Author: San Antonio Rose PM
(AU) Post-"Kindred," Rodney finds himself with questions that science can't answer... what's a physicist to do? (Religious content; spoilers for "The Kindred" and "The Last Man")Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Spiritual/Friendship - Rodney M. - Words: 5,680 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 7 - Published: 03-28-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4162559
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Standard disclaimers apply.
Caveat lector: If discussions of faith and reason from a Christian perspective bother you, please turn back now (or perhaps read some of my other works to see where I'm coming from). Otherwise, please limit reviews to execution rather than concept. After all, as Joseph Mallozzi himself has said repeatedly, "It's sci-fi. Anything can happen."
by San Antonio Rose
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
--William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I, Scene V
He never thought he'd come to this.
He'd scoffed at Davos. He'd scoffed at Teyla--oh, sure, he was right about the visions not being what they seemed, but still.
Davos was right. About everything. Out of context, maybe, but he was right.
Teyla's vision was a lie, but it was still a vision.
Carson was back. It wasn't the same Carson, sure, and he was currently in stasis, but still.
For all his loud confidence in science, Rodney McKay was shaken to the core. And for all the SGC bravado at exposing false gods, he had to wonder--how was it that the means of saving his life reached him when he was just on the brink of ascension? The Ancients didn't care, with their stupid rules about not interfering... and if the Replicators were right about human consciousness being nothing more than a product of a biological machine, how the heck was it possible for humans to have souls and not the Replicators?
He fished in his gear for a little box someone had handed to him at Carson's wake, something he hadn't wanted then but had kept for its sentimental value. If he was going to do what he felt he needed to do, he needed something with an instruction manual. And while he wasn't sure he could embrace all of this particular method, it was the only option that would keep him from floundering.
"Oh, God," he whispered as he settled himself on the bunk, box in hand. "I can't believe I'm about to do this."
A surge of peace and affirmation washed over him.
Blowing the air out of his cheeks, he opened the box, unfolded the instructions, lifted out the beads, and began:
"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen..."
The rosary wasn't helping.
Oh, sure, it helped some. But too much of it was too obscure--he'd never taken the time to study religion before--and all the Hail Marys and the mysteries one was supposed to contemplate and nothing explained. He was a scientist; he needed explanations.
Trying to find Teyla, and John when he was missing, kept him occupied most of the time, so he didn't really have a chance to brood or search the library or the database for the books he wanted to read. And then a building collapsed on him...
Once he did have some time to himself again, though, his mind was still restless. So he started searching the database to see if any public-domain books had made the trip. He was so deep in thought that he didn't notice the woman standing beside him until she called his name.
Startled, he looked up.
Her dress was simple, almost medieval, and she had a scarf over her head like a nun. She took a rose from the basket she carried and handed it to Rodney.
"Carson sends his regards," she said.
Rodney stammered for a moment, then pulled himself together. "Uh, thank you."
She smiled. "Call me Liz."
Rodney smiled back. "Thanks, Liz. Uh, Carson asked you to talk to me?"
"Yes. He thought you could use a little help in your search. I mean, the search you were so engrossed in just now," she added before he could ask. "You look hungry. Would you like some bread?"
"Oh." Rodney was a bit taken aback, still unsure how to decipher the greeting. "Well... yeah. I'm kinda out of my depth here. Oh, and bread, yes, thanks."
Liz smiled and handed him a roll as she sat down on his bunk. "Not even the Ancients knew everything, Rodney."
Rodney blinked and bit into the roll.
"A friend of mine named Gilbert made a very good point once," she continued. "He said, 'The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.'"
"You're a man of science and reason. You want to know--that's natural, that's good. Search out the answers to your questions; that's what God wants you to do. But there comes a point at which human knowledge fails. You're dealing with the infinite--it won't all make sense. You can drive yourself mad trying to make it make sense, or you can put your trust in the One Whose reason transcends your own."
Rodney leaned back in his chair as he absent-mindedly finished the bread. "Huh."
Liz smiled again. "'Trust in the Lord with all thy heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct thy path.' Solomon said that--and he was right. There are things you'll never understand unless you believe."
