Theological poem to offend the Wahabite and Methodist alike.

Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires, and on this day, when the USA has abandoned their main base there I turn to Belloc. Because he was fervent.

The other reason I like this is that it is anti Pelegius, who argued that we were divine from birth and could gain salvation from our efforts. (Though he denied it.) Germanius, a noble bishop, was sent to Britian because they were still preaching this, in the period just after the fall of Roma. His correction was more rhetorical than physical.

Besides Belloc has beer in the song. Which should offend the Methodists who do not agree with Pelegius (most do), and the Wahabites who think the Pashtuns are bad warriors and worse Muslims.

The Pelegian Drinking Song.

Pelagius lived at Kardanoel
And taught a doctrine there
How, whether you went to heaven or to hell
It was your own affair.
It had nothing to do with the Church, my boy,
But was your own affair.

No, he didn’t believe
In Adam and Eve
He put no faith therein!
His doubts began
With the Fall of Man
And he laughed at Original Sin.
With my row-ti-tow
He laughed at original sin.

Then came the bishop of old Auxerre
Germanus was his name
He tore great handfuls out of his hair
And he called Pelagius shame.
And with his stout Episcopal staff
So thoroughly whacked and banged
The heretics all, both short and tall —
They rather had been hanged.

Oh he whacked them hard, and he banged them long
Upon each and all occasions
Till they bellowed in chorus, loud and strong
Their orthodox persuasions.
With my row-ti-tow
Their orthodox persuasions.

Now the faith is old and the Devil bold
Exceedingly bold indeed.
And the masses of doubt that are floating about
Would smother a mortal creed.
But we that sit in a sturdy youth
And still can drink strong ale
Let us put it away to infallible truth
That always shall prevail.

And thank the Lord
For the temporal sword
And howling heretics too.
And all good things
Our Christendom brings
But especially barley brew!
With my row-ti-tow
Especially barley brew!

Hilaire Belloc

And Afghanistan? Well, this anonymous poem describes it.

Afghanistan (With apologies To Kipling), by an anonymous British soldier

When you’re lying alone in your Afghan bivvy,
And your life it depends on some MOD civvie
When the body armour’s shared (one set between three),
And the firefight’s not like it is on TV,
Then you’ll look to your oppo, your gun and your God,
As you follow that path all Tommies have trod.

When the gimpy has jammed and you’re down to one round,
And the faith that you’d lost is suddenly found.
When the Taliban horde is close up to the fort,
And you pray that the arty don’t drop a round short.
Stick to your sergeant like a good squaddie should,
And fight them like satan or one of his brood

Your pay it won’t cover your needs or your wants,
So just stand there and take all the Taliban’s taunts
Nor generals nor civvies can do aught to amend it,
Except make sure you’re kept in a place you can’t spend it.
Three fifty an hour in your Afghani cage,
Not nearly as much as the minimum wage.

Your missus at home in a foul married quarter
With damp on the walls and a roof leaking water
Your kids miss their mate, their hero, their dad;
They’re missing the childhood that they should have had
One day it will be different, one day by and by,
As you all stand there and watch, to see the pigs fly

Just like your forebears in mud, dust and ditch
You’ll march and you’ll fight, and you’ll drink and you’ll bitch
Whether Froggy or Zulu, or Jerry, or Boer
The Brits will fight on ‘til the battle is over.
You may treat him like dirt, but nowt will unnerve him
But I wonder sometimes, if the country deserves him.

Tommy Aitkins has never been treated kindly by the great and the good, nor has PFC Joe. But we should honour them; though the pelegians have engineered their defeat. For we are Augustinian: we know that we are by nature broken by original sin, and the Wahabite and Methodist who preach good works as a path to salvation are deluded. Sadly.

So let us do our duty, though the world chooses to dishonour it.

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jorgen b
jorgen b
5 months ago

It was Coelestius not Pelagius who said you don’t need Christ. Pelagius just disagreed with original sin as formulated by Augustine (unbaptized babies going to hell) but Pelagius taught you must believe in Christ and be baptized (possibly was also a credobaptist). Coelestius apparently was a Christian Deist at about the same time.

5 months ago

I learned original sin in the Methodist Church. Then again, we were “so country we’re almost Baptist.” I fled from the Episcopal Church because it turned out they didn’t really believe in original sin, that was just a pious custom or something. That Methodist Church my little sister is busily reforming to comfort LGBTQ, that church, I can view with contempt, but not the first one I can remember, but that was 1965 and so ….

As for Afghanistan, I was against it from the start, yes, even though my country had to defend herself, I saw no need to bomb and blast an entire country. As the decades dragged on, turned out I was the only one among my peacenik pals who gave a flying flapjack about soldiers. Then again, I am the only one among my peacenik pals married to an actual combat vet.