Tag Archives: House

On Prophets, Priests, and Prodigies

Dearest Father,

I was occupied with a particularly difficult problem a few weeks back. This was not one of the many philosophical and abstract issues that have plagued me for years now, but a mundane, earthly problem, one that concerned my chosen profession. I sat for hours puzzling over the issue, and after consulting with fellows in my trade I came to a hackish but working solution. Of course this was not the first difficult problem I have faced, and the only way it would be the last would be if my death were but a few days away. However, my struggle over this one issue drew my attention to something I appear to have overlooked in letters past.

I mentioned while writing you about free will that one of the many handicaps your children enjoy is our lack of perfect knowledge. At the time I used the point to illustrate how we are slaves to our ignorant, porous minds, minds that render whatever little freedom we possess rather pointless. After all why bother granting us free will when the very tool you’ve given us for making decisions is so easily distracted and cannot retain the things of utmost importance to our survival and salvation?

My recent brush with intellectual difficulty highlighted this in a manner most stark, as the “hackish” solution I came up with was simply a variation of one that a friend had described, hurriedly put together in order to preserve academic integrity. My problem wasn’t the first of its kind I’d seen, but that did not stop it from holding me hostage for hours. And yet this friend of mine, with little thought and even fewer words, managed to describe a solution that seemed so obvious in hindsight I felt a little foolish.

There are many of your children like this, people who can easily see things that millions of us go years if not lifetimes without even suspecting. In the more earthly circles these people are called prodigies, gifted fellows with minds that can see through the logical and mathematical and physical quandaries of our time and give us insights into the tangible nature of our universe. In Fatherly circles, however, we have priests and prophets, people you have chosen to reveal your truth to the huddled, ignorant masses. Of course while prodigies are universally acclaimed in their fields and arts, your prophets and priests are often only loved in select circles, circles that usually grow into compounds and compounds that often transform into Houses.

If one were to assume our earth was a cold uncaring rock that breathed life into our ancestors eons ago, it would not be too difficult to come to terms with the concept of prodigies. A universe that doesn’t care about us would hardly care that only a few of us could parse her secrets. One could even assume that the prophets and priests that act as voices for non-existent Fathers and Mothers were simply prodigies driven mad by whatever realisation had dawned on them, or devious manipulative people preying on the weakness and gullibility of their brethren.

But as all things are when faced with the fact that we have a loving omnipotent Father, the system of prodigies, priests, and prophets seems completely counterproductive. These brilliant people are essentially gatekeepers of knowledge and wisdom, guardians and visionaries without whom our people would still be hiding in caves, scared of their own shadows and worshipping the sun that cast them.  If our Father loved all of us and wanted us to come to him, why would he place this completely unnecessary bottleneck between himself and his children? Why would he limit revelations of his true nature to a very, very tiny segment of our population, tasking all to go through them if they are to truly know his will?

Ironically there are many in the House of the Cross that actually agree with this; they just happen to believe you have already solved the problem. They cite the verses in your Book that mention that your laws are written in our hearts as proof that we all know your will. They point to the very existence of the Book itself as proof that no man need act as gatekeeper to your kingdom; all can read it and see for themselves what you truly want from your people.

The problem with both these statements is readily apparent. If your will was truly written in all our hearts why do we need the Book at all? Why have a Book state what we all know when we could all just feel in our hearts that these things are true? And even more damning, the existence of the Book and the grand theory of liberation championed by its adherents have not led to fewer gatekeepers; they have led to more. These days any one of your children can pick up your Book, read a line of text that has been read by millions before him and claim to have seen something new within it. Such a person would shout from the rooftops that you have spoken to him and made him your prophet, and thousands would flock to him seeking to hear the new truths that they should already know. Of course with such a scenario it is little wonder your House has grown increasingly divided as the centuries have gone by; without authority vested in a chosen few your children have seen fit to disagree on the finer points of every single line in your Book, erecting fresh wings in the House the moment one man’s “truth” counters their own.

Quite evidently your truths are not inscribed in our hearts, or there would be no need for Houses or the prophets that build them. And quite clearly the system of prophets and priests and prodigies is by design, not by mistake. So ingrained is the nature of this system in the world around us that Platocrates and More did not bother to refute it when describing their utopias. Instead they built their cities around it, creating special classes for these priests and granting them stewardship over the perfect worlds they had constructed.

