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If you followed my profile and ended up here instead of at my other blog, expecting something brilliant to be said, it’s because I didn’t realize that it was going here instead of my more active blog.

So feel free to head over to for my pointless ramblings on Very Serious Topics. And comic books.

Don’t Read This

Listen, I felt I needed to write and post this, but I encourage people not to read it. They’re thoughts I needed to get out of my system and put someplace where they could theoretically be seen, but it’s not important to read. It touches on where I am with the religion thing and why I don’t buy into it. It’s long and pedantic, but I needed to write it anyway. Almost all of this is stolen directly from Qualia Soup’s Morality series, I mean word for word in some cases, and I recommend watching it and teasing out my stuff. I needed the structure since my brain was having trouble putting thoughts to paper,  but I was raging.

And since I can’t get the More tag to work, I’ll just leave a lot of space between here and the start. Don’t continue reading. Just let me get my thoughts out.

Since I can’t seem to quantify this into a G+ post and haven’t been clear, I’m going to try and explain what I’ve been saying again.

Before I begin, let me get some things out of the way. I have no problem with people of faith as a rule. I have a huge problem with faith traditions, however, that claim moral authority when they are clearly undeserving of that authority. If you want to believe something, believe it, I won’t stop you or think less of you for it. However, at the root of a faith tradition is belief that it is somehow right, good, and true, and far too often that is not the case.

Second point, I don’t know everything about every religion. I do, however, know a lot about the big ones. In this post I’ll be focusing on the Bible since it’s the most relevant to my experience. 70% of Americans identify as Christian in one respect or another and much of the vileness I see regularly comes from people who supposedly believe in Biblical teachings.

Third point: not all people who believe in Biblical teachings are bad people. Good and bad are complex concepts. Most are generally good people, however I endeavor to point out that when you are a good person and ignore much of what at least this particular religion calls for, you’re no longer following that religion. You’re developing a moral and ethical code and searching for authority within a set of traditions and rites that make you comfortable and happy. If that’s the case, good for you, I’m glad that you’re happy, but it no more makes you a believer in that tradition and if you’re going to decide independently that certain things are right and certain things are wrong than it abandons the fundamental unpinning that that faith it is “true” in any meaningful sense. Much like Jefferson, I would much rather take a razor to the Bible to eliminate those flawed underpinnings and use the passages I leave as an example of positive moral teachings that have no divine consequence but should demand temporal consequence.

Now that I’ve gotten the disclaimers out of the way, let me begin.

Let us take a hypothetical leader who phases in four laws:

  1. Anyone who works on a Friday would face execution. The leader was born on a Friday and wants people to use that day to contemplate his or her greatness.
  2. The leader can kill citizens or order their killing for any reason.
  3. Any citizen forced by the leader to commit crimes by mind altering drugs will be punished.
  4. Parents who commit crimes will have their children killed, and if it isn’t their first offense they will be made to eat their children.

These would be thought to be insane. Law one punishes people for a victimless crime, law two makes the leader blameless for all actions, and laws three and four punish the innocent for crimes. The fourth is particularly abhorrent because it adds an obscene element designed to dehumanize. They also defy any conception of personal responsibility. These are manifestly unjust laws, and we can determine that because we know enough about what constitutes harmful behavior, suffering, and responsibility to make that determination.

But what if this leader had been in charge all of your life and you were brought up to think they were morally perfect? It would create a major cognitive dissonance, leaving us with no option but to attempt to rationalize them. We might say that somebody who had done so much for the society should have the right to make a few entirely arbitrary demands or that their understanding of things is so far ahead of ours that we cannot grasp their purpose (the “mysterious ways” argument). But we’d be wrong.

Clearly the root of the problem is the false premise that the leader is morally perfect. It is a fundamentally corrupting idea because in forcing us to accept unjust laws it leaves us defending the indefensible. Remove this idea and we can see the unjust laws for what they are.

When we accept ideas uncritically or make them sacred so they cannot be questioned, this can distort our moral reasoning. Those who accepted without consideration or interjected the idea that the lawmaker is perfect cannot properly evaluate the law until this distorting idea is removed. Identifying ideas we’ve swallowed whole is often key to solving a lot of the problems in life.

