The Steampunk Vicar

A Presbyterian Pastor on Neo-Victoriana and American Faith

Tag: christianity

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.

yogini-tamil-nadu-900

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?

worship[1]

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.

ok_resident_by_jocelyn_augustino_fema

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

 

De Morte Magnorum, or On the Death of the Great

The List for the Year of our Lord MMXVI is tiresomely long. So long that I shall not endeavour to link to all the notable Deaths of this annum. CBS News has a depressingly long Show of Slides to fill that void. Some have, of course, hit me harder than Others. I was not a Devotee of Many of the Musicians or Personalities – a Few were integral to my Maturation. Linking to Articles confirming their Deaths is proving too sad for me to attempt. And, in addition to the Passings, there were some other Events.

I was asked, however, just now, whether I have a Need to grieve for All of this. I found within a surprising Answer, perhaps belied by my Unwillingness to read yet further Confirmation of this Year’s many noteworthy Departures. Even so, I say – I need not grieve these Passings – I must, instead, turn them to good Account. So many Voids are left in our Culture, our Politics, our Society, our Music, our Art. Indeed, we must mourn and weep and lament…and then we must busily engage ourselves upon filling those Gaps.

Even as I wrote, the Scripture came to me, a favorite Pericope of mine from the Second Book of the Kings, the Ninth Chapter, the Fourth through the Eighteenth Verses. Listen for God’s Word to you.

Again Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee: for the Lord hath sent me to Jericho. But he said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho.

And the children of the Prophets that were at Jericho, came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou, that the Lord will take thy master from thine head this day? And he said, Yea, I know it: hold ye your peace.

Moreover Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here: for the Lord hath sent me to Jordan. But he said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went both together.

And fifty men of the sons of the Prophets went and stood on the other side a far off, and they two stood by Jordan.

Then Elijah took his cloak, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, and they twain went over on the dry land.

Now when they were passed over, Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee before I be taken from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let thy Spirit be double upon me.

10 And he said, Thou hast asked an hard thing: yet if thou see me when I am taken from thee, thou shalt have it so: and if not, it shall not be.

11 And as they went walking and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and did separate them twain. So Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof: and he saw him no more: and he took his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.

13 He took up also the cloak of Elijah, that fell from him, and returned, and stood by the bank of Jordan.

14 After, he took the cloak of Elijah, that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? And so he also, after he had stricken the waters, so that they were divided this way and that way, went over, even Elisha.

15 And when the children of the Prophets, which were at Jericho, saw him on the other side, they said, The Spirit of Elijah doeth rest on Elisha: and they came to meet him, and fell to the ground before him,

16 And said unto him, Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men: let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master, if so be the Spirit of the Lord hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley. But he said, Ye shall not send.

17 Yet they were instant upon him, till he was ashamed: wherefore he said, Send. So they sent fifty men, which sought three days, but found him not.

18 Therefore they returned to him, (for he tarried at Jericho) and he said unto them, Did not I say unto you, Go not?

The Word of the Lord.

What, then, should we say, as we read these Words and consider the Dead among the Great and the Good of our World? I have grown weary of the quoted Lyric and the clever Photoshop. What instead shall we say of this Year, its Bounty of Death, and the Singers and Writers and Actors and Leaders who have breathed their last upon this Earth? Shall we go, like the Company of Prophets, and seek them out in the Mountains and the Valleys? Yes, we shall rend our clothes and weep. But what then? 

The Man of God, Inheritor of twice the Spirit of the One who came before, Luke Skywalker to the Obi-Wan Kenobi of Elijah, has here the right of it. He knew, as even the Company of Prophets knew, that his Master would be taken from him. He knew that he had the chance to claim the Inspiration of Elijah. And he knew that, once taken, his Master would be fone from his Side, forever.

Mourn and lament and weep we shall, but Fisher and Wilder will never again grace the Silver Screen. We shall never hear anew of Bowie’s Voice, or Cohen’s Words. We shall never see another Punch from Ali, or watch Glenn float among the Stars. The Wisdom and Leadership, whatever you may think of the Content, of Peres, Scalia, Castro, Boutros-Ghali, and Reno is gone from the Face of the Earth. We may seek on the Hilltops, but we shall not find them – we may search the low Places, but they are gone – they and so many more.

With what then, are we left…except that which they leave behind? Their Films, and Words, and Songs, and Deeds remain among us – and so do we. We are yet here, we yet endure, we who remember and were transformed. Transformed we were – and we bear the Responsibility of that Transformation.

