Monday, August 31, 2009
I'm certain I'm not the first person to notice this, but God really seems to like the younger siblings.
I guess there could be myriad reasons for this theme in the Bible, such as societally (earthly) the oldest son inherits everything, and God blesses the younger because His rewards are not of this life, but the next...
But of course my brain goes to weird places:
Humanity is preferred to the angels - angels were created first (first born sons), but humanity was the one 'created in God's Image'. We got free will and the ability to (basically) spit in our Father's face and then repent later on. It's unclear whether or not angels get this.
Hm. Yes, this is sort of random.
Friday, August 28, 2009
And then I watched Anna's latest post over at Veiled Glory. And...well. She said something about their decision to convert to Orthodoxy 'not being a head trip', and...Okay, this is like, confession time:
I like to be right. *All* the time. I know it's arrogant, I know it's bad, and that no one is right all the time, and I've gotten *much* better about not being an arrogant know it all, because I know that I don't know it all, and well, no one likes a know it all, right? But still, I like to be right. I like to be able to stand at a defensible position and hand out my ingenious arguments, and go, 'See! This is why you're wrong and *stupid* (which is, of course, implied but never stated), and I and everyone who agrees with me is right.' :p *mental raspberries are blown at the 'wrong' party. And to be perfectly honest (however arrogant it might sound), I am quite often right. It's just the way the world works (the world, you see, revolves around me).
Right. So. Go back a couple of years. My mother remarries a Mennonite man, and his parents live with us in the house. His mother is a little...odd...and she doesn't like me. She thinks 'there's something wrong with her'. Seriously. And to be honest, I was practicing magic at the time, so there was probably a few things 'off' about me, but whatever. Plus, I'm coming from an abusive house, and, and, whatever. I admit to having issues. And I am forced, for the first time in *years* to attend church. Their Mennonite church. Which just...annoys the crap out of me. Because the pastor there is quite often *wrong* (but a very, very nice man), especially when he talks about things outside of Christianity. So. Must. Get. Out. Of. This. Church. Thing. Before I start actually jumping up and *correcting* the pastor, which I know is not right to do.
Hmm...how to do this...ah! My brilliance! Crazy Gramma and Grandpa are ex-Catholics, of the 'the Catholic Church is EVOL' sort. Heh. So...'I want to go to the Catholic Church'. And, no one bugs me about religion or church in the house again. *Feel* my clever. Feel it. Of course, because I'm supposed to be attending Mass (but I wasn't, really) I felt I needed to be able to speak like I was, so I studied. And, along the way, believed. But that's been told elsewhere, so. (I just left out the part about choosing the Catholic Church at first to piss off the crazy old woman - it didn't seem very nice, you know?)
The deacon, when I was having my interview before RCIA asked me why I wanted to be Catholic. My answer was, essentially, 'because I want to be a part of the *original* church, the oldest faith around, because that's the one that's lasted. that's the one that's true.' to which he, jokingly, responded, 'why not be Jewish then?' to which I responded, (perhaps a tad more seriously than he realized at the time) 'because I like bacon'. ha ha. Anyway.
But now I wonder, is this just another way that I need to be right? Is it? Am I doing this wrong?
Do I want to be in the original church because then I'll be right, or because I want to do what God wants me to do? I DON'T KNOW!
I *believe* that I need to belong to the original Church, the one that Christ founded and left behind. I *believe* that it is either the Catholic Church or the Orthodox Church. Why? Because they have the history. They make the most sense. Of course, they don't agree with each other on many things, but that's another post. Protestantism is a fractured morass as far as I'm concerned. There's no historicity, no *foundation*. They've cut themselves off at the knees in so many ways, and it shows. (For a personal pet peeve, where *do* you guys think you got the Bible? Really? You remember, that book that tells you you're right and that the Church is wrong? Oh, yeah, that would *be* the freaking *Church*!) Don't like the theology taught at your church? That's okay, go start your own! The Holy Spirit will tell you what to do!
