The Church of Himself As The Author — a just-so fable

*First, it must be understood this is entirely Kate’s and Amanda’s fault.  Those of you who know all three of us, know that’s usually the case.  I’m the innocent, mild mannered one.  Second, when we were accused of being the Church of St. Heinlein, I rolled my eyes.  Ginny told me he was no saint, and she would know.  I said “Maybe the church of G-d as the Author. Most writers see Him in their own image, after all, and things like “why does evil exist?” are easy peasy explanations.  “The plot demands it.”  And they said “The Church of The Author, Western Branch, Heinlein Tabernacle.”

The cloaked woman approached the temple timidly.  To begin with, it wasn’t what she expected.  She knew these people set themselves up as so special, so she expected white columns and marble, not a dinky suburban mall, and a small corner, that had probably once been some sort of florist, because you could still read in the corner of the plate glass window “FTD.” (Someone had crossed out D and tried to make it an L and someone had inexpertly drawn a rocket next to it.)

Above it, across the window, someone had scrawled in bright red paint “Church of the Author, Western Branch, Heinlein Tabernacle.”

At the door stood a man who looked like a carnival barker, in red-striped pants and a blue jacket spangled with stars, hectoring the small but continuously renewing crowd of people, approaching from their beat up cars in the parking lot, by ones, by twos, by families.  “Come in, come in, brothers and sisters.  Why bless your heart.  Come refresh yourself with story and feats of daring-do.”

The cloaked woman shied back before the man could see her.  This was all so… uncouth.  But the man turned a kindly eye on her and smiled.  “Why, welcome sister.  You look like you’re in need of a pick me up.  Come on in for the reading.  We’ll have some hot fudge sundaes afterwards, and there’s always the sharing of the water, in whatever form you’d take it!”

She mumbled the lines she was taught to say.  She knew they’d cause these people to turn her away, stupid as they were, “I cannot.  I had sex with someone not my husband.”

The man laughed.  “Who cares?  Perhaps it was part of the plot.  Besides, was it a mammal?  And did you share water first?  It might have been blessed.”

“But, it was another woman!”

“Ah, but Heinlein wrote many so.  There can be a good plot there.”

“A black woman,” she said, desperate.

“What does that matter? Do you not know our finest theologians believe that Eunice in I Will Fear no Evil was black? Come in, come in and drink from the water that never stops, and take part in the plot that never ends.”

Shaky on her legs, feeling like she no longer understood the world, the cloaked woman went in.  She had a moment of hope that the man at the door was just odd, as she glimpsed a poster that said “Virgin” on the wall.  But it turned out to be a poster of Virgin Galactic, and, worse, someone had put an arrow to Virgin and written at the other end of the arrow “A perfectly curable condition” and the initials KP, followed by “Holy Deaconess, by order.”

The cloaked woman took a deep breath and walked into the great space of the temple.  It was a large room – probably once a warehouse – and the walls were completely lined with books.  She approached and was shocked to see there were female names on those books.  Female authors she admired were included here.  This couldn’t be right.  Were they mocking her?

A woman with a rolling voice climbed on the podium.  Was she wearing a live snake?  Her words were not immediately understandable – and the crowd shouted Yay! So much – but she caught something about a poet who read their verse in public possibly having other bad habits.  That couldn’t be right!  What about all the poetry readings at the coffee shop?  What could they have against those?

Then she remembered how bored she’d been with that poet who’d tried to deconstruct the language by writing a poem all in possessive articles.  Her, his, theirs had gone on for hours, and she’d been ready to faint or cry.  Maybe… just maybe the heathens had something.

And then suddenly in the middle of all this, came the words, “As Heinlein said, any artist who has to be supported by the government is a whore.  An incompetent one.”

The cloaked woman took a breath like someone drowning.  She swallowed hard.  How could they?  How could they believe that?  How could there be fine literature without government support; without government approval?  Who would support writers, if not the government?  Many of the cloaked woman’s sect were college professors, receiving government money to keep their careers going.  What would be the alternative?  Getting the common man…  She looked around at the people there, with a disdainful expression… to support them would mean you couldn’t preach or raise their consciousness in your books. What would be the point of that?  Didn’t these yokels know that literature was supposed to educated and elevate the masses.

She slunk out to the parking lot.  Nobody stopped her.  Looking dubiously at the mini mall store she made her decision.