Let Bowie and Michael remind us to judge not, and that our Brothers and Sisters remain more like us than different. Let Fisher and Wilder remind us of Wonder, and of Laughter, and of Strength. Let Peres, Scalia, Castro, Boutros-Ghali and Reno and many more remind us of Humility, and that we have work yet to do in our World to bring about Reconciliation. Let Glenn and Ali remind us of Courage, in the Face of the Adversity of the Children of Earth and the Dangers of the Frontiers. Let us be reminded of Grace and Curiousity and Music and Joy as we think on those we have lost.

For it is up to us, now. This year has drained the Bench of so much Talent and Thought and Experience and Peace, that we cannot help but shoulder the Burden. It lies on our Backs, now, the Duty to improve, and enlighten, and inspire, and lead. We cannot rely on our Forebears to do it for us, for they are now Dust. We yet live – and we yet have a World to serve.

This, then, is my Prayer – that having watched these honored Dead be taken up, we shall inherit a double Portion of their Spirit, and that we, too, shall have the Power to change a Mind, even as our Minds were changed.

Requiescat in pace, Sorores Fratresque. We shall carry on.

PS – I am full aware that I have left so many Names off of this Listing – Rickman and Glass especially weigh upon me. My Point yet stands, but feel not weary if I have missed your most impactful Death – there were, I fear, too many to include them all.

In caedem

I suppose that, after a Fashion, I might be considered a Faith Leader. Lacking a Community of which I stand in Leadership – excepting you, of course, dear Reader – I sometimes neglect the Fact. Nevertheless, I am a Teaching Elder of the American Church of Scotland, duly ordained by the Presbytery of Olympia on behalf of Christ’s Church. Thus it falls to me, unpulpited though I am, to speak in the Silence of the Unspeakable – to claim the digital Pulpit which is, I begin to suspect, my present Calling, and to use it in the Service of the One who ultimately called me.

Thus, today, I offer up an imperative Sermon to you, gentle Reader, to those persons of the Christian Faith to whom  I am privileged to preach. This Sermon is taken from the simplest, clearest, and most pointed Texts that I can locate.

First, from the Gospel according to St. Matthew, the Fifth Chapter, starting at the Fourty-Third Verse*:

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies: bless them that curse you: do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which hurt you, and persecute you,

45 That ye may be the children of your father that is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to arise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and unjust.

46 For if ye love them, which love you, what reward shall you have? Do not the Publicans even the same?

47 And if ye be friendly to your brethren only, what singular thing do ye? do not even the Publicans likewise?

48 Ye shall therefore be perfect, as your Father which is in heaven, is perfect.

And then, my central Text, from the Hebrew Bible, the Book of the Exodus, the Twentieth Chapter, the Thirteenth Verse. Listen for God’s Word to you.

13 Thou shalt not kill.

Let us pray.

God of heaven, add unto us Understanding of your Word and Will for us. Even as your Children mistake and trample your Word, guide us in the Way that you would have us go.

Amen.

Do not kill People.

I am stunned, as ever, that I must specify this to you, gentle Reader. Whenever once again I am forced to address Murder on a massive Scale, I feel that my Kindred and I in the Clergy have, somehow, signally failed to impart even the most basic, simple Commandments. Thus, in the Wake of the Mass Shooting in Orlando, Florida, with fourty-nine Persons dead, a further fifty-three injured, in the Wake of this depraved Act of domestic Terror, in the Wake of this wanton Assault on the Lives of Revelers in a Space of Safety for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Communities, many of whom were persons of Latino or Latina descent, in the Wake of Murder most foul, once again, I fear that we, as a Priesthood, as a Community, as a Nation, as a Church, as a World, must reconsider, once more, this Commandment of the God of Israel, and its Implications for our Behaviour – to wit:

Do not kill People.

Do not kill People because you dislike how they are dressed.

Do not kill People because you dislike how they looked at you.

Do not kill People if you disagree with their public Behavior.

Do not kill People for Money, or Possessions, or Glory, or Honor.

Do not kill People because you do not like the Grade or Performance Review that they gave you.

Do not kill People because they break up with you, or will not yield to your romantic Ministrations.

Do not kill People because you regard them as impure.

Do not kill People because you believe them to be irreverent.

Do not kill People because you see them as unjust.

Do not kill People because you think them insufficiently compassionate.

Do not kill People because you feel that they are disloyal.