*shrug* I decided on Catholicism because it was the oldest, and made the most sense. But now... I don't know. And I'm reading, and studying, and in some ways I look at Orthodoxy and go, 'Yes! I don't have to bend through theological hoops! I don't need to quantify and scientifically explain everything so that it makes sense! I don't need to freaking *justify* my faith to science, because some things are *beyond* science, and theology and science don't have to fight, they're two different spheres!' and I see *more* historicity to it - I see a unity of belief, as opposed to an empire (I'm not knocking the Pope, I happen to like Benedict XVI), I see something that more closely resembles what I understand of the church at the time of the Apostles and the Early Fathers. I see something that even my deacon admitted 'kept to the original way of things' when the Catholic church changed with the times. But it's all *head* right now, no *heart*. And now I'm afraid that it's just...my need to be *right*. And I might *feel* something about it if I went to an Orthodox service, but my *extreme social awkward* won't let me, and the only Orthodox Church in town is Serbian, and I'm terrified that I'll go there, and they'll all *look* at me and talk about me behind my back. And I'll be embarrassed and humiliated and...
*throws up hands*
Thursday, August 27, 2009
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Monday, August 24, 2009
Umm...apparently these people have never spoken to a child.
'Why?' is one of their favorite words. (Along with 'no', but that's another matter)
My grandmother swears my first word was 'why', and that it'll probably be among my last, too. I question things, endlessly. Beat a dead horse, whatever. I don't always understand the explanations for things, I just want to know that there is one, and that someone else knows it and I assume that eventually I will understand it.
My grandmother loves telling this story:
We were in the car, driving somewhere, and I asked her a question. She can't recall the question, but she does remember that she didn't know the answer, and so proceeded to make some long answer up. At the end, she says I said, 'Grammy, if you didn't know the answer, just tell me.'
Kids are *always* questioning. It's how they *learn*.
So I don't see any problem with questioning everything, up to and including God. The problem with kids is, eventually we realize that adults don't have all the answers, and the power in the relationship begins to shift, little by little. The thing with God is, He does have all the answers (whether He shares them with us or not, and whether we understand the answers we get or not), so there's no fear of the power structure shifting.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
I'm a ninja! *cough* Sorry, I couldn't resist. But I really did feel ninja-esqe all in black. :) My first attempt at making niqab out of a shayla. The scarf is (clearly) too thin, and I didn't get it loose enough over the face, but for a first attempt, not too bad.
Sparkly purple-ish scarf tied in a 'crown'. I mastered this one early on, the tricky part is getting the knot on the side to lay semi flat so it doesn't stick out like some bizarre horn. I got the instructions for tying it here. They have directions for a variety of styles.
Friday, August 21, 2009
1. I've had the same job since I was 14. Clearly, I don't do change well. :)
2. I like round toed shoes more than any other kind of shoe. I know, it's a weird thing, but I think pointy toed shoes make my feet look very, very long, and they're not. On a related note, I have tiny (short n'stubby) toes, so a long, open-toed shoe just looks silly on me.
3. I hate shopping. I hate it. I don't spend hours going through the racks. I go in, I look through the sales racks, if I like it, I try it, and I either buy it or I don't. I shop with purpose. Conversely, put me in a book store, and I will spend *forever* wandering around, picking things up, putting them back, stroking the covers, weighing my options. I cannot leave a bookstore in under an hour. Ever.
4. I grew up believing that I was going to marry one of my step-father's friends. No worries, he was just joking, but he'd always play He-Man and She-Ra with me, and one day he asked me if I'd marry him when I grew up, and I, of course, said yes, and spent many years telling people so. :)
5. Half the time I think I'd like to be a second wife or something, just because I've always lived with multiple women in the house, and I cannot imagine living with just me and a husband. It's just this vague...'and what do you do with just the two of you?' kind of thing.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I've heard baptism described (in Catholicism for Dummies) as a vaccination - but I don't know that that analogy really works. When you get vaccinated, you don't get the disease that you're vaccinated against. Yes, the Flu Shot seems to wreck my issues with this, until you recall that they're about a billion strains of flu, and the Flu Shot only vaccinates against the ones that are felt to be the most prevalent that year. Think more like polio, etc. People don't get those anymore, in places where we vaccinate for them.
So, baptism as vaccination, if we carried that analogy, once baptised, people wouldn't 'get' sin. Clearly, that's not what happens. Though I suppose, now that I've typed it out, the Flu Shot analogy *does* work a little better - baptism only vaccinates against a particular 'strain' of sin - original sin. *However*, as I have been assured by other Catholics, and the Catechism, the Catholic Church teaches that we don't actually inherit the original sin. (I have a bit of news for them, in that apparently most people -including many Catholics- think that the Catholic Church *does* teach that...) In that case, the vaccination analogy *still* doesn't work, because you're vaccinating for a disease that doesn't exist anymore - it's impossible to catch it.
