En route between Hyde Park and Mt. Adams, approx. 11:35PM
Cincinnati’s December weather is deceptively mild. Later in the winter would come the bitterly cold, subzero, biting wind, blowing drifting snow of a real winter. That Christmas Eve, however, there was only an inch of snow on the grass–streets were for the most part clear. When Drummond backed the Cherokee out of the garage and thumbed the garage door remote, their brick-paved drive was only slightly damp.
“I still don’t understand why we’re attending this ritual,” Dolly protested on the ride to the church. “I mean, these guys are a bunch of fanatics.”
“Some Christians are fanatics. Drummond is a Christian. Ipso facto, Drummond is a fanatic. Name that fallacy.”
“Reasoning from the particular to the general. But…”
“No buts about it, my dear, darling girl. I will grant you: there have been fanatic Christians. Even those who perverted their religion for temporal power–an egregious sin in the eyes of the early Christians.
“And, of course, we don’t have our own fanatics. Men who openly moved against their neighbors and sought to extend the influence of the Olympians by force of arms. None of that in our home camp. We pagans are pure of heart and…”
“OK, OK! I get the point. But that stuff happened a long time ago.”
“So there’s a statute of limitations on venality? If you’re going to excuse barbarism on the part of one, you have to excuse it for all.”
“Even for communism?” She had him there.
“OK. Granted that… I will contend that Marxism does not deserve the same consideration. However, that argument will get long and boring real quick if you insist on having it. And since you,” he glanced over at her and smiled, “oh Best Beloved, are anything but boring, I foresee that you will not insist on having it.”
“Not fair!” she protested.
“Why? Baby Doll, you’re the one with all the degrees in history, archaeology, anthropology. I’m just a bit jockey. Emeritus at that. My degree is in electrical engineering, not computer science.”
“But I didn’t grow up in a religion…”
“Exactly, my dear. I did. So will you trust me that this is an important thing for you to know–to experience? Nobody’s trying to get you to convert to Catholicism. Hell, even I would have a problem with that. But the service is open to all, and it would be a good thing for you to learn to respect the beliefs of others. To experience their rituals in their time and place and maybe–just maybe–begin to understand what drives them.”
Dolly was silent for a bit.
“Listen, Gabrielle. I don’t mean to lam into you. It’s not your fault. You are as you are because of choices that were made. The best choices, we thought. Except for that thing with your limbic system going out of whack (not your fault), everything’s worked out pretty well so far. But this is something I think you should do. And if I can get this word in edgewise, I think you’ll enjoy it.”
“OK,” she conceded.
“Can you agree that all people who do not share your beliefs are not fanatics?”
“That’s not to say, however, that none of them are.”
She turned and looked at him. His face was lit from below by the dashboard lights and the headlights of oncoming cars. “I think I knew all of that. So why this…?”
“Why are you resisting it so much?”
“Because everything I know about Christianity…”
“Is probably wrong. Not to fault the Center faculty, but the deconstruction of Christianity began long before any of them were born. It takes a particularly strong mind or a devoted heart to overcome that kind of perversion of the truth. And you have to know that the truth is being twisted in order to resist.
“And to be fair, it isn’t just Christianity, it’s all religions. What would you do if Prof. Clotho tried to tell you that Rama or Krishna didn’t exist. Or Nana or Hephaestus.”
“Well, that’s ridiculous. I know those people.”
“Are you sure? You could be the victim of an elaborate hoax. I could be in on it.”
“But me. I mean–my very existence proves that the gods…”
“Not to bust your bubble, Baby, but it proves bupkis. It proves that you believe what people have told you happened–how they said you came into existence. That has about as much evidentiary value as the stories about the stork’s bringing babies.”
Drummond couldn’t believe that Dolly hadn’t considered all this long ago. But it made it easier to credit her resistance to attending Midnight Mass.
“OK, so there’s some things you can’t see or touch or feel and you have to accept what people tell you–you just have to take them on faith.”
“Exactly, my dear. And you are about to participate in a ritual–a celebration of transcendent faith with a capital ‘T F’.”
To be continued…