At the Inlet: July, Part 2 (Love is a team effort)

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That evening George and Darlene retired to the Crown Prince’s apartment, which actually overlooked the inlet.  The two had other things to discuss other than the view.

“You’re awfully quiet this evening,” George observed.

“It’s about Terry,” she answered.

“I saw you and Priscilla setting things up with Julian yesterday,” he said.  “Evidently, you two are better matchmakers than I thought.”

“We’ve got a long way to go, George,” Darlene replied.  “But Terry’s interested.  I told her we’d help her.”

George thought for a minute.  “She’s going to need it.  They’re both going to need it.”

“They make a cute couple.”

“So do we, but look how long it took us to get to the altar…at least their parents are either gone or out of the country.  They can’t interfere.”

“Don’t be so quick about that.  Someday our children may not like the choices we make.”

“Someday I might not like the choices I make.  But our first problem is Julian.  It’s one thing for him to go to Norman Cameron on a fact-finding mission—yes, I heard about that already from Devin.  It’s quite another to romance that eastern beauty after twenty years in a self-imposed monastery.  Knowing Julian, his fear of failure after the disaster with your sister is pretty high too.  Finally, he’s doubtless terrified at the reality of dating a Pentecostal.”

“That brings up the Bishop.”

“It’s not just the Bishop, Darlene.  Every Convention, those old coot reverends get together and tell each other horror stories about these people.  You’d think that every day for our clergy was Friday the 13th.  The truth of the matter is that Pentecostals are the biggest threat our Church has right at the moment, and after what I saw in Beran, I can see why.

“Our Bishop, of course, was opposed to Terry coming here in the first place.  But my father knows when to ignore his Bishop; besides, the Most Reverend was going out of town and his church cop was on the beach in Drago.  If our Bishop would think a little progressively like we have in the palace, he’d find a way to recruit Terry—since the Drahlan state has paid dearly for their stupidity, why not their church?”

“The only way to do that is to ordain her,” Darlene observed, “and neither our Bishop nor your father are ready for that.  I’m not sure Terry is ready for that either.”

“Darlene, if mighty Verecunda can fall, anything is possible on this Island.  But to the matter at hand—I think the best way to do this is as follows: you take care of Terry, I’ll handle Julian (with some help from Desmond,) and we’ll let my father take care of the Bishop.  Then we’ll see if Cupid has as good an aim as the Princess Julia.”

“You still haven’t gotten over that, have you?”

“Neither have Prince Peter or Prince Dennis, either.  You and Julia cleaned up in the hunt, and then took off two days to study the Bible with Princess Andrea while we were supposed to ‘catch up.’  That’s hard to take.”

“As you said, dear, anything is now possible on this Island.”

The next day, George and Desmond announced to their spouses that they were having a little “bachelors’” dinner on the royal yacht.  Neither spouse was too happy with the announcement until they were informed of the purpose of the meeting.  Darlene responded by keeping Terry over and feeding her while the men gathered for the evening.

It wasn’t just George and his favourite Canon either; Julian was invited also.  They had their dinner in the main salon of the yacht, then retired to the stern deck.  George’s lackey served them the orange liqueur that Serelia was famous for; Julian was sparing in its consumption.  It was a very nice evening, a beautiful ending to a beautiful day.  The Serelian flag flying off the stern flapped in the breeze; there were a few vessels still plying the lake but most were already at the dock, like the royal yacht itself.

George lit up a cigar as he sat and faced Julian and the Canon.  “My father gravely informed me that, if I were to ever light up one more of these below decks, he would strap me to the bridge and commit me to the Golden Light,” he observed.  “But I haven’t been smoking so many of these since our return from the trip.  That little event seems to have changed everything.”

“It certainly has,” agreed Desmond.

He took a long drag from his cigar and blew it over the stern.  “I never thought I would live long enough to have a meeting with two men of the cloth over a subject like this.”

“You mean Terry?” Desmond asked.

“Of course—but it’s still quite an event to discuss a woman with you fine clerics,” George added.

“Desmond seems to be doing well—he has three children,” Julian observed.

“You’re cleverer than I thought,” George said.  “But I understand that you’ve availed yourself of our intelligence services to help you in your quest.”

“Well, at least they’re good for something,” Desmond cynically observed.

“Their research is quite thorough,” Julian said.  “There can’t be much they don’t know.”

“I think they find the subject matter especially interesting,” George noted.  “What I’d like to know is when you found the subject matter interesting.”

Julian thought for a moment, then said, “When she came here in March with Prince William.  I had heard about her, as did everyone in Serelia.  When I saw her after church talking with Desmond, I was struck by how beautiful and dignified she was.”

“You should have invited yourself to the Deanery,” George said.

“My whole family is still talking about that,” Desmond added.  “She made quite an impact on everyone.”

“But I never thought that she would come here to live,” Julian resumed.  “When she did, I knew I had to do something.  Since I was unfamiliar with any of her family or background, the Intelligence Service seemed to be the best place to start.”

“I can’t blame you for being smitten by her,” George agreed.  “The first time I actually met her, it was by the lake in Barlin.  If I had known what I do now, I would have brought you along—it was a supremely romantic setting.  As the sun set, I watched her walk all around the lake from her house to the Royal Pavilion—she was so slender and graceful, I didn’t know whether to be smitten by lust or overawed by respect.  When she came up to the Pavilion and gave me that coldly formal greeting while I had to look up at her, I decided to stick with respect.  I can see why you reacted as you did.”

“Well, I wouldn’t go that far…” Julian replied.

“You don’t have to defend yourself—it’s the most wonderful thing you’ve done in a long time, although it was a little ham-handed to break the ice by reciting a police report,” George said, taking another drag on his cigar.

“You seem to be favourable to this relationship, Prince,” Desmond noted.

“And why shouldn’t I be?” George asked.

“Well, there’s the matter of her religion,” Desmond observed.

“Her religion…her religion…that seems to be an obsession in certain quarters,” George mused.  “So what, Canon, do you have against her religion?”

“Nothing, really…but Julian was ordained by a successor of the Apostles.  She comes from a sect.  And, of course, you know how they carry on in their services—there’s no telling what they do the rest of the time.”

“I know better than anyone what they do—I’ve been there,” George replied.  “I even saw her preach.”

“How was that?” Julian asked, eagerly.

“Never seen anything like that either.  They call what comes over her—what is it?—oh yes, ‘the anointing.’  Must work—saw a crutch or two left after the service.”

“You can’t be serious about phenomena like that!”  Desmond exclaimed.  “We all know that’s psychological manipulation.”

“If you’re right,” George said, “dear Julian here better give up right now and head to the altar—in both the accepted sense of the word and her’s too.”  He took another drag on his cigar, exhaling the contents again over the stern, then took another sip of his liqueur.  He looked straight at Julian.  “Julian, my dear man, your dear brother won’t agree with me on what I am about to say, but I’m going to say it anyway.  Our church has served us well this last three score and ten, and people here talk about their true religion coming from the Church of Serelia.  Across the border they talk about finding the secrets of eternal life in the Lodge.  Other places have other religions; they all claim they have the key to the divine.  But I am here to tell you that whatever ‘religion’ Terry has—if that word does justice to what she is really doing—comes straight from God, and I’m not sure how much credit the church she’s a minister in or any other church can take for it.”

