How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 41

How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 41

          The archbishop tipped back in his swivel chair, interlacing his fingers across his chest, and cocked his head to one side.

          “And how are your mother and the rest of your family?” he asked in a considerably more serious tone.

          “Well, Your Eminence. Or as well as anyone could be under the circumstances.” Paityr twitched his shoulders. “We’re all grateful to God and to Madame Ahnzhelyk and Seijin Merlin’s friend for getting so many out of Clyntahn’s grasp, but that only makes us more aware of what’s happened in the Temple Lands. And I suppose it’s a bit difficult for them — for all of us — not to feel guilty over having managed to get here when so many others didn’t.”

          “That’s a very human reaction.” Staynair nodded. “And it’s also a very irrational one. I’m sure you realize that.”

          “Oh, I do. For that matter, Lysbet and the others do, too. But, as you say, it’s a very human reaction, Your Eminence. It’s going to be a while before they manage to get past that, I’m afraid.”

          “Understandable. But please tell Madame Wylsynn my office and I are at her disposal if she should have need of us.”

          “Thank you, Your Eminence.” Paityr smiled again, gratefully. The offer wasn’t the automatic formula it might have been coming from another archbishop, and he knew it.

          “You’re welcome, of course,” Staynair said. “On the other hand, I don’t imagine that’s the reason you wanted to see me today?”

          “No,” Paityr admitted, gray eyes darkening. “No, it wasn’t, Your Eminence. I’ve come to see you on a spiritual matter.”

          “A spiritual matter concerning what? Or should I say concerning whom?” Staynair’s dark eyes were shrewd, and Paityr sat back in his chair.

          “Concerning me, Your Eminence.” He drew a deep breath. “I’m afraid my soul isn’t as tranquil as it ought to be.”

          “You’re scarcely unique in that, my son,” Staynair pointed out somberly, swinging his chair from side to side in a slow, gentle arc. “All of God’s children — or all of them whose minds work, at any rate — are grappling with questions and concerns more than sufficient to destroy their tranquility.”

          “I realize that, Your Eminence, but this is something that hasn’t happened to me before. I’m experiencing doubt. Not just questions, not just uncertainty over the direction in which I ought to be going, but genuine doubt.”

          “Doubt over what?” Staynair asked, eyes narrowing. “Your actions? Your beliefs? The doctrine of the Church of Charis?”

          “I’m afraid it’s more fundamental than that, Your Eminence,” Paityr admitted. “Of course I have the occasional evening when I lie awake wondering if it was my own hubris, my own pride in my ability to know better than Mother Church, that led me to obey Archbishop Erayk’s instructions to remain here in Charis and work with you and His Majesty. I’m neither so stupid nor so self-righteous as to be immune to that sort of doubt, and I hope I never will be. And I can honestly say I’ve experienced very little doubt over whether or not the Church of Charis has a better understanding of the mind of God than that butcher Clyntahn and his friends. Forgive me for saying this, but you could scarcely have less understanding!” He shook his head. “No, what I’m beginning to doubt is whether or not I have a true vocation after all.”

          Staynair’s chair was suddenly still and silence hovered in the office. Then the archbishop tilted his head to one side and pursed his lips.

          “I imagine no priest is ever fully immunized against that question,” he said slowly. “However clearly we may have been called by God, we remain mortals with all the weaknesses of any mortal. But I have to tell you, Father, that of all the priests I’ve known, I can think of none whose vocation seemed clearer to me than your own. I realize another’s opinion is scarcely armor against one’s own doubts, and the truth of a priest’s vocation is ultimately between him and God, not him and anyone else. Despite that, I must tell you I can think of no one into whose hands I would be more willing to entrust God’s work.”

          Paityr’s eyes widened. He deeply admired and respected Maikel Staynair and he’d known Staynair was fond of him. That he’d become one of the archbishop’s protégés. Yet Staynair’s words — and especially the serious, measured tone in which they’d been spoken — had taken him by surprise.

          “I’m honored, Your Eminence,” he replied after a moment. “That means a great deal to me, especially coming from you. Yet the fact of my doubt remains. I’m no longer certain of my vocation, and can a true priest — one who had a true vocation to begin with — ever lose it?”

          “What does the Office of Inquisition teach?” Staynair asked in reply.

          “That a priest is a priest forever,” Paityr responded. “That a true vocation can never be lost, else it was never a true vocation to begin with. But if that’s true, Your Eminence, did I ever have that true vocation to begin with?”

          “That is what the Inquisition teaches, but as you may have noticed,” Staynair said a bit dryly, “I’ve found myself in disagreement with the Office of Inquisition on several minor doctrinal matters lately.”

