The Steampunk Vicar

A Presbyterian Pastor on Neo-Victoriana and American Faith

Category: Uncategorized

De Ultoribus

I am sure that a third viewing would further improve the Perspective, but I feel obliged to write, at least briefly, my Commentary of the newest Film in the Cinematic Universe of Marvels, known best as the Avengers: Age of Ultron. Having consulted my Oxford Latin Dictionary, I find it worth noting that the Latin Root of Ultron’s Name is, in fact, the Word I have used above to describe this Posting. Specifically, however, and surprising no one, I choose now to write to you all concerning those aspects of Faith, Religion, and the Exegesis of Scripture which posed themselves during my watching of the Film.

Those who have not yet partaken of the Film should, perhaps, cease reading now, as I am currently alerting you to the upcoming Spoilers.

Tony Stark Fails at Bible

Ultron is, with the possible exception of Capt. S—– R——, the most visibly and explicitly Christian of the many Characters that inhabit the Marvel’s Universe as it has been presented. This is, of course, problematic, as Ultron is a polymaniacal doomsday Program, bent on the Destruction of all human Life. In his initial Introduction, it seems that Ultron absorbs all relevant human Knowledge, and clearly this includes what I choose to term the Bible According to Anthony Stark.

If you will hearken back to the first Avengers Film, you will recall that, prior to driving through and destroying from the inside a Chitauri Skywhale, Stark asks Jarvis if he is familiar with the Tale of Jonah. This level of biblical Understanding is classically Starkian – superficially familiar, but lacking in depth or analysis in a meaningful Way.

Ultron becomes, in the film, the inheritor of Stark’s Vision of the Bible – twisted, incomplete, and, ultimately, destructive. Ultron, to some extent, justifies his entire Mission through a bad reading of the Scriptures, a Practice he inherited from his theoretical Creator.

Ultron, the Failing Prophet

In Ultron’s first embodied Dialogue, he is describing to the Maximoff Twins his perspective on the Beauty of the Church in Sokovia, the Likability of the “Geometry of Belief.” Whether Ultron “believes” or not is something of an open Question, but surely he recognizes the Usefulness of human Belief to his own Purposes.

Later, he reveals to a thoroughly shocked Wanda and Pietro what those purposes truly are – the destruction of all Humankind, or, as he describes it, a Chance for Humans to evolve in the face of Chaos. As the Film progresses, he moves further and further from this Thesis, but when Wanda taxes him with the Question of the Fate of those who will not evolve, Ultron’s Reply is to “ask Noah.”

Again, Ultron has a superficial understanding of the Story from the Scriptures, appealing to them as a shared cultural Narrative, but fits them into a hideously unrecognizable Vision of Scripture – one in which, when Things become “too settled, God throws a Stone, and believe me, He is winding up.”

Again, I find the Question of whether Ultron truly believes himself to be God’s Messenger intriguing, but ultimately futile. Does – can – Ultron truly believe in God? Certainly he is familiar with the Science of Evolution, and many Christians would reject his intertwined Darwinian and Christian Viewpoint. If we take Ultron at his Word, then he is the ultimate Proponent of Intelligent Design…except that the Intelligence guiding at least some of human Development is Tony Stark, an absolutely horrifying Thought.

Whether he believes or not, though, Ultron appropriates the Role of the Deluge unto himself. Ultron is the fire sent by God to force Evolution, and the next evolution leads to a world, as he says, in which the only thing living “is metal.”

What Then, Shall We Sin More, that Robots May Abound?

As with all of the Media that appeals to me most, Avengers: Age of Ultron is ultimately a film about Good and Evil. Ultron seeks human Death – the Avengers desire to protect the World and all the People who live on it. What then, for the Christian, who finds that the Words of the Bible are placed in the Mouth of the Harbinger of Destruction?

