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Monday, September 30, 2019

Emergence 4.0 - Part Six, The Empire; Chapter Thirty-seven, Bureaucrat


Week 39, 2019


El became an icon of hope for the ordinary citizen.

His was an example of a life rewarded after an ordeal of incredible suffering.

He was a symbol of re-birth, of clemency and mercy.

His former compatriots in the rebel movements were stunned by the turnaround, bewildered by his supernatural return.

Some called the whole drama a charade and renewed their commitment to fight against the Empire, others, in the spirit of hope, gave up their rebellion, desiring to follow the man who had been their greatest leader wherever he went.

He was the gatekeeper.

Wherever he went, the people experienced his presence as nourishing, it sustained them.

The Continuum followed every story-line coming from El’s reincarnation, passing on the drama and excitement of the sudden shifts in alignment, allegiance and circumstance to the Collective.

Rebellion would never go away.

The Continuum had no desire to crush it, and therefore the Empire had to allow it to persist, despite the fact that they had the power and the technological sophistication to root it out.

The narrative of revolution remained as riveting as ever for its primary audience.

New stories emerged, the stories of rebel soldiers, rebel families and rebel clans, turning piously toward the Empire, seeking forgiveness in the hope that they too could be forgiven and reborn, but they were not always welcomed, not always forgiven, they suffered at the hands of their persecutors, just as their leader had before them.

El’s was celebrated by the Empire, and the Collective. He was elevated to the position of a bureaucrat, given a purpose, in keeping with the ideology of being that was promulgated through the Imperials Schools and the Imperial Cult.

Even though he was just a desk jockey, his daily life was viewed by his adoring fans with fascination.

His comportment was flawless.

El fulfilled the expectations of his station with immaculate precision, moving from the lowest order, into a position of authority.

He was beset with challenges, each one a test of his poise and wisdom.

His rise in the bureaucracy was not free from conflict.

He encountered many people who saw him as a threat to their place in the hierarchy. His immediate supervisors chaffed, both at his abilities and in the favors he received from the people they themselves reported to.

He could not be promoted without climbing over them, which meant that they could not advance while he worked under their supervision, their own careers would be stagnant.

To the mid-level bureaucrats, his presence was a source of fear and concern, they could not feel secure or safe in their position with him in proximity to them,

His supervisors took one of two approaches, they either tried to swamp him with work and sabotage his standing or they quickly learned the trick of complicity and promoted him.

El was far too aware for their efforts at sabotage to work, and he was tireless.

He seemed to be able to learn any task instantly, and then excel at it.

On reflection he knew that his return to life had changed him. He had always been bright, an exceptional student, but in his new state of being he seemed to possess abilities that bordered on the mystical.

He would not leave his desk until he had it cleared. Sometimes staying in his office for days at a time.

He thought nothing of benefitting from it for himself, he tried his best to hide his skills in a cloak of pious humility..

He had no life to return to, no family, everyone he had ever loved was dead. His quarters were just a place to sleep and eat. He had no connection to anything but his present state.

When he gave in to the Empire, he gave in completely, hold nothing in reserve for himself.

He was their servant.

He would do whatever was asked of him.

He found a kind of peace in that, and a sense of belonging.

From doorman to receptionist, from receptionist to stenographer, his celebrity put him in demand.

El was just a pencil-pusher, but everyone wanted to be seen with him, to emulate him.

Bringing him into an office meant exposure and fame for the bosses around him.

Some of those who sought to benefit from their association with him saw their star rise on account of that relationship, others were cast down, sometimes catastrophically.

There was no discernable pattern.

He rose up through the hierarchy with mindfulness, carrying with him the lessons he learned from his years in the rebellion, and the years of torture in prison that followed.

Trust no-one, suspect everything, be diligent above all else.

His thoroughness and attention to detail saved him time and time again, it revealed who in his circle was genuinely trying to help him, and which of them were looking toward his downfall.

In his capacity as a stenographer he learned the tiniest details of government. He took memos, he recoded meetings, he was a witness to the bureaucracy on a level that sometimes left him with feelings of vertigo.

