Religion

Jul. 12th, 2007 12:47 pm
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Apostate.

It's a word Connor Riley, Connor who has two parents who are Episcopalian in theory but mild agnostics in practice, has absolutely no connection to. It's something he comes across while studying for his finals, Julian the Apostate, the emperor who tried to turn the tide and bring back paganism after christianity had ruled for several generations in Rome already. Julian who was raised as a Christian but chose to worship the gods anyway. He's been reviled as a traitor evers since. A historical curiosity, nothing more.

Apostate.

Once Connor gets his memories back, he starts to suspect why this particular expression resonated enough with him to remember it.

"When we arrived here, in hell," his father once told him, "I used the first water I could find to baptize you, my son. The demon who gave you life cannot enter a church without feeling his damnation, and thus he only gave you a false name, a name for earthly laws."

"But it is not my true name," Connor responded dutifully. He knew this story, and fell into the comforting rhythm quite easily.

"No. And why not?"

"Because the lord Christ has saved us from hell through the sacrament of baptism," Connor recited. "Connor was the child of two demons, and then you saved me and made me a child of the church. My name is Stephen."

"That is right. Even if we should die in this place, which we will not, Christ will lead you to heaven, my son." His father had put his hands on Connor's shoulders. "You are Stephen. Never forget it. There is no mercy for apostates."

An apostate denied the truth he had been shown, and embraced another faith. Starting to think of himself as Connor in addition to Stephen happened during the summer he spent with Gunn and Fred, when he still thought of himself as faithful; it wasn't just that they kept calling him Connor, it was that Stephen had let his father die and had felt drawn to the demon, and that was unacceptable, so there had to be something of Connor in him, and the name was fitting. Then Angel returned from the sea, and brought another story of his father's death with him. He claimed Daniel Holtz had told Justine to kill him.

"Suicide," his father had said firmly, "is a deadly sin, and the only one God can never forgive."

Suicides resided in hell, then, together with apostates.

Apostates could repent before dying, though. So could murderers. But not if they were angry; not if they were confused and trying to make sense of it all and could not pray any of the prayers they had been taught without feeling the fire of loss and rage. Our father, who art in heaven? But he was not. Neither of them. They were both in hell, only different levels of hell, and this was hell, nor was he out of it.

He couldn't let God save him, could he? That would be the ultimate desertion. He had to remain in hell, too.

There was another childhood prayer, of course. Hail Mary, full of grace. Mary the mother, but Connor's mother was dead and a demon, and the mother of his child, giving miraculous birth, with Connor and Angel kneeling in adoration like the shepherds, was taken away, always a Madonna, never reaching the Pieta stage. The Transcendant Mother, Jasmine's followers called Cordelia. Transcendant came from the Latin, like "apostate". Transcendere. To go beyond. Out of reach.

Jasmine was within reach, but Jasmine was not a part any world God created. She was another faith in herself. She was her own creator, her own communion, and the grace she gave to everyone was her own as well, untouched by any fathers, in heaven or hell.

"Give me your pain," she said, and Connor knew quite well that pain was love was faith was hope of salvation. And blood. Of course it was blood. His and hers.

She healed him, and Connor chose to worship.

Apostate.

He wondered whether Julian had known jealeous fathers were still waiting for his return, too.

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abetterlie

July 2010

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