There was a silence of the stern.  The sea gulls flew about and the small waves lapped up against the boat and dock.  Desmond stared across the lake; Julian looked at George blankly, almost like he was in shock.

“Our Bishop wouldn’t agree with you,” Desmond finally came back.

“I’m well aware of that—the Sunday she came to the Cathedral, he droned on and on over lunch in that vein,” George said.  “Even in front of Prince William.  By the time he was finished, you’d have thought a quarter of Drahla’s population were a bunch of multi-headed monsters that only spoke in tongues when they opened their mouths.  I’m glad he’s not Foreign Minister.  Even my father was embarrassed.  He needs to get a life on this issue—along with a lot of other people in our fair Church.”

“He can create difficulties for Julian and Terry,” Desmond warned.  “Fort Morris might need a rector.”

“Julian’s musical skills preclude that,” George observed.  “High church in the Cathedral isn’t so high without Julian—he knows that, too.”

“He can create other problems,” Desmond persisted.

“I guess we’ll just have to deal with them,” George answered.

“There’s one question that I had,” Julian piped up, suddenly.

“And what might that be, dear brother?” Desmond asked.

“Well…it’s about her…it’s about her…” Julian stammered.

“Morals, maybe?” George asked.

“Yes.”

“What can you expect from people who beat drums and dance about in church?” Desmond asked.

George thought for a second.  “I don’t know about the rest of them, but I can tell you she was a lady on the trip.  Darlene was impressed.  So was I.”

“Evidently Darlene was too impressed,” Desmond said.  “She gone head over heels over whatever happened to her on the return.  It could be dangerous.  It’s almost like she’s gone into a cult.”

George tensed in anger at that remark.  “Don’t you ever say that to me again,” he admonished Desmond.  “I don’t understand or agree with everything that’s going on with her, but in control she certainly is.  She—we—are facing serious matters—pregnancy is serious enough, but now she carries the heir of Beran as well as Serelia.  She needs all the help she can get.”  He went another round with his cigar and liqueur, then once again faced Julian directly.  “While we’re dealing with subjects like this, I would like to throw in one more opinion.”

“Which is?” Julian asked.

“If and only if you ever do make it permanent with her, I can assure you that she will more than make up for the years you’ve lost.”

“You think so?”

“Of course—under those long black dresses that are her stock in trade—and behind those black eyes of hers—is a lot of love.  Go for it, Julian.”

A couple of days later, Julian was in the Cathedral, practicing his organ playing for the following Sunday.  This was Julian’s favourite time of the week; he loved playing the Cathedral’s four-manual organ, and was acknowledged as the finest pipe organist on the Island.  He would get so wound up in practicing sometimes that he would forget to stop and have lunch.

The organ was located behind one of the two facing choir lofts on the Gospel side of the church.  As Julian was playing that day, he actually took a glance out from behind the keyboard and saw Terry, sitting alone in the opposing choir loft, in the seat closest to the communion rail.

“Oh, Terry, it’s you,” Julian said, surprised.

“Hi,” Terry answered.  She had a sultry tone to her deep voice he had never heard before.  He rose and came out from the organ and walked towards the centre of the church.  Terry got up and walked over in a lilting way to meet him.

They met in the centre, just in front of the altar.  They stopped facing each other without saying a word.  Terry then reached with both of her hands for both of his.  He jerked his hands upward ever so slightly, as if Terry’s hands were wired to the mains.

“Don’t be frightened,” Terry said.  She then wrapped her arms around his back and gave him a kiss on his lips that was too long for him and not long enough for her.  Finally he took a half step backward.  He looked at her with a wide-eyed look of terror, as if it was him that was now wired to the mains.  While his eyes were fixed on hers Terry managed to join their hands, as was her original intent.

“Would you like to see the organ?” Julian asked, regaining some composure.

“That would be wonderful,” Terry replied softly.  They went over and sat down, Julian at the centre of the bench and Terry to his right.

“Is there anything you would like for me to play for you?” he asked.

“Go ahead and keep playing what you were,” Terry answered.  Sitting and admiring him, she looked more like a girl on her first crush rather than the femme fatale she acted like only a minute ago.  She was in for a treat though.  Julian began by going over all of the manuals, stops and pedals of the organ, demonstrating what they did and how they sounded.  Towards the end of this lesson he interrupted himself with a question for Terry.

“Do you still play the piano?”

“I haven’t played since I was in sixth grade.”

“What a pity—with those long fingers, I’m sure you played beautifully.”

“My last year in competitions, I must have been very nervous.  Even though I made a ‘Superior’ rating, I missed being either a national winner or an honourable mention.  When the results were posted, my mother exploded and balled me out in front of everyone.  I was humiliated.  Two months later I told my teacher and everyone else I was quitting.  I’ve never played since.  I don’t think anyone in Drahla ever knew I played—besides, my classical training wouldn’t have done me much good there anyway, I can’t improvise.”

“You would do well here.  Would you like to take it up again?”

“Maybe someday…why don’t you get to your practice pieces?”  Julian went ahead and did so, adding a few others as well.  Watching him manipulate the stops, pedals and keys was to watch an artist at work; Terry was mesmerised at his dexterity.  Finally he finished yet another piece, turned to Terry and said, “Would you like to take a look at the organ pipes.”

“Yes.”  They went to the narthex and ascended a long and musty staircase the pipes above.  When he reached the top, Julian realised he was in a potentially risky spot, but by then it was too late.  Terry simply followed him around, taking everything in like a schoolgirl on a field trip.  Finally he looked at his watch, turned to her and said, “They should be serving lunch for the Cathedral staff.  Would you care to join us?”

“I would love to.”  They descended the same manner as they went up.  They walked hand in hand through the colonnade and the courtyard to the Cathedral kitchen and dining area; now both of them had a lilt in their step.  They reached the kitchen; Julian asked the cook, “Would it be possible if Miss Marlowe could join us?”

The cook looked at Terry; they recognised each other from Terry’s last visit.  “Come on in—we’ll be glad to have you today.”  They had their first “date” with the rest of the Cathedral staff, some of whom Terry knew from Tim Mallen’s church.

They got their meal from the kitchen, went into the small dining room and sat down.  Some of the other staff was already eating there.  Needless to say, Julian bringing in a woman with him turned a few heads as they sat down.

“Why don’t you return thanks, Julian,” Terry asked, him.

“Oh, yes,” he replied.  They bowed their heads.  “Bless us, oh Lord, and these thy gifts, which we are to receive from thy bountiful goodness.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.”  With that they started their meal.

“Since you seem to know so much about me,” Terry told him, “why don’t you tell me about your family?”

“There isn’t much to tell, really…” Julian said.

“Melchizedek had no father and mother—you’re not Melchizedek.  I’m interested,” Terry responded, a little irritated.

