Thursday, December 15, 2011

More on Bibles and Assisi

In answer to a couple of questions I received about the Bibles trained at the Abbey of Jerome and about the Abbey of Francis on the asteroid, Assisi, I wrote the following:

You're correct about paper being expensive. When the Bibles were hard copied before the second memory core collapse, they were incised on plastic because of this. The collections of the copies are held at several locations, a number of which are secret, in hopes that they will never all be lost. The training of "Bibles" is a further effort to protect against this.

Now, about Assisi; there is an elder-care facility attached to the Abbey of Francis. It grew out of a retirement center for elderly religious (priests, brothers, and sisters) after finding that there was a need for such care for the laity (the average person). At this point, Lazarus House was opened to all based on need. Its guiding principle is that all are children of God and that every person's beliefs are their own and are respected as long as they do not impinge on those of others. There are chaplains of a number of religions in residence. One of the main features is that parts of the facility have varying levels of gravity from 1G to micro-gravity. The abbot at the moment is Abbot Anthony Mary de Guadalcanal, T.O.R. (Third Order Regular--don't sweat it, it's just part of his name that tells one to which order of Franciscan friars he belongs). The head of the Infirmary is Brother Peter An Loc Maria, T.O.R. The medicos and nursing brothers number some 160 and they come and go as they are assigned and reassigned where needed, so go ahead and invent any such characters you need.

The main purpose of the Abbey of Francis is its seminary. Almost all mission priests and a number of diocesan priests are educated here. Douay Bede, the main character in the “Word Carrier” series is teamed with a product of the abbey, Fr. Oaku Mary, T.O.R. as part of the Mission to Spacers. Their calling is to go where requested outside established dioceses, such as aboard ships and out among the ice stations.

Assisi itself is an asteroid orbiting 94 Ceti A. It is in an orbit close to perpendicular to the plane of the ecliptic. This is the reason the Jesuits and Trinity University at Christchurch built an optical observatory, St. Joseph Cupertino, and a radio observatory, Consolmagno, on the end opposite the abbey. Near the observatories is housing for staff and tourists (the Jesuits stay at the abbey).

As part of the housing complex, there is a Palmer Company trading post. There are three lighters (often referred to as "The Magi;" "Melchior," "Caspar," and "Balthasar"), based at the landing pad about halfway between the abbey and the observatories, which are used to move people and cargo between the surface and ships parked overhead.


  1. Hey, Walt, Merry Christmas to you.

    It occurs to me that training a human being to memorize the entire Bible is quite a task. Unless memories are technologically enhanced, it would take years of continuous effort. During that entire time, you have to feed, clothe, and house said human being. Eventually you have to transport him or her to his or her place of assignment.

    That sort of thing fits well with a very poor society in which there are more human beings than printing capacity. Or alternatively, it would fit with a society that is primarily illiterate.

    Parts of the AE system have been portrayed as very poor and would perhaps need human "Bibles" but parts have also been portrayed as rich. Nanotechnology that can make cyborgs can more cheaply make a book out of any natural element than the cost of training a human Bible, IMHO. So I wouldn't expect them to be common on Avenir--unless most people on Avenir are illiterate. Which certainly is possible.

    I'd like to suggest a solution--perhaps the technology to mass-produce new Bibles did not exist when Avenir first entered the orbit of Eclectia. The Church responded with a Bible-training program, being generous enough to even supply a number of non-Catholic Bibles. Now, technology is picking back up and you could print at least a dozen paper (or other media) Bibles for the cost of training a human. But illiteracy has also grown in the interum and so the demand for printed materials is low. Thus the Bibles still have a useful purpose, (even though the Church might do better to teach people to read and print written Bibles for them). But the Church on Avenir, like many organizations, remains tied to the tradition of the past. Hence the entire Bible training program continuing forward.

    Some old printed Bibles may still exist in various places, cherished by some of the colonists--as I mentioned my character Elsa in the story "Diligence" have a printed family Bible. But that would be quite a rarity.

    I hope that makes sense and sounds plausible. Thank you.

  2. Thanks for posting this. I don't really feel like I have a solid grasp of the various satellite settlements such as the asteroid, etc. but this helps clear some of that up.