Texas writer Jonas Perez has taken on an epic task, literally. He has written and recently published Finibus (of the end things) an epic poem in 13 songs (sections) about the end of the world. All the familiar main characters and events are present, from the last battle between the good and bad angels, to the Second Coming of Christ, to the Final Judgement, all of them powerfully portrayed in metric narrative. Among the nuances of the story is its narrator, the damned priest Jonas (not the author!) who is condemned to hell (for sins against the 6th Commandment) despite being martyred (traditionally considered a sure path to Heaven). Jonas serves as a witness and commentator from hell describing the dramatic and terrible battles, triumphs and sufferings that occur when God closes history and reestablishes final justice.
The language used throughout the poem is simple, clear and powerful. Consider this account of Jonas’s damnation:
As the Angel held me I knew…
I knew…as I stared down from here…
I stole one last glance at his hue,
His eyes of fire, their fiery sear,
And he threw me into the air.
I fell slowly into loud hell.
The narrator would like to be able to repent, but does not contradict his condemnation. He knows that he deserves it, and in a strange way Jonas continues to praise God’s justice. The account of the final battle between God and the Devil, between Jesus and Satan, thus becomes an objective description, and maybe even the more powerful for being recounted by the damned priest, as recounted by the final verse (spoiler alert!) “I know that God is truth, he holds this still… Beyond me he bears all his free will.”
I really hope Finibus gets a wide and enthusiastic reading. In our day, it is beyond important that the traditional “Last Things” of Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell be given a fair and open hearing and defense of their place in Christian theology. In our era of mitigated responsibilities and horror of becoming “judgmental”, it is refreshing to see that judgement has a legitimate role in human history. Given the somewhat graphic (though didactic and poetic) account of Jonas’s sins at the beginning of the poem, I would recommend it to mature readers. The poem is available here at Amazon.
And how would a review of a poem about the end times be complete without R.E.M.’s anthem?