When we consider the Abrahamic God and the traits associated with it, clearly there is no better arbiter for administering justice. We are told it knows our thoughts, knows who is guilty or innocent, and is morally perfect. What better arbiter for justice could one think of? However, those assertions are based on a number of false premises.

The primary problem with this is that this same God permits, commits, and commands others to laws that correlate directly to the ones we just rejected. The Lord demands that those who work on the Sabbath be put to death (Numbers 15:32-36), as well as gay people (Leviticus 20:13), and women who show insufficient evidence of their virginity on their wedding night (Deuteronomy 22:20-21). Yehweh kills 70,000 people when He commands David to take a census (2 Samuel 24:1-15), and kills almost all land animals by flooding for human wickedness (Genesis 6 : 5-7). He hardens the heart of the Pharaoh (Exodus 4 : 21; see also Exodus 7 : 3; 9 : 12; 10 : 1; 10 : 20; 10 : 27; 11 : 10; 14 : 4; 14 : 8), the Egyptians (Exodus 14 : 17), and the King of Heshbon (Deuteronomy 2 : 30) through mind control in order to enable their defeat, it sends a powerful delusion in order to make certain people believe a lie so they can be condemned(2 Thessalonians 2 : 11), and sends false messages to prophets than punishes them for repeating those messages (Ezekiel 14 : 9).

Having stated no children will be killed for the sins of their father, He orders the killing of children for their fathers’ sins (Deuteronomy 24 : 16, Isaiah 14 : 21-22) and orders the death of innocent Amalkite children for their fathers’ sins (I Samuel 15 : 2-3) and the killing of children without pity (Ezekiel 9 : 5-6). At least three books in the Bible see Yehweh demanding familiar cannibalism, one of the most depraved punishments we can imagine (Jeremiah 19 : 9, Deuteronomy 28 : 53, Ezekiel 5 : 10). Some would say that without the Bible anything is permitted, but it seems clear that the opposite is true: all things are permitted by a deity we’ve given absolute authority and deemed morally perfect. Yehweh has specifically endorsed also rape (Zechariah 14 : 2), slavery (Leviticus 25 : 46), and mass murder (Exodus 12 : 29).

But what if we were brought up to believe that this God is morally perfect? How do we deal with the cognitive dissonance that springs up when we consider that these are manifestly unjust acts done by a being that is supposed to be entirely just?

Claim that they *are*just? That doesn’t hold up, since we know that they are unjust.

Concoct elaborate justifications? No. When we indulge any impulse to defend these acts we are already going dangerously astray, and relativistic morality is no morality at all. If we justify these acts, what won’t we justify?

Do we brush them under the carpet of symbolism and claim they weren’t meant to be taken literally? Nothing in the Bible implies that these are purely symbolic, but even if they were the idea of an omnibenevolent baby punisher makes no more sense as a symbol than as a literal being.

Do we claim that these particular passages are beyond our understanding? Not only is that a weak argument when we rightly condemn humans for this sort of behavior, it belies a horrendously irresponsible attitude toward morality and justice. Often this is mislabeled as “humility,” but it simply isn’t. Saying we don’t know everything about the universe is humble. Claiming that we don’t understand the purpose behind the order to eat babies is a critical abdication of rational judgment. However, if one does argue that there is a God who works in mysterious ways, ways clearly in defiance of our moral judgment, than its nature is clearly not the source of our morality.

Responding to these atrocities with examples of mercy doesn’t work either. All it proves is that the Bible has both examples of mercy and atrocity.

Some emphasize the supremacy of the New Testament over the Old, focusing on the comparative kindness of Jesus over Yehweh, and Jesus was comparatively kinder. He also provided a number of good, positive moral values. However, claiming to follow Jesus and his teachings comes with it a whole new set of problems.

