At the Inlet: June, Part 2 (A marriage and an exile)

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The next day was Pentecost Sunday, always a day of celebration at church, but for Terry everything was a blur.  Monday she came into her office to clean out her things; Prince William would act as his father’s chief subordinate until the elections took place.  The capital’s rumour mill, abuzz enough with William and Cathy’s romance, now added Terry’s future to it.  She spent the next few days resting and spending time with friends and church people she hadn’t had a chance to in a long time.

Later in the week, however, William’s lackey came to her house and announced that the King wanted an audience with her.  She following him to the palace, but again instead of the throne room she once again went to the study.  She entered to find not only the King, but Queen Janet, Princes William and Dennis, Princess Andrea and soon to be Princess Catherine.  The King especially had a grave look as he bid Terry to be seated.  The princes secured the doors and returned to their places.

“Did you solicit this?” the King asked Terry, handing her a piece of parchment.  Terry unrolled it to read a very formally worded and beautifully styled request (she suspected Darlene’s doing on the calligraphy) from King Adam that requested King Henry to release his subject and servant, Terry, from Henry’s service into Adam’s, specifically to be the administrative assistant and spiritual advisor to the Princess Darlene.  As she read the legalese, her eyes widened in astonishment.  She then looked up at the royal family.

“I did not,” Terry said.  “I am in total shock as much as you are.”

“You expect us to believe that?”  William asked.

“I do, God being my witness.”

There was a pause in the room.  Then Henry chuckled and said, “The old buzzard was always the expert in feudal law.  You could probably count the number of requests like this on one hand since Beran broke up.”

“So what are you going to do about this?” Dennis asked Terry.

“It’s not her decision,” Henry flatly stated.  “It’s mine.  However, since I am about to become the Island’s first constitutional monarch, I guess I should at least give her the opportunity to express her desire in this matter.”

Terry knew she was in a tight place; her palms were moist and she trembled.  “Your Majesties, Your Highnesses, my only desire in this case is to minister to a soul which I led to the Lord, and that soul is the Princess Darlene’s. She is the first descendant of the Kings of Beran to have accepted Christ as her personal Lord and Saviour, and if we have any plans of a really new Beran, she is crucial to that plan.  I understand better than anyone the gravity of my taking a position with the country with which we fought such a bloody war of independence.  But as Samuel de Champlain used to say, ‘The salvation of one soul is worth the conquest of an empire,’ and I am prepared to endure whatever hardship befalls me to accomplish that.”

There was a silence in the room, only accompanied by the sniffles of the princesses.  Then Henry leaned forward and said, “I want you to take this position.”

“You do?” Terry asked, stunned.

“Absolutely.  I was a fool to give in to the delegation—my children never tire of reminding me of this.  The charter cities’ objective is to establish a republic like Alemara.  The monarchy in Drahla is in a fight for its life.  I have asked William to be the representative to this new-fangled council from Barlin—I at least got the option to appoint him at the start.  Dennis is my special envoy to the rest of the Island.  Our newest addition, Catherine, is of course at the Central Bank—as you have observed, our friends on the coast will find her a challenge. As our friend, you in Serelia are an important part of our survival as the rulers of Drahla—especially if we fail.

“The wedding is set for two weeks from Saturday.  You will go ahead and officiate the ceremony, then use the activity of the reception and all that to slip out.  Don’t make any direct contacts with the Serelians—Cathy will be your go between, she visits their embassy often as it is.  This plan must not leave this room; I trust the Serelians will keep it under wraps also.”

“It’s hard to believe,” Dennis added, “that the people who benefited most from what you gave have turned on you like this.  We’ll never be able to repay you for what you’ve done—both in affairs of state and spiritually as well.”

“I hope you find happiness in Serelia, even though it breaks my heart to see you go,” Janet said.

“We need to pray,” Andrea stated.  “We’re all facing some major things here, even though I’m ashamed to say my relatives are a big part of the problem.  But no matter what, God can turn this around for the best, because all things still work together for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.”  They repositioned themselves into a circle, joined hands, and entered into a time of concert prayer—the first time the Drahlan royal family had prayed together about anything.  After a long time of groaning and weeping before the Lord, Dennis took some oil and anointed Terry, who in turn anointed all of the royals, even the King and Queen.  After these things they dined together, discussing the wedding and everything else but the plans for Terry’s departure.

The next two weeks were feverish ones, weeks of preparation for all kinds of things.  Cathy was the shuttle diplomat for Terry’s departure; it gave her a chance to spend time with her old friend. That time was limited since she additionally had to both assume her duties as Managing Director of the Bank and prepare to be William’s bride.  She was amazed at how quickly a royal wedding could be put together, but Janet was experienced at this.  Cathy’s new duties at the bank were facilitated by the fact that the coastal cities—and the northwest for that matter—were more focused on their own election campaigns for the provisional council, as the elections were scheduled for the Monday after the wedding.

The rumour mill found a new high gear during this time.  The palace was finally forced to issue a statement that Terry was going abroad for an extended period after the wedding, which only increased people’s curiosity.  Terry found herself bombarded with questions about this, as did both those who did know and those who didn’t.

Terry baptised William the Sunday before the wedding.  The royals were forced by circumstance to let Vernon Calloway in on the secret, which made it possible for him to make arrangements for some of Terry’s ministerial duties, such as teaching at the Bible school.  The whole process made everyone a little manic-depressive, excited one minute and down the next.

The wedding day finally came.  Because the church was an open structure, the weather was a major factor; they had the wedding in the morning to beat the afternoon rains, and in this they succeeded.  Drahla’s new status on the Island meant that the guest list of dignitaries was unprecedented for them.  The Serelians sent Prince George and their Chancellor, Devin Dillman.  Although this was the first time since the trip that Terry had actually seen George, they interacted little by agreement.  From Alemara came their current President, Clark Garrison, along with their Finance Minister, Morrison Keller.  The Vidamerans sent Queen Helene and her son, Prince Victor.  The Aloxans sent Prince Marc and Princess Bernadette; they had to be especially careful that they were covered every time they sent someone out of the country.  From Collina came the Finance Minister, Rosa Mott, who like Cathy used to work in the Central Bank of Verecunda but whose father had been killed in the war of independence.  Even the Claudians came out of their shell for this one, sending their Grand Worshipful Master Theodore Macken.

Subject to the usual limitations the Drahlans worked under, the wedding was worthy of the guest list, and the people from within Drahla itself filled the church to overflowing.  The wedding went well, but it took all of Terry’s ministerial professionalism to get through it.  The most moving moment took place at the end where, at the request of the couple, those who had been approved came forward to lay hands on William, Cathy and William’s children in concert prayer for their marriage and their governance of Drahla.  This was usually a more spontaneous affair in a Pentecostal church, but for security reasons those who came forward to pray were prequalified and searched; the Drahlan security personnel were still nervous through the whole process.  Some of the foreign guests were a part of this, including the Aloxans, Alemarans, and even Prince George.

When the bride and groom had recessed out of the church along with the rest of the wedding party, everyone began to make their way to the Royal Pavilion for the reception.  Terry for her part started to do the same thing, but at the right moment slipped away and scurried toward the Serelian embassy, her only possession at that point being her new Bible.

When she arrived, the SUV waiting to take her away was waiting out back.  “We’re glad you’re coming with us today,” said Kyle Harmon, the young man who had guarded the yacht when it was tied up at Alemara during the trip.  Kyle opened the back door and Terry got in.  “Your things are already in the back—we’ll make arrangements to move everything else next week.”  Kyle closed the door and went around to start the vehicle and began the journey to Serelia.

One of Terry’s last achievements as Royal Counsellor was to convince the council at Fort Albert to allow a public road to be designated through the orange groves from the Fort to Barlin.  It wasn’t much; it was dirt in most places, but it was passable.  Terry was one of the first beneficiaries of her work as the SUV bounced through woods, swamp and groves.

At the edge of the groves, Kyle said, “This country brings back memories, doesn’t it.”

“This is about where Prince George was captured.”

“You ever think you’d be coming to our court to serve?”

“Never did,” Terry said.  “God has a great sense of humour.  Since they abolished my office, sometimes I know how He felt before the Flood.”

“They’ll figure it out,” Kyle said.  “A lot of people in Serelia think it’s funny, but it’s really not.  Our two nations are too close—when one hurts, we both hurt.  But that’s what always amazed me about Alemara when I was posted down there—the endless yammering in the press about the silliest things, and yet things just keep getting better and better.  It’s just the way things get done in a democracy.  They’ve got a first rate security and intelligence service, too.”

