AWD #045: A Medium to the Divine
A Medium to the Divine
Summary: Phin has questions about faith for the chaplain.
Date: 20/02/2013
Related Logs: None
Iphigenia Phin 
The chapel is one of the few quiet places to be found on a battlestar. Even rarer still, it's one of the few places that doesn't look like it's part of a battlestar. Heavy blue curtains have been hung from the walls, obscuring the bulkheads. The lights are kept low, adding a certain mystery and gravitas to the space. The central altar is made of a pale grey wood, as are the several rows of pews which extend from it. Laid against the far right wall is a long, low table with several rows of simple white votive candles to be used as vigil lights. Centered among them is a brass plate for burnt offerings from supplicants. Several cushions rest on the floor before the table, where the faithful may kneel to offer their prayers to the Lords and Ladies of Kobol. On the left wall are several compartments which have been sectioned off for private use.
AWD #45

So Phin booked some of Iphigenia's time, and thus he is shown the way to one of the smaller rooms used by CMES for counseling purposes. Gen's there at the door, a smile on her face that is welcoming; the room inside is simple enough, with chairs and a low coffee table.

Phin arrives in his duty blues. Semi-formal like, even though he's certainly off-duty at this point. "Hey, Sister Arden." He steps toward one of the chairs. "Thanks for making the time. I don't think this will take long. I was just curious about some stuff. And you seemed like the logical person to ask. About that stuff."

She grins at that. "I'll do my best." she says, taking a seat herself. "How can I be of service?" She crosses one leg over the other and lets her posture relax just a little.

"Cool." Phin sits. "I got to thinking about what we'd talked about down at the sight of the temple on the planet. When I asked about making an offering for Captain Cole. Which, did before we left for Aerilon. Anyway. I was kind of curious about the goddess Aurora. I was just wondering if you could tell me a little more about her. Like, why you suggested that one, and stuff. I haven't really studied much about the deities outside Ares. My family didn't really go to temple…at all, and my religious education at the Ares school was kind of…super, super narrow."

"Aurora?" Iphigenia smiles then, her eyes alighting. "She's the goddess of the dawn. That may not seem to make sense, except she was often greatly favored by sailors, so much so that she was often the masthead on many ships. She is a revealer of ways, a means to find home. Herald of new starts."

Phin nods slowly along with that, like he's absorbing it and sort of seeing how it sounds in his brain. "That's nice, actually. New starts, and paths home. I wouldn't mind studying a little more about her cult, I guess. Maybe Hermes, too. Lieutenant Tiptoft is really big on him. Seems to think it helps him fly. I mean, he's all 'ra ra ra' about it, but not 'ra ra ra' in a death and destruction kind of way. Also, I think Lieutenant Tiptoft is just 'ra ra ra' about everything, so I'm thinking it's not like part and parcel of whoever he's doing it to."

Iphigenia considers a moment. "Have you read much of the Sacred Scrolls, Ensign? If you don't have a copy, I'll be happy to get one to you, with Aurora's passages marked."

"Parts of it. Just not completely, and not for a long time. I read what they had us read for lessons, but that was pretty much it." At the offer, Phin nods. "Thanks. I'd appreciate that. I've kind of been thinking lately and…there's a lot of reasons I stopped practicing, but there's stuff I miss about it, too. Everything was really structured. The rituals, the ways it made you focus. I wouldn't mind some more things in my life that were more…structured, I guess."

"Ritual does give us a semblance of control and structure." Iphigenia agrees, "But you may find that the reason for ritual - faith - is something more nebulous."

"Yeah, maybe," Phin says. Nebulous does not appear to appeal to him. Though it does seem to make him think of something. Which he does not immediately speak on. He regards the chaplain a beat and finally says, "If I ask you something, will you tell me what you really think? Not what you're supposed to say or what you think I need to hear or whatever?"

"I will." Iphigenia promises, without any further flourish on the statement.

"Do you really believe in the gods?" The question's prodding, but not really challenging. Phin's genuinely curious. "And if you do…why? I mean, what makes that make sense to you?"

"I do." Iphigenia says. "And it's a good question, worth answering honestly. "I believe in the gods because from what I've seen in both human nature and nature itself, the design of it is so…elegant, that there seems no way to me there could not be a greater power responsible for it. And because, quite simply, in my personal experience, I have felt the touch of the sacred. But it's only real for me, Ensign, and my experience is mine alone, and the medium of your own truth is your own experience."

Her answer seems to satisfy Phin, at least in the specifics of what he'd requested of her. "I haven't, I guess. Felt anything like that. And in like a general sense…I could never wrap my head around it. My old Headmaster used to say the gods had a plan for us. And our trials were like tests. To make us strong. But that never seemed…I mean, there's a lot of really messed up things that happens to people. And a lot of good things, lucky breaks you get and maybe somebody who deserved it more or who'd been through worse didn't. But there doesn't seem to be any reason behind those, either. Like…all of us even being alive, on this ship, pretty safe considering. Compared to the people on Picon, or the ones who died back on the colonies. And I could just never…either the gods have a plan, and it includes all of that, and it's pretty awful, in a lot of ways. Or everything is just totally random. And I guess I'd almost rather it be random, if those're the choices."