Left with all this one once again has to wonder how it all meshes with your love, Father. What grand plan could you possibly have that can only be served if but a select few know what you want? What great purpose could you have for the child from whom you have withheld both yourself and the capacity to find you? It is becoming increasingly more difficult to even pay lip-service to the concept of your love, dearest Father. When the majority of your children face such terrible odds for salvation, is it little wonder that so many have grown disillusioned with you?

 

With a deficient mind,

Your Prodigal Son

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On the Power of Guilt

Dearest Father,

As you well know, we are once again in the Season of the Fast. It seems like barely any time has passed since I wrote you about the last season, and I am certain that it won’t be long before I find myself yammering away about the next Season of the Fast, wondering what happened to the year in between. Such is the way of our childish minds; time seems to fly when we give it little attention, and appears to crawl when we focus on it most intently.

I almost missed the bells this time. So far have I travelled that the sound barely resonated in my ears. I was actually stunned by how little I was affected by the noise. There was a time when the sound of the bell would have evoked strong emotions in my heart, when I would have been compelled to face the Season with all the solemnity deserving of your trials in the wilderness. There was a time when I would have prepared for the arrival of the Season days in advance, eagerly awaiting the bestowment of ash upon my forehead so that I could mark time till the celebration of the resurrection of the Brother-Saviour. Such a time is long gone, dearest Father, for I almost entirely forgot about the Season this year, and I when I did hear the bells, it was with heavy reluctance that I dragged myself to a House outpost to participate in the receiving of ashes.

I am sure you are not surprised by this, Father. The past months have seen me devolve ever so slowly into condemning what I perceive to be the flawed and counterintuitive manner in which you have made and ruled our world. With my mind drawing farther from you is it any wonder that my heart has started to do the same? Among the greatest motivations claimed by your children for their worship is love. Where others claim to be cowed into submission by your awesomeness and power, or cajoled into acceptance by promises of paradise, your children say that they are with you because you love them and they you. They say that your love is the reason for everything around them, that your love is all that they need to live and breathe. As you can tell from the tone and topics of my letters past, I have looked upon your world and my poor eyes are finding it very difficult to see this song-inspiring love all your children seem to speak about. Perhaps if I were a child of the Crescent or the Star such an absence would have had no bearing on my closeness to you, but in a House built on love it is little wonder that it has left a sour taste in my mouth.

Of course the fact that my heart has been drifting from you did not prevent me from receiving the ash many days ago. And the fact that my ire has been raised towards you has not prevented me from wondering once again what to give up in these 40 days. Try as I may dearest Father I cannot shake off the biting guilt that I am doing something wrong by not fasting this holy season. I am angry with you, distant from you, unsure of whether or not I shall ever return to you. I have questioned everything in the doctrines that the House and the Family have told me about you. Even last year, when I was much closer to home, I pondered on the effectiveness of the Brother-Saviour’s sacrifice and in so doing drew into question the point of the entire season and the celebrations that it preceded. And yet, even as I tell myself that I owe you nothing until my questions are answered, I still cannot ignore the pangs in my chest from ignoring tradition. I feel as though I am betraying not just you by failing to observe the Season’s solemnities, but myself as well, and try as I may I cannot convince myself otherwise. My heart, it seems, is set in its guilt.

Perhaps it is my devout upbringing speaking. Perhaps it is the effect of years upon years of Universal Family training via the Catechism, and the host of prayers I had to memorise as I child. Perhaps it is in fact you that is talking to me, in one of the famously ambiguous (and quite frankly ineffective) ways many claim you speak to your children. Or perhaps it is the famed guilt all children of the Universal Family claim to possess, even those like me that have strayed far from home.

It matters not, dearest Father, for regardless of its cause this guilt has kept me up at night and caused me a lot of bother. I have considered simply defaulting to fasting from food as I did last year, but Doubt has warned that such a sacrifice would be hollow for I already go 12 hours between meals quite frequently. I do not know what to do, but I know that this compulsion will not cease until my guilt is sated.

I find it most strange that this guilt has had such sway over me these past few days. It would be funny, would it not, if my guilt ends up being the reason I remain close to you, if even when faced with all I cannot accept and all I do not understand, I end up back in your arms in a desperate bid to hush the disquiet in my chest. One must wonder how many remain in the House not because they truly believe in your power and your love, but because they feel too guilty to take a step outside the gates.

With a guilty heart,

Your Prodigal Son

P.S. Please forgive the lateness of the letter, Father. I was to send it shortly after the Day of Ashes but my earthly duties have kept me quite busy and I haven’t had the time. Hopefully it arrives before the Season ends.

