In 1978, I wrote a screenplay based upon a poem I had written in the mid-70’s. The story was set in the future, but the roots were definitely in the past. Here is the epic poem in its entirety. You decide whether my predictions have come true or not.
The year was nineteen hundred and eighty-four
When the authorities declared all-out war
On the new believers of that Christian view
Who are in the minority, very few
That steadfastly cling to newly learned words,
As their brothers are removed like wounded birds.
These are the same ones who scorned when Jesus died;
They said that his disciples must have lied,
When their glad Easter tidings they were told
About his quick escape from death’s icy hold.
Why they waged this war is now the question here:
Maybe they felt that God’s promise brings great fear
To those now in control of this planet’s sphere;
Yet mere words are all I have to make this clear.
My name is Thomas Benjamin, or I think
It must have been before I began to sink
Into that cold otherworldly realm of sin,
From whence no one comes out once he has gone in.
Some time ago, I was a good minister,
A preacher of holy words, not sinister;
My heart and mind were truthful in servitude,
And I spent many a lengthy interlude
Fighting sin within the unbelievers’ souls
As if I kept them from the eternal coals.
I do not know if God knew of my good deeds,
But hopefully my words planted fertile seeds
To keep more faint hearts away from Satan’s weeds
And try a satisfy their spiritual needs.
What happened then? You’ll ask me that, I’m sure;
I have wondered if I were much too impure
To enter into the gates of His kingdom:
Perhaps that’s why I stayed after Christ had come
To take all the others in that one moment;
He left me alone in my sin when he went.
Why was I so ill-prepared for His return?
That is something you have yet about to learn.
The religious sects would say I’m mad,
But there have been times that I was truly glad
That I was left behind to release the locks,
For others to escape from the Devil’s box;
Removing our earthly stumbling blocks;
Fostering harmony between doves and hawks.
I think it all began in sixty-nine,
When my shallow life slipped down a steep decline;
My world, as I had known it, flew apart,
As my wife left me, flattened, broken in heart.
She took my three girls, my bundles of great joy,
Leaving me behind her one and only boy.
Our marriage had been one of conflict and hate,
And my attempt to change had just come too late.
Was I to comprehend her bitter feelings
About my omnipresent social dealings
With the Devil, and the cold substantial fears,
Created by his lies throughout our ten years,
Which caused her many sad and bitter tears
To fall from the frightened eyes of deafened ears?
Still, God must have had some good ultra-purpose
To allow worldly care to separate us.
He knows, not I, what the reason was, or why
An evil schism left our joint life to die.
I have tried to analyse the covert cause,
But decided, as one of God’s many laws
He decrees from His golden throne, far above,
That a sad marriage must end without love.
In retrospect, our new lives were spent better
Apart, as if, since the time that I’d met her,
We’d remained in a cold conjugal fetter,
Punished like some poor delinquent debtor.
And yet, the conflict rage on, within my mind,
Trying to justify such actions, so unkind,
That my heart was subdivided into pain
Caused by sharp remarks now fighting in my brain.
My preoccupation became so intense
That my perception lost all logical sense,
Until all my superiors thought it best
I left the ministry for some other quest.
At first, I balked with hard feelings, quite intense,
But three lonely years of personal penance
Softened my old approach to the painful past,
And opened up my sad soul to things aghast
Which, once hidden, were uncovered at long last,
To cause my childish spirit to grow up fast.
I had not, however, reached rock bottom, yet;
For, when I felt I had paid my moral debt,
I moved out here to try to patch things up,
But got more that I bargained for in my cup.
As I tried hard my estranged wife to see,
I received, instead, a fast divorce decree.
My world was completely shattered into bits,
And into periods of depressive fits
I fell, so hard that it took a lengthy term
Before I’d attempt to stand on ground more firm.
Meanwhile I wallowed in my own self-pity,
And wandered, lost, around this huge, dark city;
My flaccid tongue was never bright and witty;
My mind could not compose a sermon, pretty.
God must have known for I feel that I did not.
It seemed my life was either ice cold or hot.
And, like a man with a fever, I tossed and turned
Between what my vast experience had learned,
And what I’d always been taught in school, instead,
Until my soft heart over-ruled my hard head.
Living alone, I tried out many churches,
Before finding the answer to my searches
In a large charismatic congregation,
Where people, born of ev’ry tribe and nation,
Join together to worship our Lord’s strength, great
Enough to heal the spirit from corrupt hate,
To cause anxieties to calmly abate,
Increasing one’s patience to watch, sit and wait.
It was there that I learned of the healing gifts,
And the powerful spiritual uplifts
Which were used to comfort me in times of fear,
As I would cause my mind to be quite clear,
To be much better prepared for Christ’s return,
When more about His presence I would learn.
The more knowledge that I gained, the more I sought
To answer Satan’s sin, which long I had fought,
During many years since past, when I was young
And God’s holy breath was still within my lung.