“Very well.  My father was sexton here at the Cathedral, as was his father before him.  So I grew up here.  It’s not a very exciting story.”

“You mean, like Samuel did at Shiloh?”

“I’ve never heard it put quite that way,” Julian said.

“I wonder if Samuel was as cute as you are,” Terry mused.

“I wouldn’t know,” Julian replied, off-balance.  “You seem to know the Holy Scriptures quite well.”

“I am a minister.  Besides, we kind of beat to death the whole business about Elkanah and Samuel at baby dedications.”

“Baby dedications?”

“Yes.  Our church doesn’t baptise infants, but after they are born their parents bring them to the front of the church and they’re dedicated to the Lord.  I did this many times; I dedicated all of Prince Dennis and Princess Andrea’s children, I married and baptised both of them too.  The last thing I did before coming here was marry Prince William and Princess Catherine.”

“And the next thing you’ll tell us is that you baptised them, right?” the assistant sexton butted in, sitting at the other end of the table.

“As a matter of fact, I did,” Terry coolly responded.

“You did all that?” Julian asked, incredulous.

“Oh yes—for a time I was their pastor too,” Terry added.

“Their pastor?  Oh, yes, I think I remember something about that.”

“But all of this isn’t telling me anything about your family,” Terry said, trying to get the conversation back on course.  “Are your parents still living?  Do they live here in town?”

“My father is deceased, right after the cease-fire,” Julian answered.  “My mother lives in Alemara with my sister Christina—she moved there after he passed away.”

“Christina…” she said, sensing a family resemblance from an old acquaintance.  “Isn’t her husband off rotation on their Council right at the moment.”

“Yes, you’re right.  They have four children.  I seem to be the black sheep in my family in that regard,” Julian admitted.

“Darlene told me about Theresa,” Terry said.

“You’re have that close of a relationship with Her Highness?” Julian said, surprised.

“I do,” Terry replied.  “She’s why I’m here.  At least until now.”

“I’m sure that what she has to say about me isn’t very complimentary,” Julian said.  “She is Theresa’s sister, after all.”

“Darlene finds the whole business very sad,” Terry answered, “but not on your account.  She knows you did right.  She knows the truth.”  Julian stared down at his plate for a second.  “Now, your father was the sexton here,” Terry resumed.

“They expected me to become sexton, but because of my music I went to university off of the Island.”

“What about your mother?  Where is she from?”

“That’s a long story,” Julian answered, trying to stall.

“Since you’ve got a winning hand, you might as well throw your cards on the table, Reverend,” the assistant sexton piped up again.

“Very well,” he replied reluctantly.  “My mother’s maiden name was Masters.”

“One of the five founding families of Serelia?” Terry asked, surprised.

“Yes.  Her father was Hiram Abif Masters, whose sister married King Albert.”

“Their family estate was north of what is now Barlin—the Drahlan royal estate, such as it is, occupies a part of that land,” Terry added.  “Masters died in a hunting accident.”

“As a result of the terms of the dowry,” Julian went on, “all of their land went to the Crown, since his sons had already died of war or disease.”

“Some of that ended up with King Henry’s father,” Terry informed Julian.  “More important, your mother’s sister is Queen Janet, isn’t she?”

“Younger sister,” he admitted.

Terry looked at Julian intently.  “You do have a winning hand, don’t you?”

“But not much to show for it,” Julian answered.  About that time the cook came out with two bowls of conch chowder, one for each of them.

“Made this special for you just now,” the cook informed them.

“Isn’t holiness the standard for God’s people?” Terry quizzed the cook.

“Certainly is,” the cook responded.  “But there’s a time for everything,” and with that she returned to the kitchen.  Terry and Julian looked at each other, then took the bowls and started to sup them slowly.

“Now, Julian, why did it take me so much effort to get that simple information about your family out of you?  Should I have gone to your intelligence service to start with?” Terry asked him.

Julian took a deep breath.  “When I looked at your background, and life you lead in Verecunda, I was worried that you might laugh at all this.  I didn’t think it was that important.”

“I’ve lived on this end of the Island long enough to know what’s important and what isn’t,” Terry answered.  “Anybody who plays the organ as well as you do and has ministered the way you have obviously has a special place in God’s plan.”

“Ministered?  What do you know about that?” Julian asked.

“Darlene told me about your coming to her and her parents after Ronald and Edwards’s Golden Light,” she answered.  “That was sweet.  That shows you care.”

“I was doing my duty,” Julian answered, straightening up.  “They were in grief.  No one else went there.  I didn’t even know if they wanted me to come.”

“Julian,” Terry said.  He felt her left hand stroking his right one, which was on the table.  “How do you know you have a relationship with God?”

He looked away for a second, then turned toward her.  “In our church, it starts with baptism, then through confirmation, and…”

“Look, Julian,” she interrupted, “I was raised Catholic.  I spent a long time with Father Avalon, learning many things.  I understand sacramental theology.  But I also know that there comes a time in everyone’s life when he or she has to make a decision about their own relationship with Jesus Christ, and that decision has eternal consequences.”  The room became very quiet; the cook at least was in silent prayer.

“Priscilla told me about yours,” he said.  “I’m not sure that Desmond believes it.”

“Do you?” she asked.

“Yes, I do, Terry,” he replied.  “I believe that you saw who you said you did.”

“Well then, what about your own relationship?”

There was another of those long pauses.  “Jesus Christ is man’s road to God. There is no other way for the forgiveness of sins.  I ask His forgiveness all of the time.  I pray and He answers.  I ask Him to help me to keep His commandments and He does.  I couldn’t have gotten through the last twenty years at least if I hadn’t.  I don’t want to spend eternity in Hell, and I also know that I love God and want to follow Christ and His teachings.  It’s been a lonely road because many people think that they can do a lot of things and still be a true Christian but for myself I cannot live that way.”

“Neither can I,” Terry responded.  “You answered my question.”  They finished up their meals, including the conch chowder.  After this, Terry asked Julian, “Do you have an office here?”

“Yes I do…it’s not much, though.”

“I’d like to see it.”  A reluctant Julian took her to his office, adjacent to the choir room.  Terry realised his reluctance: his organisation left a great deal to be desired of.  The most prominent feature of the place, though, was a stack of book cartons that lined one wall of the office.

“What are these?” she asked.

“These are the new Prayer Books for the pews—this is the first printing since the war.  They’ve been here for a month now.”

“Isn’t the sexton supposed to take care of this?”

“He claims he doesn’t have time for it—always having to do something for Desmond, he says.”

“So I guess you’re stuck with the job, then?”

“Unfortunately.”

“If you want, I’ll help you put them out.”

“Oh, that would be lovely…but they must first be stamped with the Cathedral’s stamp.  They we can put them out and collect the old ones.”  Terry realised that the sexton had left Julian a job that was not only bigger than he was; it was bigger than the both of them.

“Just a minute,” she said, and scurried out of the room.

“Where are you going, Terry?”

“To get some help.”

“Where?  Everyone’s busy.”