There is a Caution for those of us who confess Christ to be found in Mr. Whedon’s cinematic Outing, one to be expected in the Nation that, around us daily, becomes more and more post-Christian. We may find in Films and Books and Stories that, let alone putting the Words of the Word in the Mouths of Villains, our very Stories may be the Stories of the villainous. The darker Moments of Scripture may be turned to justify many Horrors, and that Tale may be perpetuated.

I, for my own part, was powerfully moved by the Film, and by Ultron’s Appropriation of my Tradition. I found Christ in the Sacrifices of Pietro Maximoff and Clint Barton, and in the Ambiguity of the Vision’s Vision, as it were. But I will remember to, as usual, pursue Grace in my Relationships with the World, that Christ might be seen in me as Love, daily.

De visione mundi

Rather distressed of Heart, I have been reading of the travails of that redoubtable Charitie, World-Vision. I will admit to a Confusion of Feeling engendered by these Trials. I know World-Vision of old, having served there as a Volunteer, and knowing that my Father’s Employment was for some Years centered there. Too, there is good Work that is done in the Name of the Christ by these Agents of the Gospel. Much of Povertie, Strife, and Sickness is eased by their Care and Wealth, and their Dedication to the Cause of the Betterment of Humanitie cannot be doubted. This, of course, provided that, by Humanitie, you mean those Persons whose carnal Desires fit neatly into the Box provided by the Moralitie of my era, and none of your own.

I write, however, not for World-Vision – I am, past my own Historie, indifferent to the Rise or Fall of one Charitie when so many others go about the same Work, both in the Name of Christ and in Defence of the human Spirit. No, my care at this Hour is for the Church, and for the resounding Crash that has echoed across the Book of Faces and the Birdsong and Google Plus. For in reading this remarkable Weblogue, and this, and, moste especially, this, I am forced to a peculiar Conclusion.

This is it. This is the Moment for which we have waited, long in coming. This is the Revelation that has been looming since the Victories of the Culture Wars of the 1980s. So deep have gone Evangelicals into their Defence against what they perceive to be Perversion that they are willing to sacrifice the Lives and Health of Children on behalf of sexual Purity. More precious to them is the Commandment that “Thou shalt not lie with Mankind, as with Womankind: it is Abomination,” (Leviticus 18:22) than the Parable of Christ, that

Then shall the King say unto them on his right Hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the Foundation of the World: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me Meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me Drink: I was a Stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in Prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a Stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothedthee39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in Prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my Brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:34-40)

 

Where in this is the Condemnation of Indigence, or of Sin? Where is Sex, or Opiate, or Illness named, unless to claim the Call of Christ to Care? Who are these, who claim as foremost Goods the Persecution of the Queer over the Provision for the Poor?

These are, I stoop to say, mine Brothers and Sisters in Christ. They are Passionate Persons, devoted to their understanding of the Word of the Lord, and to the Christ they seek to know. They are caring Persons, in their own way, seeking to unleash Good upon the World.

They are, however, wrong. 

I’ve no more of room for Patience or Endurance – with Mrs. Evans, I’ve Love for my evangelical Kindred, but I’ve no more Room to leave their Error unpronounced. 

Sisters and Brothers in Christ, you are wrong. Wrong to care more for the Sex of your Neighbours than for the Health of Children. Wrong to care more for the Puritie you learned as Youths than for the Charitie to which God has summoned you. You are, in your Priorities, wholly wrong.

I hope and pray that this great Gong of Change spells the death Knell for the Wars of Culture. For I feel it in the Water, I hear it in the Air. Change comes, Resurrection comes. The time is coming for the Change in all the World. E’en so, Lord Jesus, quickly come. 

The Prophet Jonah Ammitson and the Marble Messenger

The story that follows was first told me by a fellow-traveler – a merchant and trader in the Levant who, in latter days, has returned quite wealthy to Brittania. She related it to me in the words I share with you, as they were addressed to her. She tells me that she met this man, nearly dead and half-mad with thirst in the desert outside Damascus. She nursed him to some semblance of health, and when he was somewhat recovered, was coaxed into telling her of his travails. This, then, is her rendering of his account, the story of a Prophet in the desert.