The Empire was vast, both in terms of the space it occupied and the minutia that governed it,

The macro-verse and the micro-verse, he was comfortable in both.

Everyone serving in the bureaucracy underwent periodic reviews. Merits and demerits flowed from there, along with bonuses and penalties, raises and promotions.

Without fail, when his yearly review came, he was raised up, given more responsibility, more accountability and more freedom.

He relished it.

He had no thought of using those things for his own benefit, he only desired the accolades, the recognition of his achievements.

El took pride in his accomplishments, even as a file-clerk.

He used the resources he acquired to make a difference in the lives of his neighbors. He let his advantages flow from himself to others, keeping very little for himself.

The small steps he had taken away from the street made a vast difference in his lifestyle. He had access to new foods, fresh foods and even intoxicants.

The work he put into advancing his place in the world began to take the shape of altruism.

His success mattered to himself and those who lived in closest proximity to him.

He continued to look beyond his station, toward a life of ease and comfort.

He was offered the hand of dozens of girls in marriage, girls from families he had helped, who wanted to tie their fate to his.

He had already watched the only woman he had ever loved be tortured to death, and he did not want to love any other.

He refused them.

He did not accept their offers, but he was often tempted to take advantage of his status, to fall into the delights of the flesh.

He forewent the offers of romantic entanglement that came to him from the women in his work place, or his tenement, preferring to keep his eyes focused on the next opportunity for advancement.

He exercised his sexual proclivities lawfully, with women who were professionals in the trade.

The Empire required and relied on bureaucratic controls. It governed the movement and aspirations of trillions of people through their manipulation. It managed every aspect of the lives of the people, slowing some down while creating lanes of opportunity for others.

The Empire established paths of predictability for the vast majority of its citizens, and used the byzantine structures of the bureaucracy to exercise its capriciousness as it desired. 

The Empire utilized monitoring at every conceivable level of the social order. It monitored the movements and behaviors of its citizens for economic purposes, for security purposes, for historical and religious purposes.

It monitored their behaviors on levels that few people outside of the Collective suspected, because it monitored them for the benefit of the Collective and the Continuum alone.

There was no such thing as privacy in the Empire.

Every citizen was the property of the state. Their entire lives were meant to be organized as a gift, as offerings to the Gods, this is what they learned in school, and that is what was beat into them through the ritual conditioning of the Imperial Cult.

The individual person was merely a link in the great chain of being.

In time he rose to a position in which he reported and analyzed a wide range of human activities and behaviors, especially among those rebel groups that he had once been a member of.

He became aware of how futile his life had been.

The Empire knew everything, had always known everything about him.

He had only ever been a blip on their list of concerns, and he had sacrificed everything and everyone he loved, to serve his vain pretensions.

His duties were to observe, report and ensure that the work of government was carried out efficiently.

It was Quality Assurance, and he was an overseer.

The Empire provided service to a million worlds.

There was food distribution, medicine, the military, the Imperial Schools, and more important than any other institution, the Imperial Cult to attend to.

At no time did he ever drop his diligent attention to detail, not for a moment.

El oversaw the complex allocation of material resources designated as gifts to the gods. This was a process without end, an unceasing harvest of energy, of ore and silicates sent in vessels piloted by AI to the Central Planet, to the home of the Gods, the home of the Continuum and the Collective.

He was tireless, when he was in the flow of the work he experienced a sense of transcendence.  

His life was completely bent on fulfilling every policy, to the letter.

In his former life he cared for the miners and the planet harvesters, people who lived their entire working lives in space, crushing asteroids, breaking up planets and their satellites, smelting ore and separating the elements.

They lived short lives, they were prisoners and outcasts coming from every station.

Now El spent their lives as easily as he would spend credits on his dinner. He let go of all his former closely held morality, a sense of right and wrong which had propelled him into his life as a revolutionary

He abandoned it in service to the Empire.

He became a living reminder to his peers regarding the necessity of protocol.  

He was a supervisor, in time he became a chief administrator.

His tenure in the bureaucracy had spanned a length of time that seemed impossible, spending years at every position while advancing through the circuit of offices.

