Halloween – A Holiday Reflection

When I was young I imagined that Halloween was for children.

It was costumes and candy and imaginary play.

Halloween was an escape from reality, it was a chance to take a glance into another world, to pierce the veil of what is real and true.

We use to go block to block in our costumes, we called it Trick or Treating, we carried pillow cases slung over our shoulders, taking candies at nearly every door we knocked on, with nearly every bell we rang.

We scoffed at the people who only handed out little bibles or toothpaste, or some home-made fare, thinking they were doing something good.

We would rather have nothing at all than have those things, which quickly found their way into the trash.

I remember the drill of searching through our candy piles at the end of the night, looking for suspicious things, open packages, pins and needles and razor blades.

We understood that some people hated children and would slip these into the candies.

I never found anything dangerous, never once in all of those years.

Halloween is not all fun and games, though, it has a deeper meaning, than we were taught as children, a long history

Halloween is was not just about ghosts and goblins and friendly witches.

In the celebration of Halloween an ages old conflict is present, between the Christian Church, and the “Old Time Religion,” the customs of the pagans, paganus, pagani, the country folk and their persistent traditions lurking just beneath the surface of the Christian rites.

On the Christian Calendar; Halloween is All Hallows Eve, a celebration of the honored dead, of all the saints who had passed before, who have gone already to meet the maker.

For the old pagans; whose traditions are tightly interwoven with the church, Halloween is a celebration of the dead, plain and simple, of all of the dead, of the saints and sinners who have passed from this world together.

Halloween is an acknowledgment of the dead whose spirits live among us still; good and bad, honored or not; more often than not Halloween celebrates the dangerous, the macabre, the frightening and the weird, those qualities and characteristics that every person hides within themselves, because they are in fear of the world.

I was fourteen the last time I went Trick or Treating, and really, I was only chaperoning my younger brother, I was not dressed up, but I took some candy nonetheless.

In that same year I remember the Pastor at my church lamenting the popularity of the pagan festival. Believing that the Christian feast should be honored above it instead, or better yet, to the exclusion of anything else.

There was no fun in that, there was no fun in him. He was just an old man watching his tradition fade away, usurped by those of another generation, less committed to the Church.

In the years that followed, the number of children who go out in costumes seeking candy has declined by 25%, so the media outlets say.

Halloween is no longer considered safe or wholesome. It has yielded to the real dangers of the real world.

For me it is just another day, Halloween, I do not believe the dead walk with us. I have never seen a ghost, or any evidence of magic.

There are real horrors in the world, package bombers and angry middle-aged white guys with guns.

We have a pumpkin colored demagogue for a president, spreading fear, night and day at every turn.

We should all be thankful that we have the time to luxuriate in the fantastic and the surreal.

2019.10.31

Given 1st – 2016.10.31

Stage Fright

A brilliance of light, hot piercing needles, bright—he stands beneath them
Light and heat, the weight of it burns him, sets his Id on fire

Illusions burst, worms of confusion slither and hollow his belly
Amplified voice barely audible, echoes resounding

A pounding inside his head, bells peeling alarm, tinging with dismay
The shaking begins, the axe, a tangle of strings and chords

Plucked into order, the audience in agape, settle in their seats
Wait for the music, Dionysius, fraught expectations

He dreams of the tortoise, the desire of seclusion, seeking an escape
To be, and not to be, the enigma trapped between poles

Torn apart by fear, the strains of desire, discord as the pressure mounts
Flee for the dark of an anonymous pool, cool serenity

Emergence 4.0 – Part Six, The Empire; Chapter Forty-one, Tradition

Week 43, 2019
El became a living exemplar of the faith, a flesh and blood narrative of what the people of the Empire hoped for.

His story sustained them, like food for the hungry and water to the thirsty.

The stages of his life symbolized what the faith of every citizen held to be true, what they were led to believe through the teaching of the Imperial Cult, and in its way, because of the hope he represented, he also perfectly articulated the fears of the ruling class.

His early life demonstrated how a person and a family could be caste down and caste out. As he transitioned from plebian to criminal, to outcaste and ultimately a rebel.

The story of those transitions took on the quality of an epic myth, characterizing the decent that everyone feared might be waiting for them and those they loved, the expectant judgement awaiting them in the timeless place before rebirth, if they did not fulfill their duties faithfully.

Even in his decent he demonstrated qualities of virtue and integrity that were supposed to be redemptive. The narrative of his life, which virtually every citizen in the empire was familiar with, was in a constant state of editing, of simplification and refinement for the purposes of propaganda.

People on a million worlds followed him, put their hopes in him, believed that he was a child of the God’s, of the Continuum, a divine being sent to live among them, a hero to share their pain, to lead them out of the worlds of suffering and chaos.

He was a demi-god, myths regarding his origins circulated among the people, carefully crafted by the Imperial Cult, for maximum exposure.

El’s life story became a new vehicle of control and exploitation.

During his long life whole generations had been born, and died adoring him, they set him on a pedestal, ignorant of the danger that they were merely preparing him for a mighty fall.

El participated with full devotion in the great charade of temple life.

