same thing. Now I just need to decide whether it's important to me that every reader see it exactly as I do, or if I can live with that.

In the first stanza, I was thinking of this part of Michelangelo's most famous work, and I had wrongly assumed that everyone else would, too:

http://www.italianrenaissance.org/wp...m-detail-1.jpg

Maybe any resemblance to Santa is just in my own mind. Anyway, I'll be cutting that stanza, and recycling the idea elsewhere.

My main problem with this poem, which I am still at a loss to resolve, is that many of the biggest fans of televangelists are people who are economically vulnerable. It isn't fair to accuse these people of greed. It isn't greedy to want to be able to pay your medical bills, or keep a roof over your children's heads, or otherwise weather a financial crisis. Sending money you can't afford to someone whose prayers seem more efficacious than your own is a desperate strategy, similar to gambling with money you can't afford to lose. I can't blame desperate people for making reckless decisions. But it's just about impossible not to come across as victim-blaming if I mention them at all, though. Especially since the tone of any satire is, by definition, rather judgmental.

A focus on "faith, not works" and "grace, not works," although it comes out of a long and respected theological tradition, sure makes an awfully convenient excuse for prosperity Gospel televangelists to avoid criticism for not doing much charitable work with the vast sums of money they take from the poor.

Allen, I suspect that your wife is more allergic to "you guys" in the plural than in the singular. But my "she's your guy" is too weak a punchline to be worth keeping, anyway, so I'll be cutting that bit.

Coleman, Daniel, Bill, and Alexandra: I agree that I have too many stanzas repeating the same concept, in ways that aren't different enough to show a development arc, or otherwise justify being there.

Well spotted, Jim. Although I think I'll be better off making this less specific. She's not the only televangelist with a similar message of materialism and entitlement.

Susan, Rogerbob, Max, and Ralph: I'll keep your comments in mind as I decide how to whittle this down, adjust the tone, etc. I really need to figure out exactly who or what the target is, and stick to it.

Thanks to all of you for taking the time to share your thoughts on this. I appreciate it.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 11-21-2020 at 07:23 PM.
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  #14  
Unread 11-21-2020, 11:52 PM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Julie, you can do as you wish with the ending. Pindar liked to begin with a grand opening and end quietly. I’d offer a soft landing with “standing near” and “your dear”, which still has real irony, but I wouldn’t dream of walking in your gym shoes, unless they fit quite well and I dusted them with anti-fungus powder afterward, so to speak. Use those only if they’re just right. Even with no change the poem is terrific. It’s a another keeper. Good job. Good luck with any changes.
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  #15  
Unread 11-22-2020, 08:52 AM
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Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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Hi Julie, I don't think I got the difference between "her God is Santa Claus" and "Santa Claus is her God" until I read the poem, but, having read it, I get it, and think your meaning's clear on that point.

The first and last stanza are wonderful. The middle stanzas are individually good, but there are too many of them, all plucking the same string. I got a little bored, and think you should pick your favorite 2-3 of the five. Were it my poem, I'd be chopping this one down to stanzas 1, 2, 4, and 7.

Edit: I see you are resolved to cut the first stanza. No! I protest this!
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  #16  
Unread 11-22-2020, 02:32 PM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Keep it long. Two reasons: it strengthens with size; all your points are valid.
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  #17  
Unread 11-22-2020, 06:42 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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.
I agree with Allen. There's nothing to cut from this.
As good as this is, I would have loved to see a final stanza that lashes out at the hypocrisy and deceitfulness of that breed of faux-pious criminals who fleece the flock. Unleash yourself. But you won’t. And I don’t blame you.

Perhaps instead a razor-sharp title that drew blood would suffice. Play with the words.

The sonics of “She’s sure it’s so”. is succinctly delicious. It trips, falls, gets up, and slips off the tongue in four syllables.

Although I suggest above that the title could be changed, it has perfect rhyme and metrical balance. And it says it all.

Miniscule nit: Michelangelo? How about “by no one I’d know”? (I just cringe at the thought of smearing the name of Good Old St. Michelangelo). Na. Go with 'Lo.

This poem does take on the Santa Claus syndrome that Chrsitianity has created and co-opted to be the spiritual boogeyman for children. That is the broader interpretation of this poem that overrides the immediate target of the charltons who prey on souls limping along in a land of materialism who want to have salvation and eat it, too.