Rodney tapped the rose against his chin thoughtfully for a moment. "Well. Thanks, uh, Liz. You've certainly given me something to think about."
Liz stood. "Good. Do think about it."
Rodney looked down at the rose in his hands. When he looked up again, Liz was gone.
With a shrug and a sigh, he went to lunch, still twirling the rose between his fingers. John and Radek caught up with him in the corridor.
"Hey, I thought you were allergic to roses," John observed.
Rodney started and looked at the rose again. "I was... maybe that's another of the things I fixed when I was... y'know."
Radek frowned. "I didn't think we had any roses on base."
"Guess we do," Rodney shrugged. "Liz gave it to me--had a big basket full of 'em. Said it was a gift from Carson." He looked at his other hand. "And a piece of bread, but I guess I ate that."
John and Radek both stopped cold.
"Liz?!" John asked incredulously.
Rodney shrugged again. "That's what she said. 'Call me Liz.'" At John's continued stare, he added, "Look, you know I don't know half the people on this base. It wasn't our Elizabeth, anyway. I don't know who she was. Honestly, I almost thought she came from off-world somewhere--had a dress on, blue skirt, yellow bodice, white sleeves, and a big basket of roses, like I said."
Radek's mouth fell open.
"Did she wear a..." Failing to find the right word, Radek motioned over his head to indicate a wimple.
Rodney frowned. "Yeah."
"And a crown?"
Rodney's frown deepened. "Didn't notice a crown. Might have."
Radek muttered something in Czech.
"That was no alien," Radek replied in a whisper. "That was St. Elizabeth of Hungary."
Rodney stared. John looked skeptical.
Radek looked around and came closer. "Look, I went to the church on the Rózsák tere last time I was in Budapest, just out of tourist curiosity. It was beautiful. I'd recognize the description of... of that window anywhere."
"How do we know it wasn't a hologram or some kind of Wraith projection?" John asked as Rodney wondered what Radek had stopped himself from saying.
Rodney pressed the rose stem against John's hand until John winced. "That feel like a hologram?"
Radek sighed. "I'm afraid that for once you'll simply have to trust me. But I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt--what Rodney saw was real, and there is no threat."
John looked hard at Radek for a moment, then nodded slightly. "All right. Unless I find there's a reason not to... I'll trust you."
With that, the three men let the subject drop and went on to lunch. Rodney couldn't help glancing curiously at Radek from time to time throughout the meal, though--how had he been so certain that Liz (St. Elizabeth, he corrected himself) was real?
It was a question for another day, he finally decided.
And after lunch he went to the botany lab to get some water for his rose, wondering idly why Liz had said "Carson sends his regards."
Two nights later, Rodney was thinking on the balcony that was his favorite thinking spot when he heard a male voice beside him say with a heavy German accent, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork."
Rodney turned to see a man in Elizabethan clothes standing beside him and gazing up at the stars.
"Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge," the man recited. "There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard." He turned and smiled at Rodney. "That's why I got into astronomy, you know. I knew that a reasonable God would create an orderly universe that a regenerate mind could comprehend. It was just a matter of following the clues."
"Really?" Rodney wasn't sure whether to scoff, take offense, or be intrigued.
"Oh, yes. I was wrong about some things, of course, and some of my calculations have had to be revised, but even allowing for entropy, there is a great deal of order in this magnificent creation."
Rodney decided to take offense. "Oh, yeah? I beg to differ. Quantum mechanics..."
"Even at the quantum level, there is more order than you know," the man said gravely.
"That's not to say that everything is reducible to a formula," the man went on. "Gravity, for instance, can't be quantized, which is the major flaw in standard theory. Nor is it to say that chaos theory quite works. But yes, there is order in all things, even if we who are finite cannot grasp it. And I believe you once said that science is as much an art as music--how could that be unless they came from the same source?" He looked back out at the stars.
"Bonaventure called the idea 'Retracing the Arts to Theology.' Though, of course, as G. K. Chesterton once said, 'Theology is only thought applied to religion.'"
Rodney wasn't quite sure how to bluster against that. "You're... not exactly a Newtonian, though, are you?" he ventured.