*   *   *

On the night that the Word of the Lord came to me, I was dreaming.

It seemed to me that I shaded my eyes against the glare of a terrible desert sun. The vision of my dream shimmered like the haze of a summer’s day, but I could feel what I could not see – the dryness of mouth, the shortness of breath, and the unbelievable thrumming, the sound of a thousand pistons crashing and straining. The vibrations approached me through the rock and sand, screaming to a fever pitch…

…and thus I awoke, sweating, in my bedclothes. It was a cool night in late spring in God’s country. I sought the familiar features of my spare, clerical bedchamber picked out in the moonlight, when I became aware that I was not alone in my domain.

Seated rather immodestly on my chest of drawers was one of the strangest creatures I had ever beheld. The occupant of a vicarage, even an older bachelor such as myself, has ample opportunity to meet flowers of Society just as they bloom. Indeed, in the months leading up to the events I now relate, I had presided over a number of Services of Christian Marriage, uniting the belles of the county to a series of anxious squires. In my years of parish ministry, I had encountered beauties fair and dark, tall and short, slim and buxom, but never before had I faced such elegance personified. She was dainty and trim, perched on the edge of my furniture. A rather puckish smile dwelt around her lips, and the curls of her hair cascaded springily past her face. Her ankles showed with a decided want of propriety beneath her gown, and were neatly turned – likewise her wrists, poised above her hands on the edge of the walnut were dimpled and slender.

Having, at a glance ascertained these various excellences of her person, I shook my head abruptly, for a number of peculiar circumstances obtruded on my notice all at a stroke. Firstly – and I can find no other word to describe the wonder of this revelation – she was not made of flesh. Her skin was of fair marble, not so pale as to repulse, but clearly gleaming stone. Her hair, on whose bounce I had earlier remarked, was indeed springy, as it seemed to be composed exclusively of springs, tiny coils of a glossy black metal. Even in the dim moonlight, I could see rivets and joints, markers of her construction, I supposed.

Most shocking of all, however, were the eyes. They were clearly jewels, or made of jewels, perhaps. Diamonds for whites, irises of emerald, and onyx pupils, broad in the evening dimness. And the GLOWED…not as the eyes of mortals, but with an inner light, nearly golden in quality, they brightened the whole of my bedchamber.

I hope that you will forgive me, dear friend, for the foolishness of the conclusion to which I immediately came. I see by the incredulity of your expression that you, like me, would not have credited your senses with honesty at such a vision. So, too, did I. The lunacy of the moonlight, the lucidity of those brilliant, gemstone eyes, and the remaining anxieties of the dream that had but lately departed led me to believe the whole a fantasy, and I waited to see what new wonders my fevered brain would lay before me.

Thus I was not unprepared when she opened her mouth – a lovely rosebud it was – and spoke. “Don’t be afraid,” she said, and I at once realized that her command was also prophetic – I had been on the edge of terror, despite my confidence of physical safety. Now was I more settled, and I nodded to her.

She spoke again. “Jonah,” said she, “Son of Emmett?”

“I am,” said I, maintaining my somnolent composure. “And who, precisely, are you?”

“I am,” she said, her marble cheeks somehow dimpling as she smiled at me, “a Word from the Lord.”

To my shame, dear friend, I responded only with laughter. In too many biblical readings from my pulpit I had read just those words as they appeared in the books of Moses and the scrolls of the prophets. I could imagine no place, time, or situation further from my snug, dark pulpit and the scent of my church’s ancient Bible than in my bedchamber, wearing only my nightgown and confronting a young woman who seemed to be composed entirely from the bones of the earth.

There may, also, have been more than a little nervousness in that laugh. The words of the Bible had always been to me composed purely of comfort. I took solace in the gentleness of Christ as shepherd, and, though trite, the 23rd had ever been my favorite psalm. The words of the Law, though stern, were concerned with the care of my own soul, and there was an ordered quality to my favorite passages of scripture that preserved the society and realities which undergirded my universe.