And it's also not like some giant 'reset' button, because if we don't inherit original sin it doesn't wash it away, and it certainly doesn't undo the inherited consequences of original sin... so what, exactly, does baptism do?
I still think baptism makes the most sense as 'circumcision of the soul' - the sign of the new covenant, bringing us in. Baby Jews are circumcised, and also adult converts (which, ouch, you know?) and, in the case of the babies, there's not this 'believe first' element, or they'd wait until the children were older to do it. Instead, they're circumcised, which brings them into the covenant, and then expected to live by it their entire life. They're brought up observing the Law. So, you know, that makes sense to me.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
"It is a dangerous thing to hear the words of the Gospel, for to whom much is given, of him much is required (Luke 12:48). If we hear the truth of Christ, we will be responsible to God for what we do with it. We must not be like the man given a talent by his lord who went and hid it in the ground, doing nothing with it (Matt. 25:18). When we hear the words of the Gospel, we are being entrusted with a treasure, and we must let these words bear fruit in our lives. Otherwise we will hear truth to our condemnation on the Last Day. That is why, before the Gospel is even chanted, the priest prays the Gospel prayer for all who are about to hear it: 'Illumine our hearts, O Master and Lover of mankind, with the pure light of Your divine knowledge. Open the eyes of our mind to the understanding of Your Gospel teachings. Implant also in us the fear of Your blessed commandments, that trampling down all carnal desires, we may enter upon a spiritual manner of living, both thinking and doing such things as are well-pleasing to You.'
"In this prayer, the celebrant lifts up his voice to God that He may shine His light upon our hearts so that, as we listen to His Gospel, we might know Him better. Understanding the Gospel is not an intellectual exercise, but a spiritual operation. It requires not so much a keen mind as an open and humble heart. We need a fear of God's commandments, a reverence for His Word. 'But on this one will I look,' God says, 'On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,/And who trembles at My word' (Is. 66:2). If we listen to Christ's words with a true and and trembling heart, eager to learn and accept correction, eager to receive a commandment that we may zealously perform it, then we will indeed listen to our salvation. Then the fruit of hearing the Gospel chanted will be that 'we enter upon a spiritual manner of doing,' pleasing God in work and word. We will be not forgetful hearers, but effectual doers (see James 1:25). With so much depending upon our response to hearing the Gospel, no wonder the celebrant first prays for us!"
Sunday, August 16, 2009
"Concerning this 'war in heaven' (Rev. 12:7) we have only cryptic references in
Scripture; we are not told in detail what happened, still less do we know what
plans God has for a possible reconciliation within the noetic realm, or how (if
at all) the devil may eventually be redeemed. Perhaps, as the first chapter of
the Book of Job suggests, Satan is not as black as he is usually painted. For
us, at this present stage in our earthly existence, Satan is the enemy; but
Satan has also a direct relationship with God, of which we know nothing at all
and about which it is not wise for us to speculate. Let us mind our own
business." - Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way, pg. 57 - 58
"Gen. 2: 16-17 - And the Lord God commanded Adam, saying, 'You may eat food from every tree in the garden; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you may not eat; for in whatever day you eat from it, you shall die by death.'""Gen. 3: 2-5 - And the woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat the fruit from the trees of the garden; but from the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, 'You shall not eat from it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die'.' Then the serpent said to the woman, 'You shall not die by death. For God knows in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.'"
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Anyway...I say all this to say I watch a lot of true crime shows on TV. I was watching Notorious (I think that's which one it was) the other day, and they did a feature on a man named John List (and here's another, longer article). I'd say (as always) read them for a good idea of the events, but for those who don't want to, here's a brief recap:
On November 9, 1971 Mr. List murdered his mother, his wife, and their three children. He planned it quite carefully and calmly - he laid groundwork for his family being 'out of town' for quite some time - he *asked* his kids what they wanted done with their bodies. On the day of the murders, he sent the kids off to school as if nothing was different, shot his wife in the kitchen and then went upstairs and shot his mother in her attic apartment. Then, as his kids came home, he shot them as well. In the mean time, between killings and attempts to clean up the blood, he mowed the lawn, ate lunch (at the table he shot his wife at), and wrote out some very long letters to different people detailing what he wanted done with the bodies, etc. He also wrote a six page letter to his pastor (who would *understand*, he felt) explaining why he did it.