He never let on that he did not believe in the things he studied or the things he taught, after all, he was the subject and the beneficiary of the greatest miracle that had ever been engineered in the living memory of the Empire.

He had returned from the dead.

The perception of holiness mattered more than the reality, his safety and security depended on it, but more importantly the safety of the woman he loved depended on it.

Every affectation of pietas was a charade, pageantry, performance art and deception.

This did not bother him.

The most important thing to the hierarchy is what people believed about the priesthood.

The rituals were like veils, they obscured reality but they were also translucent. If you practiced mindfulness you could peer through them, remove each veil, one by one, while advancing in knowledge.

Image was everything; rhetoric not logic, not truth, rhetoric was the measure of the day.

The truth, if it was known, would only harm people, confuse them, or so the priestly cast believed.

It would tear the Empire apart, El was sure of that.

Given the powers belonging to the priesthood, it was a relatively easy task to deceive the masses.

The priesthood controlled the Imperial Schools, and more importantly the cultic rituals that governed every moment of the day to day lives of the citizens.

The controls the priesthood exercised were not taught as vehicles of deception, but as a guided rituals, intended to slowly bring people to a place of sanctity. They were preparation for the next life and the world to come.

Everything was theater.

El was a grand performer.

He had an intuitive sense for the fact that he was being watched at every moment, filmed, studied, reviewed.

He did not think about it, and yet it never left his awareness.

In the rituals of the priesthood every gesture was important.

The complex movements of the customs and rituals reenacted a narrative and reinforced a story that encompassed the history of the Empire and its million worlds.

The rites fostered a sense of belonging in the people.

It was an incredible drama, the story of every planet was told, of every class, every victory and every crushing defeat.

The rise and fall of worlds was recounted in the liturgical cycle.

The glory of the Imperial house and the part each person played in the construction of that story was told and retold, both to terrify and to instruct, to delight in and give hope.

The group participation in those rituals, led by the priests, sent waves rippling through the lives of the faithful, binding them as by the successive movement of concentric rings.

El played his part flawlessly.

He became the singular focus of every nearly every person in the Empire, whispers began to take shape that he would lead the people to a new way of life.

El did nothing to counter those narratives. He himself wanted to believe it was true.

The imperial system was held together by class, rank and ancestry.

Only the outcaste was free from it, and while they were free from the oppressive weight of the conforming belief systems, they were absolutely without rights, without representation in government or standing before the courts.

Nearly every citizen clung to their place in the hierarchichal order with vicious determination.
They knew they were constantly under watch, scrutinized from the moment they stepped out the door of their dorm, their home or apartment, they were under constant observation.

Most of them suspected, but few of them knew the extent to which their private lives were monitored.

There was no privacy.

There were few limits to what a person would risk, merely to advance a step or two in rank.

Inasmuch as every person was inextricably bound to the system of rank, they also longed for a release from it.

They were conditioned to see release only through advancement, by forward motion, through reincarnation, and countless lifetimes of struggle.

Even death was not seen as a release, merely a transition to a new mode of suffering.

That is what the cult taught them, to always look ahead, to see themselves as one day filling the role of village chief, of captain, of high priest, of abba; to hope that they could advance so far that they and theirs would ultimately occupy the highest place of all, to ascend the steps of the curial throne and be welcomed into the Continuum, to merge with the divine Collective, find peace, to ultimately become the god of their own private world.

The immediate goals for the ordinary citizen were advancement, to climb above their neighbor, to move beyond their current station.

The realization of hope was perpetually on the other side of a great divide, it was tantalizing, ephemeral and just beyond their grasp,

Everyone believed that freedom was waiting for them. Independence was just a few paces away, if only they could have a perfect day for themselves, or engineer the failure of someone close to them.

This system pitted every person against their neighbor, children against their parents, workers against their supervisors, soldiers against their generals, and acolytes against their masters.

It pitted world against world.

The secret desire of every person was to live autonomously, free from the responsibilities of their station, or the pressure of seeking esteem from their families, peers, and colleagues.

The heavens were imagined as worlds beyond time and space where each person became a god, ruling with absolute power over a creation of their own, as dark or as light as their imagination would allow it to be.

Autonomy was an illusion, private property, self-direction, they were all lies. There was not a single point in the chain of being where a person was ever free.

What differentiated one world from another, one caste from its subordinate, was only the type of work that consumed them, and the relative degrees of comfort or luxury attending to it.

In truth, everything and everyone was fully socialized and owned by the state.

The Empire was absolute, holding power over every living thing, over life itself, even the lives of an entire world could be sacrificed in a moment at the whim of the Emperor, or for the malign purposes of the Continuum.

It was possible for an individual to be at peace in the Empire, millions of citizens were. Theirs was the peace and comfort of the acquiescent.

Acquiescence masked itself as transcendence, passivity as mindfulness, unquestioning as understanding, silence as self-realization, and acceptance as actualization.

People were conditioned to obey, they found satisfaction in it.

To be at peace in the Empire a person merely had to accept the view that their happiness was an integral part of the whole. An individual did not have a right to their own immediate and personal sense of joy. They had to look beyond themselves, to the wholeness of their family, to the security of their village, to the prestige of their world and beyond.

