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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Week(s) (02/10/11)

TITLE: Stupidity
By Benjamin Graber


We’ve played the games of boys
For six days;
Like tin soldiers we’ve marched silently,
Without a sound
Except the rhythmic beating
Of our metallic feet.

We let our banners wave
As we encircled Jericho,
As if we could scare
The veterans behind the walls
With a display of color
And silence.

Like little boys, we make our moves,
Believing war is just a game,
And end up looking as stupid
As a toddler
Who marches in his Daddy’s boots.

Today the game continues;
We will make our rounds seven times,
And then when our little legs get tired
We’ll stand and shout at last,
And then, like little boys,
We’ll run to the walls,
Pound them with our fists,
And, oh so stupidly,
Die beneath their shadows
With real arrows in our backs.

Like little boys, we play our games,
But war is the business
Of men.
Instead of wasting time
Playing tin soldiers,
We should join our minds
Like men,
To probe the weaknesses
Of this fortress
And strategize until we find
The most effective way to give our blood
Like men.

Instead of playing ring-around-the-rosy
Until our heads get dizzy,
We should prepare weapons of siege
Like men,
So we can knock down those walls
Like men,
So when the right time comes
We won’t be forced to beat them
With our fists.

What stupidity
To play the games of boys!
’Tis stupid
To throw away our lives
In needless waste
Because a stupid general
Never grew up.
’Tis stupid
To trample common sense
Through the endless marching
In our fairy tales.

Oh, stupid general,
Who leads a stupid people,
What do you expect to happen
When you shout your lungs out
At those walls?

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Member Comments
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Carol Penhorwood 02/17/11
Wow! This is a winner for sure! A favorite for me! Masterful writing!
Henry Clemmons02/17/11
Very strong writing. I'll comment more later after pondering the POV. Very interesting piece. I shall return.
Glynis Becker02/18/11
Wonderfully clever piece!
Graham Starling02/19/11
This is nicely written and I can imagine some of the soldiers getting fed up with daily weirdness.

But hang on, weren't these the same people who grew up from infancy in the desert, being fed and led miraculously on a daily basis by a pillar of fire...?

Still knowing human nature, your's is probably the more realistic scenario.
Helen Curtis02/20/11
Love it! How often do we think God's ways are 'stupid' and try to do them our own, 'grown-up' way! I've never actually thought about what the Israelites may have been feeling during that time, great perspective.

Can I ask, are you thinking of maybe doing 'Stupidity: the sequel," showing that their stupid, childish game actually brings them victory? (Will it help if I beg and plead for you to do a sequel?!).
Catrina Bradley 02/20/11
I'm glad I read your hint first, so I would stop and think. My take: This is what might have happened at Jericho if the soldiers didn't have faith - and also how we pray and think sometimes. We ask out of routine with no real expectations; we grumble and do what is expected of us with no hope, let alone reassurance, of supernatural intervention. I don't know if that's what you intended to sow, but it's what I gleaned. :)
Benjamin Graber02/20/11
@Helen: Yes, faith looks "stupid" to those who don't understand it, but in the end it is the only thing that makes any sense.
I don't think I'll be writing a sequal. I employed a little poetic technique that I don't use very often, but I think it can be really powerful if it is used right: that is, taking knowledge that readers already have (such as what happens after the Israelites shouted at the walls of Jericho), and leaving them to "finish" the poem in their own hearts. I end the poem with a question; the reader should know what the answer is, and hopefully be inspired to step out in faith themselves, even when it seems "stupid".
Benjamin Graber02/20/11
@Cat: I like your interpretation! I was thinking along the same lines, though my focus was more showing that when we do things that look "stupid" out of faith, God can still use them in amazing ways. Your thought that so often we really lack faith as we try to follow Christ is a good interpretation as well.
Henry Clemmons02/20/11
Oh, but they weren't games of boys, but of obedient men to the Word of God. More than walls fell on that day, so did those thoughts that may have been doing battle in the mind of those warring for the Lord. I liked the approach. Very strong writing, bold. These weren't whispers men were dealing with, but anti-faith thoughts that had to come down. The voices were as loud as the walls high. It was a mighty victory that day, corporately, and individually in the hearts of each "boy". Internal walls fell as a result of their obedience as well. Great job.
Benjamin Graber02/21/11
@Henry: Exactly!
Rachel Phelps02/21/11
Excellent! Your point is well and richly made. Well done.
Lollie Hofer02/22/11
Even though the Israelites were obedient in their march, in that large of a group, there had to be murmurings and doubts. (Murmuring was one of the things the Israelites were good at.) The younger generation...this was their test. And their faith would have been much stronger after the shouting was done. Lots to ponder and think about here.
Amanda Brogan02/24/11
God often chooses the "foolishness" of faith to confound the "wisdom" of the world. Great approach to the topic and to the story of Jericho! Forgive me, but it partially reminded me of Veggietales when the "pea" guards of Jericho are singing at the Israelites, "It's plain to see that your brains are very small to think walking will be knocking down our wall!" (But your poem was a more "grown-up" version. ;) )

Amazing job and congratulations on your win!
Rachel Phelps02/24/11
Glad to see this on the EC list. Excellent work!
Henry Clemmons02/24/11
I knew this was a winner straight away. Well done, Ben. You are really hitting your artisitic stride. Each entry seems more and more mature. Glad to see your EC.
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/24/11
Congratulations on placing, Ben, with this really excellent poem--well thought out and well presented.
Loren T. Lowery02/25/11
Loved this on the first read a week ago; but didn't have time to comment. I'm so glad it's been recognized. Clear, concise and filled with a fresh creativity that makes its message worth listening and pondering upon. Congratulations, Ben.