ceteris paribus…

It is probably reasonable to assume that the faith of our parents, if any, is assumed in our early years to be the only faith. I remember noticing and asking about the different iconologia and emblemata of the 14 houses of worship in my very small hometown. It was a disproportionately large number of options. For reasons that are beyond the scope of this post, I was a member of at least five different congregations belonging to different Christian denominations before the age of 12.

And prior to that age, the United States was ramping up to its Bicentennial celebrations and participating in the first two Olympics of which I was aware (some years before the Winter and Summer Games were split and staggered). On display at home was a vast array of old and newly minted patriotic symbols. Each nation of the more than 90 competing The Games (half the world at the time) had brought an entirely different selection of icons to the stadium.

Surely formal education contributed to an awareness of how much larger the world is than I might have imagined before adolescence. But the diversity of religious and national expression was given sharp emphasis by experience and observation. This has allowed me to acknowledge that dignity can arise everywhere on the planet – from each person who will allow it to manifest – regardless of place of birth.

There is a vogue in political thought here, the notion of American exceptionalism. The nation may unfortunately have been born with it. The soil here is not a magical home plate (to employ the metaphor from our “national pastime”). It isn’t where a person is born or lives that makes their accomplishments special. Accomplishment and the person who achieves it are both special – anywhere. I’m not running for office. I don’t have to perpetuate a myth.

As readers of this blog may have guessed, flags and maps fascinate me. A flag is not just the equivalent of a postal code. It is a declaration of a certain set of beliefs and, it must be said, opinions. A map is more than a tool for where to find things. For me, maps have long and collectively been metaphors for the intrinsic potential of what things may be found.

thank youSurfing the Zeitgeist is intended to share my perspective on the value and mission of creative expression – along with a certain view on the universality of potential. The above map shows the nations from which Visits have been made. I track this as a reminder that there isn’t just one zeitgeist to surf. Each visit is more than a “pin in a map” for me. It’s a vantage point – a reminder that my point of view is only one way of examining the zeitgeist. I’m curious about them all – and I think I always have been.

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Separated at birth…

Questions raised by science fiction – good or bad – include “Where do we come from?” and “Where might we be going?” Sci-fi may also ask for a definition of humanity, particularly when at its best. And much of the genre is a depiction of the Cosmos, its possible meaning, and our role within it – if any.

When ΨΦ (psi phi) interprets humanity as a specific code of behavior or paints the Cosmos as demanding such adherence, all of this together begins to resemble religion. I have been developing a science fiction story that treats on some of this territory. During this musing I find myself wondering why science fiction usually tends to wheel away from religion.

There are exceptions, of course. For most of the ‘90’s both Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Babylon 5 dealt with religious beliefs while telling sci-fi stories. In the following decade-plus, the reimagined Battlestar Galactica did so also. But that’s not quite the point aimed at here.

A religious story set within a sci-fi universe or a sci-fi plot with the trappings of belief goes only half way. I’m newly fascinated by the concept of a novel that is truly about both – or at least sparks a debate about which kind of tale it may be.

All We Now Hold True” is the working title for my offering to Star Trek readers – both old and new. In addition to an attempt to build the bridge alluded to above I seek to build a bridge between original and relaunch.

The Vulcan Language Dictionary (VLD) lists nearly a dozen deities from the pre-Surak period. In pre-Reform Ancient Vulcan a pantheistic society is shown in several existing novels. The planet giving rise to that culture is generally painted as a global desert. Measured by their gods, the Vulcans are obsessed with the dichotomies of war and peace and of fertility and death.

The presumptive answers they might give to the foregoing questions are: “We come from conflict. We may never truly escape it. At our best, we can survive as long as possible. What else can be done?”

In short, an environment of severity will raise severe people.

But what if that’s all not the whole truth? Some personal experience denies this being a reality. My premise and hope within fiction says otherwise, too.

kau

Please Note: This entry is a day late in terms of my normal posting schedule. I’ve spent most of the day easing the transition of the pet cat I’ve had since 1999. The premise of this entry was planned before I knew today would be Lily‘s final day with me. I find it strangely fitting that her passing raises a few questions related to those I’ve mentioned here. But the corollary of this post’s title is an intentional reference to how much I’ll miss her.