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Montag, 10. März 2008

Snippets from the Yellow House.....

This section consists of character sketches and snippets of scenarios.  Some of them are actually short stories, some are vignettes, and some are fragmentary.  They’re all part of a project that is in its very early stages.   I’ve put a lot of material together in the past six months, and this is a preview of what’s to come.  A reader may have fun trying to figure out what it’s all about and what it will be like in novel form…..

…I had gone about 15 kilometres that morning and stopped in a local café to ask about a room and to have a bite to eat.  They had Franziskaner Weizen on tap, which made the day even sunnier than it already was.  I had met a couple of young people along the way who were interested in the camera, so we talked for a bit, I shot their portrait, got their email address, and would be sending them copies once I settled in.

I decided early on to leave the Tablet PC at home and to use the UMPC, uploading the day’s work to the server and emailing new and old friends from wherever I landed that afternoon.  I was on a mission, but you can’t disregard life while you’re searching for the Holy Grail.

This was the stretch between Speyer and Burg Trifels.  I was documenting the Martin Luther to Martin of Tours connection and knew I was going to run into the Teutonic Knights before the end of the week.  I was hoping it wouldn’t be deep in a chestnut forest and that they were not mounted.  As it turned out, the only chestnuts were in the Saumagen, and the only horse was on the guy’s belt buckle.

He came through the café door, grinning like he’d just run into a long lost friend and came directly to my table.  He asked me if the chair was free but sat before I had a chance to answer.  He was big, about 6’ 6” and 260 lbs., but there was no fat on him.  His hair was pure white, as was his beard.  He looked about 50, but I knew most of these people were in their 70’s and 80’s.

“I’m Father Mikhail.  I’m the Russian Orthodox part of your escort.” he began.

“Escort?  I thought you were following me.  What’s this all about? Why are the Teutonic Knights so interested in what I’m doing?”

“You are carrying a secret” said Father Mikhail, “a secret the Knights very much want to know in order to get something back, something they lost a long time ago.”

I really hated this crap.  I came to Europe to photograph some sites I thought would enhance the details of my novel and to use the residuals as part of a couple of travel guides to the less publicized parts of Europe the New York Times hadn’t gotten interested in, and all of a sudden, I was a part of the DaVinci Code or Holy Blood, Holy Grail.  At least no one had died yet.

“OK Father, here’s the question-what have the Teutonic Knights got to do with me?   Are you people still on the watch for the Holy Grail hunter?  If you are, don’t worry about me.  I’m not interested in it.  I just take pictures, write about them, and sometimes write about the pieces of imagination they wake up in me.  Fertig. Punkt.”

He laughed, long, and sincerely.  When he was finished, he told me that the Holy Grail myth was just that, a myth, but the Knights, because of the shift in allegiance of the German princes from Catholicism to Lutheranism, had a sort of schism in their ranks.  It was one of those theological oddities that come and go, but in the 10th century, the question of “what is Christianity?” was a big one.

I was a little confused at that point.  “And they think I have the answer?”

He laughed again.  “No, no.  They think you are the answer!”

Now I was even farther from understanding.  I haven’t been in a Christian church as anything more than a spectator since I was eighteen.  I read Zen when I need something like religion, but I don’t practice anything and I sure as hell don’t pray.

I said, “I don’t get it.”

Father Mikhail roared again.  His laughter was contagious.  When we stopped, he told me nobody really got it, because they were trying so hard to be Christians that they didn’t realize that there is no Christianity.  He went on to say there had been a monastic ecumenical council held in Speyer in 1940.  The participants were Roman and Greek Catholic, Greek and Russian Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran; Japanese, Chinese, and Tibetan Buddhists, and a few Sufis from what we now call Pakistan.  It started out as a relatively boring conference until one of the Sufis commuted that he found it interesting that the Jesus Buddha and Gautama Buddha both taught that reincarnation could be avoided.  It took the Russians the longest to understand because of their iconoclastic slant on the universe.  For the Sufis, there were no symbols.  Memories, dreams, imagination, all of these things were the same, as it was for most of the Buddhists.  The Christians were, at first, speechless.  Of course, they had known this, but at a very deep level, and here it was, suddenly and lucidly, on the table.  Jesus, Buddha, you, me, all working together to stop suffering by teaching people how to avoid reincarnation!  “He who believes in me will never die.”  You get to be one, and only one life form if you do it right.

The conference went on a lot longer than planned, which was dangerous for a lot of the participants in Nazi Germany, but the plan was laid on the basis of their shared observations.  The would get the Second World War out of the way and meet again, in Tibet, in 1950.  Then came China.

It was 1960 before they met again.  The most important point of the conference was the discovery by an Italian that an experiment had been in progress since the beginning.  Cro-Magnon, Neanderthal, other minor starts and stops were all part of a statistical model being run by someone or something unknown.  The recombinant properties of such a model had give rise to the human perceptual system as reincarnation.  Both Gautama and Jesus knew this, thus their thrust to eliminate reincarnation.  The Tibetan was certain that the experiment was an advanced form of step-wise multiple regression analysis aimed at finding the ultimate combination of socio-genetic variables.  What has passed on earth is not random.  Nor is it the work of God, was his conclusion.

Not all monks are geniuses, but in this group, most of them were.  A lot of light bulbs went on.  It explained a lot of things that were inconsistent with their collective belief of the benevolent God.  War, plague, hatred, all of the negative things not easily understood, were variables introduced into the experiment.

…to be continued

copyright 2007-2010: john zavacki (the elder)