Jesus, for example, has a lot to say about why divorce is not permitted under any circumstances, presumably even if the person in question is being beaten or abused (Luke 16:18; Mark 10:2-12) Two of the gospels have the bizarre story of Jesus punishing a fig tree, making it wither because it has no fruit when he’s hungry (Matthew 21:18-22, Mark 11:12-14, 20-24) even though it’s not the season to bear fruit. This is like smashing your TV on Friday because there is no new episode of House, which comes on on Monday. It’s a tantrum. Apologists will claim that he is reinforcing the parable of the barren fig tree, a commentary on people who are barren, but that doesn’t hold up. The tree is not barren, he is causing it to be so. Later verses reveal that this is a demonstration of how the power of faith can move mountains (Matthew 21:21), but all it really seems to be is a demonstration of Jesus’s power over nature. It also re-enforces the idea that if you pray hard enough that anything can happen, but that devolves very easily into victim blaming, an incredibly common problem among the faithful.

In Luke 9:61-62, Jesus informs a man who wants to follow him that he can’t go back to inform his family. The option isn’t even given to go get his family so they all can follow. What sort of family values is that?

This goes to the heart of the problem with the idea of a perfectly moral being. In the face of injustice, we are again struck with the untenable problem of how one can believe the moral arguments of a being that acts manifestly unjustly while still maintaining an accurate moral compass. By eliminating the idea that morality necessarily stems from God in this case, we solve that problem easily. When you claim that a being is perfectly just, loving, and honest, these are highly specific and highly fragile claims, and we can see from the behavior of God that they simply aren’t true.

By holding the Bible as a valid moral text, we see that it spans the moral spectrum from virtuous to vicious, which means that we can just as easily use as a moral guide a hypothetical human who’s actions range from charity work to mass murder. However, if we were to hold that person on trial, no amount of charity work would make up for the murders and render them blameless.

The other problem with the Bible as a moral text is that it is endless contradictory. The making of images of anything from Earth or Heaven is both prohibited (Exodus 20:4) and commanded (Exodus 25:18-20). People are ordered to stone others to death (Deuteronomy 21:21), yet only those without sin are allowed to cast the first stone (John 8:7) and since we’re told nobody is without sin (Romans 3:23) this is an impossible logical puzzle to solve. We’re told good deeds must be shown (Matthew 5:16) and not shown (Matthew 6:1). These contradictions defy rationality.

But much of the Bible’s appeal is its contradictions which allow almost anyone to find something to endorse their particular view. Books that endorse all viewpoints ultimately endorse none.

So, where does this leave us? I know, that was a lot to get through, but bear with me just a little longer.

I stated at the beginning that I believe most religious believers to be good people, and I stand by that. Nobody I know believes anything that I have pointed out above, or if they do, they keep it to themselves. This is an incredibly good thing and I think we should celebrate that, but it begs the question, where then does morality come from? Obviously it’s not from scripture since most people prefer to pick and choose the parts of scripture that fit with their idea of morality. You don’t have reams of people eating their babies or enslaving whole populations in the industrialized world (the third world is a whole other post), so clearly they’re applying their own reason and conscience to their perception of scripture, not drawing any moral guidance from those scriptures. They are doing the very human thing and being subject to confirmation bias, and thankfully they are. Rather than accepting that God wants them to kill their disobedient children, they see this is a terrible idea and subsume that passage as unimportant while focusing on other, more moral passages.

Therein also lies the problem, however. While it’s pretty obvious we shouldn’t rape people even if God commands it in certain cases, many common religious prohibitions are not so cut and dried. What about passages like those about homosexuality? What about the subservience of women? Jesus’s prohibitions against divorce for any reason? How do we deal with those when it’s clear that a significant number of people buy into them whole-heartedly and see no moral disconnect with them? And that’s not even taking interpretation into account by mortal authorities within the religion which leads to a rejection of science in classrooms or comprehensive sexual education due to moral qualms that argue that these things are in conflict with religious doctrine.

That is ultimately my problem. Religious teachings, especially ones from the Abrahamic traditions, promote some really terrible things. People by and large already bring their own moral judgments to the text in order to determine what is and is not worth following, but that moral judgment is far too often distorted by upbringing in traditions that insist that the code they are being taught has been handed to them by a perfect being, so they are discouraged from questioning those and are raised to apply their individual moral code to scripture in such a way as to accept arbitrary moral laws among the reasonable ones. I think we would be better off teaching children to have reasons behind their moral codes that don’t rely on scriptural authority.