Despite Paityr’s own concern and genuine distress, the archbishop’s tone drew an unwilling chuckle out of him, and Staynair smiled. Then his expression turned serious once more.

          “All humor notwithstanding, my son, I believe the Inquisition has been in error in many ways. You know where most of my points of disagreement with the Grand Inquisitor lie, and you know it’s my belief that we serve a loving God who desires what’s best for His children and also desires that those children come to Him in joyous love, not fear. I can’t believe it’s His will for us to be miserable, or to be crushed underfoot, or to be driven into His arms by the lash.

“You and I have differed on occasion on the extent to which the freedom of will and freedom of choice I believe is so critical to a healthy relationship with God may threaten to confuse and disorder our right understanding of God’s will for us and for all of His world. Despite that, I’ve never doubted for a moment that you’ve looked upon the task of disciplining the children of Mother Church with the love and compassion a true parent brings to that duty. I’ve never seen a malicious act, or a capricious decision. Indeed, I’ve seen you deal patiently and calmly with idiots who would have driven one of the Archangels themselves into a frothing madness. And I’ve seen the unflinching fashion in which you’ve stood fast for the things in which you believe without ever descending into the sort of mental and spiritual arrogance which know that anyone who disagrees with them must be completely and unequivocably wrong. That’s the priest I see when I consider whether or not you have a true vocation, Father Paityr, and I ask you to remember that it’s the Writ which says a priest is a priest forever and the Inquisition which has interpreted that as meaning that a priest who loses his vocation was therefore never in fact a true priest at all. Search the Writ as you will, my son, but you will never find those words, that statement, anywhere in it.”

          He paused, letting silence lie over the two of them once more, yet Paityr knew the archbishop wasn’t done yet. So he sat, waiting, and after a moment Staynair continued.

          “I’m a Bédardist. My order knows more about the ways in which the human mind and the human spirit can hurt themselves than most of us wish we’d ever had to learn. There’s no question that we can convince ourselves of literally anything we wish to believe, and there’s also no question that we can be far more ruthless — far more cruel — in punishing ourselves than any other reasonable person would ever be. We can — and we will, my son, trust me in this — find innumerable ways in which to doubt and question and indict ourselves for things only we know about, supposed crimes only we realize were ever committed. There are times when that truly is a form of justice, but far more often it’s a case of punishing the innocent. Or, at the very least, of punishing our own real or imagined misdeeds far more severely than we would ever punish anyone else for the same offense.

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34 Responses to How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 41

  1. Kevin says:

    Seems Father Paityr’s faith is a little shaken from what happened to his father. He’s probably feeling more anger than he feels a priest should be capable of withstanding. It seems to me that a spiritual retreat may be in his future. How fortunate that Staynair can recommend a monastary open to any order that wouldn’t take Paityr far from his family.

  2. Nimitz13 says:

    We’ve always known Paityr isn’t a fanatic like Clyntahn and that he takes his duties seriously and performs them fairly. But like Narhman’s wife said of Clyntahn “He doesn’t worship the same God I do, so that’s okay” when she was brought into the inner circle.

    Staynair will probably decide Paityr can handle the CoGA being a lie while still believing in a loving God – which was his emphasis in this snippet. From here, a bit of soul searching and a trip to the local monastery to meet and get to know the brethren. And Charis emerges with an intendant who knows what the physical part of the key is likely to do, and the meaning of any words or rituals that go along with it.

    Or he, Merlin, and Owl will figure it out…

  3. Maggie says:

    Man, that red hair will do it every time. Think I’ll go re-read “The Devil’s Disciple”…

  4. Peter says:

    Ordered my copy – now waiting for delivery. How many more snippets are there? Two?

  5. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Four more Peter.

  6. jgarland says:

    I have a bad feeling about Paityr: Something tells me he may be going to be the first “mistake” w.r.t. being informed about the true history of Safehold. There is even text ev here about how a person can fool themselves.

    Will _he_ be the one who wakes the dragon in the basement by mistake thinking to make everything “all right” again? I think it’s possible.

  7. Maggie says:

    @6 Don’t know if its’ Paityr, but eventually SOMEONE will react to the “Safehold Secret” in a really negative way. Could be some type of ultra-reactionary religion (think hellfire/doomsday cult) or, on the flipside, ultra nihilism (as is “If GOGA is a fraud, there is no God, there is no point…). Either way-


  8. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Maggie (and everybody else), I can’t comment on if Paityr learns the “Truth” or his possible reaction, but I can say that the biggest nightmare of the Brotherhood is somebody going “off the deep end” when learning the truth.

    Think about their concern about telling Cayleb. They didn’t fear Cayleb would run to the Inquistition but feared that his anger at the Big Lie would lead him to go public with the Truth.

