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Book War

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Book War



It happens

When a group

Has a code

That is set down

For day-to-day

And legacy


It took place with

The Quran

The evening of

The morning

When there was

Certitude that

There would be

A new



The Christian Bible

Set off conflict

With each change,

Each schism

Set to fighting

Over what to do

For faith

And what the book

Of faith should say


Not to mention

All the agnostica

Falling ‘round

The faithful


How many books

In the book?

Sixty-six or seventy-two with

All that should be in

Sixty-six or seventy-two


My version’s better

My translation

My paraphrase

No, mine

No, mine


Said with authority

No one outside commends

So we will need an army

Defending ink,


And brittle generations


A Bible war

Could be fun for trivia

On pub night

But not to justify

The raping of


Christians thieving Christians

Or the books

That fuel internal fires

Burning up Jerusalem

For faith


Now, it seems

The Jewish book

For faith

Kept growing


While some groups

For their faith

Don’t keep a book at all


To say the least,

There’s fondness for a text

But to justify—well,

We’ve heard good things about

A declaration

And a constitution

And a touchstone


We should not fight about it

But leave room

As at the table

After dinner


Or the second half

Of sermons,

Engagement that most folk

Forget or remember

In leaving off




If we write

And publish,

Pass around,

We should talk about it


Since pages are not


(altars are not altars)

And there’s always trouble

With our idols when

In idolatry


C L Couch



Photo by Drew Murphy on Unsplash

Johannesburg, South Africa

I was on a work shoot in a suburban church in Johannesburg. I took a walk around and noticed this soft light spilling onto the pews. Immediately I knew I should get a Bible and place it there. To me this image speaks of the gentle peace that can be found in the midst of a crazy world.


Foolish Wise

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Foolish Wise


It’s been a while

Since a Bible study came my way

Or on occasion

When  I’ve formed one


I miss the circle

The things we say while, frankly,

We are on our better behavior

After all, holding the book

That guides the way


Not that we are free from sin

Or won’t resume our earthbound

Lives when

We are done for the hour,

Sipping coffee, shaking hands


But for the time

We are good

The doorway to the spirit

Has been opened

And we are closer to the selves

We want to be


C L Couch



Photo by Alex Perez on Unsplash

Marco Island, United States

Make a splash.


First Story

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First Story


The Bible is a book

Stories, sometimes

Told in poetry

The thinking of a people

And, certainly, their feelings

Faith based on


Not to be fanciful

But there’s a lack of evidence

That is the design


A collection of books,

We say

Sixty-six or seventy-two

There are reasons

For the difference, we’re told

But some of us

Are wondering if

Judith was left out

By the Protestants

Because she is so heroic

While also


Cowering men


But take our pick, it’s still

An impressive collection

There is truth in it

In the one story, overall

Parts of the world

That point to it

Pages on leaves,

Waves telling it aloud

And other texts

And other storytellers


It’s a book of faith

Behind that, it’s a book of love

That was the first purpose

The pleasure in the making,

We can only guess

The peace,

We’re told, is passing understanding,


But maybe we can take

A guess at love

We can think it

We can think it through

We can feel it

We can feel it through


The story is compelling

As it is pervasive

We can enjoy it

(try the creating)

We can be persuaded

We can be grossed out from

Time to time

We can be changed

We can be saved


C L Couch



Photo by Aleksei Ieshkin on Unsplash


Jesus Tells a Joke to Make a Point

Jesus Tells a Joke to Make a Point

(brief Bible study, Matthew 7:3)


It’s a joke

A pun

The sawdust in the other’s eye

The log in one’s own

All seeing devices marred

There is no clarity

In judgment

Not without remorse for one’s own,



The log, however

Maybe Jesus is laughing, who

Would know how to do that

The log is so difficult to see


Much less through

To start


Might all these wood parts

I wonder

Come from

The tree of good and evil?

