18​.​) § The Indigo Strain [i]

from by Jesse Livingston

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Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They said unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
—John 8:1-11

In the Septuagint column [Origen] used the system of diacritical marks which was in use with the Alexandrian critics of Homer, especially Aristarchus, marking with an obelus under different forms, as “./.”, called lemniscus, and “/.”, called a hypolemniscus, those passages of the Septuagint which had nothing to correspond to in Hebrew, and inserting, chiefly from Theodotion under an asterisk (*), those which were missing in the Septuagint; in both cases a metobelus (Y) marked the end of the notation.
—Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol II: Bascilica - Chambers, I. Greek Vers. 1. LXX, ~ 4, Hexapla of Origen

The priest was in his wooden box, listening. He heard the muted shuffle of penitents in the aisle of the cathedral. He thought he could almost hear the rustling of cloth as they knelt before the altar to pray. In the angelic vault above their heads, he could picture dust motes drifting in the light.

It was curious, thought the priest, how a volume of air could be sanctified merely by enclosing it in glass and stone. It became holy through some miracle of architecture—a transubstantiation of space. Then again, maybe it was not so curious after all: glass was melted sand, which was ground up stone, which was the bones of the earth and maybe the bones of God—living bones of a living God. In that sense, he thought, it was like they were inside God by being in the cathedral. Like they were in God’s belly, and the huge arching buttresses were God’s ribcage, with the altar as His beating heart.

There was something in this image which felt wrong to the priest, something dangerously close to a pagan view of the world. If the cathedral was God’s ribcage, then what were the cellars beneath the cathedral and the catacombs beneath the cellars? God’s bowels? God’s intestines? The priest chided himself for indulging in such idle fancy. He ought to be using this time to ask forgiveness for his own sins, not to entertain wild ideas about the nature of the Almighty. Still, he couldn’t help wondering if God was more in the stone than in the air or more in the air than in the stone.

The priest’s thoughts were interrupted by the sound of footsteps approaching the confessional. He heard the door open and close, and he saw a shadow pass across the copper lattice beside his head. As always, he waited a few moments for the penitent to become still and the holy silence to penetrate the mind and heart. Then, he spoke, saying:

“The Lord is with you, my child. He is prepared to offer you absolution for your sins. Through his mercy you may find redemption.”

“Forgive me, father, for I have sinned,” said the voice from the neighboring booth. It spoke as though it were reading the words from a cue card—not mocking, exactly, but without life or emotion. “It has been six days since my last confession, and, in that time, I have taken the life of an innocent man.”


from A Thousand Lifetimes in an Hour, released December 21, 2012



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