News For Discerning Naplians!
---- Special Galactic Edition ----
(The Host sits at his desk as the studio lights dim, and a single spotlight bathes him in light. He looks straight into the camera and begins to speak: )
Good Greetings, and welcome to the show.
This is News for Discerning Naplians, and i’m sure you are all showing much impatience to see this week’s Panel Discussion. We will be discussing religion with the Lady Ghadir of the Temple of Ya Zoon, renowned neo-naplian spiritualist Chairman TonTon, and a very special guest from our imperial neighbours, Bishop Samantha Porteus of the Brotherhood. But before we get to that...
(Looks demonstratively at his digital wrist watch. )
... it is time for a word from our sponsor.
[advert: (sing-song) "Naplian Delights!"
Now available: brand new, limited edition, commemorative neo-naplian digital watches!
Available in all colours. We have something for every naplian skin tone!
Show your naplian pride with these fine time pieces!
Naplian Delights now also carries an assortment of pocket watches, both (ghasp) analog, and digital!
For all you old school folks out there. Yes, i’m looking at you, Chairman TonTon!
(sing-song) "Naplian Delights!"]
Host: And, that brings us to the News of the Week section of our program. Our other two guest will be joining us shortly, but with me here is Chairman TonTon of Wodenzoon Foundation to discuss current events. Thank you for being here Chairman, as always, we show much pleasure to be speaking with you.
(A second spot lights up, revealing Chairman TonTon seated at the large table along with the host. )
TonTon: Thanks for having me, it’s always a pleasure.
Host: Let’s begin with the neo-naplian news, the advert already alluded to it. The EEM decided no neo-naplian politicals, troops, or employees allowed within the aff framework, but local governments have forced them to accept neo-naplian inscription of local populations. You cited this as a great victory, and expected the first identity papers to be issued as soon as the end of the week.
Our reporter now reveals that no identity papers have been issued to date. Is the galactic bureaucracy trying to stifle the neo-naplian movement purposefully? What do you think is going on?
TonTon: Well, it is true that the galactic bureaucracy was never too keen on the idea, and that it was pressure from local lunar and planetary governments that forced their hand. It is indeed a great victory. The EEM now sites technical difficulties with regards to this issue. This does not look good in the public eye, of course, but i think we should not be too harsh in our criticism and give them some time. They did cite difficulties with regards to their information systems early on in the process, after all.
I also want to get back to the advert for a moment, and tie it in to the later section when we do our panel discussion. It is always fun to be referenced in an advert when we are a public figure, as long as we are shown in a good light of course. Still, i feel i should mention that their reference to me is in no way an endorsement on my part. They do sell some fine time pieces, and they have devised a comical and fun way to deliver their message. Still, we need to remember that advertising is a form of magic. It’s purpose is to try to sell you what it is that they want you to buy. As a purchaser, it is much better to buy what it is you need and desire, of course.
Host: Magical advertising?!?!? Interesting. We’ll be discussing these kinds of themes in more details later.
For the moment, i want to turn to a more sombre news: IND SHIP Clockworks Salvage Operator (81704), a peaceful INDependent vessel sabotaged by the SSL, and utterly destroyed. The crew, Tima Sa'ami & Willi-Beth Feentam, missing and presumed dead. Has the unruly imperial brat gone too far? What can be done?
TonTon: Well, it is my understanding that SSL is the presumed suspect, but there has been no proof released. They are also presumed to be an imperially chartered aff, but no official imperial source has ever confirmed or denied this publicly. Honestly, i don’t think much can be done. The IMP is at war with the IND, after all, so even if SSL is imperially chartered i don’t think the Viceroy is likely to be sympathetic to the cause of an INDependent businessman like our friend Hooshi. SSL has definitely gone too far, in my opinion. We have seen the term warmongering used to describe them, and i think it is very fitting. Other than strengthening security protocols and systems, though, i don’t think there is a lot we can do at this time. There is a search for survivors and salvage operation being planned as we speak. I’ve seen the same video footage as Hooshi, and i understand why he presumes Tima and Willi-Beth dead. Still, i have a personal belief that they may well have survived. As we like to say: We show hope!
Host: We show hope, indeed.
Also in the news, Wodenzoon Foundation’s Kindom Asylum, a surprise visit by the Bishop, and complaints of numerous irregularities at the base. Our reporter tells us the base has been renamed: IND [GRAFFITI:] La Honte!!! (38809), which comes from an obscure naplian dialect and translates to something like: For Shame!
Irregularities, official complaints lodged, defacing of Foundation property. Things are not looking good here, can you tell us what is going on at this base, Chairman?
TonTon: Yes, a black eye on Foundation operations, to be sure. I’m glad the Bishop is a graceful visitor, we have only acknowledged the incident briefly and she has not mentioned it since, but i fear i will have to bring the subject up privately with her, given the circumstances.