“They’re not that busy.”  She went back to the kitchen and asked her to round up as many of Mallen’s church people as she could find to get it out.  The cook complied; within fifteen minutes they had the cook, her husband the gardener and a couple of other palace staff members there.

Julian was amazed.  “How did you get all of these people here?”

“Should we tell him?” Terry asked them.  All of them had a fearful look but finally the gardener said, “He’s OK—it’s not much of a secret anyway.”

“They’re my church people, Julian,” Terry said.  “Since we’re all here, why don’t we pray over these books?  I don’t know as much as I’d like to about them, but I know the Word is there in good measure, and there’s other good stuff too.”  With that they laid hands on the boxes and prayed a very Pentecostal concert prayer over these Books of Common Prayer for the Church of Serelia.  They rounded up two stamps and the women set first to stamping the books, then the men horsed the books down the stairs and into the nave, where Julian supervised putting them out and collecting the old ones, which they unceremoniously deposited in the sexton’s office.  It wasn’t long before they were done.

“I can’t believe this—thank you all so much,” Julian said.  They dispersed to their normal duties.  Julian turned to Terry and said, “I didn’t expect you to come and do labour for me today.”

“A lot of unexpected things happened today,” Terry said, kissing Julian again.

“Well, I know you’ve been here a long time, but now I must prepare for evensong.  Would you care to stay?”  Terry agreed and only left the Cathedral after the evening meal there.  Julian escorted her to the corner of the church nearest the palace.

“I hope I haven’t taken you away too much from the Princess Darlene,” Julian told her.

“No—her mother came from Amherst to spend the day with her.”

“Will you come again?” Julian asked, plaintively.

“God willing, yes,” she answered.  They kissed and embraced for a long time, then Terry took her leave.  Julian stood at the entrance to the colonnade, watching her walk out of the Cathedral close and into the palace grounds, not returning to his apartment until she was out of sight.  Terry for her part returned to the palace, confident that the day had ended far better than it had started.

Better Late Than Never, Michael Medved

We like Michael Medved’s piece on Why Liberals Hate The Ten Commandments.  He hits a lot of the kinds of points we make on this site in one swipe.  But he could have said something about God as a competitor of the liberal, as we did back in 2001.  Evidently his liberal friends (he went to Yale with Hillary Clinton) don’t think of Marx very often; he could have thrown in Marx’s quote about theft as well.

More Than Dreams: Ali


The first in the More Than Dreams series is the story of Ali, from Turkey.

Click here for the trailer for the series.

The Preferential Option of the Poor

One of the most militant expressions of left-wing Christianity was and is Liberation Theology, that creation of Latin American Roman Catholicism that brought Marx into the Church for so many years.  One of the enduring slogans of that movement was "the preferential option for the poor," which means that the Church acts in such a way that the poor have an advantage in the result.  Although one thinks first of Marx’s dictum in the Critique of the Gotha Programme "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need," the truth is that the Gospels are tilted strongly in the direction of the lower reaches of society, to say nothing of James:

“My Brothers, are you really trying to combine faith in Jesus Christ, our glorified Lord, with the worship of rank? Suppose a man should enter your Synagogue, with gold rings and in grand clothes, and suppose a poor man should come in also, in shabby clothes, And you are deferential to the man who is wearing grand clothes, and say–“There is a good seat for you here,” but to the poor man–“You must stand; or sit down there by my footstool,” Is not that to make distinctions among yourselves, and show yourselves prejudiced judges? Listen, my dear Brothers. Has not God chosen those who are poor in the things of this world to be rich through their faith, and to possess the Kingdom which he has promised to those who love him? But you–you insult the poor man! Is not it the rich who oppress you? Is not it they who drag you into law-courts? Is not it they who malign that honorable Name which has been bestowed upon you?” (James 2:1-7)

In listening to the aftermath the recent Anglican Primates Meeting in Tanzania, one hears the "noise of the renegades" (a good Chinese Communist phrase,) i.e., the liberals in the Episcopal Church, whining about the "spirit of inclusiveness" and "discussion of justice and morality" that has been checked by the African and other conservative Global South primates.  For them, inclusion of homosexuals in the hierarchy of the church and same-sex blessings and marriage is an issue on par with racial equality (something many black people in the U.S. find offensive) and the many other causes liberals espouse.

But let’s think about the passage from James.  The Lord’s brother (that’s right, Roman Catholics) makes an assumption: "…suppose a poor man should come in also…"  In the church that James led, that was a regular occurance.  But in the modern Episcoal Church–along with the other Main Line churches–that is an exceptional event in the general scheme of things.  TEC remains a largely white, upscale church, wondering how to fix the problem but seemingly unable to do so.  The poor go elsewhere.  In the meanwhile the homosexuals, an upscale group in their own right, remain a tempting target for TEC, thus all of the moves towards accomodating them.

On the other hand, had Presiding Bishop Jefferts-Schiori lifted up her eyes and look around her at the Primates’ meeting, she would have seen prelates whose churches have quite a few poor people–millions of them, in fact.  Many of the divisions that plague the Anglican Communion–to say nothing of Christianity in general–stem from disparities such as this.  In spite of the TEC blunders on, attacking the Global South for their lack of social concern when in fact TEC’s "social concern" is badly misplaced.

It is our core contention that any church whose membership’s average per capita income is above the average for the country it’s in is not really serious about social justice.  Its social justice is mere paternalism whose main purpose is to assuage guilt about its superior economic status, not to really fix the problems in front of it.  Supporting groups of like elevated status like the homosexuals only shows how far removed from real social justice these people have strayed.  This doesn’t only apply to churches; it also works in the secular realm as well.

To put it in terms Liberation Theology people would understand, the church that isn’t the "preferential option of the poor" cannot have the "preferential option for the poor."  Until TEC recognises this simple fact, everything they do along these lines, from their enthusiasm for the Millennium Development Goals to the money-favouring they spread around the Communion–will be a farce.

Political Correctness Resorts to Vigilante Force

It’s bad enough that a federal judge has ordered a Massachusetts child to learn about the homosexual lifestyle to the end that the child will become a "productive citizen."  What really hit me personally was the following:

However, in April 2006 the same school presented the book "King and King," about homosexual romances and marriage, to second-graders and again refused to provide notification.

Parker and other parents followed with the federal civil rights lawsuit, alleging school officials were refusing to follow state law.

Just days later, David Parker’s son, Jacob, was beaten up at Estabrook Elementary, officials said. MassResistance said a group of 8-10 kids surrounded him and took him out of sight of "patrolling aides," then pummeled and beat him.

One of the hardest lessons I found growing up in Palm Beach is that peer pressure has the force of law when the "authorities" either can’t or won’t do anything about it.  Moreover I don’t think that this act of bullying was coincidental either.  I suppose it’s all part of the "socialisation" that public schools (and some private ones as well) are supposed to be so good at doing.  Had Jacob Parker attacked one of his peers, the consequences would have doubtless been frightful.