The man laughed and turned back to him. "Newtonian? My dear boy, Newton revised my work!" At Rodney's stare, he continued, "I'm still rather proud of what I was able to accomplish during my lifetime, but Isaac and I have had a long time to chat with each other and with our Creator to discover where we both went wrong."
"... Come again?"
The man's eyes widened. "Oh, I'm sorry, I never introduced myself! Kepler, Johannes Kepler."
Rodney gaped as one of the founders of modern astronomy reached out to shake his hand. "Wait... I'm shaking hands with... did Carson send you?"
Kepler chuckled affectionately and patted Rodney's shoulder. "He didn't have to."
And Rodney was suddenly alone on the balcony.
Two more days passed, and Rodney had just about given up on the rosary. He'd found a copy of the 1962 Canadian Book of Common Prayer in the database and was trying to work his way through the midday prayers, but the constant references to the Trinity kept tripping him up. Finally, he sighed, sat back, and rubbed his eyes. "I'm sorry, God," he said aloud. "I'm trying to keep an open mind here..."
"The purpose of opening a mind, as of opening a mouth, is to shut it again on something solid," interrupted a British tenor.
Rodneys eyes popped open to reveal a very fat mustachioed gentleman in a tweed suit, with pince-nez spectacles and wildly curly hair, wearing a shoe for a hat and top hats for shoes. "Okay," Rodney said after staring a moment, "you are way too ridiculous to be a hologram."
The stranger laughed heartily. "Thank you, Rodney! I don't believe I've ever received such a delightful compliment. Gilbert Chesterton at your service." He shook Rodney's hand and sat down on the bunk.
"Chesterton--not G. K. Chesterton? Father Brown?"
"One and the same." Chesterton beamed at him.
"I used to love those books when I was a kid! I know it sounds odd, coming from a physics geek... you'd think a mystery fan would want to go into forensics..."
Chesterton chuckled. "All science, even the divine science, is a sublime detective story. Only it is not set to detect why a man is dead; but the darker secret of why he is alive."
Rodney leaned back to ponder that statement, but before he could get very far, another, deeper British voice said thoughtfully, "You stopped reading them, though--and my books, as well. You were twelve, weren't you?"
Rodney turned to see a genial professor type standing in the doorway. "That... that was a pretty bad year. I'm sorry, you are?"
Rodney racked his brain as they shook hands. "Lewis, Lewis--C. S. Lewis? Narnia?"
Lewis grinned. "I knew you'd remember if you tried. You've read far too many of the wrong sorts of books since then, though. I don't mean The Lord of the Rings; Tollers wrote amazingly healthy fantasy, even if you couldn't see it at the time you read it. But I think you know what I do mean."
Rodney nodded sadly.
"Whatever may have happened when you were twelve," Chesterton stated, "Jack and I want you to know that you are certainly not the only person to have gone through it. We both lost our faith when we were young, and we both came back to it because there were questions we had that only Christianity could answer. No other explanations could suffice. That does not mean that we understood everything; it did mean that the pieces fitted into place."
Rodney sighed. "I'm finding that there's too much I don't understand. I want to pray, but I want to do it right, so I've tried the rosary and now the prayer book, but nothing's explained anywhere..." He trailed off, too frustrated to go on.
Chesterton smiled. "Well, I've always said that if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly, and that definitely applies to prayer. You can't expect to understand God all at once any more than you could understand quantum physics all at once; but you must begin somewhere. And prayer does not depend entirely on understanding. It is, in the end, a job for the amateur--the one who does it out of love--and not reserved for the expert."
"I preferred to use the prayer book because it prevented me from becoming too solitary in my faith," Lewis added. "But ultimately, things like the prayer book and the rosary are only tools to aid the believer, and you must take them or leave them as such. I understand your hesitation to use a tool you cannot understand; the fulfillment of my conversion was held up for many months because I didn't know what certain doctrines meant. I daresay you shall have some of the same difficulties I had. But as Gilbert says, you must begin somewhere. What I finally came to realize was that my inability to express the meanings of doctrines did not preclude my ability to know that the meanings were there. And so, as I once wrote, I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
Chesterton nodded. "The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man."