That was it.  She’d give the orders to have the place torched.  That way they could stop preaching their evil story message.

The nerve of the peasants, thinking they could control what writers did, by only buying those who entertained them.

Fortunately her people were here to redirect Science Fiction into the greater temple of literature, where works weren’t actually read, but were praised, because they were good for society!

Improving moral works forever.  As it should be.

(If only she’d noticed the Flamewars Won Trophy  poster board!)

206 thoughts on “The Church of Himself As The Author — a just-so fable

      1. I’m a heretic. I call myself an American not a Usaian. I do believe in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

        1. Which is why there’s a link to Kipling online in my sidebar, jut not labeled as such. Laying a trap for the feet of the unwary and all that.

                    1. Firesign Theatre had an album “How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You’re Not Anywhere at All”, whose cover featured the slogan “All Hail Marx and Lennon” – Groucho Marx and John Lennon.

                1. Didn’t you ever learn you have to watch out for the quite ones and any one that habitually speaks for another sounds to much like a politician!

            1. I regret to say that in 1968 France, the rebellious students were fond of calling themselves Marxists of the Groucho variety, so such a bumpersticker may cause confusion.

            1. I thought they shot the elephant while it was still in its pajamas. Early bird gets the worm don’cha’now!

  1. Methinks young portagee may perhaps write even better fodder when operating under a slight fever.
    Get yourself better and we’ll test the theory.
    If it checks out I suspect a similar state can be achieved with the modest application of a dose or three of distilled grain spirits.

    1. Perhaps, just perhaps, a liberal dosage (regularly repeated) of the products of kindly fermentation instead of the deviltries of distillation? Some people do have “unfortunate” reactions to distillate by-products, after all.

      Not to mention the swine who must be maintained to make proper disposal of the mash economical!

      (the Curmudgeon-In-Training within me rejoices at the whole of this. Just-So!)

        1. What, you like your liver and kidneys, and want to keep them for many more years of porto and wine and whiskey and scotch to come?

          Funny enough, so do I. And that is why I am not getting any more wine in the house until I’m finished whining about how impatient I am to get well.

        2. I do. 8^( I can’t drink ANY alcoholic product without MAJOR repercussions (not hangover: swollen glands, “the shakes” [delirium tremens in extreme], splitting headache, lots of other stuff. It’s not the alcohol that causes the problem, but some of the byproducts alcohol breaks down into). Heck, I can’t even eat a lot of BREAD! That’s why I’m always “chosen” as the Designated Driver at social functions.

          1. Oh, and my output is NOT markedly improved by being drunk/sick. I just get very weird.
            My husband rarely drinks and our best friends are mormons. We used to go to taverns (for the food) and I used to start off with “I’m the designated drinker.”

          1. not a dress, an apron! That’s why Nat agrees to farm w/him. He’s afraid that Luce would end up living w/ a pig wearing an apron.

            1. I’m afraid you’re right. I know it’s an apron in the book, but my mind keeps conjuring images of a little pig running around in a pink dress.

              Because what has been seen, cannot be unseen. And 4H & FFA kids playing pranks on each other…

              1. Either the Peter Rabbit lady or RIchard Scary had a reoccuring lady character of a pig in a pink dress with white polkadots.

                Sticks in my memory, too.

              2. Note:
                the “no post comment button” problem can be solved by clicking at the bottom of your reply and then moving the mouse up so you can copy it– this triggers whatever super S-M-R-T programming was involved to make the “Post Comment” thing show up.

          1. I found a map of global Vodka consumption, and it oddly had a darker spot on it roughly where Colorado is. I tweeted it and tagged Vodkapundit on it. Clearly he is the explanation for the spot. He hasn’t noticed a tweet of mine in like, a year, so I don’t expect he’ll see it.

                    1. That’s the opposite of what I’m seeing. I posted the link to the tweet, plain and unadorned, and it was turned into a quote with the text of the tweet (Including the t.co link to the picture.)

                    2. That’s because you didn’t get the email for your reply to your own comment. The email of the original comment contained the tweet text, and the webpage here contains the text plus the image, like you describe, but the reply to your comment contained the link to the tweet. Yeah, it’s confusing, but that’s WP for you.

                  1. Ok, I’m wasting comment space here, but I really want to know if Dr. Mauser sees the link to the tweet in the quoting from his comment, or if it looks different to him.

