Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Thomas Pynchon on Radical Discipleship

Historical Communique No. 24601

From: The Alpinist
To: The Ecclesiast

In recent perusing of a most reliable historical source - utilizing, of course as always, the Magus' Crucis Glass, I may have happened upon evidence of the airship The Eagle, or at the least, a virtuous crew somewhat akin to her.  Perhaps such an account is merely the ultimate redaction of later missional heroes, such as those spawned by Nansen's Oslo visit, but even so, it bears careful scrutiny - and, in my humble opinion, merits rigorous imitation.  Regardless, it seems to exemplify the right words of the prophet Isaias when he foresaw that, one day, all should "beat their swords into ploughshares," and henceforth, "study war no more." Certainly, it seems that our own Professor Hauerwas of Duke and others would urge us all to similar sanctifications vis-à-vis the imperialisms of the Nation-State.  

Mr. Pynchon
Preamble aside, I submit the following from a historian of a most scientific rigor, Mr. Thomas Pynchon, in his most accurate portrayal of the age of Steam and its epigones, Against the Day.  Providence willing, perhaps our own youth will find in it some inspiration for their own airborne aspirations.  And also, a warning, that Sin, Death, and indeed, the Devil - for he is real, my friend, much as he would have us believe to the contrary - continue to oppose those who, following the Savior, Blessed Francis, and all the sinner-saints of our proud house, endeavor to pay the cost of, as the youth call it, "radical discipleship" that the Lord invites us to place upon the altar of faithfulness, to the everlasting glory of the Eternal Gospel.

But let my mortal flesh keep silence.  Here follows the account:

Darby shrugged. "News to me. Inconvenience, we're only the runts of the Organization, last at the trough, nobody ever tells us anything - they keep cutting orders, we follow 'em is all."

"Well we were over by Mount Etna there back in the spring," Penny said, "and you remember those Garcons de '71 I expect." For Chick's benefit, Darby explained that this outfit had first been formed over twenty years ago during the Sieges of Paris, when manned balloons were often the only way to communicate in or out of the city.  As the ordeal went on, it became clear to certain of these balloonists, observing from above and poised ever upon a cusp of mortal danger, how much the modern State depended for its survival on maintaining a condition of permanent siege, through the systematic encirclement of populations, the starvation of bodies and spirits, the relentless degradation of civility until citizen was turned against citizen, even to the point of committing atrocities like those of the famous petroleurs of Paris. When the Sieges ended, these balloonists chose to fly on, free now of the political delusions that reigned more than ever on the ground, pledged solemnly only to one another, proceeding as if under a world-wide, never-ending state of siege.

"Nowadays," Penny said, "they'll fly wherever they're needed, far above fortress walls and national boundaries, running blockades, feeding the hungry, sheltering the sick and persecuted...so of course they make enemies everyplace they go, they get fired at from the ground, all the time.  But this was different.  We happened to be up with them that one day, and it was just the queerest thing.  Nobody saw any projectiles, but there was...a kind of force...energy we could feel, directed personally at us..."

"Somebody out there," Zip solemnly said. "Empty space. But inhabited."

The Enemy, it appears, continues to believe himself at large.  Le us take from these heroics an exhortation to continue to defy him and all his empty promises, and to walk boldly in the light as the Lord is in the Light - even when the Light strides boldly "against the Day."  

Faithfully submitted,

The Alpinist

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