This was referred to as the globalist perspective, and it was normative.

The sound perspective, what was most helpful was to look beyond their immediate conditions of their lives, to look to the next life, to a series of a thousand lives, to the long-slow turning off the wheel of life.

The immediate present could not be changed, only accepted and accounted for.

Individual happiness did not matter, what mattered was the happiness of the whole.

It was a trick.

Most of the population of the empire had been bred to accept this, with those liabilities reinforced by their education in the Imperial Schools and their worship in the Imperial cult.

The citizens understood the reality of the Empire, a million worlds, stretched across the galaxy, but the vast majority would never leave the world they were born on.

Interstellar, travel was mainly the province of the soldier and priest, with the exception of the outcastes, who were likely to be gathered up and sent off world to the serves in the mining fields scattered throughout the Empire. They were the expendable labor force and they were used as such.

Nevertheless, the people held an image of the Royal worlds in their minds, hoping one day to go there, or be reborn there.

It functioned in their consciousness like a beacon, a light to guide them…a false hope.

Every person desired to see their lives as meaningful. Even those citizens whose station in life was fixed in drudgery. This cognitive impulse, to ascribe meaning onto even the most ordinary and mundane activities was instinctual, a genetic imperative.

The mode by which the individual person shaped the narrative of their experience was simple, it involved the projection of everything they did outward toward the universal, reshaping the context of even the simplest and most routine tasks.

This was a categorical imperative.

The Imperial cult ensured that every vestige of the religious rites that the people engaged in, every movement, every word they uttered, conditioned them to believe that individual fulfillment came through the great chain of being, through a series of incarnations, and re-incarnations in which each person experienced life at every station, rising or falling in rank according to the merits by which they lived out each one of their lives.

The journey of the individual entity was depicted in the sacred text like the revolution of a galaxy, billions of stars turning around a massive gravity well, the fixed singularity of a black hole.

It was a cosmic dance.

Planets and stars, turning around the center, until one by one, each was consumed by it, drawn to the point of no return, merging with it, passing across the event horizon, becoming one with the singularity itself.

This example, drawn from nature, was especially poignant to the people.

The common end which it proclaimed, the final calculus of all existence spoke of equal justice for all.

The singularity was depicted not as the end in itself, but as the entry point to another state of being, a gateway to another dimension.

The Continuum was depicted as analogous to this fixed point in nature, and it was a black hole, the material end of all things and that of the soul’s journey, both located in the same terminus.
Emergence 4.0
Part Six, The Empire

Chapter Forty-one, Tradition

A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek

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A Homily – The Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 35:12-14, 16-19 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 33(34):2-3, 17-19, 23 ©
Second Reading – 2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18 ©
Alternative Acclamation – 2 Corinthians 5:19
The Gospel According to Luke 18:9 – 14 ©
Listen to words of the sage!

Listen and be joyful.

God creator of the universe, God is not respecter of persons, God respects neither the rich nor the poor.

There is no differentiation in God’s love; God loves all of God’s children equally.

God listens to all prayers, ignoring none of them, but God will not come to your aid, not while you live on Earth; do not wait in the expectation of it.

God’s deliverance comes after the body perishes, when you are delivered to the new world, to a place beyond time and space.

Be humble, serve your brothers and sisters as you would wish that God serves you, be the hand of God in this world, showing love and mercy and kindness.

Be mindful!

If you intend to seek God; look only in your heart. You will find God in loving, and in loving you will be blessed.

Praise God through works of love.

Look for no other glory than service.

God is great because God cares.

God has no name, therefore exalt God’s loving work in creation.

Listen to your neighbors, rescue them from fear, God’s light will shine through you, through the hope you kindle and the love you share.

Remember, with God there is no shame.

God is no respecter of station, class or wealth. God loves everyone the same.

Do not look for God to save you from your troubles. We are all Job, in a way. Have faith and you come to understand how transient your troubles are, and the temporality of pain.

There is no rescue in this world unless it comes from your neighbor.

All pain is temporary, but love lasts forever.

Do not fear.

Speak the truth.

Avoid evil.

Do good.

This is the wisdom of the psalmist, God see all, hears all, knows all; God knows even your innermost thoughts, your deepest secrets, desires and hidden motivations.

Keep your mind in the present and do not focus on the good things that may or may not come.

God loves us always, but it is only in the present that we feel it.

Listen only to those who teach hope…ignore the fear-mongers.

This is the way to peace.

Listen!

God will rescue you, whether you are pure and without flaw, or dirty and soiled with corruption.

God will rescue you though you do not deserve it.

God will come to your side and deliver you, God will place a crown on your head, but it is not for the righteousness you have earned, it is because God has claimed you for God’s own.

It is not a crown of glory earned through righteous perseverance, it is a token of God’s love.

Do not shun it.

Do not devalue it.

Do not think less of it when you see those who persecuted you and those who abandoned you receive the same blessing, when those who did not listen to you, when those who ignored you are present with you on the same pilgrimage to the divine.

Consider this:

The apostle tells us in the simplest of terms; the mission of the church is to announce the reconciliation of the divine.

