I don’t yet know what my father thought of Langston Hughes‘ work in general, or whether their circles crossed in Harlem. But just after Christmas Day in 1940, Ebenezer had some choice words for one of Hughes’ most controversial poems, titled Goodbye Christ. Here’s the poem:
You did alright in your day, I reckon—
But that day’s gone now.
They ghosted you up a swell story, too,
Called it Bible—
But it’s dead now,
The popes and the preachers’ve
Made too much money from it.
They’ve sold you to too many
Kings, generals, robbers, and killers—
Even to the Tzar and the Cossacks,
Even to Rockefeller’s Church,
Even to THE SATURDAY EVENING POST.
You ain’t no good no more.
They’ve pawned you
Till you’ve done wore out.
Christ Jesus Lord God Jehova,
Beat it on away from here now.
Make way for a new guy with no religion at all—
A real guy named
Marx Communist Lenin Peasant Stalin Worker ME—
I said, ME!
My parents with Ellen-Marie in 1949
With all of the blessings many of us enjoyed in 2010, there was a great deal of sorrow. A few of my dearest friends lost their fathers in the waning months and days of 2010 and are facing the new year without them. Some were blessed with very close and loving bonds. Others had relationships that were more complicated. All of those relationships will now take on a more poignant cast in 2011. But 2010 also brought an abundance of gifts. A year ago, I had no idea this gold mine of my father’s columns existed in the universe! And speaking of his writings, he may have had his own complicated relationship with his dad. At least so far, Ebenezer has not mentioned his father in his writings, though he gives props to his mom on a regular basis. Our fathers, living and dead, present or absent, helicopter dads and rolling stones, are alive in us and have a profound impact on who we are. Here’s hoping that their legacy makes us stronger and wiser.