                    1. I generally don’t do the e-mail feed thing. I use the WordPress dashboard thing. I imagine the feed is generated using the actual post, but WP translates things and embeds videos and Amazon Book Covers as it displays on the blog.

                      What I’m not sure is if I were to delete the tweet, would the comment change, or would it be enshrined here in its original form. i.e. is the translation done on the fly.

            1. Here I must disagree. If you’d ever had a chance to taste the black-pepper vodka that was stocked by the embassy in Yuhzno-Sakhalinsk, oh, my.

              It is a very sad thing that Russia keeps all the good stuff, and only exports the swill. Good for my liver, but a very sad thing.

            1. I’m not a design person, but it looks off balance – too heavy on the black text side and too light on the glittery side. Maybe adding a few stars to the left edge? Just a thought.

            2. With the same disclaimer that I’m not a design person, I personally think it would work better with slightly larger letters for “glitter”, and some much smaller stars (possibly silver) as highlights directly on a few of the letters.

              1. The only bumper sticker I desire is one saying:
                [small font] Studies Have Shown That
                [LARGE FONT] Intelligence of Driver Is Inversely Correlated To Quantity of Bumper Stickers

                Although I would consider
                Eschew Political Philosophies Simplistic Enough To Be Expressed On A Bumper Sticker

                1. I’m pretty sure you were just kidding, but I’m getting hooked on this (learning new software is a rush!), so I made the latter one. Wanted to make the former, but it kept coming out all wrong. I’m getting tempted to start looking for introductory design texts, when I really should be working.

                    1. Yeah, I figured it would be. I got hooked on designing stuff, but I never said I was good at it. 🙂 Maybe I’ll have time next week to do some revisions when I’m too braindead for wordifying.

                2. Um… do military stickers count?

                  Although I kinda would like the entire back end of the van to be covered with something like “if I’m not moving, honking won’t do anything but slow me down as I look for the idiot you’re warning me about. Possibly my life and family are more important than your schedule.”

        1. And vegan, don’t forget that, ie no meat in that taco thank you very much.
          And yes I would definitely agree that Wayne is a very very BAD man just as you are a very naughty girl. But then that’s part of why I keep coming back here.

          1. “No meat in the taco” would imply that it is a “Virgin Taco” – no fun in that unless it is an underage taco as well. Stay away!

            1. Well, tacos don’t survive much past creation in this household, so all of them are “virgin” — but a meatless taco makes about as much sense as screen doors on submarines.

  2. Great, now the glitterati will think you really do worship Heinlein. Of course they did already, but now you’ve given them “proof”.;-)

    1. Oh, dear… I just realized where the mental image that shows up when I hear (read) “Glitterati” comes from:

      Mirror half-masks.

      Aaaand now am wondering if she’s a supervillian or a sidekick. Clearly, I need more coffee.

  3. You left out the best bits! Auntie Lummox’s Matchmaking Service, the Flat Cat petting zoo, the spacesuit consignment shop…

    Sigh. Yer sick, I’ll humor ya. /PrincessBrideGrampaVoice

    1. And the separate service area and shrine for the prophet john Moses Browning, peace be upon him, down in the basement with a thirty yard range…

      1. Praise him with your cartridges, brothers and sisters. Hallelujah.

        If it weren’t for my fear of being taken seriously, I’d totally register the church of the Author.

        1. ‘sOK, we can totally be a secret underground cult. Although speaking of cartridges, I may be tempted to introduce the Apocrypha of Kalvan as an offshoot (snerk) branch. Christianity shanghaied pagan saints, I don’t see why we can’t do the same 🙂

          1. All calvinball practices are to be out back in the undeveloped field. NOT in the parking lot! I said… *sigh*

            I said the anarchists failed to organize, yet again.

              1. I bypassed Waco by heading thru Crawford (and giggle at the spittle that town name is sure to bring about) both going to and coming back from Temple yesterday.

            1. You have two main options: the Con[vention] Look – t-shirt and jeans, or the con[servative] look – well dressed gentleman of any era, with appropriate manners. With, of course, the alternate Cosplay look … which is just about anything you want, but please remember you will be judged on aesthetics and authenticity by your peers.

                  1. Tell him he looks really good in it, and that he has traditional rights to carry a knife in his sock, drink scotch in public and not tip, and then take him to the local Highland games or Burns’ night.