    They are smart enough to know that this possible reaction of Cayleb’s would be minor compared to possible reactions.

    For that matter, consider Merlin/Nimue’s fears about when all of Safehold learns the Truth.

  9. robert says:

    @3 Relax Miss Maggie. Don’t get your Dudgeon up.

  10. justdave says:

    Safehold will unfortunately end up like current human religion, in all probability

    it’ll run the gamut from atheism thru most resurrected earth religions to a radical GoGA, with small groups who feel the need to kill those who don’t agree with them

    maybe I’m a cynic and a pessimist but at least most of my surprises are pleasant ones!

  11. JeffM says:

    Actually, Paityr hears the “truth”, goes off the deep end–and uses the Key to summon Rakurai down on Clyntahn and the Temple. Game over. ;-)

  12. Terranovan says:

    Hey, what’s with the “GoGA”? Isn’t it the CHURCH of God Awaiting – CoGA?

  13. Matthew says:

    It does seem like everyone is a bit too cool with “God is a lie that was made up to keep you stupid, and we have the documents to prove it.”

    Also, “swivel chair” Did they have swivel chairs in the 17th century?

  14. Maggie says:

    @10 I don’t know if your comparison will hold for the following reasons: 1) The human race has never had one single homogenous faith system (complete with documented universally accepted eyewitness accounts) programmed into its’ minds let alone its’ societies 2)Atheism as we currently know it, is based more on the absence of proof of the existence of divine being(s) than on any indication that faith in divine being(s) was created by fraud on the part of other humans.
    The Protestant Reformation(both phases), the rise of Islam and the Great Awakening were all predicated on frustration and dissatisfaction with established religious establishments rather than with any actual disbelief in the existence of a divine being(s). 3) I don’t think Merlin and the Team have a couple of millennia to get Safehold Society used to THE TRUTH by easy stages.

    11@ Of course, we could be REALLY lucky and CLYNTAHN hears the “truth”, goes off the even-deeper-end (assuming that’s possible) and summons down Rakurai on HIMSELF. Yeah, well, I can dream, can’t I??

    @3 Don’t worry, robert! I shall trudge on without Dudgeon!

  15. Maggie says:

    @12 You are quite right, Terranovan! I’m sure that in the midst of his cynical pessimism, justdave mistyped the letters because he was thinking longingly about the GOGA, the latest line-dance sensation from Tellesberg performed in swing rhythm to the subtle stylings of the banjo, bagpipes, beer bottles and bassoon….

  16. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Well Matthew, that’s just more evidence that Safehold isn’t an exact match of 17th century Earth. [Wink]

    For what it is worth, Thomas Jefferson appears to have built the first swivel chair so I have no problem with swivel chairs being built by Safehold craftmen or made in Charisian factories.

  17. PeterZ says:

    @15 Let’s get serious, Maggie. That ensemble of yours would be better suited for a basanova not a swing. The bagpipes would be a nice twist for a moderate paced samba.

    @14 and 10 While you may be right that atheism as we know it today is predominantly a reaction to a lack of proof, there is a significant element that asserts the primacy of human will. Nietsche and Ayn Rand are excellent examples. I have always understood their work to carry as one theme that regardless of God’s existence Man must forge forward alone as best he can.

    That element of atheism may well take root on Safehold. I can’t imagine it not taking hold actually.

  18. Maggie says:

    @17 Agree with you about the music, PeterZ, it’s just that the swing portion was mentioned in BSRA during one of Merlin’s ruminations… I suppose that including beer bottles and bassoon was a bit over the top, but Safeholds’ system of theory, harmony and orchestration seems to be more PDQ Bach then Walter Piston.

  19. PeterZ says:

    @18 Yeah, I do recall that scene. Still don’t really agree with that description. Telesberg is in the heart of the tropics. Clothing is definitely described as looser and less structured. All the other cultural cues suggest the development of dancing that accentuates sensual body movements. Think of central America, India and heck even the middle east’s belly dancing. As fun as swing, jive and their other derrivatives are to dance, they are the essence of innocent exuberance. Salsa, cha cha, merengue and especially rhumba are thinly veiled culturally acceptible foreplay in comparison. The tango is full on clothed sex, but does not fall into the same catagory as the others.

    I never really considered Safehold prudish or especially innocent and so DW’s focus on swing sounded a tad off to me when I read that passage. The only thing I can think of is that the music was Charis’ attempt to make the more stiff Chisholmian’s (stiffer clothing if for no other reason) more at home.