They drove on towards Fort Albert; the road improved as they went.  “Her Highness is really excited about your coming.”

“I am too—she’s why I’m doing this.”

“Whatever you told her coming home made an impact—she spends a lot of time reading the Bible.  Our Bishop is about to go crazy over it—afraid you’ve made her change her religion, so she’ll disestablish the church.”

“That’s not what I was trying to do,” Terry said.  “Darlene is precious—I want to make sure I spend eternity with her.  Besides, I was witnessing to Cathy Arnold anyway.  I couldn’t resist.”

“Princess Catherine is King Henry and the princes’ ace in the hole,” Kyle observed.  “Drago and the rest want two things—a republic and easy credit.  She’s see to it they’ll get neither.”

They reached the Old Beran Road just south of Fort Albert and, turning left, went through the Fort and northward to Serelia.  As they did, things got quiet and Terry had time to look out of the window at the country she had served and ministered to for more than fifteen years.  Although she was looking forward to being with George and Darlene again, she couldn’t shake the feeling that, somehow, she was leaving her freedom behind and going into exile for some crime she had committed.

As was the case the last time she came to the border crossing, she was waved through.  Once again she came up on the supremely nondescript Serelia Beach and Serelia.  She did notice, though, that quite a number of septic tanks were going in people’s back yards.

“We’re going to fix this lake,” Kyle said.  “The tanks were one of the main sticking points with the Verecundans—they always maintained that septic tanks were ‘an affront to the Earth.’”

“Takes one to know one,” Terry quipped.

“We’re still working on the water treatment and sewer contracts,” Kyle said.

They almost reached the palace, but Kyle turned off to the right and went to the Prince Arthur Inn.  They pulled up to the front.  “They weren’t sure when you were coming—they want to do a proper presentation tomorrow afternoon.  I told them not to give you the suite your brother usually stayed in.”

“Thank you,” Terry replied.  He went around to open the door; she got out.  They went in and he made sure her room arrangements were in order, and then left her with her things to be taken up by the hotel staff.

She was not in a mood to socialise; she spent a lot of time in prayer and finally feeling the impact of the change she was about to make.  As the sun set, she took her supper on the deck which overlooked the ocean.  After years of being inland, the sea breeze felt good; it had rained a bit as they went up but now the sky was breaking up and she could see the clouds in their graceful formations, lit from behind by the setting sun.  She recalled Darlene’s letter about feeing the presence of God just up the coast; she too felt His presence preparing her for a life in a place she had literally fought for years, but now greeted with a combination of nervous anticipation and peaceful acceptance.

Terry rose early to make the long walk from the Inn down to a house several blocks away.  There were about a dozen people there, who looked at her coming with suspicion; however, when they realised who she was, their greeting was joyful.  The people were part of the Serelia Pentecostal Church, which was part of Terry’s church and whose pastor, Tim Mallen, had been a student of Terry’s at the Drahlan Bible school.  Mallen was both surprised and happy to see her, as were the members who were part of the palace staff and who remembered her from her last visit in March.

The service started about 0830, to accommodate those staff members who had cooking duties at the palace and Cathedral.  Because the church was illegal under Serelian law, they took the usual precautions of any house church. The worship was subdued by Drahlan standards, but the church was well organised, and included a nursery and a complete order of service.  Mallen gave the pulpit to Terry, who simply told the story of how she was forced out of the Drahlan government and how she would be now working for the Serelian.  The congregation responded with an extended time of prayer for Terry.  She had promised to be back to continue God’s work in Serelia during her last visit; her return was taken by the congregation as a sign from Him that she was being sent to Serelia for His purpose and mission.

The service wound up about 0930, not only so the palace staff members could get to their duties, but also so that Pastor Mallen could move on to conduct services for the three additional cells of the house church that he pastored, which extended from Serelia and Serelia Beach to West Serelia.  Terry returned to the Inn, ate and got ready for presentation at court.

Kyle came by about 1445 to pick her up.  They made the short drive to the place and through its gate.  By then it was raining and messy.  She opted to leave her shoes in the foyer of the palace before entering the throne room; the staff who greeted her understood their challenge of finding women’s slippers big enough to accommodate her ample feet, so she opted to enter barefoot on the long Oriental rug which led up to the throne.

She positioned herself at the entrance to the throne room.  Her whole being was in knots.  The last time she was there, she was a head of government and in the company of a Prince of her realm.  Now she was virtually stateless and presenting herself as a member of the palace staff.  Terry was well aware of the limitations of the glory that came with a high position like she had before, but such a transition could not help but be a difficult moment for her.

The doors to the throne room were opened and she walked in slowly.  King Adam and Queen Annette were on their thrones; next to the Queen was Prince George.  Their demeanour was more relaxed and friendly than it was before, but they still observed the formalities of the moment.  Terry stopped at the appointed spot and bowed before her new sovereign.

Terry was at the bottom of her bow when she heard a woman’s voice from the left.  “Terry!” it screamed.  She looked to see a very pregnant Darlene at the threshold.  Darlene literally ran over, arms outstretched, to greet her friend.  Terry went down on her knees, not to be servile but to overcome the difference in their heights.  They hugged each other and cried for a long time.  “I’m so glad you’re here,” Darlene went on and on.  After being together like this for a long time, they suddenly stopped, looked at each other in astonishment, then looked up at the throne.  Terry rose to her feet, but the two had their arms around each other.

“I think we have just wrecked the protocol of this palace,” Terry said.

Adam chuckled, along with Annette and George.  “I don’t think any further greeting here is necessary,” he said, “but tea and coffee are ready in the parlour.”  They went in, Darlene holding Terry’s hand and pulling her in like a child in a store wanting her parent to see a new toy.

They sat down for service and chatted about Terry’s trip and the other events that made the moment possible.  Finally Adam rose to make a more formal statement.  Terry also rose to receive it.

“The release that brought you here,” Adam began, “is a very rare procedure on this Island.  It was initiated in the years immediately after the collapse of Beran to enable to movement of servants and officials from one kingdom to another, as many people found themselves in difficult places as events unfolded very rapidly.  I know that I have never made this kind of request before during my reign, and I do not believe that any other kings have since the 1950’s.

“When we learned of your misfortune and the abolition of your position, we had a lively”—he looked at Darlene—“debate on whether we should make the most of it.  In the end I decided to request your release.  One thing that I have learned about the Princess is that her outpourings of emotion conceal the fact that she is very sparing in her choice of close associates.  These outpourings, though, illustrate that, once she makes up her mind about someone such as yourself, she is very single minded in their pursuit—something we learned all too well during her courtship with my son.”  Everyone got a chuckle out of that.

“We are as sensitive as anyone,” Adam continued, “in the depth of your transition.  We know that you, both as an official of state and a minister in your church, were a respected person in your home country.  For you to leave all of this behind and come to the court of those who were until recently your enemy is a big step, and we will do what we can to make that step as painless as possible.  One of the things that we discovered during your voyage to Verecunda and Aloxa is that you have a prodigious capacity for forgiveness and reconciliation.  It is our desire that your presence here will be your reward for that, both for you and also for us.

“As for your duties, as stated in our request you are both an administrative assistant and a spiritual advisor to Her Highness.  You are experienced enough in the workings of government to know how important it is for any government to issue charters for the various types of commercial and other activities that our subjects might conduct.  We have determined that, not only have the difficulties of our situation made us in arrears in issuing and reviewing these charters, but also that it was time for a member of the royal family to look at these herself to insure that the interests of the Crown are not neglected in the bureaucratic process.  We have assigned this task to the Princess Darlene; unfortunately, the clerical help we normally employ has been reassigned due to staffing shortages.  So assisting her in this task will be your primary duty.

“As for the spiritual advice, we have noted the change in Her Highnesses’ views on this subject since her return from the voyage.  Although we had initial reservations about this, we have come to realise that these changes are beneficial to the long-term interests of the nation.  As you were instrumental in these changes, we believe that your presence here will be a positive one.  That presence, however, poses some unique problems, because the church you are affiliated with is not licit in our realm, as the Church of Serelia is the only recognised religion.  How we will work though this problem is an unanswered question, but given what we have accomplished so far, I am confident that a satisfactory solution to this difficulty can be found.”