                  2. Note, though. I once picked Dad up an SAS dagger to wear in place of his Skean-dhu (his was too dull to cut anything but brie) and he could only say, “Thank you, Son. But it drags my sock down to my ankle”.
                    So it is possible to over-accessorize.

                    1. Just what do you think they invented calf garters for anyway?
                      Twerent for the ladies so much as for the laddies don’t cha know.

                1. Why, yes. If the vile progs choke at the suit and tie, just think how they’ll respond to being adressed as “Madam.” 🙂

                  What, you thought door were always held open to be nice?

      2. With the small side chapels honoring St. Samuel of Colt, the Holy brethren St. Smith and his brother St. Wesson, St. Eliphalet of Remington, St. Oliver of Winchester and all the rest. Offerings of cartridges, or lead and careful dustings of black powder are gratefully received as offering, although one has to be careful with the open flames…

        1. And let’s not forget our good saints across the pond, Sts. Heckler & Koch, Ruger, and a few others. I prefer a Heckler & Koch 7.62 and a Colt Model 1911. THAT is “dressed to the nines” in my book.

          1. There is the combined chapel, you know. The one with the sign over it labelled “Gunsmith”. With the lathes and all the other toys beyond, and the smell of old welding and fresh-cut wood…

            I carry a Keltec PMR-30, myself, but that doesn’t mean I’m thoroughly modern. It just means i don’t have a Colt Python… yet

          2. Mike, Mike, Mike…
            Though I highly approve of your equipment choices, I do feel compelled to mention that Sturm Ruger is entirely a US corporation. I do happen to own a piddling few shares myself, wish it were many more given their growth of late.
            On a side note, Remington just announced completion of a deal to open a new facility in Huntsville Alabama bringing 2,000 new jobs to my fair state. Were it not for recent political developments, ie New York’s Safe Act, that expansion would have taken place at their primary location in Illion NY.

              1. Huntsville, home to Redstone Arsenal, Marshall Space Flight Center, and Con*stellation every fall.

                1. Too bad we don’t live AL anymore. Huntsville is also home to Doc Travis I do believe. Is Constellation in September?

                  1. It bounces around a bit. This last year it was held mid October. No set date for 2014 yet. This last con was a bit thin though Baen had a presence and Larry Correia was GOH. Effects of the economy I imagine.

            1. Do you mean the Finnish Mosin Nagants? Always a prize to shoot, and generally cleaner and better cared for than the Russian ones.

          3. No offense intended to the long gunners, so notably I’d add St. Garand, St. Stoner, and St. Kalashnikov.

            And for the polymerically inclined, let us not slight by omission St. Gaston Glock.

            1. Nonono! Black guns are EEEE-Vill!

              (I kinda want the t-shirt with the AR-15 on it and the slogan “It’s because I’m black, isn’t it?”)

              I remember from a discussion about what kind of gun Jesus would carry, that while John Moses Browning did earn the title “God’s Armorer”, Jesus was known to have said “Blessed are the Peacemakers” so you can be pretty sure he packed a single action Colt revolver.

                    1. Other places I got kicked out of: religious education in high school (Portugal is a Catholic country. Religious ed in high school is mandatory. My dad was asked (both by me and the school) to fill an exemption form. (It was me, two Jewish girls and three protestant girls. We assembled jigsaws or studied, or talked a lot, while the others were in “religious and moral education.”) I also got kicked out of kindergarten. I got kicked out of journalism training for incorrect political opinions. I got… heck… it’s easier to list where I WASN’T kicked out of: here. And writing. But only because with indie, they CAN’T.

                  1. the joke was told to me by a customer of mine when I was a salesman (a whole line of irony there in that period of my life) “What brand of car would Jesus and the Apostles drive?” … He was a rather religious fellow too.

                    I didn’t get kicked out of sunday school, but they did get rather exasperated by me during the Confirmation classes. I was pretty sure I was an atheist by then, but I never said anything implying that, and I had just read Joe Haldeman’s statement in Forever War – “There might be a God, but he isn’t someone I’d invite over for dinner.”
                    That went over well with the instructors.
                    Still managed to get confirmed though.

                    1. I’m actually a believer. I just have the sort of personality that, to quote my mom “can’t see a well-painted wall without scraping at it, to see what’s underneath.” Pious environments seem to bring out the worst in me. Controlled environments, too. I used to sit at the back and tell stupid jokes in all classes, UNLESS I really was interested.