This apparent young woman, this clockwork beauty, fit no place in my concept of religion or faith. I could cry for wishing this was still the case, but at that hour, I had no inkling of the trials or revolutions to come. And so I laughed, in what must have been derision, and at the sound, her smile grew wider.

“I am delighted to hear you greet my arrival wish such joy,” said she, as she alighted from the chest of drawers. In her bare feet, she stood an average height, and her white linen gown flowed around her smoothly. “I have a message for you, if you are prepared to hear it.”

“Of course,” I said, “you beautiful phantasm. Whatever wonders you have to share with me, share them now, before I wake and your beauty fades.”

She smiled even more broadly. “Ah, a dreamer, are you? You dreamers are some of my favourites. I love the romance of your visions, and your willingness to accept the imagination of your own minds.” The more I beheld that smile, the more it was disconcerting me. It tugged at memories and emotions deeply buried. There was an edge to it that brought to mind my mother’s apron, sunlight on a grassy lawn, lemon ices and the sounds of village cricket.

“At any rate,” she said, briskly. “Are you prepared to hear me?”

I felt, suddenly, as though lucidity and clarity had abandoned me. The import of the question staggered me – I heard it as though with new ears, wholly unprepared for the weight of this compelling dream. A crashing wave of anxious fear and nervous terror swept over me, but I gulped and nodded in silence.

When once again her mouth parted, she spoke in a new and alarming voice. Terrible like a winter storm and powerful like the command of a beloved woman, she spoke to me saying, “ARISE, GO TO NINEVEH, THAT GREAT CITY, AND CRY AGAINST IT; FOR THEIR WICKEDNESS IS COME UP BEFORE ME.”

*   *   *

When I awoke again, it was with confusing slowness. I seemed unaccountably tangled in my bedclothes, my head was hot and pounding powerfully, and the sunlight through the window was uncomfortably bright.

Slowly, as though the gears of my mind began to grind their way to activity, I began to perceive the import of the rising sun. The dawning day was a Sunday. The hour was much advanced – a swift glance of alarm at my bedside clock revealed that it wanted mere minutes to nine o’clock, and my services – my brain now spun its engine to  a groaning, frantic pitch – commenced at ten.

In a flurry of maddened linens I leapt to my feet and began to pull vigorously at the bell. Why my valet had not roused me sooner I could not say, and the stricken expression on his countenance as he entered clearly revealed his spirits to be as much disturbed by the lapse as my own. I wasted no time on his censure, devoting myself instead to the task of preparing for the Eucharist service.

It was as I was engaged in the last flourishes of my toilette, the final tasks before I left my vicarage in haste to the waiting congregation, that I chanced to look upon my chest of drawers, and saw its only ornament. A tiny statuette of delicate marble and painted twists of metal sat upon the varnished wood. I had never before seen this trinket, and was so much arrested by its appearance that I stood quite still for a full handful of breaths.

To my valet’s astonishment, I walked to the chest of drawers and picked up the figurine. It was the visitor of my last night’s rest, there could be no doubt. The whole of the piece was no longer than a hand’s breadth, but the delicacy of the workmanship was unbelievable – I could discern, even, the young woman’s marble dimple as she impishly smirked at me.

Dear friend, you can read in my hands, in the cast of my countenance, in the very set of my shoulders the sense of my horror and terror. Crashing wave upon wave swept over me, alarm, dismay, and consternation, each, in its turn, conquering my soul. Even as I turned the figure over in my hands, they trembled, and I could feel my jaw working involuntarily.

Even so, I could as soon have crossed the Galilee afoot as have laid by that lovely piece.  My minute examination of this sculpture was time-consuming – I recall hearing my man’s polite cough behind me at least three times before I could drag myself from my focused contemplation.  At last, though, I stormed unwary into the corridor, casting the figurine into the topmost drawer of my bureau, with my man hovering anxious behind me.

