I'd like to introduce you to Uncle Phineas, one of The Eel's most prominent priests of Holy Sweet Micah. If you haven't heard of Holy Sweet Micah or The Eel, you haven't been getting around enough. Uncle Phineas has been kind enough to answer some theological questions for those who are unchurched.
- What were your reasons for entering the priesthood?
You will, without question, be as skeptical as everyone else to hear I entered the priesthood to recover the simplicity and sincerity of that first "true" experience. Sadly, my appearance and manner mitigate against me. I am not liked. I am not trusted. You needn't doubt me, just because I smile when I say it.
- What is your personal opinion on the issue of mermayd souls?
In my personal opinion, anyone who has money has a soul. I can't substantiate the theology of that statement, but the financial soundness is beyond dispute.
- Some faiths believe that reward and punishment are given in the afterlife for one’s deeds during their time spent in the world. How does your temple deal with human frailty? How does Holy Sweet Micah mitigate punishment for one’s sins?
The teaching of Holy Sweet Micah says nothing about the afterlife or reward and punishment. The "true" temples stick to the teaching as it has been handed down to us, with the addition of the legend of Micah's appearance walking on the sea after his death by drowning. The thrusts of the "true" branch of the church are self-knowledge and compassion. It was left to the "reavers" to give people what they want: a clear set of rights and wrongs and a comprehensive payment schedule to cover all contingencies. Most people find their consciences salved by regular temple attendance and tithing. For those who suspect this may not be enough to -- as you put it -- mitigate punishment in the hereafter we reavers hold out as a terrible possibility, indulgences are available in return for cash or in-kind payment. Our temple, for example, has some lovely new stained-glass windows obtained in ways we will not question by parishioners we will not name.
- Could you address the differences between the so called "true priest" and the your order? What are the differences in training and beliefs? In what ways are your followers more or less faithful than those of the true priest?
I've addressed some of this already. The training is the same. Everyone attends the same seminaries. Everyone is trained in the deep reading of the teaching. Everyone is trained in what you would call psychology. If one is called to the "true" priesthood, one becomes more-or-less what you would call a therapist, helping congregants find the balance in their lives and serenity of spirit through, as I said, self-knowledge and compassion. Those drawn to the reaver life will generally serve under a chief priest or, if he or she is fortunate, will be set up in his or her own temple by a wealthy family.
A reaver's followers are far more faithful than a "true" priest's, because followers of the traditional teaching aren't required to attend services, to consult priests or to contribute anything toward the upkeep of any priest or temple. A reaver's followers are generally invested in being considered a member in good standing of a fashionable temple. It's a matter of status to attend, to tithe and to contribute in additional ways. I dine out most evenings, for example, and dine well. The only drawback is that one temple might go out of fashion as another is considered more modish. It can be tricky, keeping ahead of the pack. I'm happy to say I've always found personal visits to leading parishioners sufficiently effective.
Please feel free to join me on my Facebook page. You'll be asked to say you Like me. If lying bothers you, the indulgence for that particular transgression is on a low, low special while the offer stands.
Priest of Micah
To follow the adventures of Uncle Phineas, be sure to pick up Eel's Reverence. Marian Allen is his biographer, although we are certain that Our Special Guest does not always appreciate the light she casts him in.