Iphigenia pauses a moment, reflective as she considers Phin's words. "The Sacred Scrolls say that all of this has happened before, and all of this has happened again. I think that to a degree, the gods may intervene when we ask them, but ultimately, choices are our own. And choices make up the bulk of our fate. Maybe those choices are pre-ordained…and maybe not. I don't know if the gods have a plan, but I do believe they watch us."

"You've got to believe you have some control of your choices. Doesn't seem like there'd be much point otherwise," Phin says. The idea of the gods watching them makes him let out a small "Heh." The laugh isn't really derisive, though. "I wonder what they think. If they do."

"I think that depends entirely on the gods. I know I have moments where I feel like or more of them is laughing at me." she confesses wryly.

Phin crooks a very slight grin at that. "Yeah. That I can believe. I mean, not at you, Sister. But just, people in general." Another pause. "Do you mind if I ask what it was? Where you felt like you were touched by the sacred? I mean, it's OK if you don't want to say. It sounds kind of private. But, like, how could you even tell?"

"There's been more than one moment. And not all of those touches has been pleasant." She considers what to tell him for a moment, and then Iphigenia notes, "One of the more pleasant, recent experiences I had was back during Saturnalia. Determining the King of Fools, and calling upon the Lords of Kobol at the bonfire. It was like something surging through me, making everything hazy. And no," she can't help but grin, "I hadn't been drinking, nor ingesting chamalla."

Phin's brows crook up. His brain might've been going in the chamalla direction for most of that story, since he looks just a little abashed at her clarification. "That night was fun. Saturnalia. Captain Cole the King of Fools, Talkshow and his gifts, good ambrosia…seems like forever ago." Shrug. "No. I see where you're going, I think. It sounds intense. It sounds…I don't think I've ever felt that way about anything. Except flying. It comes close. Just gets me up out of my own head. Always has. Like, you need to be really focused when you're doing it, but at the same time there's so much going on around you that you just have to kind of feel your way through it. Ride it out. It's not hazy, though. Can't really give up control, or you'll loose it." Which, from the way he says it, is another thing he likes about it.

"We are all touched by something, Ensign. For some of us that means tying ourselves more closely to the gods. And for some of us that means sitting in a viper cockpit. But I would not call the joy you experience when you're flying any less holy than mine in communion with the gods. It's sacred. That's what's important. It's just the medium to the divine that's different." Gen cocks her head to the side. "Do you understand?"

"Yeah. It think I do, actually." Phin sounds a little surprised, but it seems a way of looking at something divine that he can wrap his brain around. "Can I ask you something else?" He does, without waiting. "That stuff Lieutenant Colonel Petra said about the Cylons who look like us…who look human…do you believe that?" He adds quickly, "I'm not saying I think he was lying it's just…the Cylons are chrome toasters. They were created in engineering labs on Caprica. You don't engineer people, y'know? It just seems like it'd be a really good way to get us to stop trusting each other, make us paranoid."

"Don't we?" she counters. "I haven't met one of these human type Cylons, but if you think about it, how is sperm entering an ovum any less engineering people? Again, it's only the medium that's different. I've been struggling with this new concept myself, and one of the questions I'm been wrestling over is…if human emotion can be broken down into a scientific explanation of chemicals produced by our brains, are the emotions that these Cylons allegedly feel any more or less or equal to ours, simply because the medium is synthetic rather tha biological?" She shakes her head, aditting, "I don't know."

"It's…different. I hope it's different, at least," Phin says, as to humans and the engineering of them. Not that he has a good argument about why. The rest of what she says makes him frown. "I don't know. I mean…maybe they can. We can make ourselves feel lots of things if we find the right chemical to push the right buttons in our brain. Maybe the toasters've just figured out a more effective way to do it. I don't know, either. It's just…it's really creepy to think about."

"I know." Iphigenia agrees. "And whatever the truth is could have a profound impact on this war. And we don't even really know if we want the answers."

"Yeah. I don't know." The agreement is as much about not wanting to know as anything else. Phin gives the chaplain another small shrug. "Anyway. Uh. Thanks. For the book, I mean, and the Aurora stuff." A safe subject to get back to. "I would like it, but no rush. I can come pick it up whenever. I should probably get out of your hair for now. I'm sure you're busy."

"I'll have it for you once I get back from Picon." Gen offers. "If you have more questions while I'm gone, one of the other chaplains can likely answer your questions, unless you'd prefer to wait."

"I'm out for now, I think." Phin stands. "I mean, I guess I still don't really know what I want to believe. About…things." Lots of things. Which seems to frustrate him. Like, if he can just apply the right rules to this stuff, it'll order itself neatly in his head.

"Faith isn't orderly, Phin." Gen says. "Ritual may be, but that's because faith is not. I'll see you when I return from Picon."

"Maybe." Phin can't really argue with that, much as he might want to. "Stay safe as you can. Hope you guys all get back OK."

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