At the Inlet: July, Part 1 (Romance at the Dean’s Table)

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The Sunday after her presentation to the royal family was Terry’s first time back in the Cathedral since her visit in March.  The Cathedral’s high-church splendour had not dimmed since that time.  Since it was the first Sunday of the month, the Holy Communion was celebrated; Dean Desmond Lewis, better known as “the Canon,” was the celebrant.  The Bishop was in Alemara, making his way to Point Collina to witness the consecration of Raymond des Cieux as the new Catholic Bishop of Verecunda.  The Anglicans in the former Verecundan territories were still sorting out their future; the Bishop was involved in that also.

The service finished, the King and Queen returned to the palace, but the Canon and his wife Priscilla had invited George, Darlene and Terry to the deanery for lunch to welcome Terry.  They also invited the Reverend Julian Lewis, Desmond’s older brother, who was the Organist and Choirmaster, to join in.  Julian was a thin man without the best posture, about 5 centimetres taller than Terry with blue eyes and untidy medium coloured hair with streaks of white interspersed.

Once everyone was at the Deanery, it was Priscilla’s task to seat everyone at table.  Darlene usually liked for Terry to sit with her, but Priscilla got a flash of genius, and seated Terry next to Julian, who was in turn next to his brother at the head of the table.  Opposite of Julian and Terry were George and Darlene; although the latter was momentarily miffed, she too received the same flash of genius.  Priscilla was at the other end with her three children.

Once Desmond returned thanks, the meal began.  George and the Canon always had something to talk about; Priscilla and Darlene interacted with the children, but kept one eye open each to the remaining guests.

“Isn’t your full Christian name Theresa Anne?” Julian asked Terry.

“Why, yes it is…I haven’t been called that in years.  Hardly anyone in Drahla ever knew that.”

“I think it’s a lovely name.”

“Thank you.”

“And you received it when you were baptised at St. Sebastian Church in Point Collina, where you grew up and were confirmed.”

“That’s right.  It’s been a long time.”

“And I also understand that you were twice Honourable Mention in the national elementary piano competitions in Verecunda?”

“I was,” Terry answered.  She found this review of her life a little disorienting, even after her session with the Intelligence Service.  “I’ve hardly played since.”

“What a pity,” Julian said.  “I remember being in university with Cynthia Drouillet.  Didn’t her mother Elaine teach you piano?”

“She certainly did…you know quite a lot, don’t you?  Where’s Cynthia these days?”

“She’s head of the music department at the University of Verecunda—her husband is Liam Gallen.”

“Seamus’ brother…their old foreign minister.  I wonder if Liam’s a Druid like Seamus.”

“I’m not sure, really”

“Well, I’m surprised there’s something you don’t know.”  Terry gave Julian an irritated look.

“There’s one interesting fact about you that’s as plain as your face,” Julian said.

“And what might that be?”

“Your grandmother, Ling Shu-Yi—surely you look a lot like her, with your dark, Oriental features.”

“That seems to be quite the subject here.  Actually, most of us on the Gerland side tend to be dark haired too—I’m not sure what happened to my cousins Patty and Lisa…I guess I’m the darkest of the bunch.”

“‘Dark but lovely,’ as the Song of Songs says,” Julian came back.  “Perhaps you have not had the opportunity to watch your own vineyard in a while.”

Terry looked at Julian intently; for him those dark eyes that held such fascination became windows into the depths of her pain and loneliness.

“‘It is not good that the man should be alone,’” Terry finally responded, labouring to get the words out.  “Not much fun for us either.”  Their conversation turned to other things; Terry found out that her life had a living, walking encyclopaedia in Julian Lewis.  By the end of the meal Priscilla and Darlene realised that their flash of genius was in the process of bearing fruit.

Terry and Darlene met as usual the next morning, but Terry wasn’t in a mood for Bible study just yet.  “There’s something else we need to discuss,” Terry informed her friend.

“What’s that?”

“How did the Reverend Julian Lewis”—

“—he can properly be called Canon, but he usually leaves that for his brother”—

“—how did he find out all of that information about me?  Did the Intelligence Service post all of that stuff they interviewed me about on the street?”

“Well, not exactly,” Darlene answered.  After a pause, she said, “Julian and Norman Cameron are very close.  Norman’s son-in-law, Abel Mason, was Prince Arthur’s adjutant; they were both killed in a border dispute with the Claudians.  His daughter Melissa died in a cholera epidemic right at the start of the war with the Drahlans.  Norman and his wife ended up raising their three children.  Julian was their choirmaster and taught them music at the Cathedral School.  He helped them a lot through it all.  I guess that you must have caught Julian’s eye and he went to Norman and got this information.”

“But why couldn’t he have asked me all this?  Why did he have to sneak around and get it from the Intelligence Service?”  Terry asked, frustrated.

“Maybe that was his clumsy way of wanting to make sure that he should be interested in you.”

“So why is all the risk with me?  I don’t know anything about him.”

“To answer your first question,” Darlene began, “no, he’s never been married before.  Moving to the second one, no, he’s not like your brother, and you can be sure that Norman Cameron or everyone else in this place wouldn’t trust their children to him if he had problems there either.  This is a small place with few secrets—at least for current events.”

“It’s still not right that I be the subject of yet another Serelian intelligence investigation.  That’s not the way to endear someone.”

“Terry,” Darlene replied deliberately, “your heart has been broken over and over again in your lifetime.  His was only broken once but that’s all it took.  He did what he did to try to protect himself from a repeat of the last disaster.”

“Which was?” Terry asked.

“It involved Theresa.”

“Your sister?”

“Yes.”  A pained look came over Darlene’s face.  “Right after he came back from university on the mainland, he fell in love with Theresa.  They met while she was in town.  They dated some and then they became engaged.

“As you know, dating is a dangerous business around here when one of the first families of the realm is involved—even worse with two.  My father didn’t think Julian had enough potential, so he pressured her into breaking the engagement.  Julian was crushed.  He’s never seen anyone since.

“As for Theresa, my father managed to marry him off to one of the Bishop’s favourites within three months.  He would have been Dean if he hadn’t gotten involved in some ‘extracurricular activities,’ as they say in school.  They patched it up, but his big career in the church was finished.  He’s Rector in Denton now.  She’s like you—she only wears long sleeves, but in her case that’s to hide where she slashed her wrists in a suicide attempt.”

Terry was silent for a bit.  Then she said, “What you do think of Julian?”

“You can see the outside for yourself, although the woman’s touch would probably fix some of that…Terry, if it were anybody else, I’d talk a lot about his likes, dislikes, etc.  But I know what you think is important—and now I agree—but I’m new at this, and I don’t want to pass judgment on him or everyone else…but I can’t think of another way to put it.”

“Put what, Darlene?”  Terry asked.  Now her curiosity was aroused.

“I’ve lived here all my life—this place is all I know, pretty much.  I know just about everyone here too, and that includes most all of the clerics in this Church of Serelia of ours.  He’s the only one—Terry, I just can’t put it any other way—that loves God as much as you do, albeit in a different way, because this is a different church from yours.