P.P.S. Doubt has suggested meat, Father. Do you think that is a worthy sacrifice from a heart mired in guilt?

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Anniversary

The sun was bright today Father, and the winds were slow. The heat was high, and the chill was low. And as I sat to write to thee, my heart was calmed, my mind made free.

I smiled to joyous passers-by; I beamed at flitting birds on high. And even to my friend black as night, I offered a hand devoid of spite.

He sat with me and grinned in turn, content to put aside his scorn; and looking up at the great blue sky, we wondered and pondered, “soliloquied”.

Our talk of things brought you to mind, and all the people we’d left behind. And soon we found our thoughts abroad, on home and hearth, on warmth and Words. I saw my father, stout and strong; I saw my mother soft and young; I saw the elders wise and old, and I saw the body, bright and bold. Their hands were lifted up in praise; their eyes and hearts were set ablaze, and their mouths aflutter with chants most holy, giving their all to sing to your glory.

My chest was hurt, my eyes were stung, and my lips began to move with song; for deep inside I remain the same: a child alone, his Doubt untamed. My guilt, my fear, they have not waned; my joy and cheer are still unchanged. I am a Universal child you see; this guilt and awe? They’re baked in me.

And so my smile was turned to rue, and my heart once more yearned for you. My questions, demands, were cast aside; the splendour of home was all on my mind.

I sighed and stood and brushed my clothes, and stared far out at the House that glowed. Glass and steel and gold and stone, its lights a reflection of your throne.

“T’would be sweet,” said Doubt to me, “To return to your House once free from me, for then your smile shall light the skies, your faith immune to all my lies.”

His words rang true to my aching breast, and so I put my thoughts to rest. Though weak by nature I will forge ahead; I will see this quest to its bitter end.

And so this day I give you thanks, for safety, protection, for a friend in my ranks. The year has been rough, confusing and bleak; there are days I’ve ended too fearful to speak . Here’s to another, more fruitful I hope, deeper in meaning and wider in scope. Perhaps I am doomed to never return. No matter dear Father…

Forever,

Your son

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On Guides and Fathers

Dearest Father,

Today your children remembered the birth of the House. Today they celebrated as they recalled the magical events of that afternoon many years ago, when you deigned to send your spirit down to your disciples and gave them the capacity to spread your word. Today, many say, marks the true beginning of the greatest House that ever was and ever will be. And today, dearest Father, I was reminded of how utterly and completely forsaken I am.

The significance of the today’s event is not one that can all too easily be brushed aside. For many it is a call to jubilation. Our Father, from his abode in the Great Upstairs, decided to send his spirit, his very essence, to guide and protect his children. This was the latest in a series of events aimed at humbling the terrible You-Know-Who and exulting your beloved offspring. First you took it upon yourself to take our form, that we may see you as we saw ourselves. Then you died for us, sacrificing the purest life to ever grace this earth, that our debt to you may be washed away and our souls cleansed of their iniquity. And then, to prove that even Death could not hold you, you restored life to yourself and gave your followers a reason to believe, to hope. And when you finally had to depart, dearest Father, you promised to come once again in a different form at a different time, to help your children weather the storms of their harsh, cold world.  Of course the day you selected for your second arrival was not one of little importance. It was perfectly timed, a day that already held deep meaning for your first House, the House of the Star. Not satisfied to lay the foundations for your new House on a new day, you decided to do it on a day the old guard celebrated a gift you gave them at their birth. You decided to arrive on the day of the Pentecost. And while I cannot speak for the rest of your children Father, I think I understand exactly why you picked such a day for your grand entrance; as with most things you do it has its significance in the day’s history.

I know you have not forgotten but permit me to remind you. The children in Egypt had enslaved the Stars, and after giving them many chances to let them go (while simultaneously ensuring that their King would not take advantage of these chances) you showed your might, taking first-borns and parting seas, and you delivered your children safely from their clutches. And seeing your children lost in the desert, you decided to give them a Law, a law to guide and protect them, to light the way in times of extreme darkness and to distinguish them from the rest of your unsaved and apparently unloved children. And impressed with your works, as you were wont to be at that time in our history, you commanded that they commemorate this day with a feast, the Feast of Weeks, so named for the weeks that passed between their deliverance and the arrival of your Law.