For example: there is no reasonable purpose in denying same-sex marriage. You won’t find secular groups opposing that measure because it makes no sense. The closest is NARTH, but they are less than 20% scientists and the rest is religious activists. Opposition to this comes from a purely a religious place with no grounding in modern rational thought. But far too many people oppose this because of religious prohibitions.

I want to stress that religious people are not necessarily bad people, but when you apply modern reason to things a lot of this becomes really, really nonsensical.

This is why reasonable people of faith should be as vocal as the unreasonable ones, and I don’t see that as often. There are very few Fred Clarks and Rachel Held Evans in the world as compared to the followers of Rick Warren and Pat Robertson.

There are many reasons for religion but I believe they can be served secularly. Community, fellowship, friendship, and discussion can be gathered by reasonable people without needing the excuse or, in some cases, obligation to attend worship services. That being said, if it makes you happy, I have no problem with it. What I do have a problem with, though, is the vast amounts of hurt that people cause because of their sincerely held religious beliefs and the concept that these ideas about how the universe works are somehow immune from examination and criticism, on one end being dismissed as “this is just what they believe” and on the other end causing anger for daring to question the moral, ethical, and consistency issues that so many faiths have. Not all believers do this, but far too many do, and they should be called out on it, and part of that calling out requires pointing out that their ideas are bad ideas regardless of whether they believe that they were handed them by God or not.

We already make our own moral choices and apply them to our perception of faith. Let’s take the next step and stop claiming to base our morality on ancient texts written in different historical contexts and those of us who contribute to faiths that do manifestly immoral things with those contributions demand that they stop. Scripture of any sort is not a valid guide to morality, empathy and recognition of shared humanity is, and when we do arbitrary things for the sake of scripture, we are hurting other human beings.

What Is this Feeling?

From the Journal of the Late Noel Aig: 9/17/11

I realize, being a part of this new world, that I had grown a little soft back on Earth-1. Perhaps I’m being too hard on myself, but there was a time I could have spent 13 hours walking around the Magic Kingdom without problems, and it would have included much more magic and fighting than we did here. Now, I come home weary and ready for bed.

And more excited than I’ve been since I got here.

Today we struck an early blow against the Seers. We may not know this world yet, but some things remain…well, I suppose the word is “multiversal.” That being said, I recognize that those of us from Earth-1, who I’ve heard referred to as “Ozians,” must be missing something. I’m not sure what it is, but I can clearly see what the Earth-3 mages don’t understand about what we’re saying, and if I can’t find any flaws in what I’m saying, that means I’m probably missing some that I just don’t know how to see. Maybe it’s just me being Mastigos, but the idea of a flawless argument seems both silly and dangerous to me, so I’m going to continue searching and asking until I understand.

There’s been a number of conflicts on various levels, many of them about whether we’re here to help or take over, just another set of tyrants. I wouldn’t tell Gypsy about my theory regarding this as even a subconscious association between us and Seers would make her unreasonably angry to no good purpose, but I really think they’re afraid that we showed up after the hard work of starting to get organized was done, only to try and remake our lost world and force them into it. That’s not the case, but how can you tell a bunch of people who have literally be lied to their entire life, who live in a world ruled by the Lie, that you’re there to help them become whatever they want?

I think Moonshadow finally got it tonight. When I was looking up at those fireworks, and glanced at her, I knew she really understood what it meant, why we do it. I told her that that’s what we meant by doing “big things” and she knew it was true. And I knew, in that moment, that even a handful of dedicated mages, Banishers in this dimension, can make the world worth living in. It’s a world that Bowie and I be able to raise a child in. I kept looking at the baby clothes, picturing them on my son or daughter, and wondering if in however long it’ll be this Disney will be a place I’d feel safe in bringing that child, a place where they won’t be Influenced into joy and can find it in the sights and sounds around them.