Rodney sighed again. "I see what you're saying, and I appreciate the encouragement. I'm just not used to having to take so many things on faith!"
"There are only two kinds of people," Chesterton observed, "those who accept dogmas and know it, and those who accept dogmas and dont know it."
"Think about it, Rodney," Lewis pressed. "How many scientific principles that you use on a daily basis can actually be proved with absolute certainty? How often do you have to confess that you know that a thing happens but not how or why?"
"And how often must you have faith that you and your team will be able to find a way to do what seems to be impossible?" Chesterton added.
"But that's... different..." Rodney began to object, breaking off under their stern gazes.
"Is it?" both visitors asked at the same time.
Rodney wasn't sure how to answer.
"I suppose it does depend somewhat on what sort of faith were talking about, and in whom," Chesterton admitted. "But the point is that you are used to taking things on faith, even if it isn't the sort of thing you're having to take on faith now. And there will be varying ways in which you have to place your faith in God."
"Tollers broke it down rather well, I thought," Lewis continued. "His Elves have two words for hope. One is Amdir, looking forward, an expectation of good based on past experience. Obviously, in both your science and your teamwork, Amdir plays a considerable role, and it will have a place in your Christian walk after a time. But there is another sort of hope that does not depend on past experience or current circumstance and often exists in spite of both. Estel, trust or high hope, is based solely on the belief that if we are God's children--how did Finrod put it--'then He will not suffer Himself to be deprived of His own, not by any Enemy, not even by ourselves. This is the last foundation of Estel, which we keep even when we contemplate the End: of all His designs the issue must be for His Children's joy.' Rather like what Jeremiah 29:11 says: '"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."'"
"He sure lets us foul things up an awful lot," Rodney grumbled, a thousand past catastrophes running through his mind.
"But of course He does," Chesterton replied. "He gave you free will. He will not compel love or obedience, as the Goa'uld and the Ori do; and He will not suspend the consequences of your actions even if you repent of them. But He does provide a remedy. Sometimes it is such a mundane remedy that it hardly seems Providential; sometimes it is an agonizingly difficult remedy, such as Colonel Sheppard's recent adventure--or the Cross. Sometimes it scarcely seems like a remedy at all. But then, God's perspective is rather different from ours."
"And it may be that He sometimes allows you to cause a disaster so that you can learn from it in ways that you would have refused to learn had your efforts simply failed," Lewis added. "A severe mercy, perhaps, but mercy nonetheless."
At that, Elizabeth's furious "You destroyed three quarters of a solar system!" echoed through Rodneys memory, followed by John's "That may take a while" response to his plea for renewed trust.
"I... guess I can be pretty unteachable sometimes," Rodney confessed.
"Just remember this," Lewis said with a smile. "Aim at heaven, and you get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither."
And the two authors vanished.
After a moment, Rodney headed to the library, hoping to find at least The Complete Father Brown and The Chronicles of Narnia--and maybe Mere Christianity and The Everlasting Man as well.
It went on for days. An off-world encounter with St. Cecilia that left him with an iPod full of amazing music he'd never heard before--and a suggestion that he take up the piano again. The full five-volume Summa Theologica turning up on his desk with a note that read, "With Carson's regards and mine--Thomas." Some visitors said Carson had sent them; some said nothing along those lines. Some, like Kepler, said Carson hadn't needed to ask. And the rose... the rose had put out roots and was turning into a regular rosebush. How the thing was thriving hydroponically was beyond Rodney, who'd always had something of a black thumb. But he figured he'd give it a while longer to establish itself before he tried to plant it in a real pot.
Rodney sighed, pausing in his recitation of recent events to his frozen friend and shifting in the chair he'd brought down to sit in while he kept his vigil. He looked up at Carson and shook his head. "Wish I knew how to interface your consciousness with the computer like the Asgard did that one time with General O'Neill," he said. "Maybe then you could tell me what's going on. I can't put all the pieces together."
"He doesn't have the answers you're looking for, Rodney," replied a very familiar voice.
