The Steampunk Vicar

A Presbyterian Pastor on Neo-Victoriana and American Faith

Tag: Buddhism

Narrativus Tertius, or the Third Story

I’ve been thinking a great Deal, this Week, about Narrative. My natural Bent for Storytelling has reared again its Head, and the Tales we tell to One Another, and to our Selves, has been heavy on my Mind. Much of this, to be sure, was influenced by the Obsequies for Dr. Lorraine Stanfield, and the Throughline of Narrative that dominated that Service. Then, too, there are Stories being told, and telling Themselves, even now, as I write this.

For much of the last Year, I have been initiated into the Eastern Mysteries of Yogic Practice, and some of the more spiritual Dimensions of that Work have centered on Narrative, and on those Frames around Events that are central to human Experience. The experienced Yogi would tell you that these Stories are worse than useless, and are, indeed, a Distraction from our mindful Presence to those Occurrences. God, the Yogi would say, is not angry with you because you lost your Keys – you simply lost your Keys, which are, Themselves, a burdensome Abstraction, and One that you could dispense with profitably. Shed Attachment, especially Attachment to Narrative, and your Mind and Soul will clear.

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In contrast, a fair Percentage of my Rearing was conducted in the more lightly evangelical Branches of the American Protestant Christian Tree, the Sorts of Folks who will speak earnestly of God’s visible Work in the World, of God’s illimitable Call, and of Spiritual Forces which dominate this mortal Vale. For these, no Happenstance is to small to lack God’s guiding Hand. In its extremest Forms, this thinking yields Hurricanes and the Deaths of Soldiers as God’s smiting Wrath, and walks inevitably to that false Gospel (I have no Hesitation in claiming it as false, and no very little Qualm about the nominative “Gospel”) of Prosperity. The Wealthy are Rewarded and the Improvident are punished – could it ever be otherwise?

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I find it not at all surprising then, that when bad Things happen, we turn to these Tools to help us interpret our World. The Yogi says that our Narratives harm us; the Preacher says that God is their Author. One advises us to seek no Thread of Meaning; the other swears that God weaves a Tapestry with such Threads.

And when I scan the Æthernet in the Morning and find more of my countrymen Dead without Purpose, I cannot help but be dissatisfied with either Solution. If God is so terrible as to wrack a hapless Isle and move a Man to murder scores, then God deserves a fouler Name. If All is Naught and Naught is All and our Presence here is charmless Accident, the siren Song of Oblivion beckons us all, and Nothing is so sweet as to bind us here.

Some Months ago, a Friend was injured, just as another Comrade received a hideous Diagnosis. This, too, as Politics went Mad and Nations raged and Death stalked those near and dear to my Kindred. Once again, I stared at a World upheaving, and sought Sense in either closing my Eyes to Meaning, or closing my Eyes to Sense. My Compatriot, her Ankle splinted, reported to me the Comment of another Parishioner.

“If the Devil is trying to get us this bad, we must be doing Something right.”

I am not, in general, a Diabolist, but I was so much struck the good Sense of the Remark, and it has guided me. I refuse to countenance an Epic of God’s Punishment, and I will by no means relinquish the Precious Stories of my beloved Friends and Neighbors. To give up either is to surrender the Ship. But render unto me an Enemy – a hater of Life, and Love, and Light, and Hope, and Grace, no Human Tyrant but an Immortal Foe, and I will tell you a Tale that might open your Eyes…one that neither detaches nor rationalizes, but, instead, seeks to heal and transform. Mr. Enten of FiveThirtyEight quoted today the wise Rev. Rogers, who deserves more Upvotes than I can alone render:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

These are the ones with their Eyes opened – let those with Eyes to see and Ears to hear receive Understanding.

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Many wonderful Helpers can be found – some of my Favorites work with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

 

De Diebus (or When You Might Not Want to Schedule Your Wedding)

When Shall We Two Join in Train?

calendar72Of Course, dear Readers, I should never dare to dictate to you the Details of your Wedding. As many of the Internetizens whose Weblogues and Fora I have read suggest, the Wedding is the Affair of those Persons being married – a large Party for your Guests, your Family, and your Friends, but, centrally, for the two of You. As such, the ultimate Arbiters of all Matters are, indeed, You. Your various Vendors (Florist, Caterers, Photographers, Videographers, Dirigible Captains, and, of Course, your Servant) will inform you of what they can or cannot achieve, and you will balance your Employment based on their Requirements and Abilities.

