2 August 2020 / Fiction The Dialogues of the Acolytes: Attempted Interlocution It happened one day that the Acolytes gave one of their multi-part lectures, wherein each stood and delivered his piece in turn. That day the lecture was entitled, Of the Oracle and the Limitations Thereof, as well as the limitations of would be interpreters.As happened in the lectures most days, the Acolyte of the North began the oration."Hast thou attempted to wield the Oracle as if it were a tool with many heads: a stick with a hammer head, a sword blade, a pitchfork, all things befitting any form of labor or any task whatsoever thou willest to do? In such thou errest, for verily, the Oracle pertaineth unto things spiritual and inwardly looking. Wherefore attemptest thou to wield it unto the forming of your army, O King? Wherefore attemptest thou to read the seasons thereof in thy plantings, O Farmer? Such things are foolishness. Apply it as it pertaineth unto righteous living. Leave off the false applications of its sayings.The meaning of thy text remaineth chiefly concerned in the time and place wherein it hath been bound, where the One opened the heavens and spoke with thunderous tone to the people in their varied places on Time's great tapestry. To wield their words, the words crafted unto their place, is an error most grievous. The One must speak unto thee anew. Listeneth thou, or dost thou search in the fields of the past for a word unto thy station?"The Preacher ceased writing notes as a single thought coursed through him. He scarcely heard the rest of the lecture but knew he must present it to the teachers on lesson's completion.Next the Acolyte of the West stood, as usual in the lectures, which began to follow this set path without any divertement. "A man known unto me once attempted to read the Oracle in his hut on the borders of a city which no longer standeth in its former place. He was a simple man, a farmer indeed, his day being governed by the sun, with its risings and settings, and his weeks with the courses of the wayward planets and fixed stars in their various places in the spheres. In matters agricultural, he verily was a most learned man, a man of wise doing. Yet, he felt it to be within his purview to read and interpret the Oracles, a most sorrowful error, for he neglected to realize that without the proper training in the systems of thought surrounding the Oracle, he ne'er would arrive at a truthful position. He required a teacher, many teachers indeed, to aid him in arriving at a position of qualification in those systems of thought. Qualification was his utmost need. Until he received this, he had no right to speak on any matter technical or metaphorical in relation to the Oracle. For who might he lead astray by the words of his mouth? Yet, nevertheless ventured he unto the teaching of his family in matters related to the Oracle, a most strange thing for him to do, as it hath been already noted that he lacked the qualifications for such. Doubtless, his children grew into the paths of heretics.Rebelest thou at my saying? Thou also may not speak on the Oracle without qualification. Verily, verily it is so. Neither we nor the king wishest thou to go about the land speaking of the Oracle unless thou receivest training in the methods, matters, and myriads of thought surrounding the Oracle's systems. The people shall come unto thee, and before thee, thee only, shalt they receive the feeding of the word, for verily the Oracle is bread and rich food for the soul, through which Man truly lives beyond his physical station. Thou as shepherd must needs learn to feed thy sheep."This and many other things did both the Acolyte of the North and West disclose unto the students congregated in that place. The Preacher, with great eagerness towards the acquisition of knowledge, began to perceive a single question arising in his mind as the Acolyte of the South stood to close the lecture."Consider ye, men of the Oracle, how the people, forsaken and alone in the land, remain in need, utmost, dire need, of true shepherds. Verily, without shepherds, their paths in the Oracle only lead unto the place of failure. Thou hast heard it said that the Oracles must be spread abroad. It is so. But the people must not be thown into the sea of complexity that is the Oracle without shepherds. They must be shown the right path, the most excellent path. Like little sheep do they go astray ever and anon. Again, realize thou that the little sheep must learn to grapple with their reasoning faculties, and silence the murmur thereof, before the seed of the Oracle be implanted; even when the seed hath been planted, they must not follow its inclinations whithersoever they will, lest they go astray. This surgery canst not be done upon one's own self but requireth a surgeon, which ye shall be in truth. In matters perspectival, the human perspective faileth upon attempted apprehension of the Oracles, for it hath been bound and fatally flawed, even when Reason boweth to its Lord. Moreover, the perspective of human persons must be augmented with a spiritual knowledge for any good to be attained from the Oracles. The human paradigm yearns for that of the divine, whereby it may finally attain unto knowledge. Know ye not, that ye, ye most directly, receive the enlightenment of the Holy Wynd of the One? Thou shalt be granted that spiritual gift, and the sheep posses it not. Verily, without shepherds, the sheep wander as if accursed from the tents of the faithful. Woe to them if they wander unto death. Woe unto thee thrice over if thou shalt not walk in the necessary ways of remedying their state."At that moment the Preacher fully realized his question, and on completion of the lecture, attempted to accost the Acolytes as the other clerics were gathering their scrolls to leave."Hail ye acolytes, most learned and wise, might I query thee regarding thy lecture?""Verily, thou mayest.""Wherefore must the shepherd place himself in the sole position of communion with the One unto the apprehension of the Oracles? Doth wisdom only live in the tents of the trained cleric?"The Acolytes made response:North: "Verily, thou must consider thy query before asking, for thy query's formulation offends the sensibilities. Return when thy query receives proper formulation."West: "What right hast thou to query in this presumptuous manner, for verily the term 'communion' in thy query was not a part of our study of the Oracle this day?"South: "Thy query appealeth not unto the lecture or the systems of thought contained in thy scrolls. In brevity, speak not until thou apprehendeth that of which thou speakest. We dignify not thy question."The Preacher went away most perplexed at his reception. For verily, the words to describe the creeping incongruity in his mind evaded him at every turn. He felt it best to summarize the lesson he was taught in the following words and to continue in the analyses thereof in the quiet cool of the morning:The shepherd may not teach without certain clerical qualifications received from other shepherds, and the sheep may not become shepherds without such, as well as being unable to remedy their position due to their utter aloneness in the Oracle, as if it were a desert place with no tools to acquire water from the ground. Similarly, the Oracle failed to be successful in all matters, but only those of spiritual life, most especially those relating to the people of the past wherever they found themselves in life. The Shepherd remained bound in his path, the sheep remained bound in his, and the Oracle was bound within its own as well. This boundness troubled him and left him with more questions than for which answers readily arose.