He slept in the basement of the house that night, while the bodies of his entire family lay in the ballroom (except for his mother, who was too heavy for him to move downstairs). The next day, he got up, turned on all the lights in the house, turned on music, and left. And disappeared for nearly 18 years. He went off, started a new life, married again. He was caught, eventually, because one of his neighbors saw him on America's Most Wanted. He received five consecutive life sentences and died in prison in 2008.
All very gruesome and sad. But here's the bit that actually caught my attention - when he was explaining himself to his pastor, he said that he had to kill the family because they were badly in debt, they were living beyond their means, his wife was ill (syphilis from her previous husband apparently), his daughter was rebelling against him, and he didn't want them to suffer the moral decline and evil that he felt they would descend into if they were poor. This way, he felt, they would definitely be going to heaven. So he shot them to save them.
Why didn't he 'save' himself? Well, suicide would get him sent to hell. So he ran. He felt that he'd sent his family to heaven, and when he died, they would all be reunited. Either they wouldn't remember him shooting them in the face, or they'd have forgiven him. One of the two.
And, as far as I can tell from the show and the reading I've been doing, he *never once* said that he'd done anything wrong in killing them! *Never!* He didn't seem to have any emotional connection to the killings at all in the interview they showed. But, and this is the kicker, he *still expected to get into heaven*. After all, he was a good Lutheran, he was *saved*, so it didn't *count* or something, that he'd committed murder. (The best part of that segment was John Walsh being interviewed, cursing this guy. Of course, child murders are especially painful for Mr. Walsh, even more so than for everyone else.)
Now, I understand that even a murderer may be forgiven, by God. However, this guy seems to have missed the part where you have to realize that you've DONE SOMETHING WRONG! And then, repent, honestly, and truly. And even then, you've got to *pay* for your crimes! (Bullet to the back of the head, people - I don't hold with this let 'em live for decades crap).
Don't get me wrong, I *know* that this is not what Christianity teaches, what this man thought, but it's what he claimed. He claimed a religious justification, in a sense, for murdering people - or at least he never thought that he'd done anything wrong, based on his faith.
Just one (extreme) example of the way people can manipulate their faith to justify just about anything if they want to.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
I'm having one of those moments, so I foist it off on the rest of you. :)
I found this at A Catechumen's Tale, which is a blog I have newly discovered. Very interesting stuff. I'd even ask the poster for clarification of the point, if I knew what point it was that was just out of my reach! *grr*
The following is by Saint Maximos the Confessor, and is from his Fourth Century of Various Texts, found in volume two of the Philokalia.
Once human nature had submitted to the syndrome of pleasure freely chosen
followed by pain imposed against one's will, it would have been completely
impossible for it to be restored to its original life had the Creator not become
man and accepted by His own free choice the pain intended as a chastisement for
man's freely chosen pleasure. But in His case the pain was not preceded by
generation according to the rule of pleasure. In this way, by accepting a birth
which did not originate in pleasure, it was possible for Him to liberate birth
from the penalty imposed on it.
After the fall the generation of every man was by nature impassioned and preceded by pleasure. From this rule no one was exempt. On the contrary, as if discharging a natural debt, all underwent sufferings and the death that comes from them. None could find the way to freedom, for all were under the tyranny of ill-gotten pleasure, and so subject to justly deserved sufferings and the sill more justly deserved death which they engender. Because of this, another kind of suffering and death had to be conceived, first to destroy the ill-gotten pleasure and the justly deserved sufferings consequent on it - sufferings which have pitiably brought about man's disintegration, since his life originates in the corruption that comes from his generation through pleasure and ends in the corruption that comes through death; and, second, to restore suffering human nature. This other kind of suffering and death was both unjust and undeserved: undeserved because it was in no way generated by preceding pleasure, and unjust because it was not the consequence of any passion-dominated life. This other kind of suffering and death, however, had to be devised so that, intervening between ill-gotten pleasure and justly deserved suffering and death, it would completely abolish the pleasure-provoked origin of human life and its consequent termination in death, and thus free it from the pleasure-pain syndrome. It would then recover its original blessedness, unpolluted by any of the characteristics inherent in beings subject to generation and decay.
This is why the Logos of God, being by nature fully God, became fully man, with a nature constituted like ours of a soul endowed with intellect and a body capable of suffering; only in His case this nature was without sin, because His birth in time from a woman was not preceded by the slightest trace of that pleasure arising from the primal disobedience. In His love He deliberately accepted the painful death which, because of pleasure, terminates human life, so that by suffering unjustly He might abolish the pleasure-provoked and unjust origin by which this life is dominated. For, unlike that of everyone else, the Lord's death was not the payment of a debt incurred because of pleasure, but was on the contrary a challenge thrown down to pleasure; and so through this death He utterly destroys that justly deserved death which ends human life. For the cause of His being was not the illicit pleasure, justly punished by death, through which death entered into human life.