The base had been advised the Bishop would visit, however, no preparations were made. Now the Chef of the local soup kitchen is laying charges of gross mismanagement and embezzlement against the Base Commander. I’ve read the report detailing why the Chef went local, lay his charges, and went a little crazy unfortunately. No charges will be levelled against him for defacing Foundation property; we have sent in a therapist to assist instead. The Base Commander has fled and is still missing, and an investigation is ongoing with regards to legal implications and measures.
The base was host to the DNA Slave Outprocessing Program, a splashy propaganda campaign with noble intent that was devised by my old friend, and former PD, Yahn Wodenzoon. The prestige of the program was the only thing that has kept it going for this long, as the base never really outprocessed any slaves at all. The slaves the DNA did outprocess were wimbles from the FLZ republic as it transitioned away from its slave-empire model and joined the ranks of accepted, civilized aliens. These wimbles were outprocessed right here at Lothario’s however, in light of our relations with the local civilian herd, not at Kindom. We have decided to finally shut this program down and reassign personnel and assets elsewhere. The base will likely be abandoned; we just can’t afford these kinds of extravagances anymore, nor this kind of bad publicity.
Host: Well, that’s the news this week! Now, a word from our advertisers...
(As the scene transitions, and the advert begins, the conversation continues a little in the background, before it cuts out. TonTon: (somewhat sarcastically) Thanks for keeping that bit of news as a surprise. It doesn’t exactly show our good side. Host: (chuckles) We can’t always cast you as the hero, you know. We are INDependent broadcasting, after all. )
[advert: (sound of hymns being sung and a monk standing before a table)
Do you find that in this harsh world you feel all alone? Do you feel that there is no one who has your back? Then we can help.
(sound of organ music playing Lalo Schifrin - The monks pulls the purple cloth on the table back and reveals a large weapon)
This is the Peacemaker Rifle, a ten millimeter caseless round with over-and-under thirty millimeter pump action grenade launcher, a special edition for the Brotherhood to give you that extra faith needed.
(The monk hefts the weapon and fires at a target, blowing it apart)
The Peacemaker Rifle, because sometimes prayer just doesn't cut it.
(sound of hymns being sung and the rifle being cocked)]
Host: Welcome back to News for Discerning Naplians!
(Two more spotlights shine brightly, and the panel around the table now includes Bishop Samantha Porteus of the BHD, and Lady Ghadir of the Temple of Ya Zoon. )
Host: Tonight’s panel discussion is about the roles religion and spirituality play in our day to day lives. Many naplians deem this nothing but superstitious old hat, of course, yet it still remains and has shown a remarkable revival these past few years. Let’s see what our panellists have to say, shall we?
I will introduce our guests one by one and ask them to explain the following:
What religion do you stand for, and what does your religion stand for?
Let us begin with you, Bishop Samantha Porteus...
Bishop: Greetings of the True One upon you. My name is Samantha Porteus, Bishop of the Diocese of Dimitri and special emissary from the True One. Our Church represents the universal faith of humanity. For many years, both on the surface and beneath it we have fought to strengthen the soul of the human species, to keep our spirituality intact in the face of the uncertainty that was found Beyond the Stellar Empire. We have brought truth and justice, faith and hope to many who live in the Darkfold, Capella, the Inner Empire, and slowly, beyond. And while it is true that we were originally a religion for Humanity, we have cast Xenophobia aside. Now many races join us in our worship. Stout Kastorians, noble Dewiek, and even we have faithful from the Naplians. But please, ask any questions you have, we can but give you answers.
Host: We show much pleasure to be able to ask you some of these questions shortly, Bishop. Thank you. Now, to introduce our other guest, Lady Ghadir...
Priestess: Naambta! I am Priestess Lady Ghadir of the Temple of Ya Zoon. The Temple, of course, is dedicated to Ya Zoon’s teachings and is the keeper of the Holy Cadaver of Yahn Wodenzoon, whose work we carry on. It was his teachings, after all, that inspired us naplians to believe in ourselves. He was the only human of any influence to have ever converted to naplianism, rather than the usual approach of humans trying to convert us to their ways instead. Ya Zoon touched our hearts and minds, and brought us hope.
As our great prophet, Ya Zoon gave us a sense of community and belonging. I’m not just talking about the DNA, of course, but about an entire free naplian movement. At the Temple we foster the sense of inclusiveness, and joyful celebration of life, that Ya Zoon modelled for us. We also try to better understand the more esoteric of his teachings.
Host: Thank you, Lady Ghadir. The last person to round out the panel is Chairman TonTon. Go ahead...
TonTon: Thank you. Naambta everybody!
To get straight to your question, i do not stand for any religion. As a Shaman, what i stand for is a loose set of spiritual ideas and understandings. This is about the belief that religion, in and of itself, is really not important at all. What is important is to create an internal energetic relationship with the divine, that is based on personal experiences. This can be done in a religious context, but is not a necessity.