With this the King ended his speech.  After a pause Terry responded.  “I want to thank you for your gracious invitation and the confidence that you have placed in me.  This too is a big step for you also, in view of our recent war.  My ‘capacity for forgiveness,’ as you state it, comes from my conviction that forgiveness and reconciliation is God’s way for all people, even though that can be difficult to carry out in matters of state.  My reward for that will ultimately be eternal, as my own Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ forgives me as I forgive others.  But all of His eternal benefits have earthly ones too, and I gratefully accept those from Him and from you.”

“There is one important matter we’ve overlooked in all of this speech making,” George said.

“And what is that?” Adam asked, a little miffed.

“The fact that, as the ‘mother country,’ we do like to wear shoes up here.  I think that we should show her what these things are and what they’re for.”

“Don’t be so cocky about this,” Darlene came back.

“Why not?” George asked.

“You’ve never been to the shoe store with her,” Darlene replied.  “We may not have her size here in Serelia.”

Anglican Evangelicalism: The Limitations of Augustinian Theology

In a previous post, we discussed the problems of Anglo-Catholics in their walk to Rome.  We’ve spent a fair amount of time on that; now let’s look at the weakness of the other branch of orthodox Anglicanism, the evangelical wing.  Our contention is that Evangelical Anglicans need to take a hard look at their adherence to Augustinian-Reformed theology.  We will show that those who were at the start of the Church of England understood these limitations and enshrined them in the 39 Articles.

A quick overview of Reformed-Augustinian Theology

Augustine formulated his theology of grace and perseverance in response to the teachings of Pelagius, arguably the most influential Christian teacher to come out of Roman Britain.  Augustine’s insistence on predestination and the perseverance to eternal life that follows from that eliminated the need for human effort that Pelagius implied was necessary.

Augustine’s solution, based on a focus on Paul’s epistles,  was controversial at the time.  Ever since Marcion had used Paul’s writings to advance his idea that the God of the Old Testament and New weren’t one in the same, the church had shied away from rigourously applying Paul’s teachings.  Moreover the early church had always admitted the possibility of falling away after salvation, something that Augustine basically obviated with his emphasis on predestination.  So the Western church rocked on through the Middle Ages, Augustinian in name but not always in reality.

It was Luther who "closed the circle" by realising that, if absolute predestination were true, then we didn’t need the church as a gatekeeper to get us to heaven.  It only took an act of faith–an act which was induced by God–to respond to God’s justification of us.  Calvin gilded the lily by emphasising our total depravity and inability to reach God apart from his initiative.  Both understood that this election was unconditional.

Augustinian theology’s strong point is that it makes a clear distinction between those who are saved and those who are lost.  The weakness is that, because of its insistence on predestination, it blocks the necessity of a lot of Christian activity that the New Testament holds as important.  Spiritual growth is one of those.  Personal holiness is another, especially when we consider that the key to eternal life in a Lutheran context is a legal decision in heaven.  Missions is another, and this is why it took two centuries from what many consider the greatest event in Christian history–the Reformation–to the beginning of serious world missions.  Why bother with missions when everyone is already predestined one way or another?

Augustinian Theology and Early Anglicanism

Early Anglican history was a "tug-of-war" between those who wanted a more "Catholic" type of church and one who wanted a more "Reformed" one.  The 39 Articles are imbued with Augustinian-Reformed thinking (and, yes, we’re of the mind that, if you don’t accept the 39 Articles, you’re not a real Anglican.)  But then there’s Article XVI:

NOT every deadly sin willingly committed after Baptism is sin against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable. Wherefore the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after Baptism. After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given and fall into sin, and by the grace of God we may arise again and amend our lives. And therefore they are to be condemned, which say they can no more sin as long as they live here, or deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent.

This article is a product of the experience of the early church.  Before Constantine, baptism was strictly for adults who made a profession of faith (those "of riper years," as the 1662 Prayer Book would say) and underwent a catechumenate, or period of instruction and repentance.  Committing serious sin after baptism resulted in serious penance or excommuniciation.  Constantine himself was aware of this: he and his spiritual advisor, Eusebius of Caesarea, had no problem with delaying his baptism until shortly before his death, to avoid those penalties.  As we said earlier, the ante-Nicene church (at least) had always allowed the possibility of falling away after baptism, a baptism which followed a conversion experience.

That having been said, Article XVI torpedoes a straight-up Augustinian-Reformed theological framework for the Anglican.  Any admission that one can lose one’s salvation for any reason once one is elect (and knows it, another feature of Lutheranism is the matter of assurance) breaks the whole Reformed paradigm.

It took a century and a half, but it was John Wesley who finally connected the dots on this issue with his decidedly Arminian view of election and his emphasis on sanctification as a subsequent work of the Holy Spirit.  But same emphasis had already been anticipated by John Jewel:

Besides, though we say we have no meed [reward] at all by our own works and deeds, but appoint all the means of our salvation to be in Christ alone, yet say we not that for this cause men ought to live loosely and dissolutely; nor that it is enough for a Christian to be baptized only and to believe; as though there were nothing else required at his hand. For true faith is lively and can in no wise be idle. Thus therefore teach we the people that God hath called us, not to follow riot and wantonness, but, as Paul saith, “unto good works to walk in them”; that God hath plucked us out “from the power of darkness, to serve the living God,” to cut away all the remnants of sin, and “to work our salvation in fear and trembling”; that it may appear how that the Spirit of sanctification is in our bodies and that Christ himself doth dwell in our hearts. (from An Apology of the Church of England.)

The Position of Modern Evangelicals

Modern Anglican Evangelicals recognise themselves as the heirs of the "Protestant" side of Anglicanism, and rightly so.  One reason why so many parishes and Episcopalians/Anglican people gravitate towards Anglo-Catholicism, however, is because most people of an Evangelical or Reformed bent don’t stay in an Anglican setting, but go elsewhere.  If Evangelical Anglicanism plans to make a serious impact on the world–especially in the West–it needs to understand its own unique spiritual heritage, one that is different from Reformed and Lutheran churches in more ways than just liturgically.  Some ways it could do this are as follows:

  1. Anglicanism needs to stop seeing itself as simply Reformed Christianity with a liturgy but as a serious attempt to return to the ante-Nicene church.  That would put its view of how people go to heaven in a more pre-Augustinian light.
  2. Anglicans need to understand sanctification and personal holiness as a dynamic process in the life of the Christian, one that motivates the believer to do and live as God expects him or her to do.  Episcopalians have for too long associated their church with its aesthetic appeal rather than on expectations of service and morality that God has on the believer.  On the other hand, many of Wesley’s heirs have come to see that the "sinless perfection" that is part of classical Wesleyanism is not a realistic objective in this life, which would eliminate one barrier that has been in place for many years.
  3. Evangelical Anglicanism would do itself many favours by weaning itself from infant baptism.  Adult (and that can be interpreted broadly), believers’ baptism is a statement that life with Christ starts with a decision, something that has no place in an Augustinian context.  A conscious decision–even one that requires the moving of God to validate–is a necessity in a world with so many distractions and detours.  The wording of the Articles is interesting on this point: "The baptism of young children is in any wise to be retained in the Church as most agreeable with the institution of Christ." (Article XXVII)

The issue of sanctification, however, begs discussion of the next step.  That step–the baptism in the Holy Spirit–in Anglicanism has been the province of the Charismatics, and we will discuss them in a subsequent post.

Just for Procreation: It Wasn’t Our Idea to Start With

We cannot resist saying something about Washington state’s "Defence of Marriage Alliance" and their petition to require hetrosexual couples to have children within three years after marriage or be subject to annulment.

To start with, we never based our opposition to gay marriage solely on the ability of heterosexual couples to procreate.  Our idea of what marriage is for is best expressed by the 1662 Book of Common Prayer:

First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.
Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.
Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.

Second, we have always contended that gay marriage represents a betrayal of basic liberal view of sexuality, thus it represents a sellout on the part of the homosexual community.

Third, we do not believe that marriage is primarily an act of the state, but an institution of God.  That being the case, we would rather see it taken out of the state’s hands (one way or the other) rather than seeing the state redefine it for the convenience of an upscale minority or anyone else for that matter.

They Didn’t Like Cole Porter’s Jazz and Negroes Either

The recent story about the woes that Christliche Gemeinde Köln has had with the German government brings up a lot deeper memories than just of a Christian church under persecution of a godless government (although this certainly is a problem here.)

It is worth noting that modernity–the thing that comes before post-modernity everybody talks about today–was born in Germany in the years between unification and the First World War.  It pushed Christianity out of the way not so much by attacking it but making it look irrelevant to the excitement of the changing times.  In the end the destabilising effect that it had on Germany resulted in two world wars.  It also resulted in many of the characteristics of our culture today, especially the culture of death.

