Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

Of Corsets and Community

SCA Geeks getting it. Do you?

SCA Geeks "getting it". Do you?

Of late, my wife has been going to a corsetiere class put on by Mistress Isolde of a certain Society.  Sounds naughty doesn’t it?

It’s not.  She is learning to make corsets from a retired opera singer and costume mistress whose SCA name is Mistress Isolde, the Society for Creative Anachronisms being the the society in question.   There are hundreds of menial details that go into making any beautiful thing, and corsets are no exception.  In addition to the celebrated lacing, a corset is a complicated sandwich of steel “boning” strips in the middle of brocade and heavy muslin.  I sat on a pleasantly medieval styled bench in Lady Dianna’s living room filling away at the square tips of the boning, making them safely round. (Lest in a splendid gyration during a courtly dance, a broken stitch cause a skewered booby.  Don’t laugh it actually happened to Mistress Isolde, once. “A pain like I’ve never before known, ” she explained in her French Canadian accent, gesturing wildly with her free hand and holding her wine in the other.)  She wanders around the room, telling a funny story here, offering advice there.

Conversations start in one side of the room.  Some flower, branch out and bloom.  Some die in the corner they started in when louder or more funny one starts in another corner.  There is some wine about.  Most don’t imbibe, and those who do sip at one or at most two glasses over the two hour evening.  The file rasps long and vibrates the table with a deep hum, like a faraway pipe organ.  A sewing machine whirs now and then, punctuating the laughter and talk with it’s hum.  The air is scented with the smell of worked metal from the filling and the sewing machine, and of sealant to keep the boning, soon to be sealed in the brocade and muslin, from rusting.

Becky always comes home so radiantly relaxed from these things.  And she’d said one simple thing that I wanted to experience for myself.

“People who don’t do church do it so much better than we ever did”

Becky and I, you see, left the mainstream church to chase a dream of a church that actually brought hope and healing.  The method was called house church.  It was startlingly simple: you didn’t go to a building, because a church is not a building, a church is the people. A church is family.  You got your spiritual family together for a potluck in the living room once a week or so.  Love and relationships would happen, and God seeing a place he would feel so at home, would rest there.  Where God was, change would follow.

No more clergy and laity.  No more pulpit and pew.  No more spiritual haves and haves not.  We were chasing the Kingdom of Heaven, not as some fuzzy ideal, but real and attainable thing: A new kind of spiritual economy in which the pastors/priests/missionaries would not have the all the spiritual responsibilities and blessings, parasitically supported by the common folk.  We would meet in houses, eat, and pray, and then God would show up, evidenced often by the speaking of tongues and prophecy, but sometimes just a presence, a pervading feeling of love and elation.  At some undetermined time, God would manifest the way he did in the New Testament, in Love and Power.  The impoverished would be fed, clothed, and sheltered, and Kansas City would become a lightening rod, the highest point, struck by Divine power.  When the hospitals emptied out and the gangs laid down their arms who could then doubt the power of God?

Looking back, I feel like such a fool.  Any high school freshman with a penchant for the History Channel could have seen were this was going.

Lets go over the facts shall we?  The existing system is one were a tiny group of people control all the (spiritual) resources, and the people have none.  All they can do is work to support the ‘spiritual production’ but with no chance to ever own the means.  We will form into small cells and meet together to discuss this problem and what we can do about it.  At some undetermined point in the future, our system, which is the final evolution of the (spiritual) economy, will displace the other existing systems because of its lack of waste (no money spend creating religious professionals, leasing buildings, or unspiritual competition).  Then all will join with us in our beautiful Utopia and all will be equals (in Christ)

My God, how stupid were we?  This is Marxism 101.  But we missed it.  We wanted the change so bad.  We wanted to be part of the solution and not part of the problem so badly, that we ate this shit with a spoon, smiled and asked for some more.

It worked like you might think.  God just wouldn’t quite show up.  We had tongues a plenty.  Warm fuzzies abounded, but real, objective limb growing change seemed to elude us.  A solution was arrived at.  We had lost the focus.  We were focusing on what we wanted God to do after we made the Workers Paradise Kingdom Community, instead of building said community.  What we needed to do was just love each more.

And so we did, we all did.  But thats when it sort of began to fall apart.  As Christians are, ironically, aware,  you cannot command love. One began to ask oneself, “Am I being loving enough?”  A bar had been set.  We would be loving enough when the local, unsaved community, began to change from the love in us.  The final brick of Marxism walled us into our own tomb.   Soviet Communism made huge promises that it could never keep.  It demanded enormous sacrifice.  And all that was OK at first, because it was “only temporary”.  As soon as this 5 year plan was done, as soon as the American menace was contained, as soon as the production kinks were ironed out, as soon as, etcetera ad naseum. By the time people wised up, they were already under the gun.

Now the church had us by the balls.  Someday in the future we would be good enough.  Until then, we could not love enough, be selfless enough, give enough, pray enough, or hope enough.  So the revolutionary movement church that had first promised freedom and empowerment now used our hope of that promise to enslave our hearts….

All over now.

Back to the SCA.  Tonight, I sat in a room with bunch of strangers.  It felt so right.  It felt so like house church did, but something was missing, and its lack was wonderful.  I took me some time, listening to snatches of talk and laughter to understand what it was: seriousness. When you are trying to save the world, everything is so damn serious.  A popular question at house church was “How are you really doing?” a simple “fine” being totally inadequate. You had to have a serious question, and a serious answer.

That and there was no expectation.  When someone accidentally stabbed needle into their thumb below the thimble no one judged when they said “Shit!”.  There was not an enormous pressure to be great, or even a pressure to be yourself.  There was no pressure at all.

The freedom and community I wanted existed all along, in groups of people having to much fun to have the time to promise me how free and communal they were.

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July 23, 2008 - Posted by | Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , ,

6 Comments »

  1. I love this post. Nice reflections!

    Comment by Are Karlsen | July 23, 2008 | Reply

  2. hey nice story and i know what it’s like in the SCA because i’ve grown up with it and getting hurt happens alot. i totally agree w/ the whole church thing too

    Comment by jenn lane | March 2, 2009 | Reply

  3. Thank you thank you. To bad we had to move

    Comment by truthwalker | March 2, 2009 | Reply

  4. yeah for me we had to stop going for a while but i should be going to the march crown tourney. and even if you still want to go all you have to do is go to the sca’s main site and find out what’s near you

    Comment by jenn lane | March 3, 2009 | Reply

  5. Nicely done! 🙂

    Comment by Bug Girl | August 9, 2009 | Reply

    • I didn’t even know you read my blog! Thank you, thank you.

      Comment by truthwalker | August 9, 2009 | Reply


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