“When Ronald and Edward were killed, they were committed to the Golden Light out here on Lake Serelia.  My parents and I came into town and were staying at the Inn.  Nobody in this church really likes to conduct the service—it’s really kind of pagan, as we saw with your brother, even though we’ve cleaned it up—but it was imposed by the kings.  The Bishop conducted their funeral service at the Cathedral, but no one—not the Bishop, not the Canon, who had just made Dean, not even Theresa’s husband—would do the actual dockside commitment.  So Julian got stuck with it.  We met at the palace dock just after sunset, he conducted the service, the boat was lit, and I went to pieces just like I did in Verecunda.

“When that was done, we went back to the Inn; my father, mother and I were staying in the same suite your brother used to stay in.  Theresa and her husband disappeared into the Bishop’s Palace—I think she wanted to come but he wouldn’t let her.  We were sitting in our room numb with grief when the door knocked.  It was Julian.  He stayed with us and talked with us to about three in the morning.  Towards the end he gave us a little homily on heaven, on how we would get past the pain of this life and how we would live with God forever. It was the first time I had heard anything on the subject that really made me long for the place.  Then he gathered us together for a really sweet prayer together before left.”

Terry was wiping her eyes at this story, unable to say much of anything.

“So now the decision is yours,” Darlene resumed.  “This is a tricky place for two people to fall in love.  Being what you are, and have been, and being what he is, will make people talk.  Strange things may happen.  You need to make your mind clearly whether you’re interested in him or not.  If you do, you need to know that we’re with you and we’ll help you through these shoals any way we can.”

“Ultimately, only God’s will matters,” Terry answered.  “I can’t say at this point what that is for Julian and myself.  But yes, Darlene, I am interested in Julian, and your help means a lot to me right now.”

“Then may God’s will be done,” Darlene replied.

“Let’s get to some Bible study before we attack this paper mound again,” Terry said, lightening up a bit.

More Than Dreams: The Trailer

Positive Infinity is pleased to launch its podcast with the video series More Than Dreams.  It is the story of five people whose search for real meaning in life led them to a direct encounter with God himself.  This week we feature the trailer for the series; in the coming weeks, we will feature the stories themselves.  You can find links to them in the comments below.

Pure Men and Women Too: A Lenten Poem

Pure men, and women too, all of the world unspotted,
That they might reach the heights to holy saints allotted,
That they might fortify the heart against life’s stress,
Composed such prayers as still comfort us and bless.
But none has ever stirred in me such deep emotions
As that the priest recites at Lententide devotions;
The words which mark for us that saddest season rise
Most often to my lips, and in that prayer lies
Support ineffable when I, a sinner, hear it;
“Thou, Lord of all my life, avert Thou from my spirit
Both idle melancholy and ambition’s sting,
That hidden make, and joy in foolish gossiping.
But let me see, O God, my sins, and make confession,
So that my brother be not damned by my transgression,
And quicken Thou in me the breath and being of
Both fortitude and meekness, chastity and love.”

Alexander Sergeivich Pushkin, 1836

The Real Meaning of Affirming Catholicism

In our last three posts on the different parts of Anglicanism, we’ve looked first at Anglo-Catholicism, then Evangelicalism, and after that the Charismatic renewal.  Now we turn our attention to a group of people who seem to have influence well out of proportion to their numbers, or for that matter to the substance of their message.  We’re talking about Affirming Catholics.

And the last point is the tricky part: it’s hard to figure out just what their message is, other than a) we need "unity" and b) we need to do so in a liturgically beautiful manner.  On the Affirming Catholics’ UK site, the "what we think" page is still "in the future," making one wonder about the thinking that’s supposed to be there.  Perhaps it’s like my Muscovite friend said about the Russians: act first, think later.  So we’re left to our own devices to sort this out.

As with any form of liberalism, an individual or group that attempts to affirm everything affirms nothing.  However, there may be a little method to their madness.  One thing that we’ve come to understand in the three studies that we’ve done on various components of Anglicanism is that many of these are the result of ideas being carried to their logical conclusion.  The Reformation is a classic example; it is Augustianian theology, which had loomed large for more than a millennium before Luther, taken to its logical conclusion.  The same can be said with Wesley and sanctification.  Is some of this going on with Affirming Catholicism?

We said that Roman Catholicism’s greatest mistake was to set the Roman Catholic Church up as a formal mediator between man and God.  That means that the church is free to define (or redefine) the terms and conditions of our relationship with God, both for this life and the life to come.  Roman Catholicism has a strong enough continuity to avoid some of the worst abuses of this, but not all of them.  And, if that continuity is broken, all bets are off, as is the case with groups such as the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Since liberals are the breakers of continuity par excellence, with an idea like Affirming Catholicism they can proceed to redefine just about everything.  One only needs to look at the TEC since the 1960’s to see what this means.  It does explain one important shift in the rhetoric.  Back in the 1960’s liberals in the church tended to speak in strongly secuarlistic terms, such as the wholesale denial of basic Christian doctrine.  Today they talk in religious ones, even appropriating terminology and phrases from groups diametrically opposed to their idea.  The worst example of this are the endless claims that the move towards pansexuality are led by the Holy Spirit.   They swiped the idea that anything could be led by the Holy Spirit from the Pentecostal/Charismatic world.  No self-respecting Pentecostal, for example, would make statements such as this that are contrary to Scripture, even as he or she believes that the Holy Spirit still speaks today.  But, if you can redefine the religion, you can redefine God, or at least think you can.  As the Moody Blues used to say in Days of Future Passed, "But we decide which is right/And which is an illusion?"

Beyond that, a central hallmark of Roman Catholicism is that the church dispenses the grace entrusted to it through the sacraments.  The most prominent expression of that concept is eucharistic theology, where the transubstantiated Body and Blood of Jesus Christ are considered by some to virtually send people to eternal life by themselves.  But the Catholic church can read the New Testament, and knows that those who receive this heavenly food unworthily (for them by not receiving absolution through the sacrament of penance) will achieve an entirely different result from those who take the proper preliminary steps.

But Affirming Catholicism is about getting rid of restrictions such as this.  No where is this more obivious than their idea about baptism.  Their idea about baptism is simple: if it’s done, you’re in.  You have a "place at the table" and are eligible for anything from communion to ordination, irrespective of anything else you do or say.  The only thing you really have to do is to live up to the last clause in the Baptismal Covenant (that "contract on the Episcopalians") to spead peace and justice, and this is most easily done by getting the government to do the work for you through political action.

The only minor detail that Affirming Catholics forget is, once anything goes, a church is completely dispensible.  All that’s left to do is party, and since this was posted on Mardi Gras, that’s probably the most substantive result of Affirming Catholicism.

At the Inlet: June, Part 3 (A new job brings the end of dignity)

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Serelia’s palace compound was at the very northern tip of the peninsula on which Serelia town and Serelia Beach were situated; it took up about the same amount of space as a regular eighteen-hole golf course with club house and other amenities.  The living quarters for the royal family and the personal staff were situated at the northern corner of the compound, where the inlet (on the northwest side) and the palace beach (on the northeast side) met.  The Sea Garden, which faced the beach, essentially connected the living quarters to the palace proper with throne rooms, studies and reception and banqueting halls with a colonnade that ran behind the Garden.  Further down the beach were the living quarters for the Cathedral staff, an uninspiring three-storey concrete block building whose apartments facing the ocean gave a spectacular view.  Behind the apartments was the Cathedral itself.