Part of that modernity is primitivism.  Inscribed above the Reichstag (where the German Bundestag meets today after reunification) is the phrase, "DEM DEUTSCHEN VOLKE"–the German People.  That ineffable quantity–with all of the implications of racial purity and a heroic past–fuelled the Germans through those world wars, especially the second one.  Now one can argue that the modern Pentecostal/Charismatic movement is God’s answer to primitivism.  While "civilised" Christianity got rolled in places such as Germany, France and the UK, full gospel Christianity has swept the world, as TEC is finding out the hard way.

Having invoked primitivistic imagery in places like Nurenberg, the Germans are doubtless sensitive to the possibilities of primitivism.  But they first need to cut the knee-jerk reactions like this and take a more sensible look at things.

To start with, it’s one thing to exercise exuberance in a church setting and quite another on the battlefield.  It’s the same problem we have with people who equate "fundamentalist" Christianity with Islam.  There’s a difference between being prepared to die for what one believes in and to kill for it.  Germany today, like all of Europe, needs some fuel of some kind to present a counter to Islamicists, but beating down people like in this church isn’t going to do it.

But beyond this is pride of authorship.  Europeans may blush at their own forays into primitivism but importing them from the U.S. is beyond the pale.  It’s the same as it was in the 1920’s, after World War I had shattered European civilisation, probably beyond repair.  Sergei Diaghilev, who created the Ballets Russes with their own modern primitivism, shuddered at the thought of "Cole Porter because of his jazz and his Negroes…It’s dreadful."  We strongly suspect that, if the pastor of this church wasn’t American, they wouldn’t be in the kind of trouble they are.

The Germans need to realise that those who dance in church didn’t either start a world war or bring down the World Trade Centre.  But they just might derail those that did.

At the Inlet: June, Part 1 (A heartbreaking letter)

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It began as it had before, by the lake in Barlin, only now it was June, and felt like it.  It was still morning, though, so it was neither so hot as to bring things to a standstill nor yet raining as was so typical in the afternoon.

Once again, though, it was time for Drahla’s Royal Counsellor, Terry Marlowe, to make her way from her small house towards the palace on the opposite end of the lake.  She gingerly made her way down the road, a road with the occasional puddle of water in the low spots, just as she had just three months earlier when she had her fateful rendezvous with Serelia’s prince.  This time, though, she was not headed for the Royal Pavilion, but the palace itself.  After the usual stopping and greeting people on the way, she did not enter the throne room, but went into another entrance that took her down a hallway and into King Henry’s study.  She stopped at the threshold; the King was seated at his desk, and turned around to recognise her.

“You wished to see me, Your Majesty?” she formally asked after bowing.

“I did—please come in and have a seat,” Henry replied.  She did as he asked.

“Did you meeting yesterday go well with the delegation?” she asked.

“That’s what I wanted to see you about,” Henry said.  He had a gravity to his voice that, although characteristic, did not put his Counsellor at ease.  “As you know, ever since the cease fire, the question of our form of government, and the distribution of powers amongst ourselves, has been a paramount question.  The coastal cities—Fort Albert, Drago, and Cresca—initiated the process that brought this nation into existence with the purpose of preserving and expanding the rights and privileges granted to them under the charters they first received from the King of Beran—whose descendant has become so dear to you—and which were reaffirmed by King Albert, but compromised by his son.

“At the time we declared our independence, the question of how to preserve those rights under a new order was already under discussion, one which your late husband Max Serlin was very much a part of.  Unfortunately, we had a war to fight, and had to put such matters aside.  After the cease-fire, we dillied another three years with the Serelians, which put the matter off further, although we were able to start the rebuilding process.  Now that our independence is recognised by everyone—and we have eliminated our most vehement opponent, Verecunda—these questions have once again come to the front of our agenda.

“The delegation from the coastal cities came with more than just an idea—they made several demands, and were very emphatic about them.

“First, they wanted a five member executive council, similar to the Alemaran one.  They envision one delegate from each of them, one from here in Barlin and one from the northwest.  They want to elect a provisional council sometime this month, before the hurricane season gets into full swing.

“Second, they want this council to begin work on a constitution for Drahla which would vest the main power in this council or some other form of parliament.  They also want this constitution to delineate the powers that I have as King, and would also settle the question of whether we will have a unitary government or a federal system.  Personally, I always thought your late husband’s support of the former was wise, but they are always suspicious of a strong central government, even when they think they can dominate it.

“Third—and this caused me the most grief—they demanded that the office of Royal Counsellor be abolished immediately.  They felt that this has been the equivalent of our Prime Minister. To retain this office would, in their opinion, dilute the transparency of our new government and create confusion amongst our people here and the other nations of the Island.

“I attempted to propose a title change or something, but they were adamant that the office be abolished without further reassignment or change.  So I agreed to their demand.

“And so, it is regret that I inform you that your office has been abolished and, in this capacity, your services are no longer required.”

Terry’s own countenance had grown heavier as his speech had progressed.  When he was finished, there was a silence, and then she asked, “Is that all you wished to speak with me about, Your Majesty?”

“I just wanted to say,” Henry added, “how grateful I am for your years of loyal service to me, to the royal family, and to your country, because this country would probably not exist were it not for your efforts and those of your late husband.”

Terry rose and said, “Thank you, Your Majesty,” and walked out of his study.

As she walked down the hallway leading to the outside, the full impact of what she had just been told began to sink in.  She stopped as the grief began to overwhelm her; as her tears started to come out she staggered to the wall, then slid down it and slumped to the floor as tears turned to sobbing that could be heard all over the palace.

It seemed like an eternity that she was in this state. Finally she was able to pull herself together enough to get up again and resume her exit from the building.  The sun was blinding as she emerged from the relatively dark palace; she tried to put on a more normal countenance and make the walk back around the lake to her house.  She didn’t get very far, though, when she heard a voice from her right.

“Your Excellency,” the voice asked.  She turned to see it was the aide to the Serelian ambassador.

“Yes?”

The aide came up to her, holding out a letter.  “This came in the diplomatic pouch,” he said.  “It’s from Her Highness.”

“Thank you very much,” Terry replied, taking the letter.  She continued back, finally arriving to walk up the steps and, opening the door, entered her screened in front porch.  She sat down, still not really over the shock of her own sudden dismissal, and opened the letter to read it.  She knew the aide was right; it was in that beautiful handwriting that could only come from one person:

Dearest Terry,

Thanks so much for your letter, and taking the time to answer all of these Bible questions which I had.  You are so patient and knowledgeable—you will never know how much it means to me to be able to turn to you for answers.

My pregnancy is going well.  The doctor is pleased with my progress.  It is my family tradition for the women to suffer through a lot of sickness while pregnant—evidently bearing the children of Beran is a big job—but in my case the thing that bothers me the most is my size.  I feel like a whale!  Sometimes at night, when I can’t sleep, I go out on the beach or the Sea Garden and look up at the stars and feel God’s presence and strength reaching down into my innermost being and to my little one, and I know that strength is borne on your prayers for me.  The prayer you led me through on the yacht coming back from Verecunda has changed everything.  I know that I too can hold the hands of Jesus Christ and trust Him for everything.  He has been there through all of this.

George spends a lot of time with his father on matters of state.  I think they’ve finally realised that they need each other; that too came out of our trip.  They’ve asked me to work on applications for royal charters and their amendments—I’ve tried to get started but the King has had other plans for me.  Summer Court is starting this Saturday so that will put it off even more and make the stack higher.  I wish I could get some help in sorting things out but it will have to wait for now.

I am still struggling with the Bible.  What I see is real but I can’t figure everything out.  Some of the notes you put in there are good—I guess you miss them now for your sermons—but there is so much to understand.  I’ve had a session or two with the Canon but he’s no help at all—all he goes on about is textual criticism and why it can’t be the way it’s written even when I sometimes feel that living in Serelia is like walking through its pages.

I wish you could be here with me to help me with this.  I know your schedule is busy—we’ve heard all kinds of rumours about your politics there, to say nothing about romances—and I know you’re supposed to teach at your Bible school again this year, but I would love you to come for a couple of weeks at least to help me.  I know it’s asking a lot but please—please—try to find time to get away for this.

Well I must go now.  I cherish our friendship.  May God be with you and give my love especially to Dennis and Andrea.

Love,

Darlene

Terry was about to enter another tearful session when she heard a voice from the street.  “Can I come in?”  She looked up to see Prince William standing in from of her house.