Do not kill People because they are gay. Or lesbian. Or bisexual. Or transgender. Or queer. Or intersex. Or asexual. For all of these identities and more, do not kill people.

Do not kill People because their Skin Color differs from your own.

Do not kill People to try and start a War.

Do not kill People because they do not worship your God.

Do not kill People because they do worship your God, but incorrectly, you feel.

Do not kill People because they hate you.

Do not kill People because you hate them.

Do not kill People because they have committed, or intend to commit, a Crime. Do not feel absolved from this – if it is in your Power to resist the Commission of a Crime, by all Means you should do so. But do, I beg, try not to kill People in the Process.

If it is possible to avoid doing so, do not kill People who are trying to kill you. Likewise, if avoidable, do not kill People who are trying to kill other People.

Do not purchase Weapons, place them in your Car, and drive somewhere for the express Purpose of killing People. If you do the first three things, neglect, please, the fourth, and do not kill the People.

Just, simply, and I know this might be rather difficult…do not kill People.

 

I know that this will, for some of you, present a burdensome Commandment. “Ah!” I hear you cry, “But what if I really must kill this Person, or this enormous Group of People, for the following excellent Reason!”

“No,” I shall reply. “Do not kill People.”I shall then point to the Passage in the Scriptures that commands you not to kill. Then I shall point at the Words of Jesus, the ways in which He lifts up not hating our Enemies, but blessing and praying for them. I shall note that we are to be different – better – than the ones who harass and persecute us. We are to be more good than our Foes.

This necessitates not killing them.

In short, Brothers and Sisters, Children of God, Daughters and Sons, Kindred of one another, in all your Ways and Walkings, in all the Turnings Life yields unto you, to the very best of your Ability…

…do not kill People.

The Word of the Lord.

Amen.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+5&version=CEB
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+20&version=CEB

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.

woman-at-desk-with-knitting

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).

Victoria And Edward

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.

 

De Hospitibus

I rather cannot believe that I feel obliged to say this aloud. The Point seems so elemental, so obvious to me from where I stand, that I cannot envision any Person imagining I could have any other Perspective. Certainly, likewise, I have great Difficulty in interpreting the perspectives of others on this Issue. Still and all, I must speak, lest I should keep an unholy Silence on one of this Nation’s greatest Trials. Thus, say I:

I condemn the Words of Mr. Donald Trump of New York, and the Attitudes and Fears that lie behind them. I declare myself opposed to any Abridgement of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, notably the Establishment of Religion and the Right to Peaceable Assembly. I, as an ordained Teaching Elder of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, as a Christian living in this Nation, yea, even as a human Being, I refuse to bow to Terror and the political Pressures of Thugs and Murderers from Abroad or Domestically. As Pastor, Christian, and Man, I declare that I support and endorse my Muslim Sisters and Brothers, their Right to worship as they choose, their Right to live and work in this Country, yea, their Right to live.

In support of this Standpoint, considered almost not at all by myself before its Composition, I offer the following Verses of Scripture.

First, from the Exodus of Israel, the Twenty-second Chapter, the Twenty-first through the Twenty-third verses:

21 Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. 22 Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. 23 If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry;

And then, from the Gospel according to St. Matthew, the Twenty-fifth Chapter.

35 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:

Friends, this is the Gospel of our Lord. Not a Gospel of secured Borders and backgrounds Checked. Not a Gospel of watch Lists and Visas denied. Not a Gospel that says “No, not you.” The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ promises us no Safety, no Security, no Shelter, and no Succor. The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ promises us Christ alone…and eternal Life. And this promise it makes to Everyone, especially to Strangers, regardless Color or Nation.

And thus I say, to the estimable Mr. Trump – sir, you are wrong, and you do not speak for me. I speak for myself, when I say that I welcome Refugees, Immigrants, Muslims, and Persons of every Stripe and Kind to my Table. I so speak in the Name of Jesus the Christ, and I welcome these and more than these in His Name.

For my fearful Neighbors and Friends, I can say only this – if you believe on Jesus, then Anything you suffer in the Name of the Peace of Christ Jesus is a Martyrdom in His Witness. I should rather die a Victim of Terror than live a Victor because of it.

 

Post Scriptum

I considered linking to Mr. Trump’s Remarks, but shall choose instead to deny him further air Time. He must be taken seriously, as he currently leads the Polling for the Republican Party’s presidential Nomination. As with any communicable Illness, I shall choose hereafter to quarantine his Thinking, the better to prevent its Spread.

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.

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.