Everyone is reconciled in the loving embrace of God, of God who created the universe.

The members of the church are meant to be ambassadors of this good news.

The church is not, nor should it ever be a recruiting agency, with the purpose of signing up members, for whom the reward is reconciliation.

Know this!

The reconciliation has already occurred, it occurred in Christ at the beginning of time.

It is the mission of the church to proclaim it.

Consider the Gospel of the Day:

Do not be mistaken; both of people are beloved by God.

God, the creator of the universe; God loves all people, without qualification. God gives to all people without preference.

In the person of the Pharisee and in the person of the tax collector; there is good and there is evil; both. This is true of everyone. It is true of you, and it is true of me, but God loves us despite our faults and failings.

The Pharisee was born into the life of a Pharisee, was given the means to live the life he lived. He had some say in how he would handle his inheritance; as we all do, whatever that inheritance might be.

This is not to excuse the Pharisee’s miserly behavior; this is simple to state our understanding of human nature, and the way things are.

Do not be surprised by it.

We are each of free to be prideful, or humble regardless of what we do or do not have.

All of us are in different ways both.

A person who manifests an ugly sense of pride in relation to one aspect of their life, may be loving and humble in another. Do not believe that because you see one side of a person, you have seen everything about them.

The tax collector also inherited his circumstances; perhaps making choices along the way to establish himself in the role he occupied, nevertheless, like all people, his role in his community was partly determined by free will and partly determined by the exigencies of his community life.

A person may have an occupation where they know they are doing harm to others, but cannot walk away from it, because of unseen obligations; responsibilities to family, to friends, to community. The fact that they are engaged in a sinful occupation does not tell us the whole story of who they are. They may be fierce and aggressive in the pursuit of their duties, and yet come to their prayers with humility and contrition.

Be welcoming to all who come to you. Do not judge them based on the outward expression of their piety, their occupation or their place in society.

We are all of us a mix of good and bad intentions.
First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 35:12-14, 16-19 ©

The Humble Man’s Prayer Pierces the Clouds

The Lord is a judge who is no respecter of personages.

He shows no respect of personages to the detriment of a poor man, he listens to the plea of the injured party.

He does not ignore the orphan’s supplication, nor the widow’s as she pours out her story.

The man who with his whole heart serves God will be accepted, his petitions will carry to the clouds.

The humble man’s prayer pierces the clouds, until it arrives he is inconsolable, and the Lord will not be slow, nor will he be dilatory on their behalf.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 33(34):2-3, 17-19, 23 ©

The poor man called; the Lord has heard him.

I will bless the Lord at all times,
his praise always on my lips;
in the Lord my soul shall make its boast.
The humble shall hear and be glad.

The poor man called; the Lord has heard him.

The Lord turns his face against the wicked
to destroy their remembrance from the earth.
The just call and the Lord hears
and rescues them in all their distress.

The poor man called; the Lord has heard him.

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted;
those whose spirit is crushed he will save.
The Lord ransoms the souls of his servants.
Those who hide in him shall not be condemned.

The poor man called; the Lord has heard him.
Second Reading – 2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18 ©

All there is to Come Now is the Crown of Righteousness Reserved for Me

My life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone. I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that Day; and not only to me but to all those who have longed for his Appearing.

The first time I had to present my defence, there was not a single witness to support me. Every one of them deserted me – may they not be held accountable for it. But the Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear; and so I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from all evil attempts on me, and bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 11:25

Alleluia, alleluia!

Blessed are you, Father,
Lord of heaven and earth,
for revealing the mysteries of the kingdom
to mere children.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation – 2 Corinthians 5:19

Alleluia, alleluia!

God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself,
and he has entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Luke 18:9 – 14 ©

The Tax Collector, Not the Pharisee, Went Home Justified.

Jesus spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves on being virtuous and despised everyone else: ‘Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood there and said this prayer to himself, “I thank you, God, that I am not grasping, unjust, adulterous like the rest of mankind, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get.” The tax collector stood some distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” This man, I tell you, went home again at rights with God; the other did not. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the man who humbles himself will be exalted.’
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Humiliation – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
10.26.2019

Humiliation
Another week and another humiliation perpetrated on the United States by the Fake President, Donald J. Trump.

This week he declared victory again in Syria, even while the defense department explained to us that United States troops would not be leaving Syria after all.

It is humiliating, not because we are being lies to, but because we are being asked to accept the lies which the orange menace spews for the sole purpose of placating his fragile ego.

He declared victory over The Islamic State, even while we are being told that one hundred or more ISIS fighters have escaped from the prisons they were being held in by our former allies, the Syrian Kurds. At the same time we have also been told that Turkey is using irregular troops, mercenary units comprised of former ISIS and Al Qaeda fighters to engage in the pogrom of ethnic cleansing against our Kurdish allies.

T-Rump blithely told the Kurds that they should leave their towns and cities, places where they have lived for centuries, he said that they should give up their homes, abandon them to the Turks, and move south in to the desert where we will protect them if they protect some scanty-little oil fields T-Rump mistakenly believes are of strategic interest to us.

