Monday, August 15, 2016

Monday Morning Sleeplessness: A Christian Ramble

     I can only hope that my Gentle Readers had as refreshing a weekend as I did. Unfortunately, the conclusion of that refreshing weekend was a sleepless night. Well, what’s a rose without its thorns, anyway?

     My sleepless nights are filled with thoughts, sometimes thoughts so bizarre that no amount of coffee will enable me to make sense of them. In that regard, they’re remarkably like recent Supreme Court decisions. However, unlike SCOTUS’s recent emissions, now and then one will strike me as a good hook for a story...if I can just remember it when I next set fingers to keyboard.

     Time was, I kept a small notebook and a pen on my nightstand, in the hope of capturing such thoughts for later employment. The idea seemed sensible in theory, but in practice, my hopes were rather crudely dashed. Only once did I use that pen and notebook, and when I consulted it the morning after to see what gem of insight the night had granted me, I found: “This room is too BLEEP!ing hot.”

     I couldn’t figure out how to wrap a story around that. Surprised?

     Today, August 15, is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, one of the Catholic calendar’s six holy days of obligation. For those who are curious, the others are:

  • January 1: The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (originally the Feast of the Circumcision)
  • Ascension Thursday (40 days after Easter Sunday): when Christ ascended bodily to heaven
  • November 1: All Saints’ Day
  • December 8: The Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin
  • December 25: The Feast of the Nativity (more commonly, Christmas)

     That three of our six major feast days are in honor of Mary, the Mother of God, disturbs a lot of non-Catholic Christians. There’s a lot of sniping, particularly from Baptists, about how we “really worship” the mother rather than the Son. This is absolutely false. We venerate Mary as the highest of the saints: one with a special privilege of Intercession on behalf of those suppliants she deems worthy of extra attention from her Son. Nevertheless, she is human and not divine, deemed queen of heaven because of the exceptional grace, patience, and fortitude that qualified her to become the mother of Jesus.

     There’s never been a time when Christians should denigrate or disparage other Christians, whatever our doctrinal or liturgical differences. Certainly now is not such a time.

     Among Christian fiction writers, I’m considered rather off-axis, by virtue of my willingness to entertain really odd ideas. The Realm of Essences series was founded on an unusual idea about an alternate track in the scheme of Creation. The Spooner Federation saga, seemingly about a planetary Overmind and its relevance to human survival, was really about the importance of ultimate sacrifice. And of course, there aren’t many Christian fictioneers who’d ever admit to writing this, or this, or this.

     Yet I felt it imperative, in each of the cases above, to seize upon the seemingly – and I must emphasize this point: only “seemingly”– “unChristian” idea and explore it within the matrix of Christian moral/ethical thought. The reason is simple:

The Christian message is universal.

     If the possibilities I entertained in the above-cited stories were realized, Christian thought would apply to them quite as much as to any of the “normal” ideas other writers explore. Sentient creatures are all governed by Christ’s New Covenant. Their corporeal form, their specific attributes (beyond volition), and their relations to the rest of Creation would not exclude them from it. Otherwise, it would be thinkable that sentient non-humans might be morally allowed to murder; to steal; to break solemn vows; to give false witness; and so on. The idea is inherently repugnant.

     Just now I’m working on a story at least as odd as any of the above. The central idea is “what is a person, anyway?” The mechanism of departure from the norm is genetic surgery. I expect that if I do it well, it will iron out the convolutions in your brain. And I think I’ll leave it at that for the nonce.

     One more thought about “callings” and I’ll close for now.

     I spent forty-seven years doing software of various sorts. It provided me with a comfortable living and very high prestige. However, as much as I enjoyed it and it profited me, I never felt it was a “calling” of the higher kind. The giveaway was how easy it was for me.

     A calling is supposed to tax the called one to his limits: to compel him to exert himself to the outermost edge of his capacities and perhaps a smidgen beyond it. What comes easily, therefore, cannot be a calling. Never mind how irrelevant bits and bytes are to the moral and ethical condition of Mankind.

     It took a while before I realized that my calling – always assuming I have one – lies in the written word. I should have realized it long ago. Both my fiction and what I do here at Liberty’s Torch are supremely taxing. Seldom do I write something worthy, look upon it and say, “Well, that was easy.”

     I said in the title that this is a ramble, and so it is. This segment seeks to convey a simple idea:

Whoever and wherever you are,
Whatever you think you ought to be doing,
You have a calling:
Find it!

     Whatever else you must do to support yourself and meet your contracted obligations, find your calling and pursue it. It will make a considerable difference to your happiness. Take it from one who knows.

     That’s all for the moment. I’ll probably be back later with some of the usual crap. But for now, please try to have a better Monday than this young lady did. Among other things, it would improve your odds of staying out of prison.

     Later, Gentle Reader.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks Fran - your cmt about the Supreme Court had me laughing. While the piece may have meandered it was remarkably coherent. Perhaps you could help The Donald craft his message. Blessings!