Startled, Rodney looked aroundand gasped. "Carson?!"
"Aye." Carson--smiling, well, and whole, apart from a few scars--stood on the other side of the stasis chamber. "Before you ask," he added before Rodney could speak, "no, I'm not a hologram, and I'm not the same Carson that's in stasis. We're similar, yes, and you're right to accept him for who he is. But he's not the same Carson you lost. I am."
"You-y-y-you ascended, then?" Rodney stammered.
"No, Rodney. I died."
"Most people have, you know," said another voice as Rodney looked back at Carson the clone. A gentle hand closed over his. "Even I have."
Bewildered, Rodney looked at the hand of the newcomer--and gaped. It was tan with sun, callused with work, and scarred... one giant, gaping scar in the middle. His free hand reached instinctively but hesitantly to touch it, both knowing and being unable to comprehend what it meant.
"Go ahead," the second man said. "It didn't hurt when Thomas asked to put his finger in it, and that was nearly two thousand years ago."
Slowly, Rodney raised his eyes to meet the Man's face--a kind face, a strong face, with sharp scars across His brow...
No one ever talked about the scars from the thorns...
Rodney's mouth worked silently for several seconds, and what finally came out was, "... Aslan?"
The Man smiled affectionately. "That is not My Name here. But yes, I am He."
"But... how... he... I mean..."
Jesus put His other hand over Rodney's. "A ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."
"We're not Ancients," Carson cut in. "Yes, you might call me a ghost--but not Him. The Ancients have bound themselves to this world; He is beyond all worlds."
Rodney looked from one to the other helplessly. "I'm sorry. I'm lost."
Carson came toward Rodney. "I grew up in church. But I don't know if I ever really believed, or if my faith ever really meant anything to me, until that horrible Sunday--and there He was in the midst of the fire giving me one last chance, and I took it." He laid a hand on Rodneys arm, his accent growing thick with emotion. "I dinna know why I couldna say anything to ye when we said goodbye after ye got back from Earth. But I couldna let ye wait to the last nanosecond like I did. And now..."
Rodney nodded. "Now I'm ready to listen." He looked back at Jesus.
"Rodney, you're not absolutely ready for all the answers yet," Jesus replied. "To some extent, you never will be ready for all the answers, not in this life. But this much you need to hear Me say face to face: I love you, and I forgive you."
Rodney stared at Jesus for a moment, his chin quivering. Then he threw himself into His arms and wept.
Ronon was on his way to check on Rodney and to keep a vigil of his own over Carson when he heard voices in the stasis room. Moving as stealthily as he could, he crept to a position where he could see what was going on--and almost choked when he saw Rodney sobbing into the shoulder of a stranger, a stranger who exuded something Ronon had no name for but suddenly desired, and Carson--Carson!--rubbing Rodney's back. The stranger looked up, met Ronon's gaze, and smiled. Carson spotted him next, smiled, and waved him forward.
As Rodney's tears subsided, Jesus said gently, "You mustn't let your faith depend on always encountering Me this way, Rodney. You won't always see Me with your physical eye, hear Me with your physical ear, or feel Me with your physical hand. But I will never leave you nor forsake you."
Having no reply to give, Rodney nodded.
"And I have given you good friends. You will need them in the days ahead. Continue to accept the second Carson as you have; continue to rely on your team. And there are others on this base whom you will find to be friends in My Name. You will learn; you will grow. Just remember to trust Me."
Rodney nodded again.
"Goodbye, Rodney," Carson whispered. "We'll meet again. Promise."
"Soon?" Rodney rasped.
"I call all times soon," Jesus rumbled...
... and then they were gone, and Rodney was collapsing into Ronon's arms, mumbling thanks as the big man steered him to a transport and got him settled in his room, and discovering just what people meant when they talked about the sleep of the blessed.
A week or so later, John and Ronon sat down at the table where Rodney was eating a mid-afternoon snack. "You okay?" John asked, noticing that Rodney seemed distracted.
"Huh? Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm fine. Just a little... preoccupied, I guess." Rodney shrugged and took another bite of Jell-O.
John exchanged a look with Ronon. "We noticed."