It is humiliating for this pretender to the presidency to foist these irrational choices on a people who have given –up over ten thousand men, lost in battle, supporting our cause against ISIS.

T-Rump suggests that we should not actually care about them or their sacrifice because “they are not all good people.”

Well nobody is “all good.”

Pity us, we have bad actors in the White House, the chief of which is the Fake President, we have bad actors in congress, all of those Senators and Representatives who get up on the microphone every day and lie to the American people in order to curry favor with that wannabe tyrant.

It is humiliating that our government can be so low…

Emergence 4.0 – Part Six, The Empire; Chapter Forty, Faith

Week 42, 2019
El was born into a family of plebians, free citizens, but in reality they were servants of the Empire, as every citizen was, he was born in full-bondage to the Continuum.

They relied on the Continuum for everything, down to their food and water; every grain, every drop, every fiber of protein.

El seemed to be an ordinary person, one among trillions whose lives were nothing special, not of note, they worked, went to school, worshipped and raised families.

He was a natural born empath, a capacity that had been engineered into his genetic line covertly by Jim’s agents that were spread throughout the Empire, and he was the first in his line to manifest the ability.

El was a mutant, but his mutation was so subtle that it went unregistered. Until the Continuum discovered it when it examined his genetic profile in advance of his planned resurrection.

El could not tolerate injustice.

He felt the suffering of everyone around him, it hung on his neck like a stone.

He wanted nothing more than to give hope to the hopeless and to free the despairing from despair.

Even as a child El found ways to rebel, to question the teachings of the Imperial Cult, the indoctrination of the Imperial Schools, the entire structure of the social order.

As an adult, he took up arms against the Empire, he fought the enemy wherever he could.

He became an outcast, a criminal. His entire family was destroyed, and for his gallantry the Continuum made him a star.

Then he was co-opted by it, executed and returned to life.

It was a miracle for the masses.

When he returned to life he entered service as a bureaucrat, he served as a soldier, and finally as a priest.

He made his vows, and he entered the holy orders.

Of all the transitions he had made in his long sojourn, this was the first one that he questioned.

It did not feel natural or honest, the priestly class lived in a state of being that he never imagined when he was a child, where he and his family lived lives of dismal-drudgery, as his family had done for countless generations, without any sense of safety or security.

Even the lowest order of priestly professions, in the lowest ranking priestly houses, lived exalted lives. The technologies available to them were like magic.

Nevertheless, he had a duty to perform.

He ignored his reservations, and he immersed himself in the priesthood

He studied, He absorbed the dogmas.

He memorized everything, which was not difficult for him.

His knowledge expanded, exponentially. The history of the Empire was exposed through the holy texts, as much of the real history as was possible.

He absorbed all of the sacred tracts, all the way back to the first contact that the Empire had with the Continuum.

It fascinated him, and it struck him cold.

The Continuum appeared to be less than divine, and more like an alien civilization.

The entire Empire was enslaved to it, sending vast tributes in minerals and technology to the Central System, which he learned was the physical location of the Continuum.

It brought him back to the sentiments he had as a youth, in the rebellion.

The people thought of the planets of the Central System as the heavenly worlds, but they were not, they had a location in time and space.

Deep feelings were stirring inside him. Feelings he had not experienced since he had been resurrected.

He became aware of the reality of the Collective, as a force of consciousness behind the Continuum, and that truth set him free.

In his heart he was always a rebel.

He took all of the rituals seriously, as he did everything during his career. Though he often felt as he was performing them, another present alongside his, hiding in the ganglia of his consciousness, something predatory.

El carried out the rituals perfectly even though his studies revealed that the rites were merely tools of control and division.

He fulfilled them with grace and a studied presence that gave no indication of the fact that he knew the rituals and rites were empty gestures, and meaningless incantations.

The comfort that he had with his body, developed through his long years of martial discipline, gave his performances a nuance that his peers were unable to match.

Once again he stood out from those around him, not only because of the attention that was focused on him, but for what he brought to each moment.

While El no longer believed in the mysteries as they had been taught to him, he understood that the cohesion of the Empire, the peace of a million worlds, there sense of belonging to a greater whole, relied on them for everything.

While the imperial families, the royal powers, the priestly caste and the war machine cared nothing at all for justice, intrinsically viewing any person below them in rank as a thing to be used, a device or a tool; justice, if it was to be had, had to be distributed from the top.

He performed the rites with that in mind. He bound people to the commitments expressed in them in ways that had never been seen before.

When members of the Imperial family came to the table, drawn by his fame, he extracted promises from them in the sacred space, which they could not then refuse fulfill.

In the place where his life was most regimented, he found the freedom to return to his old self.

Like every other strata of Imperial society, the priestly caste was organized according to rank. The major divisions in the priestly caste were between the ruling houses and the minor officiants, between the parish priests and the holy orders.

This differentiation was not unlike the differentiation between managers and staff in the bureaucracy, or between the rank and file and the command in the military.

The unseen difference, a difference unknown outside the select circle, was the society of Observers, those members of the Continuum who had opted to live out a period of their lives in time and space, observing the day to day realities of the Empire, on behalf of the Collective and its Continuum.