When people search for religion they search outside themselves, but a Shaman, or any other truly spiritual person, will search within themselves for the answers. It is through the divine spark within us that we can contact the Great Divine. We are all part of the Great Divine, as is everything around us, other sentients, plants, even this very table.
Host: (smiles bemused) A divine table you say, interesting?!?!?
(looks at camera) This is all starting to sound a little Grampas Mumbo Jumbo, as we sometimes say in more traditional naplian circles, but this is that very revival we have been witnessing as of late.
(casts a glance at his digital wrist watch to reassure himself, before addressing the panellists.)
The first question we have for all of you is about spreading the good word.
Earlier, we saw an advert from the Brotherhood. This was not some gritty naplian production, but first class imperial stuff, to be sure. And, with the viewership we had for last week’s broadcast i’m sure many of you have seen Lady Ghadir’s exquisite spectacle. First class stuff!
So my question for you all is this: what role do advertising and publicity have in your religion, and how important is it?
Or, in your non-religion, if you prefer.
We’ve all heard tell that a proper naplian cargo cult spectacle is indeed a magical affair, but a divine table is new to me and you were on about magical advertising earlier, so let’s start with you Chairman TonTon...
TonTon: (smiles good-natured) Thanks. It is always beneficial to engage in dialogue about one’s ideas, but advertising or the desire to convert others is really not part of the shaman’s path. No need. When the student is ready, the teacher will come. We know this to be true in our very bones. I can’t really explain it any other way.
But, i do want to mention something about the stark contrast i noticed. Lady Ghadir’s spectacle last week was an affair with masses of naplians writhing together in communal ecstasy, where the joy and love was palpable on the very air. Tribal music that speaks to the soul on a very primitive level, wild colours. We were all as one.
The brotherhood advert, in contrast, seems very austere and i’m not really sure about the music. What struck me most, though, was the gun and target blowing apart imagery. This seems almost contrary to the message of peace that has been put forth by the brotherhood towards the alien community in the past. Then again, maybe this is the only way they can reach a target audience that find themselves stuck in a militaristic empire. I don’t know, but it didn’t sit well with me. It made me feel lonely too.
Host: That brings us to you, Lady Ghadir, the role of advertising...
Priestess: At the Temple, we believe it is very important to get the good word out. Many people are searching, and it is for us to show them that there is hope out there. When you broadcast one of my religious spectacles it is something that people can latch on to and still feel like they are part of the community and celebration, even if they can’t be there in person. Still, the Temple does most of its publicity and advertising on the local level within the community. We certainly don’t go for the kind of advertising the brotherhood has chosen.
(turns to Bishop Porteus, visibly agitated)
Let me tell you something, Ms. Empire, you could certainly learn a thing or two about proper use of paraphernalia and props from us lowly naplian cargo cults. Do you really expect people to believe you are a pacifist religion when you show them these images of violence? That may work with humans and imperially brainwashed naplians, but here in the free naplian community people will see right through that. Ya Zoon taught us to strive for peace! Do you really believe in peace?
Host: (somewhat taken aback) Well, it certainly is unusual to see the Priestess this worked up. Our question was about the role of advertising in your religion, and this also leads straight into the next question: what is the role of violence in your religion? Your insights, Bishop Porteus...
Bishop: Well let me first say that I welcome the words of Priestess Lady Ghadir of the Temple of Ya Zoon and understand her beliefs. I actually met Yahn Wodenzoon while he was creating peace between the Dewiek and the Humans, during the war years ago. A most amazing person and the Dewiek delegation I was with honoured him highly. And because of his memory and his teachings I will not take any offence with your mis-understandings.
We are not funded by anyone other than the faithful, and the Empire, while a Human Empire, is not the most faithful or enamoured of our faith. While we have faithful across the peripheries no governments beyond the few we have setup honour us, few systems are designated as holy sites. I am certainly not Ms Empire, and to elevate me to such a position, even in jest, would be wrong and I humbly request you don't.
As for our advert, as much as we are a peaceful affiliation, we also have to protect our people. There are many dangers out there for our Missionaries, our traders and our people. Pirates, Privateers, rogue Independents, some people take exception to our preaching about the True One, others value what we have. And some people, just simply don't like what we stand for. And so we will make and sell weapons, mainly for our armed forces, but also for those smaller affiliations who want to protect themselves from predators, pirates, and aggressors. A high quality rifle is nothing compared to the starships that the great empires create, that they buy and sell in amounts that both of us would see as extreme. The funds used to make just one of those 200 hull monsters would be used for so much good works amongst the poor. But we are getting there.
Oh I am sorry for rambling.
Host: That is quite alright, Bishop. We have invited you here precisely so we could hear your ramblings.