Looking at the history of the Stars and the Crosses, it is rather evident that you enjoy repetition, dearest Father, for the birth of your newest and greatest House followed the exact same template as that of its predecessor. Eventually, for reasons as yet only discernible by you, the time came to spread your love to the rest of the world and you performed this duty with the requisite flair one has come to expect. You sent the Brother-Saviour, and in a series of events just as magnanimous as those surrounding the first Pentecost, you had him killed and resurrected and ascended, and then you sent once again a guide for your people, this time in the form of a spirit. His death was to deliver, just as the death of all those boys in ancient Egypt served to deliver your children then, and your spirit gave the new House purpose, just as the Law did for the children of the old one.

I must stress that as it was with the Brother-Saviour’s sacrifice I appreciate the importance of today’s feast. The presence of the spirit is the only thing that gave courage to the early members of the House to go forth and spread your word. Children not originally in the House of the Star, such as myself, would never have heard about the Brother-Saviour and his wondrous sacrifice without the spirit, and some of us would never have had the privilege of being born into the House of the Cross. But as you can see, I am no longer in the House. I am a lost child, a wanderer, seeking that which would lead him home, and from my seat on the Outside I have but one very big question, Father: Why?

Do not mistake my query dearest Father; I am not asking why you sent the guide. That much is evident. The past few weeks have seen me list for you the troubles one such as myself has had with defining a concept as basic as truth. Every step of my journey has been plagued by the dangerous whisperings of my despised companion. While I doubt that the early children of the House had the very same issues that I do, I am quite certain they were beset with issues that at least bore a striking resemblance to mine. Doubt you see, is the parent of Fear, and it is well known that in those early days your disciples were quite afraid. Their meetings were secret, their ministry effectively non-existent. And it was only when your spirit arrived on this auspicious day, that they had not just the courage, but the ability, to go forth and spread the good news. The same goes for those early members of the still standing House of the Star. They were afraid, unsteady in their ignorance, surrounded by a land they did not know and presented with a purpose they could not understand. It was only with the guiding force of your perfect Law that they were able to progress.

So I understand why you sent the spirit. What I do not understand, dear Father, is why once again, there was a need for all of this. It has taken you two Houses and more than a thousand years to see your wishes for your children reach its zenith. In the first case, you had to craft resistance from the Egyptian King in order to show your might. You had to sacrifice all those boys so that all could know that you were Father among Fathers. And even this was not enough, for it was not done for all of us. You spent time and energy and (innocent) blood laying the foundations of the House of the Star, all the while knowing that eventually you would replace it with a new one by means of another death that, on some days, seems just as superfluous as the firsts.

Even on the topic of why you sent the spirit, Father, one has to wonder why your children, children of the greatest Father in all the world, are in need of a guide at all. We have a perfect Father, one that does not – cannot – Doubt, one that is as conversant with the ways of Sophia as any being in the entire universe can be. Your Book tells us that we were moulded from your hands, that our breaths come from your lips. And yet, we are so very different from you, so much weaker, so much less… Underneath all these events, purposeless they might seem, is a very important message, one that I find driven home time and time again in the mythos of the House: It is never enough to just deliver your children. Even after we are saved we are still lost; we have no clue what to with our freedom. Given time we will eventually find ourselves in the wilderness of confusion and we will need your guidance.  And looking upon the wondrous nature of the one that bore us, one has to ask why, Father, why?

I mentioned that whilst my former siblings celebrated I was filled with sorrow, reminded of how abandoned this child of yours truly is. For on this day it was not enough for me to realise that regardless of what I do, regardless of how perfect my Father is, I will always pale before him. No, your 13th apostle, in the celebration’s second reading, did me one better. He went ahead to say that not only would I always pale before you, but in order to partake of whatever joys I found lacking while I was in the House, in order to truly be in the House, I would need to be bestowed with your spirit, I would need the wondrous guidance of my perfect Father. I, the lowly being that I am, cannot do this on my own, and until you show me the way this immense journey I am undertaking is a useless, pointless one.

