The latest competition, to submit a Lord’s Prayer for the 21st century, drew a smallish but pleasingly varied entry.
One of my favourites, among the many parodies of the Lord’s Prayer already out there, is Ian Dury’s ‘Bus Driver’s Prayer’: ‘Our father,/ who art in Hendon/ Harrow Road be Thy name./ Thy Kingston come; thy Wimbledon…’. Bill Greenwell’s ‘The Refugees’ Prayer’ started promisingly — ‘Half-hearted, we chant/ in haven, harrowed by the numb;/ deny kin can come,/ deny well, be dumb…’ — but I found bits of it puzzling. A.H. Harker, Alan Millard, Paul Carpenter, David Silverman and Meg Muldowney were also strong contenders.
The winners, printed below, are awarded £25 each.
Our Dawkins, who art in Oxford,
Followed be thy meme.
Let religious apologists come,
You’ll tear them a new one
In Fort Worth, Mombasa or in Devon.
Give us this day our daily facts
And forgive those who criticise our best guesses,
As if an as yet incomplete explanation of the laws governing the physical universe somehow represents a damning indictment of the scientific method.
Lead us not into superstition,
But deliver us from concepts that are medieval,
For we are all of the animal kingdom,
With the power of reason, and glory in nature
Until the inevitable and complete
extinguishment of our consciousnesses at
the moment of death, an event which
reason dictates, ipso facto, to be
unsurvivable in any meaningful sense,
Our Faithbase, which is in the Cloud,
Genderless be your name.
May your dominion extend,
Your influence magnify
In reality as it does online.
Give us us each day our social media
And preserve us from inappropriate behaviour
As we avoid that which may be offensive to
Let us not forget our passwords,
Or overborrow on our credit facilities,
For yours are the algorithms,
The power and the profit
As long as a signal lasts.
To whom it may concern
(Allegedly residing in the conceptual space
known as ‘Heaven’):
You seem to think the name of ‘God’ is
But we consider all the names given to deities by
various cultural traditions equally valid.
Please note that we reject talk of kingdoms and
As being insufferably patriarchal.
Plus: we require you to note that many of us
have complex dietary requirements;
Any bread, daily or otherwise, should be gluten
Important: We reserve the right to take offence,
And will therefore speak offensively about
those who offend us.
Lead us not into unsafe spaces,
And protect us from opinions we disagree with.
For goodness sake take note of what
Has to say about discourse validating
Kingdoms, power, glory and so forth.
And don’t you dare suggest that the genders you
originally supplied us are ones that we
should be satisfied with for ever and ever.
My phone, which is at hand,
Apple is your name.
Your emails come, your texts are done
at home, and anywhere, really.
Give me today my constant fix
and forgive my missed Likes
as I try to forgive those who do not Follow me.
And lead me not into too much browsing
but deliver me from RSI.
For you hold all contacts, my status, have aura,
as long as I ever keep you charged.
To whom it may concern:
Forget the Jesus stuff.
In fact, completely spurn
All supernatural guff.
Let’s make ourselves a deal.
We’ll scratch each other’s backs.
I’ll listen to your spiel.
You help me cheat my tax.
‘Cash nexus’ are the words
That make the world go round.
Compassion’s for the birds
And Earth’s a battleground.
Godfather of the greedy,
Let me survive this war.
Protect me from the needy.
Arm me against the poor.
r email@example.com #thykingdom. Hallow@thyname. U wil b dun@eart as #hvn. Giv us fud & 4giv us r rongs lyk we 4giv al snrs #badsins @badudes. No mor +tempts r +evil @deliverus ok? Ur cool. Thine @kingdom @power @glory @evrythin. 4Evr&Evr #amen #topgod #evrule. Respect.
‘Lines For A Christmas Card’ by Hilaire Belloc goes like this: ‘May all my enemies go to hell,/ Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel.’ Let’s have ‘Lines For A Christmas Card’ courtesy of other well-known poets (please specify). Please email (wherever possible) entries of up to 16 lines to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 30 November. Apologies for the earlier-than usual-deadline. This is because of Christmas production schedules.