What I’ve been avoiding thinking about, though, is the fight with the pirates. I remember grabbing that cutlass and for the briefest of instants…I was afraid. What if I didn’t come back? What if I left Bowie? Worst, what if she’s already pregnant? It lasted only a moment and I was able to fight again (which, to be perfectly frank, was completely fucking brilliant!), but it’s been so long since I haven’t welcomed that. I’d forgotten what it was like to really want to live. It’s…well, it’s good, I suppose. I’m not necessarily sure that rhetorical flourish could come any closer to the description, so there’s no reason to try and craft some metaphor that would only fall flat.

It’s good to want to live. That’s all for that.

Steel and Motor Oil

The clinking of wrench on bolt echoed slightly through Dela’s guts, sound bouncing ever so slightly against the gears and steam pipes. The parts of her that he was standing in were shut off while the rest continued to pump away, using redundant systems to keep Newton safe while he repaired and enhanced her. He spoke to his difference engine, watching a yellow light blink Morse code in response.

“How is Dr. Bellenger?” The computer seemed sincere in her question. After so long, Newton could almost believe he could hear her moods in the grind of gears and strength of pistons.

He blushed a little as he tightened a bolt, rolling his shirt sleeves higher, trying to stall for time. “Please don’t begin that as well, Dela. I receive quite my share of it when I visit with the rest of the Exceptional community.”

“I don’t see what the problem is. It’s been quite some time since you’ve considered women as anything more than a potential colleague.  You’re not embarrassed by her, are you?”

“No!” The answer was sharp and quick and slightly mortified. “Not in the slightest. I might as well be embarrassed that the works of the Old Masters are so heartbreakingly beautiful. Rather…it is unfamiliar to me. Never have I been so delighted to be unsure of so much. Each new revelation is glorious.” The scientist started, realizing he had stopped working and was instead staring into space, the scent of oil and metal reminding him not necessarily of her, but of how she made him feel.

“Irregardless,” he continued, clearing his throat and deliberately returning to the task at hand, “she is the most brilliant women I’ve ever known, and I am honored simply to know her.”

There was the briefest pause before Dela answered, “The most brilliant?”

Newton couldn’t help but laugh. “Present company excepted, of course. No need for you to worry.” He patted one of the steam pipes, “You’re still my number one girl, Dela. But you have to admit, there are certain limitations to our friendship.”

“You’re right, Newton,” she said, pistons calm and steady. “I’m not jealous of your time. But I can perform thousands of calculations a second. I sincerely doubt Dr. Bellenger can accomplish half of that.”

He smiled, oiling an assembly with care, wiping up a trail of the slick lubricant before it dripped into the bearings. “You are indeed correct. Though Mac may be able to-” he was interrupted by a piston arm crashing down on his shoulder, not enough to hurt him, but certainly enough to gain his attention.

“I’m sorry, Newton,” the light blinked. “I seem to have slipped.”

Newton glowered for only a moment. “Perhaps less oil next time, then.” But soon he was smiling softly again. “Alright, Dela, I think you’re in form.” He climbed over another pipe, past a steam vent, and out a trap door in the huge facade of the Difference Engine. The buttons were warm and the switches flipping were accompanied by the satisfying hum of power surging through a machine. The pistons took a few moments to come up to speed and synchronize with the rest of the parts that hasn’t stopped moving, but soon the entire engine was moving at full capacity. Newton went over to the output slot and read the status report, his eyes scanning a familiar pattern of holes.

Then there were the two extras. Two punches that he had never seen in a diagnostic report previous to this one. That was entirely new, and the scientist spent more than a minute staring, trying to remember when he’d added that functionality.

“Dela, what is this ‘temporal fluctuation detection’ you have listed in your diagnostic?”

The computer took several seconds longer to answer than usual. Finally, a blue card spit out. “After your temporal…adventure, I though I should begin learning how to upgrade myself to include chronology sensors. They are not complete, but they would be present on the diagnostic.”

He didn’t know where to begin. All he could do was sputter, “What do you mean, ‘upgrade yourself?’ You don’t have that functionality, I never gave it to you!”

Dela did not answer. She didn’t answer anything for the rest of the evening.

Moving Forward

From the Journal of the Late Noel Aig: 8/1516/11

It’s been a long night, but I’m awake again. I even forgot the changeover of days. When I look back over my shoulder I can see my wife still blissfully asleep, smiling with thoughts of what we were just talking about.

