Wednesday, 16 March 2016

The Two Ditch Diggers

You will recall, dear reader, that a few posts ago, I discussed having read some Dr Seuss, and being afflicted with a sudden fit of rhyming poetry, a sample of which I exposed you to.  At the time, I pointed out that the poem I posted wasn’t the first one I wrote during that particular fit, and that I would provide you with the first one in due course.  That course is now due.

I was considering posting this anyway, since I like to try and keep these posts at least semi-regular, and I haven’t had anything more relevant particularly worth posting recently.  However, I’ve also been drawn into a theological discussion on Facebook; a continuation of the antiquated Protestant grudge match of Calvinism vs Arminianism.  A friend of mine posted a quotation by the 18th century (and wonderfully named) theologian Augustus Toplady, who was a staunch Calvinist, and therefore wrong.  (Methodists are Arminian, in case you were wondering).  I posted in response, and I have to say that we’ve been extremely courteous, despite our theological differences.

The thing is, although I love theology, and enjoy discussing it, I also believe that it is quite unimportant.  To quote the great George MacDonald, “Theologians have done more to hide the Gospel of Christ than any of its adversaries.”  After all, we surely all agree that God knows what He’s doing, and so as long as we obey His instructions to the best of our abilities, and put our faith in Him, all will be well?

Alas, sleeping dogs (and theologians) are not allowed to lie, and so the arguments rattle on in various corners of the internet, but here’s a (not very) little something for your consideration:

The Two Ditch Diggers

There once was a field in a low-lying land.
It was poorly positioned, improperly planned.
This field would swiftly and suddenly flood
Whenever it rained, and would melt into mud.
And when it was flooded, that poor barren field,
Not a bean, not a carrot or lettuce would yield.
So the farmer whose field was flooded so fast,
Said “This is quite awful, it simply can't last!
Before my poor farm is completed destroyed,
I’ll find some ditch diggers and get them employed,
On digging a ditch to make my field drier,
Now all that I need is some workmen to hire.”

He knew of two fellows who had what it takes,
A worker called John and his colleague, called Jake.
His promised rewards would have made them quite rich,
If before it next rained they could dig him a ditch.
So Jacob and John took poles and twine,
To make sure that they dug in a perfect straight line.
They planted the poles and tied up the string,
Then took up their spades, but here is the thing,
Though both were professionals, as good as can be,
On digging a ditch, they just could not agree.

"The best way to dig it, and make no mistake,
Is first go across, and then down," declared Jake.
"My friend, you are joking, but please don't go on.
We must first tunnel down, then across," stated John.
“Piffle and paffle!” Jake hotly replied,
“You go down just a bit then you go to the side!
And once you have got quite as far as you charted,
Down a bit more and then back where you started!”
Said John, “You go down, to the depth you decree,
Then dig it all sideways, it’s obvious, you see!”

"Down then across?" Jacob said with a snort.
"How can you have had such a ludicrous thought?!
I am laughing so hard that I'm getting a stitch!
What a weird, wacky way to try digging a ditch!"
"If you insist on initially digging across,
Then that is your problem, your burden and loss,"
Said John with a fierce and furious frown,
"But for this field we will first go straight down!"
"Across and then down, and make no mistake,
That's how we will dig!" said the workman named Jake.
"Down then across!" John was angry indeed,
"It's the only way forward and how we'll proceed."
“Across and then down!”
“Down then to the side!”
“Your brain has dissolved!”
“Yours has shrivelled and died!”
It might have been Jacob, or John, who first struck,
But then they were at it and both run amuck,
Punching and pinching and bashing and butting,
And biting and fighting and knocking and nutting!

John gave a bellow and Jake gave a cry,
and both failed to notice the clouds in the sky.
The wind started whooshing through whipple and willow
and piled up the clouds in a billowing pillow.
"Down!" shouted John, "Down, and that is all!"
"Across!" bellowed Jake as rain started to fall.
Dropping and dripping in drizzling drops,
It pelted and pummelled in ponderous plops.
The two battled on as the field started flooding,
Kicking and flicking and thumping and thudding.

They skirmished and scrummed not the least bit dishearted,
By the big job that they'd not even started.
The other was wrong and they knew they were right,
And they bawled and they bellowed and brawled through the night
As the rain it rained down and on flooded the flood,
The seeds washed away and the soil became mud.
The water sloshed upwards with splishing and splashes,
Up past their navels and nostrils and lashes.
Their yelling and tromping and tramping and troubles
Dissolved in a series of babbling bubbles.
Their shouting and stamping and vindictive violence,
Was all of a sudden replaced with a silence.

At last came the day with the dawning of morning,
And thus came the farmer without the least warning,
To see all the work of his ditch-digging team,
But when he arrived they were not to be seen.
Where there’d been a field he’d now got a lake,
And there was no sign of a John or a Jake.
He looked all around with the greatest dismay,
For his workers were gone and his crops washed away.
Shoulders all slumping, back homeward he slunk,
For his hopes were all dashed and his livelihood sunk.

The moral, if really it needs much explaining,
Is ditches need digging before it starts raining,
And methods don’t matter, beliefs are all one,
As long as the task you are given gets done.
You say my beliefs and my theories need righting,
But let’s get the job done before we start fighting.
Later there’s plenty of time for debate,
But let’s dig the ditches before it’s too late.
Bickering’s daft; so on with our calling,
For you never know when the rain will start falling.

Copyright Thomas Jones 2016

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