He was not a young man when he was restored to life by the miracle of the Continuum.

He was an Octogenarian now, though, he appeared to be a man in his prime.

Those who had been following his career began to realize that he was extremely old compared to the average citizen.

The average citizen who followed his life story had been living with it for most, if not all of their lives, and his story was still fascinating to them.

He was a paragon of virtue.

He had made a personal spiritual journey that was marked by the stations in society that he had transited, going outcast and rebel, from condemned prisoner to the highest places in the Imperial Administration.

This was noted as more than a curiosity by other administrators at his level, and though he was universally admired, he was also the subject of vicious jealousy

He had made a journey in the space of one lifetime (perhaps two), that the Imperial Cult taught the people it would take hundreds of lives and reincarnations to complete. 

When there was no place left for him to ascend to, the Empire ordered him to be drafted into military service, marking a second change in his caste and station.

It was another miracle for the people to behold.


Emergence 4.0
Part Six, The Empire

Chapter Thirty-seven, Bureaucrat

A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek

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Sunday, September 29, 2019

A Homily - The Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)


First Reading - Amos 6:1, 4-7 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 145(146):7-10 ©
Second Reading – 1 Timothy 6:11-16 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 10:27
Alternative Acclamation – 2 Corinthians 8:9
The Gospel According to Luke 16:19 - 31 ©


(NJB)


Listen to the prophet. His words were never more true than they are today:

Woe to you Israel.

Woe to the callous hearted, woe to those who cannot see God looking back at them through the eyes of their neighbor, through the iron slats of the fences they build to divide us from one another. Woe to those who cannot see God in the faces of your brothers and sisters living in the occupied territories of Palestine.

Woe to powerful, woe to those who deny justice to the oppressed.

Consider this:

God is the author of our salvation, there is no other. Do not trust in the power of princes and kings, they will not deliver you, and God is neither a respecter of persons, or of nations.

The life of a human being, of all human beings, the time of humanity on Earth is little more than a brief flash in the night. We are born, we breathe and we are gone.

 The Earth itself will not survive the sun.

Consider the words of the prophet, and the teaching of Jesus who points to the way; happy are those who assist God in the divine work of mercy and justice:

Lift up the oppressed,
          Wherever they are
Feed the hungry
Free the prisoner
Teach the ignorant,
          Wherever they are

Advocate for those who need an advocate, care for those who cannot care for themselves. Find those who are lost in their wickedness, and bring them home.

The Church began to deviate from the way on the day it was founded. As soon as Jesus died, before Christians were even called Christians the falling out among them was intense. It was immediate.

The Church was divided in doctrine, concerning questions about the truth, regarding the knowledge of God, the possession of riches and the distribution of alms.

It was like any other human institution, because it was just another human institution.

The epistle from today exemplifies this. It promotes the lie that the rewards of the faith are transactional; if give your wealth to the church, you will have a reward in heaven.

Be mindful!

The sheep do not choose the shepherd, but rather, it is the shepherd who chooses the sheep.

For Christians; Jesus is the shepherd, and the Shepherd is God; the creator of the universe.

There is just the one shepherd; just the one sheepfold and whether it make sense to us or not, whether it contradicts the teaching and the tradition of the Church, it is to the one Shepherd that we all belong.

Know this!

Listen for the voice of the shepherd, and do not trouble yourself with how the shepherd speaks to you, in what language, in what text, with how the shepherd speaks to your sister or your brother, to your neighbors or the stranger. The shepherd is speaking to them to, and they are listening as they are able (or willing).

Everyone that is, everyone without exception follows in the way of God, there is no other way. Do not trouble yourself if you do not understand the journey that another person is on, God is guiding them, just as God is guiding you.

If you resist, God will be patient, God will wait, just as God waits for everyone. God, Jesus, the shepherd, they speak to us of love, they are love, like love they are patient and they are kind.

God will not lose a single one of us. Neither will any one of us lose God. No matter what; God is with us, because there is not place, not a single place where God is not.

Remember this!