The Observers were scattered throughout the Empire, holding posts in every strata of society, most Observers preferred to carry out their mission from the vantage of the priestly caste and from the comfort of the royal houses. Nothing was hidden from them, because they knew the full truth concerning the origins of the Empire, of the Continuum, of its promises and its lies.

Many of the Observers were eager to interact with the hero/priest the guardian of the faithful, they wanted to be part of the great narrative that had gripped the imagination of the Collective. It was a great sense of esteem for them.

He was indoctrinated into the deepest mysteries of the Imperium. The Observers shared things with him that were forbidden.

He discovered the mechanism of salvation, the translation of consciousness into the quantum field of the HomeWorld, which brought membership in the Collective and eternal life in the Continuum.

He learned that the Imperial rites meant nothing, they were based on lies, merely minor dramas perpetuated as a means of controlling the people; controlling them through hope, and fear, through love and hate, the most powerful emotions which were the only meaningful controls, they were controls which never failed, controls that surpassed even thirst and hunger and pain.

His life was filled with contradictions, he had never before been so conflicted, or filled with doubt.

He spent his days promoting the beliefs and traditions and the rituals of the Imperial Cult. He was the most eloquent spokesperson the masses had ever witnessed.

He reached them, and they loved it for him.

He spoke with power and confidence, elegantly articulating the complex narratives that glued the Imperial society together, while at the same time providing the rationale and justification for each citizen to remain in their caste, in their class, in their state of bondage.

He was a living exemplar of the faith, perfectly demonstrating to every citizen, even to the outcast, the possibility of elevating themselves from their station, through fidelity, duty, and adherence to the law.

He taught as he had been instructed to teach, that this was the path to transcendence.

He knew it for a lie, there was no transcendence.

El learned that the promises concerning reincarnation and the Continuum, all of those promises that had been made to the people were built on lies, the most pernicious kind of lies, a vast complex of falsehoods, predicated on the narrowest sliver of truth.

He did his duty.

He perpetuated the lies anyway.

The powers that held him in check did not do so with the threat of coercion. Everyone he had ever known or loved while he was an ordinary man, they were long since dead and buried.

His family had been erased.

They did not have that leverage over him.

They held him in check with the power of love, the promise of fulfilling his desires, the mystery of beauty and the touch of a woman.

He learned to differentiate between the articles of faith he was expected to promote, to present as his own belief in the orthodoxy of the Imperial Cult, and the convictions he held in heart, the things he knew were true.

He dreamt of waging war against the gods.

He exercised the greatest care concerning the manner in which he expressed himself. There was no privacy, he knew that he was under observation at all times, even in the inner most sanctum of his private dwelling.

El felt as if his own thoughts were being monitored, by a hidden presence within him.

He held enormous power.

A casual comment from him could change the fate of a planet.

What he held in his heart, was never the same thing as what he could give voice to.

His survival, and the lives of billions upon billions of people depended on him playing the script as true to the expectations of him as possible.

The higher he ascended into the mysteries, the more he felt he was shackled by the dogmas and traditions of the Imperial Cult, by its creeds and doctrines, its laws and cannons.

It was a prison of the mind, a prison without walls.

His circumstances were unique.

None of his peers experienced the same things, little was expected of them, they were merely functionaries, men and women fulfilling roles like cast members in a play.

They were a colloquy of extras.

El, on the other hand, had a following.

It was unprecedented, he had no experience of this, and neither did the magisterium.

The Collective was fascinated by the control he exercised, the care he gave. They followed him closely and obsessed on the successive waves of consequences that flowed from his most casual utterances.

The Observer Core was tasked with manipulating his life and circumstances daily.

El found that there are no words available in any language to articulate universal truth regarding the infinite, and eternal.

Every attempt to do so was manipulative and false, while at the same time he could affirm that not every manipulation of religious doctrine was malicious, and not every articulation of universal truth, no matter how errant is an intentional prevarication.

Most people believed in the errors that they promulgated, making them innocent of wrongdoing, even though they were in error.

They believed what they had been taught to belive.

Even most bad actors are innocent, because they believe in their heart that the erroneous doctrines they promulgate serve some greater good, they believe in the mission they carry out, in the Imperial Cult, in the Great Chain of Being which are the foundation of orthodoxy.

They believed in what the Continuum promised, while confessing that the mechanics of it; the how and the where and the why of it remained a mystery to them, a matter forever situated beyond them in a great cloud of unknowing.

The religion of the Empire was a web of lies, coercions and control mechanisms, lies that had been perfected over millions of years, lies that held the people together.

It required a breakthrough in cognitive thinking to shatter the controls that governed the thoughts of the ordinary citizens, very few people could endure the strain.

It drove them mad.

Of all the castes, it was only the priestly caste that even attempted to prepare people for such a watershed in consciousness.

The Continuum delighted in the observation of every failure, through those failures it learned even greater controls.

El studied and meditated and pushed the discipline of his mind and body, he embraced the cloud of unknowing, pulling it into himself, and he passed through the crucible with ease.

From his childhood he learned to reject imperial conditioning.

