Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

25 July, 2005

Prost Gotvins Geometri – Part 8

This is Prost Gotvins geometri by Gert Nygårdshaug. The translation was done by Roy Johansen. Nygårdshaug is a Norwegian author and the text has not yet been published in English. Roy is a friend of mine who recently moved back to his native Norway. He has translated a good part of the novel and I'm trying to convince him to finish it.

Here’s Part 7.

Father Gotvin's First Journey (continued)

This role felt foreign to me, but now, long afterwards, thinking back to all this, I cannot but admit that I also felt free. Strangely liberated, this feeling of freedom was what would carry me on, what would give me the strength to see it through, this, my first journey. But this new role did feel foreign and I did not recognize myself. I had never been what one would call a rebel, an insurgent. My views on certain religious matters night have been liberal, but in no way controversial or offensive. In the interpretation of God’s word, as it spoke to us and encountered us in the Holy Scriptures, I have always advocated the immediate as an instrument for the kind of preaching that is intended to reach people. For me, the Scriptures have had the function of bearing testimony inspired by God about the Word of Life, the totality of Jesus Christ, head and body. I had always considered the Scriptures to be what they purported to be, and in my faith, as in many others’, this had come to mean this: understanding the texts as testimonies from the Holy Spirit delivered through people about Yahweh’s bond with his chosen People of the Covenant. And, in the highest sense, about the fulfillment of this covenant in the divine-human co-immanence in the person Jesus Christ, although I wouldn’t have minded seeing the Israelites of our day squeezed out of the occupied Palestinian territories. In that sense I had been, and am, in staunch opposition to the views held by most men and women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway, but in this matter I had never fallen into the same trap as the Alexandrines, who had rejected the dual nature of Christ. For only through his dual nature were his miracles, the Catholic miracles, possible, and only because of this was I, still with a certain dignity and with a feeling of being on safe ground, able to assume the role of investigator.

I found a park.
I sat down on a bench in the shade of a big tree.

Until now, I hadn’t taken the time to study the town, the people, and the nature. Santiago de Compostela was a beautiful town, that had to be admitted. But why were so many people wearing black? Around the town were vineyards and fertile fields. Everywhere there were stands offering the most delectable fruits and vegetables, but it was the smells, all the unfamiliar smells that made the strongest impression. Despite not being well-traveled, I had read quite a bit, seen films and pictures, but the fragrances were totally new to me. Some places were pungent and strong of varieties of citrus, while others heavy and sweet of the olive family. The houses were white and there were flowers everywhere. The Fields of Stars – the description struck me as appropriate – but didn’t it rain often in this area? I had read somewhere that the area was also called El Orinal de España, the Urinal of Spain. What did it look like when the apostle James brought the gospel here? The Holy Iago, he was a fisherman who devoted his life to evangelizing, but the Spaniards had known how to employ his strength and commitment in fighting their own enemies. Time and again throughout history, James had materialized, descended to Earth, and helped the Spaniards. He had been observed riding alongside the Spanish army in the heat of battle and King Ramiro I swore that Holy James had played an active part in the battle of Cavijo in the year 844 where the saint single-handedly had butchered about sixty thousand Moors and, over the next six centuries, the fisherman apostle from Galiliee is supposed to have participated, armor clad, in more than forty battles earning him the name Matamoros, the Moor Killer. That’s how it was. He was even supposed to have made appearances in the New World where he assisted the conquistadors in the slaughter of a handful of Indians. Thus had James evangelized his way through history as a virtual Rambo. This fact was unfortunately impossible to overlook. I had already seen several statues in town depicting the Holy Apostle in full knight’s attire. This was the Catholic faith and conviction and the Catholic Church represented a significant portion of Christendom.

I felt shivers and murmurs under my breastbone thinking these thoughts under the tree in the park, a few hundred yards from the cathedral and the undercroft where the apostle’s osseous remains were kept as the third greatest sanctum of all those administered by The Vatican. “Dear God,” said the voice inside of me, “let not this darken my soul. Let it not create obstacles. Are Catholicism and my faith really two substances fighting each other?” St. Augustine came to my assistance: "Let them no longer assert that, when they perceive two wills to be contending with each other in the same man, the contest is between two opposing minds, of two opposing substances, from two opposing principles, the one good and the other bad." You are right, venerable Augustine, it’s not like that, it cannot be as simple as that. We are one flesh, one blood. We are one big family with different views on God the Almighty Creator’s complex modes of manifestation, but perhaps you were right, Magnus Stormarkbråten, I should have not started this journey.

The tree above me.
The green branches reaching out.
High up there, the top.
I suddenly felt like climbing it.

I took hold of a branch right above the bench and easily pulled myself up to the trunk, then I started climbing cautiously, intently. What kind of tree was this? The smell was unfamiliar, the leaves small and heart-shaped, but the tree was tall – very tall. It made me think of a primitive tribe of New Guinea, the Korowai people. I had just read about this tribe – in a book? A magazine? Exotic cultures have always fascinated me. The Korowai live in houses built high up in the tallest trees they can find to get as close as possible to their gods and their gods are the airplanes of modern civilization. Planes that from time to time pass overhead. Over the last fifty years the Korowai have regularly seen airplanes, gods that hey started to worship and eventually they moved their houses up into the trees. In earlier times they used to live on the ground like everybody else, but now it had become imperative to get as close to their gods as possible.

I was climbing. Was I climbing to get closer to my god? Had I become like the Korowai during my short meditation on the bench below? Unlikely. I was propelled by an indeterminate power and the skills from childhood were still there in my body. Innumerous were the crows’ nests I had looted for eggs as an eight year old. I had even found a crow chick. I adopted it and baptized it in a solemn ceremony, to my father’s deep despair. Andersen the Quack was the name of the chick and it died after a week because it refused to take nourishment. The branches were getting thinner. Hadn’t I reached the top and the grand view? The view of this town, the view of Catholicism, the miracle-fields of Christianity. I, the investigator, would go all the way to the top, would feel freedom like I never had before. "Careful now, Gotvin," I whispered to myself. Korowai, Andersen the Quack – two will contending within the same substance. The tree was swinging. I was almost there. Two more twigs. I stopped and looked down. A not insignificant number of people had gathered in the park below and they were all staring up at me, pointing.

I lifted my eyes and looked around.
Toward the mountains on the horizon.
The I shouted as loudly as my voice was capable of, out across the Field of Stars: "Lucienne Lopez! Lucienne Lopez!"
|| Palmer, 9:20 AM


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