*   *   *

 I was fully through the Collect before I felt myself more fully settled in worship. The opening of the Service had been some five minutes delayed, and all throughout the liturgy of call and procession I had felt myself to be scrambling to catch up. In the familiar and timely breath of the Collect, however, I felt myself shouldering once again the burden of my clerical authority. As that comfortable friend of a thought settled upon my shoulders once again, I subconsciously fingered my stole, the ancient symbol of my blessed right and grave purpose. The fabric slid tensely beneath my fingers, but the sanctioned prayers and signs of the church poured unabated from my lips and hands, a pleasant stream of institutional grace and comfort.

I have sensed, dear friend, that you are not a churchgoer – and so I fear that much of what has been shattered in these last few weeks will not seem to you a loss. The destruction of all that I had treasured up would, to an outsider’s eye, seem no great tragedy, I fear, but I cannot let that opinion pass without a token effort to express the hideous grief of my comforts dashed to oblivion.

Even now the words, I know, will not compare to my inner sense of aching loss, but all that had surrounded my life had been, heretofore, pure beauty. The polished sheen of the oaken beams, waxed to gleaming light, the intricate and careful carving of stone and yew, massaged by masters’ hands and tools, the heartwarm glow of a hundred taper lights, reflected in the ornaments and instruments of gold, the snowy brilliance of the altar, the reliable and unchanging sounds and signs of scripture and sacrament in the service of worship, the rapt and grateful adulation of my snug parish…all these and a thousand other details of my life and work conspired to comfort and reassure me of the universe, and of my place in it. The steady rhythm of my life and days ticked endlessly on, unchanging and mechanical, like the God to whom I had devoted my life.

And it was then, during the liturgy of that final service of Sunday worship, that I last believed without doubt in the God of my mind. As the readings of the Psalm tripped from my tongue, I had settled deeply into all the solace of a service of worship – so little attention did I pay in the midst of my prayers and oblations that I scarcely noted the text of the Prophets until the page was open before me.

Consulting my notes and the markers in the Bible, I was stunned to see before me words of alarm and terror such as I had never before met in God’s Holy Word. I was seized by a sudden bout of coughing, alarming in its scope and duration. In desperation, I raised my gaze over the pulpit’s edge to catch the eye of the sexton, of someone, anyone, rather than speak aloud the horror printed on the page.

Despite the warmth and succor of mere moments before, as I searched the curious eyes in the nave, all that met my regard was a trim young woman in garments of white, her jewel-bright eyes overflowing with passionate intensity, seated on the central rafter of the sanctuary. Her hand curled around the supporting beams, and her expression was dire and terrible as she stared mercilessly into my helpless face. Her lips parted – I thought that I heard the tiniest squeal of metal on stone as she drew in a useless breath.

Struck to my very core with elemental terror, I dove with my eyes back into the text. Caught beneath an angel and the deep blue sea, I cleared my suddenly parched throat, and did the best that I could. To my ears, as my mouth gave voice to the letters on the page, the voice of the pitiless angel overlay my halting words, driving me forward to speak the brutal, prophetic truth.

“Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.”

No further could I speak – no more would the words come. At once I let forth a great cry, and stripping my robe, stole, and cross from around my neck, I ran, shouting down the aisle and out the great oak doors into the winter sunlight. Heedless of dignity and station, heedless of position and prestige, heedless of anything but that messenger’s dreadful purpose, I summoned a waiting hansom cab, my whole frame shaking with fright. His dense accent was nearly impenetrable, but I simply shouted, “Portsmouth!” casting a quantity of gold into his waiting hand, and leaned back on the leather seats to weep and flee my destiny.

De Ambulante

In a world empowered by horseless carriages, aeroplanes, and rapid public transit, just as much as a world whose wheels are greased by trains, dirigibles, and mechanical walkers of varying degrees of complexity, it has been far too easy, throughout my life, to give up on the discipline of walking. To stroll, idly, is a joy that the Lord has shared with humankind since the very Beginning – after all, did not God walk with Adam and Eve in the Garden?