                    2. I made wisecracks when I was paying attention. Two teachers would put up with it (American History — Mr. Dorothy and World History/Gov’t – Mr. Lombard … both were half year classes and he taught both he not only allowed that, but would give slightly better grades, if you were able to argue a point you did not really agree with. Even at 17 I was rather “conservative” in political veiws. but I could do a better job of arguing the leftoid peacenic points than they (or often he) could.

                    3. I never got kicked out of anything, but unfortunately I seem to have a rather expressive face. Or so the woman who taught religion once told me (classes about religion are mandatory, in Finland, now it’s possible to opt out of religion and take ethics instead if one is not a member of the Evangelical Lutheran like most Finns are but you have to take one or the other). She was the only one who ever said anything but I would sometimes get dirty looks back in some classes.

                      Otherwise I was a very quiet and easy student. I tended to zone out in classes, a lot more than look badly at the teacher, but that rarely gave me any problems apart from the couple of times the teacher decided to ask me something at a point when I had no damn idea what he had been talking about during the last half an hour or so.

                    4. I was kicked out of an Anthropology class for being a, “disruptive influence” to the class. I don’t remember what we were discussing, but I brought up an article I had read that purported to explain why boys generally do better in Math than girls. That class happened to contain the very first radical feminist I had ever encountered, and she never let me get to the reason that the article mentioned, but attacked me as soon as the premise left my mouth.

                      She was running for some local government office a few years ago. If I lived in that area, I would have campaigned against her.

                    5. *chuckle* Anthropology seems to be where radfems like to gather (women’s studies sometimes gets lumped as a sub-discipline of Cultural Antrho). My condolences, sir.

                      The nuns in Catholic school got tired of me rather quick. Other than that, I usually don’t get kicked out of places, because often enough I am too oblivious to notice things I’d otherwise not be able to keep my mouth shut about.

            2. Don’t forget the Devil. He and his invention are cursed for ever for shoddy construction, tendency to jam and overall ugliness. He is also known by his other name: Eugene Stoner. May he forever be tortured by the ghosts of the men killed in combat using his POS M-16 and having it fail on them in Vietnam.

              1. Long discussion on this over at Mad Mike’s cubby on Baen’s Bar.
                His position is that the Army royally screwed up a decent weapon with modifications that saved a bit on manufacture and ammunition while radically impacting performance. And the current stubby barreled M4 just makes things all the more bad.

                1. What kind of church would The First Unreformed Church of The Author be if we don’t have our first schism built right in, and starting one in the gunny chapel should be right easy; Shall we start with 45ACP vs. 9mm, 1911 vs. Glock, or Avtomat Kalashnikov vs. Armalite?

                  1. Once upon a time, long before I met my husband, he was in a hot tub with several gun nuts, staying out of the raging .45 vs 9mm debate. (I know this, because I was told this story well before I ever met him. It was actually amusing when I connected that story with my calm, laid-back fiance.)

                    Finally, he decided to offer an opinion, and rose slightly out of the water to display the interesting scars on his torso, and explained that an AK in 9mm in the hands of a communist terrorist will kill a person just fine, thank you. He then held forth a little while on the importance of shot placement, with understated reference to the high body count he’s lived through, and understated and extremely dry reference to the importance of ammo caliber AND shot placement, not for men, but for pissed off elephant.

  4. I’ve only recently begun reading this blog (other than occasional instalanches), but after this post I only have one thing to say:

    I think I love you.

        1. The title is _Lost_ by James Michael Ford. I have one of the alpha e-copies. Not sure if it is on the open market yet or not.

  5. ” … in the corner of the plate glass window “FTD.” (Someone had crossed out D and tried to make it an L … ”

    Nice touch, thanks.

  6. I believe “daring-do” is properly spelled “derring-do”.

    Please correct me quickly, if I am in error.

        1. That too?

          On Mon, Feb 24, 2014 at 9:45 AM, According To Hoyt wrote:

          > Bruce commented: “When I read that the first time, my dyslexia kicked > in and I read “…Despite copyeditors.” :)” >

    1. Actually I saw the “Ender’s Game” on the required reading list in 1992 when I was in Panama. But Starship Troopers was there as well… My roommate was a marine. We had a split service room lol. (Navy on my side of it). Easiest roommate that I ever had.

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