I’m not sure if I knew until this evening, but I think I am ready to be a father again. I’ll never stop loving or missing Arthur and Sebastian, never stop thinking about what it would have been like to have raised them, read with them, played football with them, but I can’t live my life mourning them either. And I can’t be afraid of what will happen to a child of mine, either. I’ll protect them, and maybe not having a wife who tempted fate to the point of it taking revenge means I’ll have a better chance.

The whole house is quiet. So much is quiet here, peaceful and relaxed, and for a moment I know why my father hated to leave Chipping Norton for work so often. I got bored a lot after we moved there when I was 15, especially after my life in Dublin where I had the constant adrenaline rush of being part of the Living Tribunal. There were times when my adolescent brain would just crave any sort of excitement, and I’d almost get wistful about hiding in trash bins and almost getting killed in extended rituals. Now that I see why Dad didn’t miss that, I realize what an idiot I was as a teenager.

Quiet sounds like a nice thing right now. Having a child is an adventure, a long and difficult and endlessly rewarding one. Maybe it’s time for me to be part of that one instead of battling monsters all night. Maybe it’s time.

No matter what happens on Sunday at this meeting with the mysterious stranger (I really need to stop listening to mysterious strangers), I’m ready to try for a child, and considering we started tonight, I’m not turning back.

Ok, so I read this today. It’s from Penn Jillette’s new book, God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales, and I’m putting it here because a lot of it is very close to the thinking of my Gaslight character, Newton. He is a huge proponent of the claim that he doesn’t know, and gets very upset when people suggest that he’s trying to answer everything. This is not to change people’s RP as I enjoy trying to explain the difference IC and his struggle to get people to stop seeing, as he views it, ignorance as a virtue.

Either way, if you feel it will inform future interactions in a way that would ruin the IC nature of the struggle, I’ve put the quote behind a cut. Also, hey, look, I figured out how to do cuts in WordPress.

From the introduction, titled “The Humility of Loudmouth Know-it-all Asshole Atheists”

From the Journal of the Late Noel Aig: 8/15/2011

I could tell it was time for me to step back a little when I read the email. Fiction, talking about humanity and what it means to suffer, as if she were capable of such things, as if she were actually human. That’s when I knew that I couldn’t really be a part of this lifestyle any more, realizing how easy it is for the monsters to slip into it, hiding until they’re bored and ready to rend people with their claws and teeth. I believe in the Awakened Nation, but I also know that they’re not ready for certain things, and their selection process is still shit.

It wasn’t easy unsubscribing from that list. I thought back, wistfully, to the time when I didn’t think I could handle the sheer volume of email from the Awakened Nation, and now it would be hard to cut off contact with them. But no matter what I ended up doing after Gypsy and Sol left and Cloud went his own way, I can’t imagine it would be deep within the Mysterium. Zohar is clearly an idiot and, both as an Irishman and a Mastigos, I won’t follow somebody who so clearly has their head up their arse. Moreover, the whole business with the Free Council has shown me that a number of the Hierophants have their image of the Pentacle and the Order wrapped up too tightly with their own egos, and I’m too tired to fight that.

So much of my life these days comes down to being too tired. I can’t blame Bowie for not wanting to be more than a normal wife, baking and cleaning and painting and running her gallery. My heart screams at me to join her, to leave this all behind, maybe even start a family again. I may be ready for that, to have a child I could love and raise and show the light. But the screams are always there, in the back of my head, the same ones in my Nimbus, and I remember why I can’t stop fighting. It hurts, just thinking about it, listing my failures every night and realizing they could have been avoided. How can I abandon them when I can make a difference?

Can I make a difference any more?


This post is a marker to indicate where my old, imported stuff ends and my new stuff begins. Just for me, but you can use it if you like.

Noel stepped into the church. It was closed to the public, it always was at night, but Father Flanagan makes spare keys for God’s warriors. Noel didn’t know how many had been handed out, but he seemed to be the only person who actually used it. He flipped the light switch, listening to the muffled bang of each bank of lights turning on, one at a time, a luminous procession up the aisle.