  20. Aenea says:

    @13 this isn’t the 17th Century, the Archangels made sure there were swivel chair makers after the Creation reset. How else would they have chairs to swivel on, stroke their goatees and laugh evilly. Bwhahaha (swivel)

    Though seriously anything that can be made that doesn’t need electronics or internal combustion is fair game in Safehold. So while something might seem anachronistic it actually is not. They had the whole of human history to pull from and the Archangels setup mostly for what worked best, at a low level of technology.

  21. robert says:

    @18 That’s another thing that is bothersome here. There are no references to the centuries of human culture that existed before the Gbaba came along. Maggie’s mention of PDQ Bach made me realize that Safehold doesn’t even have anything of JS Bach, much less Mozart.

    Here is how Bach is so planted in human culture:

  22. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Nasty Aenea, now I got this image of Langhorne “stroking his goatee, laughing evilly while swiveling in his chair”. [Wink]

    Seriously, as you said, Safehold allowed technology isn’t based on any one Earth time period.

    For example, David Weber stated that Charisian warships carry *canned goods* for their crew’s meals which isn’t “17th Century technology”.

    Plus, Safehold has had 800 years to develop additional technology from the base technology that they were given on the day of “Creation”.

    In addition, David Weber mentioned that even before Merlin/Nimue woke Charis had developed early assemble line production of manufactured items.

    So swivel chairs very possible on Safehold. [Smile]

  23. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Sigh. Robert, please remember that the “Adams & Eves” were “brain-washed” to believe that they were just created by God.

    Knowledge of Bach and Mozart would have been lost along with their high-tech knowledge.

  24. Maggie says:

    @ 21 & 22 Which now makes me wonder with what kind of musical threshold the Safehold colonists were provided. As PeterZ so aptly points out, the tangos’ sensuality makes it ideal for Charis’ sultry climes, yet its’ origins in the bordellos of the Argentine ( I SWEAR I wasn’t there personally) includes stiff movements due to a guachos’ attempts to keep his muddy chaps off his partners’ skirt. I doubt therefor that tango-like movements would have evolved independently in Charis unless they had some chaps with muddy chaps.
    So what kind of music did the colonists start with? Anyone? Anyone?

  25. Richard Y. says:

    Amazon now shows a publication date of Sept. 13. I thought it was Sept. 19th when I pre-ordered my copy a month or so ago. I saw copies at Books-a-Million today. The Wed. snippet may be the last. Hope it comes tomorrow.

  26. PeterZ says:

    Ya’ know, why couldn’t one of the archangels have plagiarized Bach and present it as a standard to aspire to? That would fit with the megalomania of that crew and they plagiarized enough already. I doubt it would have happened, but plagiarized Bach, Beethoven and the other classics is better than none at all.

  27. Drak Bibliophile says:

    PeterZ, IMO it is very likely that the Archangels “preserved” some of Earth’s classical music but “lost” the names of the creators of the music.

  28. Maggie says:

    @26 Hmmm. Maybe, but without a knowledge of basic contrapuntal theory and technique how do you compose functional polyphonic music however ersatz it may be? I’m just sayin’

    On another note (snigger), couldn’t you just see apache style dancers in the waterfront taverns of Tellesberg??

  29. PeterZ says:

    or…perhaps Shuelerites doing self flagellation excercises to gregorian chant……Shueler’s shuffle?

  30. robert says:

    I really apologize for my music comment. I didn’t mean to cause all this sexy dancin’ stuff. Waterfront taverns…gak. I’ll come back after Petey gets straightened out.

  31. Maggie says:

    @29 Shueler’s Shuffle!

    Like this???

  32. PeterZ says:

    Actually, I am straight bobby-boy. The wife and I like to dance.

  33. John Driver says:

    One thing that occurs to me is to wonder if the archbishop is going to share with Father Paityr the crisis of faith that he had when he was a much younger man. In “By Schism Rent Asunder” Michael Staynair said to Merlin

    “I, myself, came here to Saint Zherneau as a very young man. At the time, I was unsure whether or not I truly had a vocation, and the Brethren helped me address my doubts. They were a great comfort to me when my spirit needed that comfort badly, and like many others, I became one of them. . . . “

    To quote Gregor Vorbarra “Let’s just see what happens”.

  34. RandomThoughts says:

    Paityr and his family appear to have been privy to special knowledge from archangel Schueler himself. We don’t yet know what to make of Schueler himself. The Book of Schueler almost appears to come from a different character than the one the Wylsynn family knew or were related to. Several times, I’ve had the odd thought that the Book of Schueler may describe punishments prescribed for him rather than by him. From Samyl’s musings and Paityr’s own comments, I don’t think the Wylsynn’s view the church in quite the same way that the rest of Safehold does. In many ways, that parallels the Brotherhood of St Zherneau.

    This is developing in a promising way.

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