In July 1994, I invited my father to hear someone who I considered to be one of Australia’s greatest theologians and preachers, Geoffrey Bingham. My father is someone who is always seeking redemption via the ‘new’ (like every human being, my father is ‘a believer’; he attends faithfully to the altars of the Enlightenment), and in 1994 the panacea of the day was hydrogen peroxide – the blessed H2O2! My father, with all of the enthusiasm of a new convert, shared this alternative ‘good news’ with Geoffrey who then went away and wrote this delightful little poem for him:
‘Oxygenate or perish!’ was his cry,
And I who heard it didn’t care to die;
I listened to his song of therapy
And thought, ‘Maybe he sings this all for me.’
We huff, we puff, we make intake
Of breath – our lungs enlarge to make
Sufficient air or wind or breeze
To give full life to arteries.
‘Alas!’ he said, ‘that air is not enough
To depollute the toxic stuff
That lies along our various veins
Infecting flesh and heart and brains.
‘You need to oxify the lot
To purify each tittle, and each jot
And all the flowing bright red stream
Until it’s fresh and new and clean.’
‘Enough!’ I cried, ‘Dear expert tell
How I can save me from this hell
Of inner sludge and darkest stains
And thus renew my hopeless veins
‘And purify my flesh and mind
Until my blood perfection find,
And I can breathe the wholesome air
When blood is pure and life is fair?’
‘Aitch two double O,’ he said,
‘Will like as raise you from the dead,
Its name is easy – “per-ox-ide”
That cleanses all your blood inside.
‘You put it in your drinks or food,
Or take in tablets – they are good –
Whatever means you use you gain
Fresh flow in artery or vein,
‘So oxygen will purify
And you will live until you die
And folk will cry ‘Until he died
His life was wholly per-ox-ide.’
Ah, blessed gas! Ah glorious mix
Of elements that quickly fix
The sluggish flow and give a wealth
Of glorious life and glowing health,
That we who might so soon have died
Live on through packaged per-ox-ide!
My father, who has a good sense of humour, seemed to appreciate the poem at the time. I hope he still does.
Haha- that’s great that your father could appreciated it!
This reminds me of a book I once read called “The Religion of Thinness” by Michelle Lelwica.
She says that many modern women fill the “need for meaningful symbols, beliefs, stories and rituals by which to organize our lives and understand our purpose” with a “religion of thinness.”
“In an attempt to fill this void, many women have adopted what I call “The Religion of Thinness.” This “religion” teaches us that controlling our weight will give us a feeling of control over our lives. It offers us the hope of health and happiness through the idea of the “perfect” body, which we believe is attainable through diet and exercise. It teaches us to feel morally superior when we “eat right” (meaning fewer fat grams or calories) and connects us to a larger community of women who are trying to lose weight. It gives us rituals- like counting and burning calories- that create a sense of order. And it includes a plethora of icons and symbols in the form of models and actresses in whose image we are encouraged to recreate ourselves. Perhaps most importantly of all, it gives us an ultimate purpose- the “salvation” that comes from being thin. But in the end its promises are hollow.”
-Michelle Lelwica, The Religion of Thinness