If so

Or if not

The stakes are high

The sanctity of sanctity

The holy qualities we have

But might surrender

So much easier to find

(without clear sight)

The problems with another


And I’m confessing, too,

Which does not make me readier

For judgment

That is, to do it

Not yet

(I laugh a little, sigh),



C L Couch



Photo by Tim Schramm on Unsplash


Bible Angels

Bible Angels


If I were in a market place

Four thousand years ago

And an angel came to me,

Would I laugh as Sarah laughed?

It would be understandable


We try it now

In comedies

Sometimes in melodrama

But it’s a tragedy of belief to have

The recognition come too late,

And so it never does

Tell Sodom and Gomorrah

And days before the rain

That meant the ark

Must be sealed

I’m sorry, but sometimes

There’s providence in this


But after rain

I have an angel on my shoulder

A miracle in my pocket

And King Jesus is my all

So that when I sing it

Sing it, too

There’s a

Choral host somewhere

Joining in


It was an angel, ordered

Painting red the lintels

Who lived inside the clouds

And pillars of fire by night


They bear news

It isn’t always good

Fear not

Have faith

We are nothing but the thing with feathers

Inside there is nothing but

The will of God


We warred in heaven

Tempered is the remnant

Choice assignments

Sometimes we act with tears

We all know why

There are lamentations


We will cry the end

We’ve been there

And cry once more for joy

In what is found afterward

For our keeping


C L Couch



“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul . . .

Emily Dickinson



Photo by Allan Rolim on Unsplash

Paraná, Londrina, Brasil


After Reading, There Were Crafts

After Reading, There Were Crafts


This time and long ago

I was learning Bible stories

The story I remember best

Is the one in which the prophet

Was tested via

The priests of Ba’al

Elijah was a good one

So the contest went his way

We know where Jehovah sets

With the faithful,

Which is with the faithful


When I read on my own,

I learned much more about

The prophets who were not so good

The Bible told me so

Deborah and Gideon turn out

To be exceptions

Not to mention all the kings,

I think,

Who came into being against

Jehovah’s wishes, anyway

Against God?

Who would do such a thing

Who knew the Lord so closely?

Does it breed contempt,

After all?


Solomon was prosperous

David was loved

Though there was ruin in his

Realm and by his hand

War, deceit, rebellion, adultery,

And murder

Yet when Absalom was killed

Left hanging in a tree

(such an image),

I wonder if God did not weep

With David, waiting by the gate

For a better word


The lesson was extended into

Something with our hands

I remember best all the burdened-out matches

Glued to a cardboard shape

To make a cross

A cross requiring so much

Extinguishment of light to have

Now the finished product better lay

Against the wall

As a reading for Good Friday


C L Couch



Community Archives – HC02495, Public Domain,

Photograph by Robert McCormick of Belleville, Ontario, showing Mary Ritchie (lived 1842-1929, formerly Mary Holden) and her Sunday School class from the John Street Church, Belleville.


A Little Hermeneutic for a Saturday Morning

A Little Hermeneutic for a Saturday Morning

(1 Corinthians 12:17)


If all were an eye

Which is a phrase I heard

(maybe in translation)

Then the body would have

Nothing else to do

Beyond looking


Sounds dull and

V R notwithstanding



Only when the body is all active

Is there interest and

Engagement with all the creation

That’s around us


And with the Genesis maker

We can say

(we have mouths)

That this is good


C L Couch



By Edgar Degas – High Museum of Art, Public Domain,


A Memory of Church

A Memory of Church

The family of God
That is the church

I have a memory:
A small church building
On the edge of town
Maybe on the way
To the next place
Or into the countryside
Or simply on the
Outskirts; and in this
Church, there was
A very pleasant man
The pastor with whom
I had enjoyed an
Ecumenical Bible
Study in the town

I liked that man, and
I liked that church
He and it were simple
(In the best way we
Use that word), set
Apart—the way I
Think the universal
Church should be;

And isn’t—we want
To be in the center of
Town, where everything
Fashionably important
Takes place

We want to be in
And will accommodate
Much about ourselves
So we can be there

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