However, if you wish to obtain for yourself the greatest Flexibility in your Vendors, and, most especially, your officiants, you will pay Heed to the proceeding Advice.

During Business Hours

I am by no means immune to the Arguments in Favor of the Friday Vespers Wedding, say five Hours after the Meridian. Venues, Vendors, and many other divers Expenses shall decrease. Time for Jollity and Merrymaking are maximised, and any Honeyed Moons commence at earlier Dates and Times. Surely, there are excellent Reasons to schedule at just such an Hour.

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I regret to inform you that I shall be too busy reading and knitting to attend.

As a personal Matter, however, I must admit that such Weddings are an automatic “Swipe Sinister” for me. I am not (currently) employed by the Church, and so my Labour is more fixed than once it was. Not only would I have some Difficulty attending such a Wedding broadly, but it would be nigh impossible for me to take off the Time required by such an Event.

As strongly as I word the Editorial above, I intensify it thusly – Weddings at Teatime on a Tuesday are incredibly discourteous to Guests, Family, and any Vendor unfortunate enough to not be able to serve at Weddings full time. How precisely a Couple might be available at such an Hour (understanding that Many in the present Œconomy are working at peculiar Shifts), I am not sure. Never the less, I am unavailable, and so, too, are many of my Colleagues.

I am not the only Officiant in the Sea, (see you what I did there?) but you will lose some Options with a Wedding during Business Hours.

Times of Spiritual Weight

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No, I shall not celebrate your Union with part of the Cross. Please depart immediately, or I shall summon the Beadle.

I speak here uniquely for the Christian Crowd, and for those whose “non-denominational” Solemnizers identify in that way. Any Priest, Pastor, Minister, or Elder worth their Incense will be unavailable for the Whole of Holy Week, and very likely the Week to follow. This is the greatest Celebration of the Faith, no matter the Altitude of your Church, and it shall not be missed. Thus, I should block out the three Weekends – Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday, and the First Sunday after Easter, and make it a Point to arrange your Nuptials on some other day.

By the same Token, I caution against Marriages during the Christian Seasons of Lent and Advent. These Seasons of Preparation and Prayer are best observed with a Cleric’s full Attention, and long Tradition in much of the West in Fact forbids such Celebrations at those Times. When Their Graces of Cambridge (“Will” and “Kate” I find obscenely on the Aethernet) were first engaged, many thought that the Wedding would take place in March. The cognoscenti, however, knew that the Bishops of the Church of England would by no Means permit such a Ceremony in Lententide. Indeed, that Royal Wedding waited for the more appropriate Easter Season, as well it should have done.

The same goes, I suppose, for those of the Jewish Faith and the High Holy Days in the Autumn (I find here extensive Lists of Days Recommended, not Recommended, and Forbidden), and, I find, there is Reason for Muslims to be thoughtful about Marriage during Ramadan. I find no obvious Guidance on Weddings in Hinduism or Buddhism, and would advise any such Adherents to consult their own spiritual Leaders on the Matter.

When It Is Wrong For You

Perhaps an over-broad Categorization, and yet…many in my Industry and the Digital Photographs of my Generation will be all too happy to tell you the precise Details of the Perfect Wedding. Glorious Sunsets, unbelievable Vistas, gorgeous Vestments, delectable Dishes ~ all are the Stock in Trade of my fellow Vendors. The Perfect Wedding, however, is the One in which you are marrying the Person whom you Love. If, for any Reason, you have Cause to doubt the Wisdom of such a Union, I urge you to postpone, to delay, or to cancel if you must. No Sum of Treasure, no Flights or Plans, no Dreams or familial Expectations can be worth the Devastation of being married to the Wrong Person (or the Right Person…at the Wrong Time).

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No one seems to think that this is a Good Idea

As well – this Wedding, as we have said again and again, is Yours! Make it thus! Have you always wished for a snow-bound Ceremony? Make it so! Does the Change of Leaves turn your Romantic Heart? Let your Life then be turned! Do not be Steam Locomotived into a summer Wedding because it is “The Thing That Is Done.” Do not be wed when it is wrong for you.