There are certain magicks in walking. Lord Baden-Powell, a British hero of the Second Boer War met his future wife, and recognized having seen her before – by her walk. It is both the most intimate way in which we interact with God’s green earth, and the way that humans were first able to have dominion over the same. Our capacity for travel in this particular way enabled – and enables – us to travel vast distances when necessary.

For me, however, the greatest point of essence in the walk is its spiritual nature. I find that walking is a sort of prayer. even in my hours of greatest perceived distance from God. To drive, also, can be a sort of prayer, but it feels more wasteful, and further separated from the earth beneath my feet.

And, finally, I write more when I walk. When I take to my feet, whatever road calls to me, I reflect and remember, and the words begin spinning. This weblogue would not exist without the chance that I have to walk, and to write in walking. I would by no means consider giving up my Auto-Mobile Sacristy, or my Airship Chapel, but, from time to time, it is good to mobile my own autos.

Has walking meaning for you? Or is it all Chevrolets and magneto-trains?

De Creatione

As is often the case, the best conversations start on one of the more bizarre (and brilliant!) inventions of this 21st Century, the Avian Medium of Society, “Twitter.” We encountered against one another a brief working out of the distinction between creation and manipulation with Mr. Smith at @NSFChurch (a note – it is possible that Mr. Smith is more appropriately styled Rev. Smith – I have no way to confirm this easily. I am quite pleased to be corrected). I made a rather snide offhand comment – some of my best friends and acquaintances being rather on the “Mad” end of the Scientist Spectrum. I’m sorry, sir, if I came across as more serious than I intended to do.

Nevertheless, I feel that the ensuing exchange was worth exploring. Purely from the perspective of the physical sciences, nothing has been created – or destroyed – since the very Beginning. All the matter and energy of the universe are all that there has ever been, or will ever be, allowing for some translation from one state to another – thus relativity. EnergyisMass, with the interruption of a constant.

Mr. Smith’s point seems to be a vigorous defense of creativity – an endeavour to which I am thoroughly sympathetic, to wit, my current occupation. However, I would prefer a nicer distinction between creativity and creation. I have never created anything, as my physical analysis above should prove. I have been creative on multiple occasions, as have both the Bohemian Artists and the clever Mechanics of my acquaintance. It is in the cunning rearrangement of the elements that true Creativity is to be found.

Having established in the necessary brevity the difference in our arguments, the topic turned slightly to my initial, rude comment, which was that some persons I know have been creative to the Detriment of themselves, their offspring, their monstrous Creations, and any innocent villagers who happened across the paths of said Abominations.

The points victory went to Mr. Smith, who rightly indicates that our creativity is ultimately bad – or, rather more to the point, Evil – when it becomes self-serving. Poor Dr. Frankenstein’s error may well have been not in creating a monster, but in creating one to serve his own ego, and not the needs of his neighbours. And, also, I suspect, in failing to control it. There’s a message of humility in there for any Creative Persons, particularly those of the Post-Modern bent. It is worth reflecting on how your Art or Work will affect those who encounter it…as well as for Whom you are making it, and with Whose materiel.

At any rate – well played, @NSFChurch. Thank you for the inspiration, and the correction!

De Divortio, v. I

I must say that one of the moments I am most looking forward to on a return to my own Time Line is the conversation I intend to have with Mechano-Lord Byron and Mr. O. Wilde (who has become much Wilde-er, apparently, since that nasty were-badger-bite). I think both gentlemen will be frankly astounded at where modern society, both British and American, has come to in the past few decades – and don’t get me started on how Shakespeare’s Brain-in-a-Jar will feel on the subject. Most particularly I highlight those gentlemen because of historical links on the issue of homo-sexuality.

I will admit, I was frankly shocked when I first arrived by such Radiovisual comedies as “Will and Grace,” and by the populations of “Project: Runway.” among other things. But I’ve had a chance, since I arrived in this Land of the free, to explore their social and theological thinking. I will not say that it has been always a particularly EASY process, but I am coming to terms with the license of this age – and, in fact, coming to embrace it.

