The Steampunk Vicar

A Presbyterian Pastor on Neo-Victoriana and American Faith

Tag: christ

Apologia, pt. 0 – Introduction to Apology

In a much bally-hooed and now discredited scientific Study, Researchers claimed to have discovered that brief Conversations had significant Impact in altering the Opinions of Participants with regard to Same Sex Marriage. In short, actually talking to People, personally, could, indeed, cause them to shift their Stances of the great Issues of the Day.

As noted above, this Paper was retracted for poor Data. It is a Difficulty for me, however, as there is Something about the Conclusion that speaks, deeply, to my Experience. Perhaps it is merely a Desire of mine and of those like me, perhaps an eternal Truth, but I feel it in my Bones, that Persuasion starts – and ends! – in Community with a Neighbour.

I worry, from Time to Time, that in the Echo-Chamber of the Aethernet, where it is laughably easy to expose oneself only to those with whom one agrees, that now, having so divided our Society, it will become only easier for no one to change their Mind. From there it is but a little Leap to believe that I, too, might begin to fear any Disruption of either my Facts or my Beliefs.

As I remarked to an Interlocutor recently, one who was also forged in the Fire of Knowledgebowl (or Academic Decathlon, or Quizbowl, select for yourself your Flavour), good Facts matter. I strive always to project a Humility in Disagreement over Facts, because I would ever rather learn good Facts. If I am mistaken, I desire Correction, for, in Knowledgebowl (and, I submit, in Life), the Path to Victory is paved with correct Information. Persons who become defensive when disproved only serve to shut down Dialogue, and deprive themselves of Victory by means of willful Ignorance.

Of Opinions and Beliefs however, having distinguished them from Facts, I aim for a Flexibility that acknowledges the Road I took to get to them. I believe a Thing now, and can tell you how I arrived at that Belief. Tomorrow I may be presented with new Data, may be forced to change my Mind, and will need the Cartograph of that new Route.

For any Belief to which I can currently Point, there was just such a Road – an Onramp or Origin which brought me to my present Site. There were Turns or Bends or Dips in the Way, and each of these brought be closer to the Waystation – and, I pray, to the Truth, distinguished as well from Opinion, Belief, or Fact, each one.

Combining these two Points – the Instinct declaring that in personal Discourse we have the greatest Chance to bring Others to our Way of thinking, and that each of my Beliefs has its own Highway, it occurred to me that many – perhaps most – of you do not know my Story, the Route that brought me to my current Encampment. I write this Series to give myself the Opportunity to Change your Mind, if even by the smallest Degree, in hearing where the Man you know Today came from. Whether your Acquaintance with me harks from Secondary School, or University, or Seminary, or beyond, or you know me only as “that mad Bloke what writes like a Gentry-Cove of merrye ol’ England on the ‘Net,” I hope that this Apology* will be fruitful for you. I feel sure that it will be for me.

 

* The word “apology” comes to us from the Greek apologia, a Word back, or in Reply. I use it here in both the Modern and the Classical Senses, for this Document will contain not only an Argument and Narrative, but also my sincere Regrets, Griefs, and Shames. At some Points it will, perforce, resemble a Confession – and an undirected Request for Forgiveness. For this, in Advance, I apologize.

De Armis Ignis

A Moment ago, I posted rather sarcastically on Twitter (I have no idea how to say Twitter in Latin, I wish that I did), but my Heart remains too filled with Rage to let the Bone from without my Teeth. Yet again, Personnel of the Armed Forces of the United States are dead at the Hands of a Shooter. I use that Word advisedly – perhaps this Man was not a Shooter until his Finger pulled the Trigger. Too much is not yet known about the Circumstances, the Story, the Truth.

My Regret for these dead Marines, however, is tempered by my persistent Fury that yet again I am forced to respond to a Shooting in the Land that I call Home. Yet again there are Dead on the ground, and my Congregation and I will grieve and rage and do Nothing. Yet again blood has been spilled, and I can see, as could these Writers, that there is a grim Inevitability to the Reporting and Debates that each of these “shocking” Atrocities brings forth. I am no longer shocked. I am now merely disgusted.

For these were Marines – the ever faithful Best of the Best, some of the most highly trained Soldiers this Nation has ever produced, and they were killed by a Man with a Gun. According to early Reporting, several Guns, in Fact. I am reminded yet again not only of the Shooting at Fort Bragg, but also of the Shooting of Four Police Officers in a Town where I used to go to the Mall to play on the Playground. These are Soldiers and Police Officers – trained to face the Horrors of War on Soil abroad, and Violence in our Communities. We prepare them for this – we pay them for this. But this Afternoon, these People are still dead.

There is much to be said about a Nation fighting a War on the far Side of the World against Peoples whose Crime is obscure, and whose only Recourse is attritional, guerilla Warfare both there and here – I shall, perhaps, write on that Topic another Time. Today, though…today all that I can say is not fitting for a Victorian Gentleman to write on the Aethernet, where anyone might read it.

For, my Friends, I am weary of Guns. I am tired to Death of them. I am exhausted by the persistent, paranoid Fantasy that we are faster, wiser, braver than our Neighbors who wish us Ill. That a “good Person armed with a Gun is the only Protection against a bad Person armed with a Gun.” Are we unprepared, in the Face of the Death of four Marines, to admit the Possibility that, perhaps, some Persons should not have Firearms? That, perhaps, some Persons have forfeited the Right to bear Arms, being unwilling to submit to the Laws of this Land? Are we unable to grant that, perhaps, we could all be made safer by a Decrease in our Capacity to kill one another?

I do not know if universal background Checks would have stopped this man. I don’t know what might have done. I do know, however, that I am sick unto Death of Guns. I can hope only that you, too, are prepared to Dispense with the Fantasy, and to dream of a bright Future when no one needs them any longer. Perhaps, when Christ returns in Glory, we can beat them all into something else.

Until that Day comes, please keep your Guns away from me.