He was always a rebel at heart.
Emergence 4.0
Part Six, The Empire

Chapter Forty, Faith

A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek

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A Homily – The Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

First Reading – Exodus 17:8-13 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 120(121) ©
Second Reading – 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Ephesians 1:17, 18
Alternative Acclamation – Hebrews 4:12
The Gospel According to Luke 18:1 – 8 ©
Listen, and be mindful, all you people of the way.

God, the creator of the universe, God is not a miracle worker. God does not intervene in human events. God did not speak to Moses (Moses did not even exist), God did not cause water to flow from a rock in Horeb. God did not lead the people in the desert. God is not a warrior, God does not grant victory in battle. God does not favor one nation over another, or one tribe or one man. There is no such thing as magic. Moses had no special powers, there were no powers imbued in the object he called the staff of the Lord. God did not give Joshua the victory over Amalek.

Listen!

God had nothing to do with any of these events. None of these events even happened.

This myth does a disservice to the teaching of Jesus; Jesus of Nazareth who taught us to pray for those who persecute you, to love you enemy, and to care for the stranger.

Pay close attention to what is written in the sacred text. It is instructive even in its errors.

The Psalmist here is wrong.

God will not intervene in this world, either to help you or to hurt you. God has made us free; our life in this world is free from God’s coercion.

God will not guard you while you live this life.

God will not help you or hinder you in any way.

God has made us all subject to chance, of random events and the intentions of people who or may not wish us well; who may or may not wish us harm, who may or may not know us at all or ever considered us in the choices they made.

Follow the will of God, the voice of God that speaking in your heart. Be at peace, known that our story here on earth is no the end of our story. There is refuge waiting beyond this world.

There is a final refuge in God, a place where ww will see God face to face and where God will take direct action in our healing.

Consider the world of the epistle.

The basic premise of this teaching may be true:

That the person who is dedicated to God is fully equipped and ready for any good work.

Of course it begs the question; what God? Who’s God are you dedicated to?

We are all sinners, we all live in error, even those closest to Jesus failed to understand his mission, sold him to the Roman’s rejected him and denied him.

It would be unwise for us to suppose that we can do better.

Dedication is not enough, your fervent love for God, for the Church, for the sacred text is not enough; it is can never be enough if your understanding of those things, and if your understanding of God is in error.

All of us live in error.

Be mindful of the things you say and do in the name of God. Serve the spirit of truth with the spirit of love, be humble and merciful in the name of justice.

This is the way Jesus taught us.

Remember his life of Jesus and what he taught us of God; whom he called Abba.

Is God glorious?

God is the creator of the universe, and the creator perceives the most exalted state as being in relationship to us; of caring for us as a parent would..

God desires that all of us come to this knowledge and live in its light.

There is hope in the knowledge of God, and remember: the hopes you have for yourself and those you love are meant to be extended to everyone; even those you do not love, for that is the way.

If you think that God has promised riches and glories as a reward for the saints; remember that the first will be last and the last will be first, and that riches are not counted in gold and silver and precious things.

The divine riches are counted as love and friendship and the opportunity for service.

Be mindful!

The real presence of God is with you. God knows you, even as you know yourself.

You dwell with the God, and God dwells with you, there is no distance between us.

Endeavor to persevere.

Do not lose heart, or hope; trust in the goodness of your actions, even if they do not bear fruit; what is good is never wasted.

Justice may come from people who have no interest in it. Nevertheless, a just result is a just result.

Do not wait for justice but strive for it. Persistence is its own reward.

Do not wait for God to deliver you from your troubles here on earth; be patient, in keeping with the way of Jesus, seek justice through mercy, through love and kindness.

This may not change your circumstances, but it will change you. You will find salvation therein.
First Reading – Exodus 17:8-13 ©

As Long as Moses Kept His Arm Raised, Israel had the Advantage

The Amalekites came and attacked Israel at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, ‘Pick out men for yourself, and tomorrow morning march out to engage Amalek. I, meanwhile, will stand on the hilltop, the staff of God in my hand.’ Joshua did as Moses told him and marched out to engage Amalek, while Moses and Aaron and Hur went up to the top of the hill. As long as Moses kept his arms raised, Israel had the advantage; when he let his arms fall, the advantage went to Amalek. But Moses’ arms grew heavy, so they took a stone and put it under him and on this he sat, Aaron and Hur supporting his arms, one on one side, one on the other; and his arms remained firm till sunset. With the edge of the sword Joshua cut down Amalek and his people.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 120(121) ©

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains;
from where shall come my help?
My help shall come from the Lord
who made heaven and earth.

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

May he never allow you to stumble!
Let him sleep not, your guard.
No, he sleeps not nor slumbers,
Israel’s guard.

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

The Lord is your guard and your shade;
at your right side he stands.
By day the sun shall not smite you
nor the moon in the night.

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

The Lord will guard you from evil,
he will guard your soul.
The Lord will guard your going and coming
both now and for ever.

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
Second Reading – 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2 ©

The Man who is Dedicated to God Becomes Fully Equipped and Ready for Any Good Work

You must keep to what you have been taught and know to be true; remember who your teachers were, and how, ever since you were a child, you have known the holy scriptures – from these you can learn the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and can profitably be used for teaching, for refuting error, for guiding people’s lives and teaching them to be holy. This is how the man who is dedicated to God becomes fully equipped and ready for any good work.

