Hallelujah

Written By: JD Adler - Mar• 16•11

They rode in silence for a few minutes, the geriatric car slowly climbing the dark mountain road. Headlights illuminating ochre rock spires to their right. In the distance to their left could be seen the lights emanating from Claire Creek; traffic lights blinking, kitchen lights winking on for late night snacks, cars swiftly maneuvering about the streets, a train was heading across the river bridge, its horn blowing, and white smoke could be seen rising from the factory thickening the night air. Above them pinpoints of light from the far corners of the galaxy broke up the infinite vacuum of space.

“I don’t know what you hope to gain from this little experiment, Liz. It’s not like I’m unaware of the discoveries of modern science.” Reverend Jackson shifted in the pleather seat, intently staring at Liz. He was trying to decide her motivation for inviting him on this trip. He couldn’t believe that she had nothing more in mind than showing him her work, no hidden agenda.

“I just want you to have a look. That’s all, Reverend. You spend a lot of time talking about the wonder of God’s creation, but have you ever really seen it in all of its splendor and mystery?”

“I was at my granddaughter’s birth last year. The fact that human intimacy can result in growing a new human is incredible enough, but actually witnessing the event…

“You’re talking about the birth, not the intimacy right?” Liz gave the Reverend a smile out of the perifiry of her eyes, as she carefully steered along the long windy road.

“Don’t be crude. It was truly an awe inspiring event.” Liz always confused him. She was always nice, friendly but she loved to poke fun at his fealty to religion.

“Well, yes, I certainly won’t argue with the miracle of birth. This, however, is on a somewhat grander scale.” Liz deftly piloted the brown and white oldsmobuick around the windy country road, smiling cryptically as she contemplated the impending encounter. Her eyeglasses reflected the moonlight back against the windshield. Like phantom eyes, two pockmarked circles of white stared down at them.

“I’ve looked through telescopes before, when I was a child.” The Reverend sat up in his seat, straightening his shoulders, clearly not a child anymore.

“A little backyard k-mart telescope is not quite the same thing as the power of the one in the university’s astrophysics lab. You’ll be able to see farther, and in more detail, than you’ve ever imagined.”

“I’ve got a pretty good imagination.” The Rev. said flippantly.
Pushing a lock of auburn hair aside, she glanced at the Reverend sideways, “Yes, I’ve heard about your sermons.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Rev. Jackson was quick to straighten his power tie, and appear insulted.

“You’ve made it clear that you believe humanity is the center, the purpose, of creation. That takes a great deal of… imagination, to put it politely.”

“And to put it impolitely?” His left furry eyebrow arced slightly higher than the right furry eyebrow.

“Arrogance,” Liz stated unapologetically.

“You think it’s arrogant to believe that the God had purpose behind creation?”

“I think it’s arrogant to believe that we were that sole purpose.”

“So what do you believe that purpose is?”

“I am not so arrogant as to pretend I know, Reverend, but I’m sure it was greater than you and me.”

“What makes you so sure of that?”

“That’s why I want you to have a look through the telescope.”

“I know that there are lots of stars and stuff out there. You’re not going to be showing me anything I’m not aware of.” Liz smiled when he said ‘and stuff’, causing the Reverend to shift uncomfortably in his seat again.

“It’s one thing to be aware of something; it’s another to witness it yourself. And don’t be so sure about what you’re aware of; I’ve never seen anyone walk away from this unamazed.”

“Yes, yes, I’m sure it’s all very spectacular, but it’s not going to change my faith in God.”

“I don’t expect that it will. If anything, just the opposite, my faith in a creator is reaffirmed by scientific discovery all the time. I’m just thinking that recognizing the depth and breadth of the universe first hand may be a little humbling. A character trait we all could use a little more of.”

“Humph. How far is this lab anyway?”

“Just another twenty minutes, it has to be outside the influence of city lights, so they put it atop Mt. Hercules.”

“Figures you’d be taking me to a place named after a pagan hero.”

“I figured you would like that story.”

“Why?”

“Well, it so resembles the story of Christ. In fact, when Constantine Romanized the church he manipulated the Jesus legend to be similar so that it would be more palatable to the citizens of the empire.”

“What are you talking about?” The Reverend appeared to be losing his serenity.

“Zeus was the head god right, he comes down to earth, finds himself a virgin, impregnates her and has a son that was more than human, Hercules. Hercules discovers his origins midway through life, and is eventually forced to perform 12 impossible tasks. The last of which is to descend into Hades, the Greek Hell, and then return. After which Hercules himself is raised to the status of a God. Does any of this sound familiar to you? I mean the whole concept of hell came straight from the Greeks. The Jews, of which Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and all the Apostles were members, they don’t believe in Hell. When Jesus was preaching to the Jews about the Father, he was talking about the God they already believed in, so where did this concept of Hell come from, if not the Greeks?”

“Coincidences don’t make facts. And Hell is not a concept, it is a fact revealed to us by God in the Gospels. The Jews don’t believe in any of the Gospels, that’s not a very good argument for me about your story’s veracity.”