On the lake side of the compound, the dock was just below the western corner of the compound.  At the south corner of the compound was the maintenance shed.  Between the two were some of the recreational facilities of the compound.  Between the maintenance shed and the main gate was the Bishop’s Palace, which meant that, when he was in the Cathedral, the bishop only needed to walk out of his front door, across the main road into the palace, and through another small gate to be at the Cathedral.  The entire palace compound was well kept and beautifully landscaped, a contrast with the slovenly look of the rest of the surrounding towns.  Just beyond the wall next to the Bishop’s Palace were the main ministries of state, such as the Chancellor’s office, the Foreign Ministry, the other ministries and of course Serelia’s intelligence and police services.

Terry’s quarters were actually in the royal living quarters, but on the inland side away from the apartments of the royal family.  She was to find out later that the apartment she lived in had actually been George’s before his brothers’ deaths made him Crown Prince; it was unoccupied until recently and the Queen supervised a hasty redecoration before Terry’s arrival.  It was almost as roomy as the house she had in Barlin, with a ceiling nearly 3m high, but the windows were somewhat small.

She didn’t have much time to settle in, though; the Serelians were more thorough planners than she expected.  After years in a laid back bureaucracy such as the Drahlans had, she was forced to hit the ground running the next day to meet with their requirements.

Her first stop was for a physical by the Royal Physician, who not only treated the royal family but had a patient list of all of the palace and cathedral staff and some people attached to some of the other ministries as well.  The office staff was overawed by her height of 182 centimetres, especially combined with her relatively diminutive weight.

“I am amazed that the King would retain a woman that the entire royal family is forced to look up to,” the doctor commented.

“That’s what the elevated throne is for,” Terry shot back.  The doctor also noted that the hunting knife she carried would not be permitted in the palace.

What she didn’t fully realise was that much of the basic information was being passed along to the Royal Serelian Constabulary, which was adding off of this information to her dossier.

When finished, Kyle escorted her to the building that housed both the Constabulary and the Royal Serelian Intelligence Service.  She was first fingerprinted and photographed; she mused to herself that this would have been her first act in Verecunda had her brother gotten his way.  She was then interviewed by Kyle’s superior, a portly man in his early 60’s named Norman Cameron, who turned out to be a Deputy Director and head of the Service.  Cameron’s modus operandi proved to be deceptively relaxed; all through their interview, people from both the Intelligence Service and Constabulary would drop by, be introduced to her, and in turn ask their own questions, especially if they were veterans of the recent war.  All the while Cameron went through every part of her life, from her birth and childhood in Verecunda through her years at the Avalon Retreat and then in Drahla.  He left no stone unturned; where she lived, her political and religious activities, her brief marriage and family, even her years into drugs and prostitution.  She struggled through much of it, almost tearfully from time to time; her mental state was not helped by the Serelians’ preference for very strong coffee.  The interview went on through lunch (which they brought in) and into a good part of the afternoon.  One point of the Serelians’ interest concerned her family history.

“Your grandmother was Chinese?” Cameron asked.

“She’s still living, the last I heard,” Terry said.  “Yes, she is.  My father’s father is from the mainland.  He brought her back from China, and my father was also born on the mainland.  When his father died, my grandmother moved to Verecunda to live near my father, who had moved there to start his business.  When he died she moved back to the mainland.”

“Do you speak Chinese?”

“A few phrases, perhaps…not really.”

“Have you ever been to China?”

“No, I haven’t.”

“Have you ever worked for either the People’s Republic or the Republic of China on Taiwan?”

“No—why do you keep asking me about this?”

He paused for a second.  “Until around the time of the cease-fire, we would not permit anyone with any non-white background to settle here or become a subject without a Royal waiver.  It’s a holdover from the collapse of Beran.  The fact that you have this in your background is still something of a novelty to us.”

“I hope,” Terry stated, “that the recent experience of your Prince and Princess on the other end of the Island would enlighten you on this subject.”

“I have no doubt that it will,” Cameron replied.  “We are finding that common values are more important than a common race.  But we are slow to change.  Perhaps you can help us with this.”  They went on with other topics; Cameron spent much of the last part of the session talking about her brother.  When he was done, he asked, “Do you have any questions for me?”

“Other than the basic facts,” Terry answered, “you haven’t really gotten into my religious beliefs.  Since you haven’t missed anything else, why not?”

“The ecclesiastical constable—there’s only one—is on holiday in Drago right at the moment,” Cameron explained.  “I’m sure he’ll want to spend time with you when he gets back.  I understand, though, that the King and Prince plan to take the matter up directly with the Bishop.”  With that the interview was mercifully complete; Cameron thanked her for her patience.  As she left his office, one of his secretaries presented her with a provisional drivers licence, photograph, data and all, for her signature.  “We have it on very good authority that you’re quite good at driving, Miss Marlowe,” Cameron observed, standing behind her.

“Very good authority, indeed,” Terry answered, cracking the first smile all day.

Her last appointment was another doctor’s visit, this time the gynaecologist.  She braced herself for yet another invasive procedure but she was in for a pleasant surprise: the doctor was also Darlene’s.  He was originally from Verecunda, and his father had been both her mother’s doctor and had actually delivered Terry when she was born.  Since it was the end of the day, he had some time after the examination to discuss other subjects.

“This has been a difficult day for me—I almost feel violated,” Terry sighed.

“You visited the Intelligence Service?” the doctor queried.

“Yes.”

“This is a strange country in many ways,” the doctor observed.  “In Verecunda, people wanted privacy, but they bared all any chance they got.  Here, everybody knows everything, but it’s a modest, conservative type of place.  What you went through with the police, though, is a product of the war.  The Crown was blindsided by King Henry’s declaration of independence.  They decided that wouldn’t happen again.  That’s especially true with you—everyone you talked with either fought in the war, had relatives who did, and everyone lost someone they knew or loved, like you.  When the palace announced you were coming, there was a lot of grumbling in the bureaucracy.  That’s probably why they allowed them to grill you the way they did.  But the worst is over—if they decide you’re okay, they’ll stick with you.  This is still very much a place of ‘the rule of men’ as opposed to ‘the rule of law,’ they just want to know who you are and whether they can trust you.”

“You left Verecunda, didn’t you?”

“Had too—my father wouldn’t submit to their nationalised health system, so they used the legal system to break him financially.  Broke me too—we were in practice together.  He tried moving to Collina but they caught up with him.  I went further.  It took a lot of getting used to, but we love it here. We’re the only ob-gyn practice this side of Alemara—we get a lot of patients from Drahla and Claudia, too.  My son came back here after medical school to go into practice with me.  Only hitch to that was that we had to get special permission from the King to bring his wife here.”

“Why?”

