Goodbye, Christ

Listen, Christ,
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,
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!

Go ahead on now,
You’re getting in the way of things, Lord.
And please take Saint Gandhi with you when you go,
And Saint Pope Pius,
And Saint Aimee McPherson,
And big black Saint Becton
Of the Consecrated Dime.
And step on the gas, Christ!

Don’t be so slow about movin!
The world is mine from now on-
And nobody’s gonna sell ME
To a king, or a general,
Or a millionaire.

-Langston B. Hughes, 1932

Hughes was hounded by the media and establishment for this poem and kept on an FBI security-risk list until 1959. All for not liking the way Jesus was being sold. As a poem, it's a driving out of the money changers, and in that way preciously Biblical. A profound critique of the cozying up or religion and society, don't you think?


  1. Could it be that he also makes a reference to wanting to be a communist? Good poem nontheless

  2. Oh, absolutely. Hughes was a noted communist sympathizer though he would never join the political party. What people have noted about the poem is the specificity and familiarity he shows about with the Gospel. It's not coincidence, I think, that the Christianity he saw peddled was supplanted by communism as opposed to say, Islam.
    And he was a vivid poet, too!

  3. well i think for "intellectuals", communism is the next logical progression, esp if he agrees with Marx's views that religion is a tool of oppression of the bourgeoisie which it sounds like he did. It would be interesting for me to hear the Christian response to Marx's accusations against religion.

  4. I don't know enough about Hughes to know his thoughts on religion in general. I think the point about Communism as the "next logical step" though, is fascinating! I've never really thought of it like that, but I suspect that is true only within European, modernist thought. It isn't the next logical step in an absolute sense, and has not been the next step for a lot of Eastern intellectual thought. In a fascinating way, as a response to western european history, it is an offspring, so that the materialist assumptions it makes are actually the same as western capitalism/democracy in some ways. As for a Christian response, I imagine there are a number. Of course, most of them probably start with it being "godless..." but a rich critique can probably be found from African American scholars who have suffered under oppressive religion yet see it's redeeming qualities and liberative aspects. interesting stuff!


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