Over the next few postings from the Aether, I will be exploring the following topics:

I. The Scriptural Arguments for Accepting Gays, Lesbians, Transsexuals and Transgendered Persons, and the Queer Community
II. A Brief History of This Acceptance in the American Churches of the Reformation
III. The Good News for the Proclamation of the Gospel and My Connexion Thereto

I may, due to erudition, take more than one post for each of these topics, and those whose interest is more in my neo-Victorian pursuits may be disappointed for some weeks to come. Rest assured – I will return to the subjects most dear to your hearts, but as a portion of this weblogue’s purpose is the freedom to speak out on topics otherwise taboo, I must share what is on my Mechanical Heart first.

Walk with me, first, then,on a Journey to the Centre of the Word of God…

De Bellos Astrae

I’ve had a spot of bother, lately, on this Electro-visual Difference Engine of mine. Having made Connexion with the Transcontinental Optico-Radio Arachno-Network, I have been thoroughly astounded by the profusion of Weblogues, informational broadsheets in non-analogue formats, aetherial Newspapers, and the like.

That were bad enough, but the forms of Entertainment to be had! I would not consider myself a gamester, by any stretch of the imagination, but this is no form of gaming that I have ever before encountered. Most lately, I’ve been taken up with a sort of theo-political Fantasy, a retrograde visual novel of the genre I believe to be called “Space Opera” (though it suffers from the most abominable lack of the music of the human voice). I speak, of course, of, Belli Astrae: Republica Veteris, or, in the language of my home, Star Wars: The Old Republic.

I am sure that I will write again – and often! – concerning my adventures in these Flights of Fancy. But I felt moved to share this single Anecdote.

Early in one’s adventures on the world of Tython, the wisdom of the Jedi Order is stated: that Justice requires Emotionlessness. The Just Person, they argue, must strip anger and compassion from action, in order that true Justice must be obtained.

I struggled for some time against this Dictum, first in the confines of the entertainment, but then more concretely in my theological reflexions. This, finally, I concluded, opposes entirely the Christian Gospel – for did not our Lord and Savior suffer upon the Cross in order that Justice might prevail? It was through the Christ’s Compassion that he was able to endure, and to serve as sacrifice, and it is through our own Compassion with Christ that we are called to preach and practice Justice.

Perhaps I refine too much on the Philosophy of that which is intended merely as a Novel, but I have ever felt that our Fiction reflects on our Society, and that, especially in a Work as binary and moralist as this one is, we should pay the closest attention to the finer points of our Differences in Belief.

I believe that Justice – true Justice, on the model of Our Lord’s Justice – requires our Emotion. It is not objective or rationalist, but truly humanist, in that it acknowledges all parts of the Imago Dei within us. Justice, as she is portrayed in public art, is blind – she is not heartless.

The Steampunk Vicar

Greetings, travelers and wanderers, adventurers and exoticists, rationalists, spiritualists, moralists all! Welcome to a catalogue, a travelogue, a weblogue, a counterlogue – an essay into the world of the fantastic, the Romantic, the Gothic, the entropic, the myopic. Welcome to this religious, prestigious, prodigious endeavour – the articles and histories of the Steampunk Vicar.

Who, I hear you ask, is this amazing man – this Romantic Renaissance man, this insightful and inciteful man, this erudite and recondite man? Is he fully depraved? Fully, are you quite sure? Is he entirely saved? Most entirely? Who is he, I hear you ask, and, so I echo: who am I?

Consider me an alter-ego, who says what must not be said, who knows the God but dare not speak His Name, who inquires and replies. My other parts may remain shrouded in mystery, but all that you must now, o best beloved, is that I am a man of many parts, of history, lost in time but not in Grace, and that my times and inquiries are most germane to the lives you lead.

For I am the Steampunk Vicar, and I am most glad to make your acquaintance.