Jesus is not a lord. He was rich in spiritual gifts, he shared those gifts with many, with all whom he encountered and in sharing he became richer in those gifts.

He was our friend, he lived with us as a friend, spoke to us as a friend, loved us as a friend, and died for the sake of his friends.

Remember that as you read the scriptures and be on the look out for those passages in scripture which contradict that fundamental truth, such as the reading for today.

The reading from Luke is not a parable, it is not meant to teach anything but fear. It is given as a means of justifying a denial of charity to those whom the first Christians, especially in those communities outside of Palestine, in their desire to excluded from the good works of the way, something Jesus himself would never have done.

These are the clues by which we can see that this is a false interpretation of Jesus’ teaching.

The writing is heavily mythologized, representing imagery of the afterlife, depicting Lazarus in the Bosom of Abraham (imagined here as an analogy for Elysium), the abode of the blessed dead. Be mindful of the reference to Hades, and the description of a gulf between it and the blessed realm.

Understand that Jesus did not speak in concrete terms regarding the afterlife.

Another clue is in the way that the author riffs on the name of Lazarus, which is the name of a man who we know Jesus loved. The author builds up the narrative in a way that draws a clear connection between Lazarus and the tales of the Syro-Phoenician woman, who also, like a dog, asks for scraps at the table of Christ.

In this way the author connects everyone who his contemporaries viewed as an outsider; seeing them as such on the basis of nationalism and ethnicity, to Lazarus who was beloved by Jesus; and was the man for whom Jesus wept, who he raised from the dead.

The central message of the reading provides the final clue. The message that is given is that Jesus is content to let people die in their sins, suffer in eternity, and never have recourse to salvation. This message is in stark contrast to his teaching on love, forgiveness, and mercy.

Be mindful of the way the prejudices of human beings, they were no different in the era when the Gospels were first written, when they were allowed to creep into the narrative of Jesus’ life and to rob us from the truth.


First Reading - Amos 6:1, 4-7 ©

Woe to Those who Live in Luxury

The almighty Lord says this:

Woe to those ensconced so snugly in Zion and to those who feel so safe on the mountain of Samaria, those famous men of this first of nations to whom the House of Israel goes as client.
Lying on ivory beds and sprawling on their divans, they dine on lambs from the flock, and stall-fattened veal; they bawl to the sound of the harp, they invent new instruments of music like David, they drink wine by the bowlful, and use the finest oil for anointing themselves,
but about the ruin of Joseph they do not care at all.

That is why they will be the first to be exiled; the sprawlers’ revelry is over.


Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 145(146):7-10 ©

My soul, give praise to the Lord.

Alleluia!

It is the Lord who keeps faith for ever,
  who is just to those who are oppressed.
It is he who gives bread to the hungry,
  the Lord, who sets prisoners free.

My soul, give praise to the Lord.

Alleluia!

It is the Lord who gives sight to the blind,
  who raises up those who are bowed down.
It is the Lord who loves the just,
  the Lord, who protects the stranger.

My soul, give praise to the Lord.

Alleluia!

The Lord upholds the widow and orphan
  but thwarts the path of the wicked.
The Lord will reign for ever,
  Zion’s God, from age to age.

My soul, give praise to the Lord.

Alleluia!


Second Reading – 1 Timothy 6:11-16 ©

Do All that You Have Been Told, Until the Appearing of the Lord

As a man dedicated to God, you must aim to be saintly and religious, filled with faith and love, patient and gentle. Fight the good fight of the faith and win for yourself the eternal life to which you were called when you made your profession and spoke up for the truth in front of many witnesses. Now, before God the source of all life and before Christ, who spoke up as a witness for the truth in front of Pontius Pilate, I put to you the duty of doing all that you have been told, with no faults or failures, until the Appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who at the due time will be revealed by God, the blessed and only Ruler of all, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, who alone is immortal, whose home is in inaccessible light, whom no man has seen and no man is able to see: to him be honour and everlasting power. Amen.


Gospel Acclamation – John 10:27

Alleluia, alleluia!