“Come on in,” Terry responded, rising to meet him.  He came in, slowing the screen door’s closing as he entered, and sat down in the chair on the other side of the porch.  They sat and looked at each other in silence for a moment.

“Father told Dennis and me about you after we heard you crying,” William said.  “We were in shock.”

“He hadn’t told you?”

“He had a private audience yesterday with this delegation from the coasts that lasted about three hours.  He wouldn’t tell us anything about it.  I guess he know we would be angry about it.  They must have worked him over pretty bad.  As far as I’m concerned, he’s given away the kingdom.”

“It had to happen sooner or later,” Terry sighed.  “I tried to put it off as long as I could—growing up in Verecunda soured me on democracy.  I guess that’s why I ended up in their crosshairs.”

“They’re just trying to weaken us,” William replied.  “They knew your high standing with the King.  They felt you stood in their way.  That’s why they went for you.  Of course, you could run for this new council, either here or in the northwest, where Max’s family would help you…”

“I’m not interested in running for anything.  All I’ve ever wanted to do is serve my Kings, both the one here and the one in heaven.”

“Well they can’t stop you from serving the latter,” William observed.  Terry stopped and looked at the prince in astonishment.

“I’ve never heard you talk like that before.”

“That’s one of things I came by to tell you about,” William said seriously.  “I met with Pastor Calloway early this morning.  He led me in the sinner’s prayer and I gave my life to Christ.”

“Praise God,” Terry breathed in astonishment.  “I knew something was going on.”

“You know, I used to think that Christians were a bunch of wimps.  The war didn’t change my mind either.  After the trip, and meeting Cathy, and hearing about the change in her life, and hearing this entire rumbling that exploded yesterday, I realised what you and Dennis and Andrea knew all along—that I wasn’t going to make it without God.  Sorry I took so long.”

“Just as long as you made it,” Terry said.

“But that’s not all.  One reason we didn’t discuss Father’s meeting last night is because I presented Cathy to the family.  She’s going to become my wife.  I told her not to tell you until I had a chance to explain everything.”

“Congratulations.  We’ve been talking about that too.  She’s had a lot of transitions to make.  I’ve tried to make them easier for her.”

“You’ve been a big help—especially in keeping it quiet.  But now you have a wedding to perform—in addition to a baptism, I suppose.”

“I’m honoured on both counts.  How are the children taking this?”

“Since she’s from Verecunda, and has lived the life she has, they’re not sure if they’re getting a new parent or a big sister.  They think she’s cool, although she doesn’t let them get ahead of her.”

“Our youth pastor has noted that,” Terry observed.  “He wants her to take a bigger role with the youth group.”

“But really, they need a mother, especially Prissy, as they enter their teen years.  Losing their mom during the war has been hard on them.”

“Will Cathy continue at the Central Bank?”

“That was the one positive thing my father managed to beat out of this delegation,” William said.  “She’s to become the Managing Director of the Bank.  That was before our engagement was official.”

“They’ll live to regret that—perhaps it’s God’s will to trade her for me.  She’s forgotten more about finance than anyone in that delegation ever knew, and besides she’s had to deal with all of those snotty Verecundan bureaucrats…I guess the “New Beran Initiative” is in limbo, at least here.”

“A ‘New Beran’ is the last thing our friends on the coast want,” William noted.  “My brother was afraid of that when he entered in to it with Princes George and Peter and the girls.  But you have to hand it to them—it’s a great idea.”

“Speaking of Peter and Julia, have you heard anything lately about those lovebirds?  I’ve been so busy catching up on the King’s ‘busywork’ and discipling Cathy that I’ve even neglected foreign affairs.”

“I got to spend some time earlier this week with the Aloxan ambassador to Alemara,” William answered.  “I finally got the full story on all these rumours we’ve been hearing here.

“While they were on their honeymoon, their realities started to sink in to the royal family about them, and some of them raised a stink about it, especially those who are pagan or secular.  This infuriated King Leslie and Queen Arlene, who consider it Peter’s sovereign right to bring home the wife of his choice, subject to their approval.  Leslie realised, however, that he was kicking against the goads on this one, particularly since he had enough troubles in Verecunda and Uranus.  So he arranged for Peter and Julia to be waylaid at Snapper Beach, and arranged for them to stay in Uranus to help Prince Marc by acting as the High Commissioners for Land Restoration—they’ve opted for the same programme as the Collinans.  His outgoing personality, combined with her reputation for fairness and the fact that she is Uranan, have made them a hit.  In the middle of it all, Peter has become a Christian—Julia’s brother baptised him a couple of weeks ago.

“They’ve done a lot to turn the Aloxan occupation there around, so much so that they’re scheduling a referendum in North Verecunda and around the airport to see if they’d rather be in Uranus.  That means that, if they end up cutting Verecunda loose, they’ll have the place surrounded.”

“So I assume they’re still having problems in Verecunda.” Terry said.

“Many.  Prince Desmond has survived three assassination attempts.  The CPL is active and causing him no end of trouble.  He’s had a couple of the old cabinet members shot—your cousin Patty would have been one of them if she weren’t related to you.  Now Verecunda’s creditors are coming to his door wanting their money, while at the same time many of the people whose property was nationalised want it back.  Until he figures out how to balance all of this, he can’t start a land restoration programme.”

“I think my cousins Ken and Jack—Ernie’s sons—are leading the pack on that one.  Andy Dell wants me to come down and help sort that mess out, but up until now I haven’t been able to come.  Now Darlene wants me to come to Serelia and disciple her.”

“I was going to ask what you were going to do with yourself now that you’re not Royal Counsellor anymore, but I guess that’s the least of your problems.”

Making a Dangerous Assumption

Dick Morris informs us of the following:

“Hillary will be the next president, and she’ll be the worst president we’ve ever seen.” No matter what happens, the situation in Iraq will “assure that the GOP gets massacred in 2008 congressional elections.” In 2010, the Republicans will take back the Congress — “Hillary will give Republicans the same gift she gave them in 1994” — and they’ll win the presidency in 2012, but thanks to demographic shifts favoring Democrats (namely the rising Hispanic and African-American populations), “that will be the last Republican president we’ll ever see.”

That assumes, of course, that we have elections in 2010 and 2012 under Clinton II.

Anglo-Catholicism and the Role of the Church

As the orthodox Anglican alternatives to the TEC grow in strength, it has become pretty clear that the #1 division–in addition to the proliferation of purple shirts–that looms is the Anglo/Catholic vs. Evangelical divide.  A little history needs to be told to put this in perspective.

When Parliament passed the Act of Supremacy, the control of the Roman Catholic church in England and Wales passed from the Pope to the Crown.  As long as Henry VIII was alive, that was the biggest change (other than the dissolution of the monasteries) that took place.  It was under Edward VI that the move towards a more "Protestant" church began and, following the last attempt to reverse the Act under Mary, was completed by Elizabeth I.  (There’s that female headship again!)

As we documented in Taming the Rowdies, the question for the next century and a half was just how Protestant the church would be.  After the unpleasant adventure that was Oliver Cromwell, the country decided that it had had enough of such questions and the Church of England slept through most of the eighteenth century, shaken only by Wesley and his friends who were taking Protestant Christianity away from its Augustinian obsession and into a new era of revival.

The nineteenth century saw things go in two different directions.

The first was towards Evangelicalism, with laymen such as Wilberforce and prelates such as J.C. Ryle.  Under these the Church of England was seen as a church with an outreach to lost souls, along with social action such as the abolition of slavery.  In many ways the Global South provinces were born in this movement, which explains why many of them tend towards the "Protestant" side of Anglicanism.

The second was the Oxford Movement, with men such as Newman and Manning.  The appeal of this was a combination of aesthetic (a strong component in the TEC’s growth after World War II and its ability to hold on as well as it has) and a desire for unity.  One of the great weaknesses of Anglicanism is that its status as a creature of the English monarchy has pretty much restricted it to the Anglophone world, which has limited it culturally and spiritually.  Reaching across the English Channel broadens this, but most of its leaders were forced to "swim the Tiber" as many Anglo-Catholics have since.

Both of these streams have flowed into the Anglican/Episcopal river ever since.  Liberalism is a rude interruption in this "discussion" (a favourite liberal term) but without the liberals resolving this question becomes more earnest.

The strongest argument for Anglo-Catholicism is that the objective is to repair the breach caused by the Act of Supremacy and contribute towards the reuniting of the church.  But we need to answer one crucial question: what kind of church are we moving towards?

