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“The function of the artist is to disturb. His duty is to arouse the sleeper, to shake the complacent pillars of the world. He reminds the world of its dark ancestry, and shows the world its present and points the way to its new birth. He is at once the product and preceptor of his times.”–Norman Bethune.

Bethune’s definition of the artist fits Jesus to a T.

That “new birth” means “born again.”

–Reg Hartt



BILLY SUNDAY by Robert Frost

You come along—tearing your shirt—yelling about Jesus. I want to know what the hell you know about Jesus?

Jesus had a way of talking soft, and everybody except a few bankers and higher-ups among the con men of Jerusalem liked to have this Jesus around because he never made any fake passes, and everything he said went and he helped the sick and gave the people hope.

You come along squirting words at us, shaking your fist and calling us all dam fools—so fierce the froth of your own spit slobbers over your lips—always blabbering we’re all going to hell straight off and you know all about it.

I’ve read Jesus’ words. I know what he said. You don’t throw any scare into me. I’ve got your number. I know how much you know about Jesus.

He never came near clean people or dirty people but they felt cleaner because he came along. It was your crowd of bankers and business men and lawyers that hired the sluggers and murderers who put Jesus out of the running.

I say it was the same bunch that’s backing you that nailed the nails into the hands of this Jesus of Nazareth. He had lined up against him the same crooks and strongarm men now lined up with you paying your way.

This Jesus guy was good to look at, smelled good, listened good. He threw out something fresh and beautiful from the skin of his body and the touch of his hands wherever he passed along.

You, Billy Sunday, put a smut on every human blossom that comes in reach of your rotten breath belching about hell-fire and hiccupping about this man who lived a clean life in Galilee.

When are you going to quit making the carpenters build emergency hospitals for Women and girls driven crazy with wrecked nerves from your goddam gibberish about Jesus? I put it to you again: What the hell do you know about Jesus?

Go ahead and bust all the chairs you want to. Smash a Wagon load of furniture at every performance Turn sixty
somersaults and stand on your nutty head. If it wasn’t for the way you scare the women and kids, I’d feel Sorry for you and pass the hat.


I like to watch a good four-flusher work, but not when he starts people puking and calling for the doctor.

I like a man that’s got guts and can pull off a great, original performance; but you—hell, you’re only a bughouse peddler of second-hand gospel–you’ only shoving out a phoney imitation of the goods this Jesus guy told us ought to be free as air and sunlight.

Sometimes I wonder what sort of pups born from mongrel bitches there are in the world less heroic, less typic of historic greatness than you.

You tell people living in shanties Jesus is going to fix it up all right with them by giving them mansions in the skies after they’re dead and the worms have eaten ‘em.

You  tell $6 a week department store girls all they need is Jesus; you take a steel trust wop, dead without having lived, gray and shrunken at forty years of age, and you tell him to look at Jesus on the cross and he’ll be all right.

You tell poor people they don’t need any more money on pay day, and even if it’s fierce to be out of a job, Jesus’ll fix that all right, all right–all they gotta do is take Jesus the way you say.

I’m telling you this Jesus guy wouldn’t stand for the stuff you’re handing out. Jesus played it different. The bankers and corporation lawyers of Jerusalem got their sluggers and murderers to go after Jesus just because Jesus wouldn’t play their game. He didn’t sit in with the big thieves.

I don’t want a lot of gab from a bunkshooter in my religion.

I won’t take my religion from a man who never works except with his mouth and never cherishes a memory except the face of the woman on the American silver dollar.

I ask you to come through and show me where you’re pouring out the blood of your life.

I’ve been out to this suburb of Jerusalem they call Golgotha, where they nailed Him, and I know if the story is straight it was real blood ran from his hands and the nail-holes, and it was real blood spurted out where the spear of the Roman soldier rammed in between the ribs of this Jesus of Nazareth.

This is the version of BILLY SUNDAY Robert Frost’s publisher refused to publish. He said it was libellous. The truth is always libellous.

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