Again, dearest Father, I understand. I understand the need for guides. Blind men need help to navigate the world. Ignorant men need teachers. Those with poor hearing need aids, and those with poor sight need lenses. Where there is a deficiency, Father, there is need for a guide. And if there ever was a being so deficient, it is I. Sad and confused I left my home in search of truth, and I have been plagued by Doubt ever since. It is quite evident that I do not know the things I need to know to believe, for if I did I will not be lingering on the Outside. Every thought I have will not be so easily attacked and dissected by my winged companion. Every House outpost I meet will not be a source of sadness and envy. And yet if the man so filled with your spirit, so guided by your hand is to be believed, the only way I can break free of these chains, the only way my deficiencies can be vanquished, is if you give me your spirit. I do not have your spirit because I am confused. I cannot be unconfused without your spirit. And you, Grand Arbiter that you are, can decide – no, could have decided – at any moment to send this guide down to me. And yet you have not. And so I ask once again Father, why? Why have you not yet chosen to send this spirit? What purpose does my torture serve? And if the only ones that can be in the House are those you have elected to give your spirit, what does that say about the multitudes we are told are waiting on the Outside? What kind of Father, dearest Father, will refuse to guide his children? Like your sacrifice its circular nature defeats its purpose. For if only by your spirit can your children spread the word, and if only by your spirit can your children accept it, of what use is all that happens in between?

But even all these are not reason enough for the depth of my sadness today, Father. That responsibility lies, once again, with my dear, dear friend. For as I thought these thoughts he saw fit to whisper to me a terrible question: What kind of perfect Father is so distant he needs to send guides to help his children?

With a heavy heart,

Your Prodigal Son

P.S. This letter would probably reach you after the Pentecostal festivities are over. Please be understanding; it took quite a while to pen it.

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On My Departure

Dearest Father,

I have left home. I cannot say I am surprised by this, and neither (I expect) can you. And no, that is not a reference to your wonderful gift of knowledge, which permits you to know anything you desire. No; even if you were of limited mind like me and the rest of my brethren, you must have been able to sense this inevitability through my behaviour these past years. I have left home, and I have taken with me my possessions, all that you have given me since the day I was born. I am writing specifically to you and not the rest of the Family because, well, they do not know that I have left. To them, I am simply not around. It is a testament to the size of both the Family and the Ground Floor that I can leave the House completely and no one would be able to tell I am gone. Those in my wing, my dearest, closest relatives, they would simply assume I am visiting another wing. And those in this supposed other wing? They have never met me; they will not be expecting me, and so they cannot be suspicious when I do not show up.

Keeping with tradition, you were absent when I shut the door behind me. You are always absent, even though the official Family line is: “You are Everywhere.” In fact, your apparent absence is among the reasons I left, but I am sure you already knew that. Nevertheless, it would have been nice to have you show up just this once, if only to bid me farewell. You cannot be happy that I am leaving, but I can cynically assume that some of my uncles and aunts Upstairs are slightly pleased by this turn of events; the celebration that is bound to ensue should I return is something I am sure they are looking forward too. Perhaps you share their joy. Regardless, happy or sad, I think, as all children do, that my Father should have been present for an event as momentous as this.

Your absence at the time of my departure is the primary reason I am writing to you. As I said, I took all my possessions. I have been told, however, that it is customary to give departing sons their inheritance as well. I have no idea what this inheritance could possibly be, but I am already giddy with anticipation. You are the greatest Father there is; one can only expect that the inheritance for your children would put the most opulent of humans to shame. I left a note with one of the guards at the gate before I left, but I have not received a reply. This letter addresses that. Without the peace of mind that comes from being at home, I find that I am in dire need of whatever tools you can send me. I know I left willingly, but you are my Father. Indulge me this last time, and I promise not to disturb you again. Besides, this is my inheritance, no?

In other news, the Outside is not nearly as scary as I was made to believe as a child. You cannot imagine (perhaps because you already know) the trepidation that gripped me as I opened the compound gate. I fully expected to be swarmed by You-Know-Who’s minions the moment I stepped out, immediately drowned in their calls and cries. But there was nary a whisper beyond the gates. In fact, had the gate not been standing behind me, I would have wondered if I had even left at all. All that is to say that I am faring quite well; I have seen nothing too shocking or out of the ordinary. I have, however, picked up a friend, a strange creature with tiny wings and bright eyes. It’s been flying beside me all day and even now, as I write, it watches me with its soft, tiny eyes. I am starting to suspect that it is one of his minions. Small fish like me probably deserve small watchers. I do not like it though; it’s eyes are a tad too piercing. I feel like it can stare into my head. Perhaps a tool in my inheritance kit will help me deal with it…

I’ll wrap up now. The bulk of my responsibilities have not changed since I left the House, and I must still attend to them. Alas the life of a young man remains largely the same, whether inside or Outside. I look forward to hearing from you Father; it can be very lonely on the other side of the gate.

With love,

Your Prodigal Son

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