I think it’s an important poem for our times. And, as always, written intelligently and with all the certitude/conviction and skill you invariably bring to your work.
.
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  #18  
Unread 11-23-2020, 12:28 AM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Draft Two posted above. As usual, I expect at least half of the readers here to like it less than the first one.

Thank you to Allen, Aaron, Jim, and an anonymous PM'er for your valuable input. The PM'er was particularly helpful as I sorted my thoughts about how to narrow my target and avoid falling into some doctrinal pitfalls of my own, while calling out someone else's.

The whole concept of a religious parody is problematical from several standpoints--irreverence, a lack of charity toward other sinners, the hypocrisy of criticizing the mote in others' eyes while ignoring the beam in one's own, etc., etc. But I am appalled by the apparent eagerness of so many of my fellow Christians to embrace politicians and policies that seem antithetical to everything Christ taught about what it means to love one's neighbor. So I feel compelled to say something, and a lighter approach seems more likely to find an audience than a diatribe would.

Main changes:

- Less anaphora. This might be less effective than the anaphora-heavy original, but I felt it was important to go back and forth between the televangelist's (apparent) concept of God and the (apparent) effects of that concept on this person's ministerial strategy, which seems designed to gain and wield as much temporal power as possible. That strategy is now the main target of the satire, so I don't think I should stay away from discussing it for too long.

- A clearer first stanza, I hope. I still have mixed feelings about it. It seems somewhat unfairly strawman-ish of me to attribute the Sistine Santa mashup to the televangelist, when that was actually my own flight of fancy. (Although surely I wasn't the only kid who's ever noted the parallels between the traditional representation of God as a grumpy old white guy--which, it seems relevant to note, the commandment against graven images implies God might not be terribly keen on--and the traditional representation of Santa Claus as a jolly old white guy.)

- My commenter via PM noted that the Bible is full of examples of divine rewards and punishments, so I should try to keep the target on the hypocrisy and exploitation of the televangelist's use of than concept for gain, because ridiculing the divine reward-punishment concept itself risks ridiculing some doctrinally sound stuff. This is a very valid point (although I am heretical enough to think that some doctrinally sound stuff--particularly concerning the role of women--deserves some hearty ridicule, and I have done so in the past and will not hesitate to do so again). I hope I've threaded that needle successfully in this draft.

- The final stanza is a bit heavy on the Biblical footnotes, but I thought it was important to provide some backup for those interested in that sort of thing.

Thanks again for helping me wrestle with this.

Julie

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 11-23-2020 at 12:43 AM.
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  #19  
Unread 11-23-2020, 06:56 AM
Bill Carpenter Bill Carpenter is offline
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Wow, that is some serious revising! I feel you have laid a stronger foundation for the poem by getting at what is really bothering you about the target. I think some further, more decorative revision is called for just to liven it up with the Byronic mockery you employed in the earlier version as in the memorable wheedle-greed'll rhyme.
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  #20  
Unread 11-23-2020, 07:54 AM
Coleman Glenn Coleman Glenn is online now
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Hi Julie,

I like the revision — I think you’ve effectively narrowed in on the target and sharpened the satire. The new title is perfect - it suggests her role as (self-proclaimed) intermediary right from the beginning. And that final couplet - “her rants are full of something...” - is spot-on. And I’m glad you’re holding on to the Sistine chapel Santa Claus / God imagery - it was one of my favorite parts of the first draft. I also like “she’s puts the prophet into profiteering” (just noticed typo there though).

A few other notes:
S4L4 - “She calls such stark inequity His will.” I hear a little more of the narrator coming through here than I’d like to - I think the satire’s more effective if you stick closer to her own perspective, e.g., “Such stark inequity must be His will!” (or something more polished than that)

S6L2 - “the Bible tells us of” feels a little preachy (admittedly as a preacher I’m hypersensitive to this). “her Bible tells her of” or “her Bible tells us of” would highlight the hypocrisy but might put the reader at too much of a distance. “the Bible’s so full of” might be OK except the meter’s a little wonky. So, I don’t have a great solution, just not sure of the tone there.

And a theological aside: I appreciate the clarification about punishments and rewards from you and your anonymous PM-er. In my view, the pernicious thing about the prosperity gospel is not its thinking in terms of rewards and punishments per se, but its suggestion that God’s rewards and punishments always come in visible, timely, material form - implying that if only a person would believe better, they would not be poor / sick / etc. (Incidentally, there are secular parallels in phenomena like The Secret.) I think the original version did capture that, but you’ve made it even clearer in the revision.
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