decency but logic is allowed to fall bynthe way. It’s incredible but true that ancandidate may say that he believes bothnin sanctions against South Africa and innfree technological trade with the SovietnUnion; that homosexuals are to benafforded special rights and the unbornnno rights; that we can enable women tonbe liberated from caring for their childrennby funding counseling for juvenilendelinquents; that the way to preventnteenage pregnancies is to give out condomsnin high school bathrooms. Thesenare grown men, folks, trying to convincenus that they can engage in extramaritalnpoll-taking with every modelnthey meet and still be devoted to theirnwives and families; that if the Sovietsnknow we can defend ourselves againstntheir missiles they’ll send them sooner;nthat even though heaping money onnthe poor has never helped them risenabove poverty, this is the magic yearnwhen enough money will be heaped tonfinally make a difference; that buyingnthe freedom of hostages will help preventnothers from being taken hostage;nthat if our Central American friendsncan’t be helped legally it’s legal to do itnillegally; and (each one) that he’s not innthis for the glory but the rest of themnare.nPerhaps most disturbing of all —nbecause it’s a symbol of some largerntruth and also seems to be an auguryn— is the rapid and dangerous intellec­nReligious PoetrynMost Americans grow up hatingnpoetry, and if there is one type ofnpoetry we hate above all others, it isnreligious poetry. Somewhere wenmust have run across SisternPerpetua’s sonnet sequence on chastitynor have been forced to endurenlate Victorian hymnody. Most of usnprefer poetry about love or death ornfarming, perhaps because it is hardernto write about things of the spiritnthan things of the flesh.nIn this respect the ancient pagansnhad it easy. Theirs was a religion ofnflesh — myth and ritual — more thannof spirit. Greek religious verse encompassesnthe great Homericnhymns, lyric odes, even tragedy.ntual decline of the President who hasnreceived more popular support, affection,nand begrudging respect from hisnenemies than any other President inndecades. Having after eight yearsnbrought to fruition exactly none of hisnright-minded and greatly touted ideas,nthis good Christian man and his wifenphone home across 3,000 miles everynday to learn the conjunction of thenplanets, by which they schedule theirnday, while (as Jack Anderson has pointednout) Moscow undoubtedly listensnon a wiretap and plans its offense. Itnseems obvious to me that there havenbeen numerous times in the last fewnyears when the Reagans’ astrologer hasnsaid, “This is an auspicious day to givenaway the farm.” A lot of the farm isngone for good now, and a lot of thenworld is laughing harder at us thanneven eight years ago under a Presidentnwhose name no one cares to remember,nand still Dutch strides cheerfully tonthe helicopter, grinning and waving,ndeftly avoiding the tough questions.nHis nonchalance isn’t Teflon, it’snKryptonite.nWe have let all this happen. Candidatesnspit out non sequiturs ad infinitum,nand it’s considered impolite fornthose at the scene of the crime, evennthe nonbelievers, to question them. So,npolitely, we don’t, we Americans withnthe reputation of crudeness. Many ofnthe voters in this country take seriouslynREVISIONSnChristian poetry is more limited in itsnthemes. Milton aside, Bible storiesndon’t usually make good verse. Still,nthere is a distinguished body of religiousnverse in English: Herbert andnDonne, Wordsworth’s ecclesiasticalnsonnets, Francis Thompson and GerardnManley Hopkins. In our time,nsome of the best poetry is, in fact, onnreligious themes — as Paul Ramseynhas had the wit to realize in his newnanthology. Contemporary ReligiousnPoetry (New York: Paulist Press;n$9.95).nRamsey is nothing if not eclecticnin his choices, which run the gamutnfrom traditional (Edwin Muir) tonexperimental (William Carlos Williams),nfrom conservative (Eliot andnTate) to liberal (MacLeish) to radi­nnnas a candidate for President a man whonhas kissed Fidel Castro and called himn”brother,” a man who talks in rhymes,nhas denigrated nearly every ethnicngroup but his own, and has no experiencenin government. People of allnracial persuasions love this man simplynbecause he is black, or because he isn(no pun intended) kinky. These peoplenwill go into our voting booths to votenfor the man their man tells them to,nwithout ever having demanded accountabilitynfrom themselves or him.nOthers are rooting for the current VicenPresident because they love his bossnand mentor, who convinced them thatn”It’s Morning in America.” Still othersnwill probably get a chance to vote for ancandidate who claims to be devoutlynGreek Orthodox — who, more to thenpoint, will likely be supported by thenGreek Orthodox—but who, accordingnto the Catholic Eye, married a Jew andnnever had his children baptized. Wenallow from these gentlemen improprietiesnof action and impossibilities of logicnthat several generations ago wenwouldn’t have tolerated in our children.nNow that tolerance has becomenthe catchword of the century, it’s whatnwe do best. We do it to death.nOr maybe it’s just that we’ve trulyncome not to care, because we understandnthat once they take office, all thencandidates are pretty much alike.nWe’ve enabled them to be alike. Powerncal (Daniel Berrigan and LeRoinJones). Some of the best poemsncome as a surprise: an uncharacteristicallyngraphic poem by David Rayn”on a fifteenth century Flemishnangel,” several nice pieces by RobertnFrancis, and one of GeorgenGarrett’s best poems, “Giant Killer.”nHowever, not every selection isna winner. Robert Greeley seems tonturn up everywhere, but I’ve nevernmet anyone who could quote him.nDo we really have to tolerate thenpresence of such impostors?nAll in all, Contemporary ReligiousnPoetry is a splendid examplenof the anthologist’s art, and it includesnsome of the most effectivenverse written in the past severalndecades. (TF)nSEPTEMBER 1988/41n