“She’s from India—they went into shock when they saw how dark she is.  When she first started teaching at the Cathedral School, some of her kids made fun of her colour—until the principal paddled the ringleaders.  After that they thought she was beautiful.  One thing about this place—if they invest someone with authority, they expect respect, no matter who they are.  Now she’s principal at St. Matthew’s School.  I’m not sure, but I think most of the grandchildren will come back here too.”

They talked for some time afterwards, but the workday was ending and it was time to go home.  Terry returned to the palace to dine with the staff; the Serelians weren’t much on salary, but their benefits were better.  After that she returned to her room and collapsed.

There was no rest for the weary; she was off again early the next morning, this time to the Chancellor’s office.  She was ushered in to Devin’s office, which was spacious and well appointed.  As she entered, she noted the requisite picture of the King behind his desk, but also one or two of the royal family; some in the photos were gone now.  But she was in for more than pictures; George was there along with Devin.

“We royals are supposed to be ‘out of the loop’ in this process until it’s done, but I wouldn’t miss this part for the world.”

Devin stood behind his desk, Terry in front and George to the side.  “It is normal,” Devin began, “for someone who is about to become a subject to take an oath of loyalty and fealty.  However, in your case, the transfer of fealty document that His Majesty executed is technically sufficient.  To be complete, though, we ask that you sign a declaration that you are in agreement with the terms and conditions of the transfer document.”  He handed her a sheet of paper, which she read for a minute.

“This is fine,” she said.  She laid it down on the desk and signed it.  Devin went ahead and witnessed the document, but to her surprise George witnessed it also.

Devin stood straight behind his desk, looked at Terry, and said, “You are now fully a subject of the King of Sererlia.  May God grant you long life and happiness in the realm of the King.”

“Welcome home, Terry,” George said, lightly hugging her.  She thought she caught sight of a tear in both Devin’s and George’s eyes.

“Is this process complete?” Terry asked.

“Well…not quite,” George said.  “There are some more people who want to spend some time with you.”

“Popularity is hard to handle around here,” Terry sighed.

The first person was Foreign Minister Paul Serlin, who was glad to see her again.  But he had a more specific purpose in mind.

“Our ambassador in Verecunda has noted that your name is listed in the proceedings for land restoration in both Collina and Uranus, as an heiress of Lucian Gerland.  President Dell personally came to him about your case in Collina just yesterday, when he got wind you were coming here.  Since you will be very involved with your duties here, would you like for us to handle some of the paperwork and appearances for you?”

Terry was caught off guard by this request.  It had been a long time since she had thought of the matter.  She considered things a minute, then said, “That would be very kind, although I would like to make the final decisions and the really important appearances.”

“That will be fine,” Paul said.  “We’ll put together the necessary paperwork to facilitate this.”  He paused, and then said, “You may be interested to note that we had a cross-border family reunion in May—we’re trying to sort some of our family divisions out.  We even had a reconciliation service at our church in Fort Morris.”

“I heard about that,” Terry said.  “Max never intended to cause the split that took place.”

“Life has so many unintended consequences, doesn’t it?” Paul asked philosophically.  He then took her to the Central Bank to set up her bank account.  The Bank was in a little confusion as they were changing the official currency from Verecundan to Alemaran.  They also brought up the issue of the proceeds from her house sale; Terry was getting used to everyone knowing her business before she did.

The last stop was the Ministry of Defence.  They wanted to talk with her about the war.  Terry was a little nervous about this part, but she found out that there wasn’t much the Serelians didn’t know about the Drahlan’s war effort.  The questioning was neither as intense nor as personal as with the Intelligence Service, but everyone in the office wanted to speak with her, and their hospitality was excellent.

With her ordeal of process over with, she returned to the palace, where some of the staff went through some of the ‘ins and outs’ of the palace itself.  When the evening was done, she collapsed more swiftly from exhaustion than she had the night before.
The next day, after breakfast she was escorted to the Crown Prince’s study.  It was on the top floor of the living quarters; it overlooked the palace grounds and looked out towards the lake and West Serelia.  She entered the room and her eyes first fell on Darlene, who rose to embrace her.

“Sorry for the ordeal we’ve put you through,” Darlene said.  “It seems that your ideal of Christian trust in government has slipped out of our grasp.”

“Maybe we can do something about that,” Terry said.  “But this is a dangerous world we live in—I guess it’s necessary.”

“Why don’t we stop and pray before we start our work?” Darlene asked.  “You always seemed to like that.”  They sat down and prayed for a long time about each other, the royal family, Serelia, Drahla and the whole Island, and other things.  After they finished Terry took her anointing oil and anointed all of the doors and windows of the study, praying that God’s Spirit would fill the place and them too in all that they did there and anywhere else.

With that done, Terry nervously eyed the extensive stacks of paper that surrounded them, but Darlene had some serious Bible questions, so they went to these.  That took up most of the day, after which Darlene started with a brief overview of the chartering process.  When the day was done, Darlene invited Terry to dinner with the royal family for a more proper welcome.

Terry’s life fell into a predictable routine more rapidly than she realised.  After her early morning prayers and devotion, she dined with the palace staff, then headed over to the maintenance shed for a brief Bible study and prayer time with a mixture of household and maintenance staff.  Most of those who came were members of Tim Mallen’s church, but as the summer progressed and turned into fall others would join in as well.  Then she came back to the study for her day with Darlene, starting off with Darlene’s Bible questions, then ploughing through the long stacks of charter petitions, both initial and amendment ones, taking their dinner and breaks for exercise or whatever they had in mind.

Terry was amazed at how, with the Serelians’ efficiency in other areas, how they had no standard procedures at all for processing charters, not even a consistent fee schedule.  Darlene explained that the King had always kept the process in the palace; it was an important instrument in the control of his realm.  Nevertheless they worked towards normalising the process, if only for their own sanity.

Teaching Darlene about the Bible also proved a challenge.  Terry had been teaching and preaching from the Word since her days in the Avalon Retreat but Darlene broke the mould as a student.  To begin with, after her return she went into it totally unaided, but soon got some help from her time during the hunt with Princesses Andrea and Julia.  Coming back to court and going into her pregnancy, things got disorganised again, so Terry’s first task was to focus her back on some basics.

This yielded mixed results, because Darlene’s interests went to two parts of the Word: the Gospels and the historical books.  The Gospels allowed Terry to show Darlene basic Christian principles, some of which Darlene knew and some of which she didn’t. As for the historical books, Terry had always found it an uphill battle to teach about these to most people.  In Darlene’s case, they were of special interest because of Darlene’s ancestry and current position.  Darlene would regale Terry with stories of old Beran and her ancestors’ deeds along with more recent ones, which allowed Terry to relate those to the Bible.  In the process of this they found they shared one perspective in common: that good things don’t happen because one simply follows a moral or doctrinal method but because people who love God and are led by Him go out and make it happen for His glory.

Once the day was done, Terry’s normal procedure was to dine with the palace staff again.  Unless she had something pressing, it wasn’t long before she retired, as she found herself exhausted by that time.