BILLY SUNDAY

by: Carl Sandburg.


* * * * * * *



You come along tearing your shirt and talking 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 liked to

          have this Jesus around because he was soothing and

          helped the sick and gave people hope.

You come along with a diarrhea of words, shaking your fist

          and calling all of us damn fools, froth of your own spit

          slobbering over your lips, blabbing and blabbing we’re

          all going to hell and you know all about it.


I’ve read Jesus’ words. I know what he said.

He never came near real decent people but they felt easier

          when he passed. It was your crowd of bankers and

          businessmen that hired the sluggers and murderers that

          put Jesus out of the game.

I say it was the same bunch that’s backing you that nailed

the nails into the hands df this Jesus of Nazareth. I

          know just as much about this Jesus of Nazareth as you

          do and I know he had lined up against him the same

          crooks and strong-arm men that are lined up with you

          paying your way.


This Jesus guy threw out something fresh and beautiful from

          his person wherever he passed along. The smell of his

          body, touch of his hands, catch in his voice made

          women and children feel safe and happy about God.

But you, Billy Sunday—you’re only the dirty smokestack of

          a glue factory and you put a smut on every human

          blossom that listens to the raucous yawp of your

          bawling gibberish.


I like a man that’s got guts and can pull off a great original

          performance, but you, Billy Sunday—hell, you’re only a

          cheap salesman, a real American bunk artist selling and

          selling for hard American dollars a cheap imitation of

          the stuff this Jesus guy said ought to be free as air and

          sunlight. I tell you you’re an imitation and they’re all

          getting your number.

And   now Hearst has picked you up—along with the

railroads and the banks and all the other big-business

          crooks, Hearst is boosting your game—you certainly

always did belong with the whores.

If it would do any good I would vote for a law saying that

          mutts running loose like you ought to have their

          testicles cut out—but it wouldn’t do any good so long

          as you’ve got your leather tongue and your leather

          lungs and your leather conscience.


Men you have called lousy are not half as lousy as you are.

Men you have called syphilitic and rotten are not half as

          syphilitic and rotten as you are.

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 poor people living in shanties that 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 poor people they don’t need more money on

          payday and even if it is fierce to be out of a job, Jesus’ll

          fix that all right—all they got to 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. The reason the bankers and

          corporation lawyers of Jerusalem sent their sluggers

          and murderers after Jesus was because he wouldn’t play

their game.


Why don’t you go away somewhere and sit by yourself a

          whole day in a toilet,

On a stool all by yourself, sitting there with your chin in

          your hands,

Think it all over, empty your bowels to a finish, and ask

          yourself if you ain’t about as coarse and crooked a

          grafter as any of ‘em in the penitentiaries of the United

          States or the pits of hell you tell us about.


I’ve   been out to this suburb of Jerusalem they called

          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 was rammed in

          between the ribs of this Jesus you talk about.

I won’t take any bunk from you or anybody else about it—

          you gotta show me where you’re pouring out the blood

          of your life instead of grabbing piles of Am~rican silver

          dollars and keeping the mints working overtime.


I want blood instead of bunk in my religion.



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