While I still have my eyes closed, I think about what our gathering might mean. I mull over the blogger’s outburst. I try to remember if there has ever been a time when I did not believe in God. (Of course there are times when we don’t.)
I open my eyes. The only other person sitting with me now is the one played by Sarah Michelle Gellar. The other chairs are empty. I should have known that attendance would be as slippery and surprising as anything else here.
“It occurs to me that you have not had a name. You have usually been the narrator, something like an “I” in Freud’s sense. Sometimes you are like this, and sometimes you are Martha Stewart.”
She makes eye contact with me. “I’m not completely sure that there is as much unity to this self-facet as you are implying.”
I have to smile at that. “As if that isn’t always a problem.”
She smiles too, and nods. “There is no other rationale for Gellar playing me than familiarity with Buffy. So, why not call me ‘Buffy’?”
“I guess that’s something. But then if there’s a casting switch again, we should call you ‘Martha’?”
“Let’s worry about that if it comes up, k?”
“Okay, Buffy. Why just you and me now?”
“It seems like you may have questions about the posting that you referred to in your narration a moment ago as an ‘outburst.’ If so, they might as well be addressed to me.”
“Ah.” I look back over at the piano, and see that “Dwight” is still at his post, but he seems to be paying no attention to us.
I look at Buffy again. “I…” [I’m a h/un] “I don’t…” I rub my eyes a bit. “Questions?”
“Why don’t you just say some of the things that are bothering you?”
“Say them? You mean, like, list them?”
“Sure. Why not?”
“The continuing proximity of spirituality and sexuality.”
She nods, and waits for more.
“The lack of any clarity regarding judgment in these matters.”
“Moral judgment; normative judgment.”
“You mean lack of clarity here, on the blog.”
“Are we still relying on something like ‘the obvious’?”
I blink and pause a moment. “No, I suppose that won’t go right now, will it?”
She nods again. “Lack of clarity regarding normative judgment. Go on.”
“The hint of association between Anabaptist and Catholic.”
She shifts a bit in her chair. “You mean with regard to authority.”
“Obv… Yes, with regard to authority.”
Another nod, and then silence.
“Atheism and theism.”
She tilts her head. “What about them?”
I gaze intently into her eyes, sensing my own presence there. “I want to be able to tell the difference between them. Can I?”
Without breaking eye contact, she raises her right hand and snaps her fingers loudly.
I knew what she was going to do, but the finger-snap still startles me as though I have been dozing. I open my eyes, and the only other person at the table now is Sarah, the Amish woman. She is sitting in a different chair, and Buffy’s chair is now vacant, but Sarah is lowering her right hand, as if she just now snapped her fingers.
Her face is almost painfully intent; she might be angry. “For what would you willingly die, Bruce?”
I meet her gaze and hold it for several seconds. She is apparently not going to blink. It seems to require great effort to respond. “I would willingly die for my… Lord… and Saviour… It’s… not a formula.” I drop my eyes, and see that the Bible is not on the table anymore. “IT’S NOT A GOD-DAMNED FORMULA!!”
“It will feel like that as long as it is something that you say.”
“Can I not know that it is what I would do?”
She still has not blinked. “Not until you have to do it, no.”
She smiles “So many with whom you have associated have assumed that THIS is what swearing is. But you have known better for a long, long time.”
“It’s about swearing an oath; pledging allegiance.” I meet her unblinking gaze again. “It’s about willingness to die, and thus is done rather than said or known. Is that right?”
“That’s right, Bruce.” She finally blinks, but only once. “For what would you willingly die? For what would WE willingly die?”
“I…” Tears. “We… don’t… know.”
Sarah leans forward in her chair, and extends her hand across the table toward me. I can see where it is, but the tears make it a blur.
I reach out and gently touch the back of her hand with two fingers. “You’re It.”
She leans back and closes her eyes.