(turns to address camera)
Now, one of our staff has a cousin, who has a cousin, who managed to get in contact with the NLF and asked the Hidden Master to give us his opinion on this Brotherhood advert. Here is what he had to say:
Hidden Master NLF: (audio message) We show concern for BHD faith. BHD say prayer no work shows no real faith in only True One. Message show Naplian belief. Gods need action. Gods no require only faith. Gods busy fight other gods. We act for gods here to make gods stronger.
Host: We know full well that it is official imperial policy to not engage in dialogue with the NLF, of course, but the Hidden Master is a revered naplian hero and many share his opinion. How would you respond to this kind of criticism, Bishop Porteus...
Bishop: Well we would hardly expect the NLF to understand the concepts of the True One and our faith. Maybe one day when our Naplian Faithful are ready they will explain it in detail. Until then we will go on our way through the universe, peacefully and safely. Any species is welcome to learn from us, all are brothers amongst the faithful.
Host: Hmmm... Well, it is the purpose of this panel discussion to try to better understand these concept, but it seems the Hidden Master will just have to wait.
How would you respond to this type of criticism, Lady Ghadir...
Lady Ghadir: We show much respect to the Hidden Master and the concerns he raises. He is very much correct when he speaks of the naplian beliefs that what is needed is action as well as faith. Being a freedom fighter, i can well imagine the Hidden Master has a different interpretation of what action is required. What gods do we make stronger with our actions? That is the big question.
While it is true that gods fight other gods, at the Temple of Ya Zoon we celebrate the gods of peace. We too believe in defending ourselves when attacked, that is true, but our real emphasis is always on peace, cooperation, and dialogue in order to avoid violence in the first place.
Host: Thank you, Priestess. How would you respond to the criticism raised by the Hidden Master, Chairman TonTon...
TonTon: I'm in full agreement with Lady Ghadir on this point. The only thing i can add is that i find the Bishop’s response most unfortunate. I fear that many naplians will interpret this in the following way: Here is another haughty imperial human who will not take a naplian’s criticism seriously. Your response comes across as: This poor naplian sod is just too dumb to get it, but maybe one day we will be able to elevate him from his sorry state.
Now, don’t get me wrong Bishop, this is not my personal analysis of what you said, and please don’t take offence. I just think you missed a golden opportunity to spread the good word here, and perhaps you don’t know naplians quite as well as you think. Personally, i can certainly understand your hesitance to comment, of course, as there are weighty political issues at stake when it comes to the NLF. But, i think it may be best if we return to the subjects of spirituality and religion, rather than belabour this point.
Host: Yes, let’s get back to the original question. You’ve already touched on it, Lady Ghadir, the role of violence in religion...
Priestess: Let me just respond to something Bishop Porteus said earlier. I went too far in calling you Ms. Empire, i will admit. Although, if you know your naplian history you should be able to understand my reaction, i’m sure. Still, i ask you to excuse my outburst.
While it is true that there are many dangers in the galaxy, and that we sometimes need to defend ourselves against them, i believe the focus of our religion should be solidly on the massage of peace. I stand by my initial analysis that your advert sends a dangerous double message. As Chairman TonTon pointed out during the weekly news section, advertising is a form of magic. I urge the Brotherhood to be very careful what imagery you chose to re-enforce with this magical power. I’ll say it again: you could certainly learn a thing or two about proper use of paraphernalia and props from naplian cargo cults.
Still, i am glad to hear you reaffirm the Brotherhood’s commitment to peaceful coexistence in this galaxy. Our ways may be different but our aims are very similar, after all.
Host: That brings us to you, Chairman TonTon. How do you see the role of violence in religion?
TonTon: From listening to what has been said, i would tend to say that despite our differences in language, approach, and iconography, we all seem to be sending similar messages. We all agree that peace is the higher and preferred good we need to pursue, and that we have the right to defend ourselves against aggression from others. It is only in application and nuance that we differ.
From a spiritual point of view this does not surprise me, of course. The animalistic cycle of ‘kill-eat-fornicate-sleep-repeat’ is one of low vibrational frequencies. Spiritual people will tend to vibrate at higher frequencies. It is good to see that both the Temple of Ya Zoon and the Brotherhood have enlightened, spiritual people in their leadership. Regardless of religion or species, we all seem to be united in our efforts to become higher and more noble beings.
Host: Well, there you have it. Many differences, many similarities. Most of you have probably heard the old saying: There is a cargo cult of every flavour out there. Be it gun toting Brotherhood, mummy parading Temple of Ya Zoon, or any other.
The question remains: Is the table divine?
We’ll let you decide for yourself. Thank you for watching.
This has been News for Discerning Naplians!
Thanks to Nexus ID: Porteus, for writing the good Bishop's remarks.
Thanks to Nexus ID: NLFHQ for the Hidden Master's comment.