The Lord is wise, just and mighty by nature. Because He is wise, He could not be ignorant of the way in which to heal human nature. Because He is just, He could not save man, whose will was in the grip of sin, in a tyrannical fashion. Because He is almighty, He could not prove unequal to the task of completing His healing mission.
The wisdom of God is revealed in His becoming by nature a true man. His justice is shown by His assumption, at His nativity, of a passible nature identical to our own. His might is shown by His creation, through His suffering and death, of a life that is by nature eternal and of a state of dispassion that is immutable.
The Lord revealed His wisdom by the way in which He healed man, becoming man without the slightest change or mutation. He demonstrated the equity of justice when in His self-abasement He submitted deliberately to the sentence to which what is passible in human nature is subject, and made that sentence a weapon for the destruction of sin and of the death which comes through sin - that is, for the destruction of pleasure and of the pain which pleasure engenders. It was in this pleasure-pain syndrome that the dominion of sin and death lay: the tyranny of sin committed in pursuit of pleasure, and the lordship of the painful death consequent upon sin. For the dominion of pleasure and pain clearly applies to what is passible in human nature. And we seek how to alleviate through pleasure the penalty of pain, thus in the nature of things increasing the penalty. For in our desire to escape pain we seek refuge in pleasure, and so try to bring relief to our nature, hard pressed as it is by the torment of pain. But through trying in this way to blunt pain with pleasure, we but increase our sum of debts, for we cannot enjoy pleasure that does not lead to pain and suffering.
The Lord gave clear evidence of His supreme power in what He endured from hostile forces when He endowed human nature with an incorruptible form of generation. For through His passion He conferred dispassion, through suffering repose, and through death eternal life. By His privations in the flesh He re-establsihed and renewed the human state, and by His own incarnation He bestowed on human nature the supranatural grace of deification.
God became true man and bestowed on human nature a new or second form of generation leading us through suffering to the pleasure of the life held in store for us. FOr when our forefather Adam broke the divine commandment, in the place of the original form of generation he conceived and introduced into human nature, at the prompting of the serpent, another form, originating in pleasure and terminating through suffering in death. This pleasure was not the consequence of antecedent suffering but, rather, resulted in suffering. And because he introduced this ill-gotten pleasure-provoked form of generation, he deservedly brought on himself, and on all men born in the flesh from him, the doom of death through suffering. Thus, when the Lord became man and created in human nature a new form of generation, accomplished by the Holy Spirit, He accepted that death through suffering, justly deserved in the case of Adam, but in His case not deserved at all because His own generation was not provoked by the ill-gotten pleasure introduced by our forefather through his disobedience; and by doing so He destroyed whatever in the origin and doom of human generation according to Adam was not intiially from God, and made all those who were reborn spiritually from Him free from its guilt.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
So, a comment to a post by Susanne reminded me of a post on another blog (I've looked but can't locate the post, sorry) from a while ago. The basic premise of the post, though, was what if you *knew* that no matter what you did, you were not going to be admitted to Heaven. As in, God Himself came down and said, 'Look, I appreciate what you're doing, there, obeying all my laws, worshiping. All in all being a great person. It's all very nice. But here's the thing. You don't make the cut. Sorry. Ta.' Would you, with certain knowledge that you're not getting the reward at the end of the race, keep playing by the rules? Or would you cut loose and indulge?
Most, if not all, of the people who responded said, no, of course I would still obey! Because it's God, and He deserves our worship, no matter what! And I'll be honest, I laughed myself silly and didn't respond, but the answer was, 'hell no! and if ya'll'd be honest, you'd say no too!' I mean, what's the point? If, no matter how good I am, no matter how perfectly I believe and keep the laws (whichever covenant you think applies), I'm damned? Hah. Then I'm going to live it up down here, because there's no frickin' point in denying myself! Drink, steal, sex *all over the place* because I'm not hurting myself! Mwahahahaaaa....*runs rampant over the earth*
And I forgot all about it. Then I saw the comment on Susanne's post. And the mention of the people who are promised that good things will happen to them if they just believe! If you just convert and join my church, all your troubles will dissolve! It's only because you lack faith that you lost your wife and your car and you job and your health is terrible! If you had faith you would be rich and powerful and healthy! Mental illness? God is *punishing* you for your lack of faith! *pauses to spit and gnaw on the furniture some more - jackasses* And these people, rightly, leave the church after they join and, lo and behold, their lives don't magically get better! We're not *promised* perfect lives, if only we believe. No, we're promised hatred and suffering as Christians in this world. So where in all the hells did these 'name it-claim it', 'prosperity gospel' yahoos get this idea? I mean, I know why they do it, they're all sleazeballs who want to get rich, and do. So, clearly, believing in God and following His commands is not done to get an earthly reward. Nope.