The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice,
says the Lord,
I know them and they follow me.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation – 2 Corinthians 8:9

Alleluia, alleluia!

Jesus Christ was rich,
but he became poor for your sake,
to make you rich out of his poverty.

Alleluia!


The Gospel According to Luke 16:19 - 31 ©

Dives and Lazarus

Jesus said to the Pharisees, ‘There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day. And at his gate there lay a poor man called Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to fill himself with the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even came and licked his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.

  ‘In his torment in Hades he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off with Lazarus in his bosom. So he cried out, “Father Abraham, pity me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames.” “My son,” Abraham replied “remember that during your life good things came your way, just as bad things came the way of Lazarus. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony. But that is not all: between us and you a great gulf has been fixed, to stop anyone, if he wanted to, crossing from our side to yours, and to stop any crossing from your side to ours.”

  ‘The rich man replied, “Father, I beg you then to send Lazarus to my father’s house, since I have five brothers, to give them warning so that they do not come to this place of torment too.” “They have Moses and the prophets,” said Abraham “let them listen to them..” “Ah no, father Abraham,” said the rich man “but if someone comes to them from the dead, they will repent.” Then Abraham said to him, “If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead.”’


26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Abuse of Power - Editorial, The Week in Review


Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
09.28.2019

Abuse of Power


Donald Trump has no idea what it means to be a public servant. He is the antithesis of a patriot, and corrupt to the bone.

It has been an amazing thing to see, watching his stogies in the Republican Party; to watch people Senator Lindsey Graham make excuses for his crimes, pretending that his abuses of power do not matter.

Those people are not patriots either, they are craven, they are cowards and they clearly hate America.

Donald Trump spoke this week at the United Nations. He rambled on and on about nationalism, about the inherent right of a nation to protect itself, the duty a nation has to advance its own interests, of course we know that when he says these things he is thinking that he himself has the inherent right to use the power of his office to do that for himself.

Have you ever noticed how this Fake President refers to his time in office as his “rule” or his “reign?” Last week he was talking about his “ascension” to the house, and he referred to it as “the takeover of America.” He thinks that when a civil servant performs the duties of their office, and report him up through the chain of command for self-dealing, extortion, and other high crimes, he thinks this is somehow treason, and should merit the death penalty. T-Rump said as much at a gathering of State Department staffers, gathered at the United Nations.

He was warning them not to blow the whistle on him.

T-Rump wants to be able to spill our national secrets to our adversaries, to invite or coerce foreign powers to interfere in our elections, to advantage him in doing so, and most importantly to profit from those crimes.

He has appointed people like Mike Pompeo to the position of Secretary of State, and William Barr to Attorney General, men who pretend that they are covering his abuses out of respect for the office, because they believe in its powers, not T-Rumps, but they are far off the mark. The office is not served by the criminal that occupies it.

You cannot refuse to protect and defend the Constitution of the United Sates by failing to respect the separation of powers it articulates, the checks and balances it enumerates, by perjuring yourself before congressional committees, claiming privileges that do not exist, not responding to congressional subpoenas, hiding or destroying documents. Every office is diminished when you do that.

If we abandon the rule of law we become the playthings of tyrants.

The congressional Republicans have an opportunity in front of them. They are being invited to exercise their conscience on behalf of the country, to sit in judgement of this orange-fool who would sell us out to the Russians, to the Saudi’s or any other petty principality that would put a dollar in his pocket.

They are being invited to let go of their hypocrisy and stand for the principles they pretend to possess.

Let’s hope they do it, and bring the Fake President to an ignominious end.        

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Language


The power of words
There are many who doubt it
As they doubt themselves

Language structures our beliefs
Communication, talking

The power to clarify
What is true from what is false
Come into knowledge

To find commonalities
To understand an other

Systems of beliefs
In relation to our own
Actualities

Words are the instruments that
Describe our experience

If we allow it
Words can describe our beliefs
Will guide our actions

Through words we build the platform
Where we examine our lives

Make real-referents
Analyze repercussions
Take the hard data

The facts of experience
Of truth and consequences

To parse the difference
Between the good, and evil
And become moral beings