Before God and before Christ Jesus who is to be judge of the living and the dead, I put this duty to you, in the name of his Appearing and of his kingdom: proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it. Refute falsehood, correct error, call to obedience – but do all with patience and with the intention of teaching.
Gospel Acclamation – Ephesians 1:17, 18

Alleluia, alleluia!

May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
enlighten the eyes of our mind,
so that we can see what hope his call holds for us.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation – Hebrews 4:12

Alleluia, alleluia!

The word of God is something alive and active:
it can judge secret emotions and thoughts.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Luke 18:1 – 8 ©

The Parable of the Unjust Judge

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. ‘There was a judge in a certain town’ he said ‘who had neither fear of God nor respect for man. In the same town there was a widow who kept on coming to him and saying, “I want justice from you against my enemy!” For a long time he refused, but at last he said to himself, “Maybe I have neither fear of God nor respect for man, but since she keeps pestering me I must give this widow her just rights, or she will persist in coming and worry me to death.”’

And the Lord said ‘You notice what the unjust judge has to say? Now will not God see justice done to his chosen who cry to him day and night even when he delays to help them? I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?’
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

The Joker – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
10.19.2019

The Joker
I saw the film The Joker this week.

I went with a couple of friends and saw it in a nice movie theatre with comfortable seats.

We went for the 5:30 showing on a weekday and the theatre was practically empty, but the movie by Todd Phillips, starring Joaquim Phoenix had been in command of the box office for the past couple of weeks.

I had been excited to see this film ever since I saw the first preview, and that desire had been amplified by the great reviews it had received.

I was utterly disappointed.

Before I get into why the movie was disappointing let me just say that Joaquim Phoenix’s performance was great, and the movie was beautifully filmed…nevertheless, it was not worth the price of admission.

The star’s performance and the art direction end up being meaningless when the story does not present us with a meaningful narrative.

The Joker was in its essence a bio-pic. It presented us with a narrative of the early life of one of the most iconic villains ever written about; a sociopathic, mass-murdering nihilist and merely presented the touchstones of how he went from A – B.

There was nothing at stake in the movie, there was nothing at risk, there was no conflict there was just the story of man slowly losing his mind and devolving into madness, while making the determination at various points along his journey that he was okay with it, though he did not struggle to become okay with it, he merely was.

The story took some risks insofar as it introduced elements to the Joker’s, biography that shake-up the common understanding of Bruce Wayne’s (a.k.a. The Batman) parentage, suggesting that the Joker could be his biological brother, while simultaneously obscuring our ability to be certain about that because that particular piece of his story could also be the function of his mother’s own delusions.

In writing this possibility into the Joker’s narrative it opens the viewer to the speculation that Thomas Wayne was not the noble philanthropist we had been led to believe in. He may have been merely one more billionaire business mogul who slept with his employees, fathered a child by one, and who might have gone to extravagant ends to cover up the “illegitimate” birth.

Furthermore, it suggests the possibility that this cover-up is the very thing that drives the Joker’s biological mother too madness, deprives her of a meaningful livelihood, exposes her to the dangers of Gotham City, bringing abusive men into her life who beat and neglected both her and her child. It suggests that one of these beatings that the Joker suffered as a child caused the organic brain damage that led to his own permanent state of psychosis (and other derangements).

These narrative elements establish material conditions for the Joker’s collapse into madness, and so they are significant, but the film does not treat these details at length, and they ultimately make up a small part of the story.

It was a disappointing film.

We are presented a picture of the Joker which suggests that he was either born with a hereditary madness, or inflicted with an organic disability at a very early age, which subsequently determined the course of his life, an argument that he was born bad and corrupt by nature.

The film also presents us with the narrative that his natural condition was manageable, able to be managed for a time by medical intervention, but when the city stopped funding social services, and his medication was no longer accessible to him he spiraled out of control, suggesting that a more nurturing environment could have saved him.

The entire narrative suggests that some human beings are corrupt by nature, that society has an obligation to intervene on their behalf, and it fails to do so, then it will get what it deserves, a murderous incarnation of its own self-loathing.

The film presented the Joker as the archetype of this sociopathic nihilism writ large, but it also suggests that the average men and women of Gotham share these same traits writ small, as in the final scenes when inspired by the Joker’s murderous rampage the city proceeds to riot en masse, not do to the experience of a particular act of injustice, but because they were inspired by the Joker’s spate of killings.

The Joker was a wasted opportunity, a great production, with beautiful artistic sense wasted on a week narrative.

Cloister

Safe in the cloister
Safe within cold walls, withdrawn
The world melt away

A yearnings beckons
The slow impulse of desire
Confused and abstract

Fusing and diffusing
A failure of discernment
Wandering Errant

Psychedelia
Psychology of the cave
Elusive shadows

Nobody cares for
Coffee hose philosophies
Issued without risk

Listen to the sage
The nomad from the desert
The Israelite wrote

It is meaningless
Meaningless, everything is
Empty, every word