But isn't that, to a certain extent, what we do if we obey and believe just because we want to go to Heaven? It's not an earthly reward, no, but if that's the *only* reason we do it, because God dangled the shiny carrot in our faces, how is that better? Because you don't ever really *know* that you're going to Heaven. Not until it's all over. We have faith, yes, and we trust in God's mercy, but you have no concrete *assurance* of it. God doesn't hand you a key at some point and go, 'Okay, very nice. Your place is assured. Carry on.' Not until it's all over and there're no more chances to repent *or* to screw it all up.
So why *should* we believe and obey?
Because He is God, and is deserving of our worship and obedience.
Because we don't want to go to Hell.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
She has three series (four, I guess, if you separate the Terre d'Ange books, but I don't) - Terre d'Ange, The Sundering, and Santa Olivia. I *love* the Terre d'Ange books. Love, love, love. The Sundering...I found...dry? Ah. High fantasy, but it was missing *something*. Santa Olivia I have but haven't read yet. Though it has werewolves (or werewolf-like characters), so how can it go wrong? Don't answer that. I have faith in Ms. Carey.
But we're talking about Terre d'Ange here. The first three books in this universe are Kushiel's Dart, Kushiel's Chosen, and Kushiel's Avatar. They're the story of Phedre no Delaunay.
I don't want to say too much about the actual plot of the books, because it's thick and complicated. If you like adventure and political intrigue set in ancient times, these books have it in spades. Sword fights and great battles, invasions, magic, trips to distant and fantastic lands only recognisable through the veil of fantasy. There is, however, a lot of sex in the books. Believe it or not, it's important to the plot. I promise, it is. And it's handled delicately - not there for titillation. And violence. And violent sex. No one should take what occurs in the books as realistic. It's a fantasy novel, fiction, and the society is very permissive. And still, it's part of the plot. Really. Phedre is... different, and necessary.
But here's the basic set up of the universe:
About 800 years ago, Yeshua ben Yosef, the only begotten son of the One God was crucified. When his blood and the Magdalene's tears mingled in the earth, they created a child, Elua. Elua was divine, through his father's line, but also part human, through his mother. He wandered the earth, claiming no place for his own, and was eventually imprisoned in Persia. Eight angels (Naamah, Cassiel, Kushiel, Anael, Azza, Camael, Eisheth, Shemhazai) took exception to this state of affairs, and descended to earth. Naamah lay with the King of Persia for Elua's freedom, and then the nine of them wandered the earth, looking for a place to settle. They were run out of every country because the people feared their old gods' reaction to Elua and the One Gods' angels' presence in their lands. They came to a land without a name, where the people had no gods. And they settled there and began to breed into the population. *Eventually*, the One God sent an angel (and then another, both of whom failed) to call them all back to Heaven. Otherwise, he said, their offspring would over run the earth, since they were essentially immortal. Elua refused on behalf of himself and the Companions and their children - they weren't meant for his Heaven, Elua claimed, as it was bloodless, and he was not. So the One God made for them a separate place, the True Terre d'Ange to Come, where they could go and all their descendants.
So that's the creation myth of Terre d'Ange. Of course, eight centuries later, the D'Angeline's don't show a whole lot of the angelic bloodline, except that they are all unfailingly beautiful and haughty and healthy. Left with the one precept of Blessed Elua - Love as Thou Wilt. They have their own intricate society and...Phedre is born. God-touched. Kushiel's Dart mars her eye. And she's born with a deeper purpose that no one can guess. The Companion's playing a gods' game with their offspring, to preserve them from a fate they don't know is coming.
The second half of the Kusheline Cycle is Imriel's story (I can't explain who he is, it's an integral part of the first half of the Cycle). It starts with Kushiel's Scion. And the first two lines of the book always speak to me:
What does it mean to be good?
When I was a child, I thought I knew. It was easy then.