Christ’s face looked down on him, peace hidden in the pain carved into his wooden eyes. Noel slowly walked up along the red carpet, careful to keep the scabbards tucked into his belt from hitting the pews on his left as he passed by. Even the carpet couldn’t fully muffle his steps as he approached the front row. He stopped to genuflect and pull the swords from his belt, laying them on the pew next to him. Again, he couldn’t help but see the peace in the pain and wondered if his face ever looked the same. He was too tired even to feel guilty about comparing himself to Christ again.

He bent down to the padded, red microfiber kneeler, crossing himself with practiced grace as he did, the whole thing a single, flawless motion. He bowed his head, trying to reach out with his heart like he normally did. Ever since his Awakening, it had been harder for Noel to feel God, but he always knew He was there. Tonight, he felt the Lord especially strongly.

“Dear Lord,” his Irish accent came unbidden, the language of his faith rolling off his tongue and around the church. “I know that I am not meant to return to You. That’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make for this world and I thank You for the chance to be worthy of it. Just the other night I was more concerned with myself, but it’s not worth it now. I know it’s not. The last time I prayed like this, I traded by Destiny for a favor that never happened. I know now that I was asking for myself, and the result is clear.

“Tonight, though,” he said, refusing to cry, “I ask for Your guidance not for myself, but for my friends. I will miss them, aye, but I am Your instrument and will do Your will. All I ask, please keep them safe. They would never want it to happen, but I don’t know if they’ll have somebody willing to die for them where they’re going, so they’ll need You to keep them from risking it. Watch over them, protect them, and if they must risk their lives, make sure some nutter crazier than them is around to take the bullet if it comes down to it, just like I was always ready to.”

He looked up again, seeing now neither pain nor peace, but only compassion in the empty, wooden eyes.

“E nomine Patri, et Fili, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.”

Though he crossed himself he continued to kneel there, his eyes closed, meditating on God’s love and grace.

How much more….

From the Journal of the Late Noel Aig 8/1/10:

How deep are my sins?

I don’t know how many scourings I can take any more. God has given me a purpose, but I cannot help but feel I live my life in Gethseminie, asking always for God to let this cup pass. I’m not strong enough for this. I can’t handle this any more. I want to live with my wife. I want to have my sons back. I model my life after super heroes, but I don’t know how they do it, how they continue on when the pain gets so excruciating.

My sons are avenged. Really and truly avenged. I bathed in the blood and gears of a Tick-Tock Man, I saved the city again, I stopped the people who helped kidnap and kill my boys. Why isn’t it enough? Why does this rage still pound in my veins? Why do I want to kill, maim, and slaughter when I know it keeps me from being happy?

I’m so tired, and all I can remember is the callousness with which I drew Gypsy’s katana and my wakizashi through its neck. I know I cast a mind effect to keep myself from becoming inured to that sort of violence, to please my friends as much as to hold on to my humanity, but now that the effect has worn off, I still don’t care. I’ve spoken to Father Flanagan, gave my confession, told him I stopped some of Satan’s warriors, but I feel neither forgiven, nor sorry. Being a Catholic, I realize the first is predicated on the second, so there is no forgiveness for me. I cannot allow the strong to prey on the weak, and for all my vaunted intelligence, I cannot find another way to scour my sins without compounding them. Fee would never say, but I cannot help but believe she would be disappointed in me.

On top of everything, Fiction has returned. I was content to believe she died with the rest of the nutters in her Legacy, but I’m confronted with reality, and both magic and academia require that I accept facts for what they are. There is no place for her in the Awakened Nation, no place for murderers and madwomen, and it galls me to see the people rejoicing at her return, as if she weren’t a stain on the nature of reality. Even Zohar, whom I had considered an intelligent woman, has been taken in by her countryside charm. I see what an idiot she is now, but telling her would do very little good.

I’m tired. How much have a sinned that I’ve earned this? Must we pay for goodness as well as sin? I don’t know. I just don’t know any more.

I am not Christ, I have no aspirations to being like Christ. I know I’m a terrible person, ultimately, destined to return to Hell where I was given the power to fight God’s war on Earth, but please, Lord, if you were to show mercy, let this cup pass from me.