Anglo-Catholics will point out that they are simply moving from one liturgical church to another.  They will also point out that many distinctively "Catholic" practices such as devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary and of course the transubstantiated Eucharist (the "sacred pledge," as Bossuet put it) have long roots in Christian practice.  What they will not point out is that Roman Catholicism’s concept of the church changes the entire nature of Christianity.

As we saw in We May Not Be a Church After All, Roman Catholicism makes two key claims.  The first is that it is the true church.  The second is that it, as the church, it is a formal intermediary between man and God.  To go to heaven, therefore, one must not only have a relationship with the Saviour, but with the only church he allegedly founded.  Although Roman Catholic teaching allows for ignorance to factor into whether a person outside of the Catholic church is barred from eternal life, basically the church teaches that, if a person has any reason to believe that the Roman Catholic church is the true church, it will cost them their eternity if they do not join it.

This has several important implications that need to be understood.

The first is that the church can basically decide who enters into eternal life and who doesn’t.  Fortunately the Catholic church has a great deal of canon law which restricts the ability of its priests and bishops to excercise that authority, but the basic power remains.

The second is that, just as the church can define the eternal destiny of its adherents, it can also redefine the means by which they get there.  Anglo-Catholics point with pride with the conservative direction the Vatican has taken since 1978, but, like the Cold War, it could have gone another way.  (Another example of Boomer triumphalism that needs to be muted!)

The third is that the strength of the Roman Catholic liturgy depends upon the strength of the church, and not the other way around.  In Anglo-Catholic and Orthodox settings, the "smells and bells" and correct performance of the liturgy are central to projecting the strength of the church, which is why changes in same are a real disaster.  Roman Catholic Mass can be a very breezy, informal (and rushed) production, complete with rotten music, but the "sacred mystery" is the same as it would be at the Vatican because the church said it was so.

We find it hard to believe that most Anglo-Catholics would seriously consider union with Rome under these conditions.  It would have certainly sidetracked my own "swim of the Tiber" many years ago if I had fully grasped it, but then again Catholicism under Paul VI was a "wild West" kind of affair; that has certainly changed in the intervening years.

So this is something that Anglo-Catholics needs to consider.  It is a topic we have reviewed before.  But the Evangelicals have issues of their own, and we will discuss these in a future post.

Nothing New Under the Sun: A Look at Current Events From the Past

There’s a good deal going on these days, and we’re tempted to comment on a lot of it.  Problem is, we already have in many cases.  So, just to make sure you know we haven’t fallen asleep at the switch–or for those who didn’t read it the first time–our idea is as follows:

  • Barack Obama’s running agony with his racial identity would be a lot easier on him and the rest of us if identity politics could be pulled off of the stage of post-modern politics, as we envisioned in The Best Seat on the Bus.
  • The secularists’ agressive stance is a front for their present state of panic (Circling the Wagons Around Evolution)
  • The Libby trial is a farce (Scooting on Down the Road)
  • All of the hot air about global warming (the CO2 we put out when we talk) is just that without a solution, but no one has the nerve to go through with it, although the conservatives are at least waking up to the fact that we need to stop funding Islamicists by our oil dependency (The Obvious Solution)
  • Hillary Clinton’s campaign is the most serious problem we’re facing right at the monent for reasons few are talking about (Finishing the Job: A Watergate Reflection)
  • The chief objective of all of the radical leaders in the Middle East–both Sunni (bin Laden) and Shi’ite (Ahmadinejad) is to take the oil wealth and Islamic seat that is Saudi Arabia (They’d Rather Take Riyadh, Osama’s Real Objective).  And the best way to fix the problem is to keep them at each other’s throats.
  • The Roman Catholic church in the UK (and the CofE as well) are finding out that It’s Not About Freedom Any More, especially when the homosexuals are involved, in the whole row over gay adoptions.
  • We predicted in A Punch in the Face for Capitalism that more and more American capital would flow into private corporations rather than risk the liabilities imposed by the Sarbanes-Oxley law.  Although this is doubtless going on, the greater reality is actually worse: capital for new ventures is moving to London and Hong Kong, weakening New York’s status as the financial centre of the world.  This has induced panic in left wingers by Chuck Schumer, but they should have thought of this before they passed such legislation.  This trend may be the greatest threat to the status of the U.S. as the world’s superpower that is out there, at least in the short term.

At the Inlet: Introduction and Synopsis to Paludavia


Introduction

At The Inlet is the immediate sequel to Paludavia, “the swamp road,” which takes place on the semi-tropical Island.  It is a sequel to that adventure only in the broadest sense of the word.  In the previous work, we saw royalty and their ministers drawn into a life or death struggle for the survival of not only their way of life but also the way of life of the entire Island.  The result of this was the war that changed everything, and not only those nations that were directly involved.

With the war over, those who were the direct participants in this adventure (which they blithely referred to as “the trip”) had other matters to deal with, matters of home and family, matters of romance, and the matter of their relationships with God.  Although the Island’s (and in particular Serelia’s) very specific situation always puts things in its own mould, we turn from wars and conquests of nations to the interaction of individuals, a realm we all must live with from day to day.

For those who have not read Paludavia, which is prologue to this work, we present a brief summary of that adventure, and how it connects with the present narrative.

Synopsis of Paludavia

The story begins on 28 February.  After a long and agonising conflict, the Serelian Kingdom acknowledged the inevitable and gave its southern half independence as the Drahlan Kingdom.  To formalise the process after a three-year cease-fire, they sent Crown Prince George, last surviving son of Serelian King Adam, to the Drahlan capital of Barlin for the formal ceremony of independence.  George had suspicions about the recent activities of Serelian ally Verecunda, and he arranged a meeting with Drahla’s head of government and Royal Counsellor, Terry Marlowe, who years ago had fled the left-wing regime in Verecunda and who was also a Pentecostal minister.  He presented his suspicions about the place.  Terry responded that she would consult Drahlan King Henry, which she did, along with Crown Prince William and Prince Dennis.  After a tense session, Henry decided to send Terry and William to Serelia to pursue the matter further.

They went to Serelia via Drago and Fort Albert, Drahla’s most prosperous cities, which were chafing under both the tax load and the lack of representative government.  When they reached Serelia in the afternoon of 3 March, they had a formal audience with King Adam and attended a reception in their honour.  While there Terry was confronted by her brother, Richard Marlowe, a Verecundan Special Envoy, who drug up Terry’s past in font of everyone, including her date rape at her prep school prom, her problems with drugs and prostitution, and her flight into the eastern part of the Island after her encounter with Jesus Christ.

After this they met with King Adam, who proposed that Terry, George and George’s wife Darlene travel on the Serelian royal yacht to Verecunda and places in between to attempt to determine just what the Verecundans were doing.  The next day Terry and William attended church at the Cathedral in Serelia, which was a part of Serelia’s Anglican state church.  William returned to Barlin and Terry spent the afternoon with Canon Desmond Lewis of the Cathedral and his family, where she described her dramatic conversion experience and fielded a large number of questions about her activity as a Pentecostal minister.

Terry, George and Darlene left Serelia the next day (6 March) on the royal yacht. They travelled until they reached the Avalon Retreat, located on a small island off of Alemara.  Started by a Catholic priest named James Avalon and other refugees from Verecunda twenty years before, it was Terry’s home from the time it was started until she left as a lay missionary in Cresca.  Her mission had ended in disaster for Avalon, as she left the Catholic Church and became a Pentecostal minister while in Cresca.  This made her welcome less than wholehearted on Avalon’s part; however, she was able to visit those in the retreat while George got a summary of the grim record of religious persecution on the part of the Verecundan government, including their requirements that all religious groups adhere to their Six Statements, a manifesto that required humanistic or New Age beliefs to be adopted.

They spent two days at the Retreat before crossing the sound on 9 March to Alemara, which with Verecunda’s problems had become the commercial centre of the Island.  George and Darlene were whisked away to a meeting with the government, leaving Terry stranded at the dock.  This was not entirely a snub, because she was met by and had a long French lunch with Pierre des Cieux, a former automotive components sales representative and general “man about the Island.”  Des Cieux told her many things about current Island affairs, but the most significant thing he revealed to her was that Darlene was in fact the kid sister of Ronald Amherst, the great Serelian general who had killed Terry’s husband Max Serlin in battle and personally shot her infant son David during the war before dying at the Battle of South Barlin.

This revelation was a shock to Terry; she went to the Alemaran guesthouse and sulked for several hours.  This pity party came to an abrupt halt that evening when a Verecundan embassy official attempted to kidnap her for bounty, an attempt that ended with Terry flushing his head down the commode prior to his arrest by Alemaran authorities.

