In 2674, Hieronymus Arcturus Jones lands his interstellar temple ship. He has finally found his people a home, light years from Earth. Reverently, he looks at the portrait of me hanging over the mantlepiece, and holds his fist out in the manner of 21st century gestures of gratitude. “Thanks, g,” he says. “We couldn’t have gotten here without you.”
Reading in Genesis, the modern man is shocked by the intense value ancient men and women placed in ‘being fruitful and multiplying.’ Lineage was everything. This perspective challenged my own: why don’t I particularly care about having a lineage? I love kids, but I have never once thought about what it would be like to have a lineage, a distinct culture of people who are descended from me. Until now. Is that even possible anymore in our society? What would it take for them to have an identity as a distinct people group?
Perhaps they would need to possess a narrative or intergenerational project of some kind. Hmm. What would that look like? It could be anything…
What would I want it to look like?
The Michaelites would be creators of art. What could be more lovely than to have generations of people dedicated to beauty? Imagine being the patriarch of a family that would work to shape the imagination of mankind as a whole. Imagine your children and your children’s children being poets, musicians, painters, dancers. To some parents, that sounds horrifying–how will they provide for themselves? But, at least in this very moment of idealism, I cannot help but be entranced with the thought. God provides. He is our source of safety and life. We are to repond to the plentiful gifts he has given with praise and worship, with arts that glorify him.
The Michaelites would be shepherds of knowledge. As mankind’s knowledge grows and communication expands through the internet, there needs to be voices who will speak out against sophistry and falsehood, philosophers and priests who will hold true to the good and the beautiful when everyone else is being drowned by wave after wave of indulgent content and misinformation.
The Michaelites would be explorers of space. We don’t have all the technology yet and we never will unless someone commits to it. Some could become astrophysicists or cosmonauts, if that was their passion. Or they may just have their own very terrestrial vocation, and their contribution to spaceflight is simply one of investment and encouragement. Throughout the generations, the Michaelites would be at the forefront of development and exploration, until one day they colonize new planets and form a nation among the stars.
The first duty of the Michaelites would be to the family. There is a sort of time traveling blood covenant at work here. But, I would want to give descendants lots of freedom. Like, they have the option to stay within the prime narrative and pursue those central goals (God’s glory, beautiful art, space exploration) and general cultural reformation, building up society and such. However, they might not like what’s going on in the prime lineage, if they don’t appreciate the aesthetics and lore and so forth. Maybe a lot of the followers of prime narrative have gotten weird and corrupt and cultlike. As such, any descendant is totally free to go off and start their own distinct lineage with a differing vision and philosophy, although I hope they would still follow Christ, love the rest of their family members, and also share some good values with the prime narrative. They can have their own plans and heraldry and everything. Or they can just choose to not participate at all and fade away from the line and just do their own thing. That might be what God wants them to do.
The second duty would be to humanity: to the church, to the nations, and to the entirety of mankind until Christ returns. All art, knowledge, and technology that they create would be to serve and benefit everyone.
The third and most important duty would be to God. No one can insure that their descendants will be Christian, but you can still try to raise your kids accordingly, and you can set down your voice as a stumbling block to future generations. If they would rebel against God, they would know that they are rebelling against everything for which their family stands.
Space fantasies and cosmic daydreams aside, I think there is a valuable idea here. Ancestors have the ability to not only directly shape and mold their children and grandchildren, but also to form a cultural narrative and cast a vision that could last many generations more. Maybe your descendants won’t care at all… but maybe they might. Two hundred years from now, you might have a young ally who’s looking up all the things you wrote and thinking, “You know, that’s really cool. I want to be like that. I want to do that.”
One thinks of the Borglum and Ziolkowski families who intergenerationally worked on the Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse monuments, respectively. Or the Bach family in Germany, which contributed to the development of art music for over two centuries. Or Japanese family owned businesses like Kongo-gumi that persisted for fifteen centuries, with fifty successive presidents all from the Kongo line. (heh) There are ryokan that have been running in Japan since the time of Charlemagne, family run for fifty generations!
What are your thoughts? Do you feel a duty to your ancestors? Do you know who they were? Do you want your descendants to know who you were? IF you were going to form your own cultural narrative for your lineage, what would it be like? What kind of message do you want to send to your children’s children’s children? Maybe you don’t want your descendants to live in space. Maybe you want them to live in volcanos building robots, or be survivalists who build an underground society that will outlive the nuclear apocalypse and preserve western civilization. Who knows what could happen! It’s up to them. But it might be up to you, too.
I might not ever have kids. But if I did, I wouldn’t pass up on an opportunity to inspire them. If they remembered my teaching, they could be a blessing to God, a blessing to centuries of human history. My offspring could be as the stars of heaven.
“I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 26:4)