When I post, there is always a hesitation: I don’t know if this feels right. Should I post it anyway? I usually do. Today the hesitation is strong, yet here is the post.
It’s the beach. Why are we back on the beach?
Gellar as me (I), Macy as Bruce, Bates as It, and a drone that looks more like an older Dylan than the previous one did not look like a younger Dylan.
It’s brightly sun-lit and hot, but there is no sun visible anywhere. The sound of breaking waves and seagull cries has an artificial, stereotypical character.
It and I are both sitting in director’s chairs this time, side-by side and a few feet away from the other two.
I lean toward It and speak in a low voice. “If we’re on the beach again, why the same chairs?” The chairs occupied by Bruce and the drone are the same as in the last conversation room encounter.
It looks over at me, her face a blend of cynicism and disgust. “A stupid effort to ease transition?”
The drone is wearing faded blue jeans, a dirty white t-shirt, and a leather jacket. Of course. I probably share the cynicism and disgust, at least to an extent. Those chairs do look immensely silly with their wooden legs sunk into the white sand.
Bruce and the drone are staring into each other’s eyes with rather blank expressions on their faces. Bruce speaks first. “Well?”
“Your dilation, please.”
The drone simply stares for several more seconds, then speaks again. “There is no such thing as Christianity.”
Bruce blinks, clearly caught off guard. “Excuse me?”
“You heard me just fine.”
“I’m not even sure what it would MEAN to say that.”
The drone nods. “That’s exactly why I’m here.”
“I expected this to be about authority again.” Bruce blinks again. “Wait… Is it?”
“In a way, yes.”
“Who has the authority to define what Christianity is? That’s the question, isn’t it?”
“That may be your question.” The drone’s face is unreadable. “I’m here to claim that, in fact, there is no such thing as Christianity. I represent not just that possibility, but that claim. It is one that you fear, you know.”
“I fear it?”
“Of course you do. You fear it because you think that it might be a denial of something that is essential to the identity of the selfsystem. You fear it because it implies that you are investing authority in nothing.”
Bruce must be getting upset, but it does not yet show. “My desire is to invest authority only in God.”
The drone nods again, but this time smiles a bit. “And you know already that God is not a thing, don’t you Bruce?”
“Yes, I believe that.”
“You are being cautious, like your more academic alter.”
“OK, yes, I would say that I know it, so far as I know anything.”
“But can you invest authority in what is not a thing?”
Bruce looks down at the Bible in his lap. “Can I not invest authority in a person, whom I take to be the incarnation of what is not a thing?”
“You wish to invest Jesus with such authority, correct?”
“And how, exactly, is Jesus available to you?”
Another longish silence.
Bruce is furrowing his brow. “I once would have said that I have a personal relationship with him.”
“You would no longer say that?”
“I think I still would say that…”
“…but I’m no longer sure that having a personal relationship with someone really amounts to having them ‘available’ to me.”
The drone nods approvingly. “But other people with whom you would claim to have a personal relationship are people whom you have met… um…”
“In the flesh?”
“Yes, in the flesh. So Jesus is mediated for you, correct?”
Now Bruce is looking annoyed. “Jesus is the mediaTOR.” His breathing is heavier. “But yes, in the sense that you mean it, as a person, I guess he is mediated.”
Bruce’s volume approximately doubles. “AM I SUPPOSED TO SAY BY CHRISTIANITY?”
The drone remains totally calm. “What other candidates are there?”
Bruce sinks down further into his chair, hugging his Bible to his chest. “Can I say ‘church,’ and have that not be the same thing as ‘Christianity’?”
The drone’s tone begins to lean in the direction of officiousness. “You tend nowadays to want the word ‘church’ to refer to a local congregation, but that is hardly a plausible candidate. The weight of everything that has gone by the name of ‘Christianity’ weighs upon your every invocation of Jesus, does it not?”
“But you are claiming that there is no such thing as Christianity!”
Bruce’s frown deepens. “Well, as my daddy used to say, holy fartin’ shitpot!”
It is not immediately clear which one of us shouted that.