Terry herself met with the Alemaran government the following day.  That evening the three went to an expatriate party at the Aloxan embassy, the diplomatic mission of the Island’s only predominantly black nation.  After this Terry went to sit at the dock, but was joined by Darlene. George had forced his wife to go there in order to save the mission.  The two women decided to try reconciliation, which they attempted to carry out on a shopping trip the next day while they and George attempted to secure an invitation to Vidamera and to insure they all had diplomatic immunity to go to Verecunda.

The following Monday (13 March) they went to Vidamera city to see the irresponsible Vidameran King Francis.  He was in usual form; George and Darlene found themselves on a deep sea fishing expedition while Terry went to the local Catholic church to see Pierre’s son, Monsignor Raymond des Cieux.  They had a discussion about why they ended up having to leave Verecunda.  When she stepped out of the church, she was confronted with a group of armed men who took her to their boss’ “hideout.”  Their boss turned out to be Count Michael of West Vidamera, who was supposed to be a Verecundan ally but had actually soured on his “ally” because of his father’s assassination and other problems.  They went skeet and trap shooting and he returned her to the palace for another uneventful reception.

The trio’s audience with Francis was unproductive.  As they left town, they were ambushed by bounty hunters; they were rescued by Count Michael’s men, who helped them get safe passage back to Alemara.  When they returned, they found that the Verecundan government had given in to their demands and issued letters of immunity to all three of them.

The next day (15 March) they took the yacht to Verecunda.  They were greeted in Druid style by Seamus Gallen, Verecunda’s Foreign Minister.  They were taken to the Elaron Beach Hotel, which Terry’s grandfather and uncle had built.  It was here that the import of Terry ancestry—her grandfather, Lucian Gerland, had been in his day the wealthiest man on the Island—started to sink into the royals and especially Darlene.  That evening they were given a reception by the Finance and Foreign Ministries, and it was there that Terry ran into a childhood friend, Cathy Arnold, who was an officer with the Verecundan Central Bank.

The next day they were taken to a “model school” by Patricia Langley-Cox, Terry’s cousin and the Minister of Education.  The program at the school was shattered by an invasion of left wing rioters, who forced the entire school—children, guests and all—into buses so they could leave.  They ended up at the Presidential Palace, where they wasted the afternoon in a verbal sparring match with President Lillith Connolly and her advisors.

That evening George and Darlene attended a “cultural” event, but Terry had dinner with Cathy Arnold.  It was only here that Terry learned the truth: the Verecundans had concluded an “economic development package” with the Claudian Kingdom that essentially involved the takeover of virtually every institution in the country by one Verecundan ministry or another.  Terry now knew the peril they were in; even in its weakened state, Verecunda would be able to take over a divided Island one loan at a time.

The next morning Terry and Darlene went to the beach to go over what they knew.  When they were done they realised they would have to leave.  George came back from the Serelian embassy to announce that the yacht had been seized and that he was ready to get out, but their exit was blocked by an official from the Ministry of the Environment, who attempted to arrest them.  Her arrest was foiled by Darlene, who exploded at the official with such authority that they were able to take her car right in front of her and flee, first to Point Collina and then into occupied Collina proper.

They were eventually captured by Collinan rebels, lead by Andy Dell.  After some time of eluding capture and a late night meeting, they decided to go to Aloxa to secure help.  They left early Sunday morning (19 March) in a boat that headed up the coast past Collina town and into Aloxan waters, arriving at Beran in time for Sunday morning church at the Beran Pentecostal Church.  Terry preached and afterwards the trio had dinner at the parsonage, but they had arranged with the provincial governor to meet with Aloxan King Leslie later that afternoon.

On the way to Aloxa town, Darlene drilled Terry with many questions about Terry’s faith.  When they arrived at the Aloxan palace, they were awed at the size and beauty of the place.  Leslie received them; upon hearing about the seizure of the yacht and the deal with the Claudians, he called his advisors together and had an extended meeting to discuss what might be done.

The next day Leslie took the three back to a large mansion to the west of the palace, which he announced was the old Amherst estate, which were Darlene’s ancestors.  He also revealed a secret that very few remembered: that Darlene’s great-grandfather Theodore had married a daughter of the last King of Beran, making Darlene a direct descendant of that monarchy.  Leslie then explained his “vision” with the three “cords” of the Island: Beran, represented by George and Darlene; Verecunda and the commercial states, represented by Terry, and the black Aloxans, represented by Leslie.  He stated that the Island would only have peace and prosperity if the three cords could be put back together, which was being done in their presence.  He also announced that Aloxa was going to war against Verecunda, and already mobilising.

That evening Terry spent time with Leslie and Queen Arlene where she presented the case for Christianity to Leslie.  Early the next morning Terry’s prayer time was interrupted by Darlene, who was frantic about taking a direct invasion approach as opposed to a more indirect one some of the Aloxans were advocating.  The three eventually presented this to the Aloxans and they agreed.  George and Darlene left Aloxa town that afternoon for the main front; Terry stayed behind with the North Army Group, which would come in behind the main unit.

The invasion started on 22 March.  Terry—with backup from Christian Queen Arlene—prayed over the troops in Aloxa, after which the whole army moved out.  The main group in the south wiped out the border post and raced to Uranus town, only to find that they could not get there fast enough to get suitable field position south of town against the Verecundans.  Taking a plan from a field commander, they partially evacuated the town and lured the Verecundans into Uranus, where the Aloxans cut the Verecundan armour to pieces.  With that the infantry resistance collapsed, and the rest of the Verecundans fled south, the Aloxans in pursuit.

Army Group North came in behind but went to Jersey Heights, where they defeated the Sacred Band of the Inland Police.  From there they made a dash to the crossroads with the main road, where they captured the field command of the Verecundan army.  They were eventually able to trap and receive the surrender of the rest of the Verecundan army.  The Aloxans then went forward to capture Fort Stevenson, the airport and its environs in preparation for invading the city proper.

Established in Fort Stevenson, all of the dignitaries were in the Officers’ Club when they noticed Prince Peter, Leslie’s youngest son, with a Verecundan army officer.  With the help of Darlene’s nosiness, they found her to be Julia Stanley, a Christian whose parents had died in prison for their faith.  They also found out that Peter had decided to take Julia as his wife, as a spoil of war.  Julia spent the night with Terry, who spent time in prayer with her as Julia set out on her new life.

Peter and Julia were taken back to Aloxa early the next morning. After overcoming shortages of just about everything, the Aloxans proceeded down Central Avenue to take the city.  Their advance was delayed by another protest, which they broke up by shooting into the crowd.  They then went to the Presidential Palace, where the surrender was interrupted by Richard Marlowe.  He launched into a monologue about the reasons for Verecunda’s left-wing regime, which so angered one of Leslie’s guards that he shot Richard dead in front of everyone.  At this Terry went into hysterics and had to be taken to an office, where Darlene helped calm Terry down with herbs provided with the help of Maeve Martin, an herbalist with the Verecundan Ministry of Health.

Leaving his brother Desmond with the task of controlling Verecunda, Leslie took George to the port, where they reviewed the marines there and reflected on the cost and the worth of the whole adventure.

The next day (24 March) Terry went to Point Collina to see her mother, who was in a care facility.  She found her mother unable to communicate or move as a result of a stroke; she also found her Uncle Ernie, who berated her for her “betrayal” of her family and country.  Terry went to the Point, where Pierre des Cieux tried to put the whole thing in a greater perspective.  After that Terry went to the Yacht Club with Andy Dell for lunch; while leaving, she met a frantic Cathy Arnold, who begged her to take her away from Verecunda altogether, which she agreed to.

The evening was taken up by the Golden Light ceremony for Richard Marlowe, which was done in pagan style by Seamus Gallen and the Druids.  The end of the ceremony was the lighting of the funeral boat with Richard’s body on it.  It was also visible across the bay as well at the care facility.

Having recovered the yacht, next day the three left for Alemara with Cathy Arnold.  While under way Terry laid out the plan of salvation to both Cathy and Darlene, and both became Christians as a result of this.

Cathy and Terry returned to Barlin on 27 March; Terry baptised Cathy on Easter Sunday (16 April) with a challenge to evangelise the whole Island. This is the actual end of Paludavia.  George and Darlene returned to Serelia on 29 March. Just before Easter Darlene’s first pregnancy was announced.

Transition to At The Inlet

The six weeks between the end of one work and the beginning of the next one are not very long in time but contain some important events, some of which are explained in the narrative and some of which are not.