I must have bitten off more than I could chew,
For the Devil, in a battle, did renew
His tempting evil sins on God’s chosen few,
Until at last he probably won me, too.
It has been said that you become what you eat,
And, if one insists on gnawing on bad meat,
Then the consequences of a bad stomach ache
Must be borne for corruption’s disgusting sake.
Thus was it also with me, in this regard:
I tried to attack the evil which is hard,
Because the Devil’s strength is so dominant,
He does not quit, nor will he ever relent
From trying to destroy any person’s creed
With God, so that, once his sin has taken seed,
It quickly grows to encompass ev’rything
Good and bad, which each of us must humbly bring
To the altar, exclusively for our King,
From Whom the rejections could easily spring.
God hates the sight of evil so very much
That He even refused His own Son to touch,
When crucified for us, He bore ev’ry sin,
So that over Death’s realm he might ever win.
Maybe constant contact with that evil one
Could have caused my upright soul to come undone,
To slip from God’s great esteem and loving grace,
So that He could never stand to see my face
Before His excellent and heavenly throne,
Where my many misdemeanours would be shown.
Somewhere along the way I had gone astray,
And, ‘though I hoped that I would find the proper way,
I never thought that on Christ’s returning day
I would remain while others went away.
But that day finally arrived in ‘eighty-two,
And, before any one of us really knew
What was coming to pass, Jesus did return,
Before a twinkling of an eye could discern
That this indeed was the only living Christ,
And all the Christians were taken in the heist.
He told us He’s return like a night-time thief,
And to those who had been patient came relief,
As their cares were finally laid to rest,
Because they knew they’d passed the fidelity test.
At first I thought that there had been a mistake,
Or that maybe He had only been a fake;
But it didn’t take me long to re-awake
To the fact that I was one He did forsake.
I don’t think that there has ever been a time
When I had known guilt for committing a crime,
But, somehow, as I felt completely alone,
The hard depression caused my spirit to moan
Long and low, with a sad burdening of pain;
How could my friends all leave and I yet remain?
Was it anything that I had said or done,
Or just, while under stress, I’d chosen to run?
Maybe I should have kept fighting those times, so hard;
Instead I just gave up and let down my guard,
Preferring to take the much easier route.
Satan must have found me, his purpose to suit,
Easy to cast under the spell of his flute,
Changing me from a gentleman to a brute.
I recall one encounter I had with him,
When he caused my brilliant memories to dim;
Because he is the only Prince of Darkness,
He can cloud up the mind to reason far less
Efficiently than within the Truth of Light,
When one’s thinking is done with much more insight.
It was when I first met with his awesome strength
That I realised he’d go to any length
To put under his own restraining control
My life and my limbs and my eternal soul.
I resisted, with my ev’ry mortal power,
Any attempt he used to cause me to cower,
And, minute by long minute, hour by long hour,
We struggled on until my sweet world turned sour.
When I saw that I could lose the whole skirmish,
I sought God’s hand to help me do as I wished;
While not answering to my call right away,
He let me flounder in my mistaken fray,
To teach me an immensely precious lesson:
That I should never try to replace His Son
In doing battle with the Fallen Angel,
Or, single-handedly, opposing his hell,
For which I have neither the strength nor the will;
Nor could I ever aspire to quite fulfil
The dream of being the world’s best exorcist,
But the temptation was too good to resist,
And now I can do nothing but shake my fist
At God, for removing my name from His list.
Strangely enough, the world seemed to prosper on:
People began to appreciate the dawn.
Outlooks, onward from Christ’s rapture, seemed to change:
We had only one leader in the world,
And now, over our heads, one flag was unfurled.
The rumours of war now began to decrease,
And ev’rywhere was a good feeling of peace.
The famines were gone, as was the parching thirst,
And all felt we had come through the worst
That anyone would ever have to suffer;
But we didn’t know that it would get rougher,
And, to survive, we’d have to be tougher,
Or require God as a solid zone-buffer.
Our super-specialised space technology
Had replaced a much needed theology,
With computer banks lending out new knowledge
To the leader who, keeping the world on edge,
Waits for prosperity to come to an end.
Money, not used now to borrow or to lend,
Has become an obsolete wall covering,
While, in the darker background, is hovering
The Devil, who, controlling the Antichrist,
Has the world, fragile, so paper-thinly sliced,
That one would think he’s like to have the whole cake
And eat it, too; that he’s only out to take
All that he can get for his very own sake,
While avoiding the eternal Fiery Lake.
Most of the ones who remained behind on Earth
Could no longer rear children or give them birth,
Because their attitudes had become selfish,
Now that they almost got their every wish,
Whether the desire was good for them or not,
Because the more that they got, the more they sought.
For three years this state of Community stood,
Until, finally, some of us understood
That the Devil was its central universe,
And for us nothing could forewarn us worse
Than to be awakened to a rude shock wave
That something must be done to quickly save
Those long-lost souls who’d each become a slave
On a road which sinful lives now blindly pave.
Picture credit: Gustave Dore (1855)