“True enough, faith is just that. I’m not trying to tell you not to believe in Jesus, I just figured you’d enjoy the story of Hercules from a historical perspective.”

“I don’t enjoy blasphemy from any perspective.”

“How can it be blasphemy if it was told 1000 years before Jesus was born?”

“The truth was always the truth, and the worshipping of false God’s is always sin.”

“I thought the whole point of Jesus’ descent into Hell and passage back into Heaven was to unburden the sins of those who came before so that they too could enter the gates of heaven.”

“Well, yes.”

“So God can forgive them they’re ignorance, but you can’t?”

“Its not they’re sin I’m upset by, it’s the modern people naming this place after a pagan myth.”

“No-one is worshipping Hercules, they’re just honoring the memory of our cultural heritage. Aren’t you being a little over enthusiastic?”

“It’s my duty and my pleasure to be passionate for the Lord.” The Reverend Jackson quoted the mantra with pride. His eyes glowed hazel and his head stood tall upon his thick neck. Brown hair in tight curls receded from his forehead, peppered with gray, providing the cosmetics of wisdom.

“Alright,” Was all Liz could say. She began to wonder if this really was worth the effort. Maybe her friends were right; no matter what, some people couldn’t learn new things.
They rode in silence for a few minutes, the geriatric car slowly climbing the dark mountain road. Headlights illuminating ochre rock spires to their right. In the distance to their left could be seen the lights emanating from Claire Creek; traffic lights blinking, kitchen lights winking on for late night snacks, cars swiftly maneuvering about the streets, a train was heading across the river bridge, its horn blowing, and white smoke could be seen rising from the factory thickening the night air. Above them pinpoints of light from the far corners of the galaxy broke up the infinite vacuum of space.

As they reached the summit, a small plateau approximately 100 yards in diameter, an alabaster dome stood center. A slit partitioned the lid, making room for the protruding shaft of Oracle, the university’s state of the art telescope. “Well there she is, Reverend; Oracle, she who’s far reaching vision serves to enlighten us all.”

“That’s very poetic, Liz.”

“Thanks, Reverend.” Liz beamed at him, truly happy, unable to be any other way in the presence of her beloved toy.

“Can we get on with this now?”

Undaunted, she enthusiastically sprang from the car, “Absolutely, let’s go.”
Unlocking the door, Liz slid the 2’ wooden bolt to the right and, with an overly dramatic flourish, pushed inward the massive pair of oaken doors. Entering the main room, motion detectors brought on the interior lights, causing the Reverend to start, and then gaze about, amazed at what he witnessed. Stained glass windows had been placed strategically about the arc of the curved walls with mirrors behind; causing the light to be reflected back through in a myriad of colors and patterns. The resulting effect was to turn bare, white floor into an image of breathtaking, cubist visuals.

“My God,” The Reverend breathed.

“Actually, my cousin Linda-Anne, but I’m pretty sure that was what she was going for.” Liz’s smile hadn’t diminished in the least. In fact, if it weren’t for the interference from her ears, it may have wrapped all the way around her head.

“I had no idea this was here.”

“Hey Preacher, this is just the prelude, wait till you see the main event.”

She led him to the far rim of the rotunda where a section of the wall curved in front of the other, like a snake tucking its head inside its tail. The opening had been hidden from the eye by the cascading pattern of reds, greens, and blues, intermingling with each other, offering up every variation of hue for the amusement of the retina. Tucked behind the opening was the foot of a staircase which hugged the inner wall; climbing round and up, passing openings that looked into the backs of the mirrors, exposing them as two way, allowing the pedestrian to glimpse the full image painted in light upon the stone canvas below.

“Wha- is that a – a pregnant woman?”

“Some people think so. It’s always interesting to find out who will see what. C’mon, you can look at that anytime, we only have a short while to see what I have in store for you.”
They climbed the rest of the staircase, the Reverend having to be repeatedly coaxed along as he paused at each portal to gaze in wonder upon the image below, each time changing subtly depending upon one’s vantage point. Reaching the upper chamber they approached the monolithic telescope perched above the viewing chair. Liz walked up to the computer to the right of the scope and made some seemingly random adjustments to various buttons and knobs. There was a grinding of great gears, and the telescope rose five degrees on its y axis. Liz leaned over the side eyepiece, stood upright, smiled, and offered the Reverend a seat. He climbed into the chair attached to the imposing device, placed his eyes against the main, binocular eyepiece and gasped.

This was a sight truly new to him. Before his eyes was a cloud of orange, and green, and violet, and a dozen other colors for which he had no names. His mind reeled at the magnificent spacescape. He began to gather his voice, when the clouds rolled inwards at the border of orange and violet.

For a moment there was an absence.

Then an explosion of fiery, crystal white thrusting forward into space, dragging behind a trail of

white,

orange,

and

violet

vapor.

“Hallelujah,” Said the Reverend Jackson.

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