Peter and Julia were married on 1 April; they started their honeymoon in a remote area of Serelia but after Easter joined George, Darlene and Prince Dennis and Princess Andrea of Drahla on a hunting expedition.  This had three important outcomes: it bonded the diverse royals together in general, it was an important time of discipleship for Darlene with the two other Christian princesses, and the six put forth the “New Beran Initiative,” a manifesto of cooperation between the three countries which at one time had been part of Beran’s empire.  This manifesto was accepted by all three countries, but events would overshadow this very progressive step.  Peter and Julia went on to Barlin and Drago on 25 April for the remainder of their honeymoon, where they saw the country and attended Pentecostal church in Barlin.  The two honeymooners returned to Uranus on 4 May to the mess that is described in the narrative.

The Aloxan occupation of Uranus and Verecunda got off to a rocky start.  Uranus’ situation is alluded to in the narrative.  Verecunda’s was a constant uproar, with problems posed by a resurgent CPL. Prince Desmond was also forced to deal with external problems as well; he ended up in a pattern of playing off Verecunda’s creditors against human rights activists, which stalled either group from taking action against him.

Darlene’s salvation brought important changes to her life and the life of those around her at a time when her pregnancy induced changes enough.  Her difficult relationship with Queen Annette began to improve.  Unfortunately the Church of Serelia ministers around her—especially Bishop Weston Collingswood and Canon Desmond Lewis—were either unable or unwilling to adequately deal with her questions and her need for discipleship, and so her whole Christian journey was placed in jeopardy from the very start.

Terry’s situation in Barlin was becoming difficult but for an entirely different reason.  Drahla was a “composite” state, made up partly of chartered “free” cities such as Drago and Cresca and partly old Serelian royal estates such as around Barlin and in the northwest.  The details of how to properly govern such a country were extensively delayed, first by the war of independence and then by the “limbo” of the cease-fire.  After formal independence, though, the chartered cities pushed for a more democratic system, while King Henry tried to go on with an absolute monarchy modified by the existing charters, a course that Terry, as Royal Counsellor, favoured both out of principle and as a practical matter.  By the middle of May the cities—especially Drago—had decided to “call the King’s bluff” on the issue and press for representative government.  This meeting took place on 2 June; it is the aftermath of this meeting that begins At The Inlet.

Eternity is Still What Matters

In our posting on the “contract on the Episcopalians,” we referenced a comment by the new Presiding Bishop about her disparagement of the importance of eternal life.  It’s probably worthwhile to reproduce that particular dialogue (ADG is the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; KJS is of course Katherine Jefferts-Schori):

ADG: That reminds me of something else you said. This was a CNN interview when Kyra Phillips asked you what happens when we die. You had an interesting answer that got some Southern Baptists riled up.

KJS: OK. I didn’t hear their reaction.

ADG: Al Mohler – I don’t know whether you’re familiar with him –

KJS: I’m not.

ADG: He’s a seminary president [at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville] and has a blog and a radio show. [Mohler posted the exchange on his Web site]. It seemed to some people that you were saying there isn’t an afterlife.

KJS: I don’t think Jesus was focused on that. I think Jesus was focused on heaven in this life, primarily. The Judeo-Christian tradition has always said yes, there is resurrection. There is life after death. But I think Jesus was not so worried about that. I think he’s worried about what we’re doing to treat our fellow human beings as children of God. He says the kingdom of heaven is among you, and within you, and around you.

ADG: So does that mean that in your view there is no afterlife?

KJS: That’s not what I said. I said what I think Jesus is more concerned about is heavenly existence, eternal life, in this life.

ADG: So there again, that’s partly why the Millennium Development Goals are important to you? To improve people’s lives now?

KJS: Absolutely. The Anglican tradition of Christianity is world-affirming, it is focused on incarnation, and it insists that we’re not meant to shut ourselves off from the world in a pietistic sense or in a sectarian sense. That we’re meant to be in the world, and transforming the world into something that looks more like the reign of God.

ADG: Do you think there’s any part of us that lives on somewhere after we die?

KJS: Absolutely. But that’s not a question that concerns me day in and day out. I think I’m meant to use the gifts I have to transform the world in this life.

In our own introduction to this site*, we quote the following from Antoine Arnauld and Pierre Nicole’s  Logic, or the Art of Thinking:

Only infinite things, such as eternity and salvation, cannot be equalled by any temporal advantage: and as such one cannot compare them with the things of this world. This is why the least degree of means to be saved is worth more than all of the goods of this world put together; and the least peril of being lost is more considerable than all of the temporal evils considered only as evils.

This is enough for all reasonable persons to make them come to this conclusion, by which we end this Logic: the greatest of all unwise things is to use one’s time and life for something else than to work towards and acquire something that never ends, since all of the good things and all of the evils of this life are nothing in comparison to those of the other, and that the danger of falling into these evils is very great, as well as the difficulty of obtaining the good things.

Those that come to this conclusion, and who follow them in the conduct of their life, are prudent and wise, whether they be little correct in all of the reasonings concerning matters of science; and those who do not, whether they be correct in all of the rest…make a bad usage of Logic, of reason, and of life.

Christians aren’t the only ones interested in eternity.  When Muhammad led his followers in their first war against a neighbouring state in the name of Allah, he exhorted them as follows:

O ye who believe; what is the matter with you that, when it is said to you, go forth in the way of ALLAH, you sink down heavily towards the earth?  Are you contented with the present life in the preference to the Hereafter?  But the enjoyment of the present life is but little compared to the Hereafter.  If you will not go forth to fight in the cause of ALLAH, HE will punish you with a painful punishment, and will chose in your stead a people other than you, and you shall do HIM no harm at all. And ALLAH has full power over all things. (Sura 9:38-39)

Such words have inspired jihadis for fourteen hundred years, and certainly do so today.  Although we believe that these jihadis are in for a rude awakening when they blow themselves into eternity, nevertheless both Muhammad on the one hand and Arnauld and Nicole on the other recognise one thing: nothing in this finite life compares with the infinity that is eternity.

Based on the relation between the finite and the infinite (a subject we beat to death in My Lord and My God,) the Presiding Bishop’s contention cannot stand.  But there are other reasons as well.

First, her idea that “Jesus is more concerned about is heavenly existence, eternal life, in this life” doesn’t square with what he said in the Gospels, starting with John 3:16 and moving forward.  What the Positive Infinity New Testament calls “Immortal life” is the centre of the cosmic game plan in the New Testament.  She (and you) might also consider the following:

“For, if the dead do not rise, then even Christ himself has not been raised, And, if Christ has not been raised, your faith is folly-your sins are on you still! Yes, and they, who have passed to their rest in union with Christ, perished! If all that we have done has been to place our hope in Christ for this life, then we of all men are the most to be pitied. But, in truth, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who are at rest. For, since through a man there is death, so, too, through a man there is a resurrection of the dead. For, as through union with Adam all men die, so through union with the Christ will all be made to live.” (1 Corinthians 15:16-22)

Second, her idea that this worldly/other worldly goals are mutually exclusive are the musings of someone who has wasted too much time in the upper reaches of our society.

Third, as a liberal she may be a univeralist.  In this case, what you do in this life and what happens afterwards have no relationship one with another.  There are many excellent demonstrations that the Scriptures teach that there is more than possible result in eternity, and we will allow these to speak for themselves.  For our part, we continue to contend, as we did in The Three That Grows in Heaven, that life in the palms teaches that, if there is a “default option” for eternity, it isn’t heaven.

And that leads us to what is in our view the most compelling argument against the Presiding Bishop.  In the novel At the Inlet, the heroine, having just been ordained as her Anglican province’s first woman minister, ends her first sermon at her first Holy Communion as follows:

When I came here, your dear Chancellor wished me long life here, for which I am grateful. But this life is too painful to love it so much. ‘Jesus, in the days of his earthly life, offered prayers and supplications, with earnest cries and with tears, to him who was able to save him from death; and he was heard because of his devout submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from his sufferings; and, being made perfect, he became to all those who obey him the source of eternal Salvation.’ ‘And so Jesus, also, to purify the People by his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go out to him ‘outside the camp,’ bearing the same reproaches as he; for here we have no permanent city, but are looking for the City that is to come.’

This life is too painful to put the stock in it that Katherine Jefferts-Schori does, and her responses to those who don’t agree with her–like those in Northern Virginia–only make it more so.

If you want a life that transcends the pain of this life, click here

*The introduction to the site has been subsequently changed.