Ronon took a deep breath. "Rodney, there's... something I've been wanting to ask you."
Rodney blinked. "Ask away."
"Who were those men you were talking to in the stasis room?"
Rodney and John both stared at him.
"You saw?" Rodney whispered, earning another stare from John.
Ronon nodded. "One looked like Carson..."
"It... was. Old Carson, not the... this one."
"And the other one... what happened to his hands?"
Rodney looked helplessly at John. "You won't believe me. I haven't said anything because I know you won't believe me."
John sighed. "Maybe not, but Zelenka probably would, and he's told me to trust him."
"Right." Rodney gulped, looked around, and furtively pulled the rosary out of his pocket. "I'm... I'm not sure I can explain it well, Ronon. But, um... this is what happened to Him." And he handed the crucifix to Ronon, who stared at it in shock.
Finally, Ronon looked at Rodney again. "No one could survive that kind of torture."
Rodney shook his head. "No. He didn't."
A few tables away, Radek's eyes narrowed. That was a rosary Rodney was handing to Ronon!
Unable to hear the whispered conversation, Radek let his own thoughts carry him away as he leaned back in his chair. Maybe... maybe it was finally time.
Ever since he'd been busted for reading That Hideous Strength as a boy, he'd kept a certain part of himself in reserve, even after the fall of the Communist regime. Everyone else saw a committed scientist who constantly trained his brilliant mind on the problems of astrophysics. No one ever saw the longings those problems fostered in his soul... until that last trip to Budapest. It wasn't just a stained-glass window he remembered so vividly.
He'd gone into St. Elizabeth's as a tourist. He'd left in a daze, the water of baptism still dripping from his hair, not daring to tell anyone what he had heard and seen. And the priest who'd been there, who'd heard his confession, who assured him that what had happened had been real--the one man who shared his secret had died the same night of a massive heart attack, taking that secret to the grave.
Even now, he feared letting on that he was a baptized Catholic, never mind what had prompted that baptism. He couldn't tell Col. Sheppard why he was so sure Rodney had truly seen St. Elizabeth. Dr. Heightmeyer might be gone, but they'd still find a way to ship him back to Earth as a madman.
But Rodney... Rodney deserved to know. And even though Radek hadn't had time enough to study much theology, even though he thought he might fit better with the Ceskobratrská than in the Catholic Church, he could at least give Rodney the reassurance that he wasn't alone. They weren't good friends, and Rodney wouldn't open up to him after the incident with the Replicator doubles, but he respected Radek in ways he respected no one else in the galaxy (apart, perhaps, from Col. Carter)...
Just then, Radek's watch beeped at him, and he hurried out of the mess hall, barely registering Rodney's gaze following him. He'd have to figure out how to approach Rodney later, unless Rodney approached him. Right now, he had something else important to attend to. He never had quite figured the rosary out, but this... this he could understand, and he knew they all needed it badly.
As the door to his quarters slid shut behind him, Radek Zelenka, man of science, gave way fully to Radek Zelenka, child of God. He pulled his rosary out of its hiding place and, at what would on Earth be the stroke of 1500, fell to his knees and began to recite the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
Have confidence in God's mercy, for when you think he is a long way from you, he is often quite near.
A/N: Radek won't even tell me what happened in Budapest.
Rózsák tere -- Roses Square (a real place in Budapest)
Ceskobratrská -- Czech Brethren, the national evangelical church in the Czech Republic
Tollers -- J. R. R. Tolkien
A number of quotes and paraphrases are scattered through the dialogue, mostly from G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis--the Quotations page of the American Chesterton Society website and The Quotable Lewis were invaluable aids in writing the Chesterlewis scene, especially since most of Chesterton's dialogue is direct quotes from his writings--and some from Scripture. "Retracing the Arts to Theology" is a translation of Reductio Artis ad Theologiam, a nifty little treatise by Bonaventure with the thesis that since all good gifts come from God, all arts (i.e., all subjects of study) have roots in and applications for theology; the title is more often rendered Reducing the Arts to Theology, which is a misleading translation. Lewis' discussion of Amdir and Estel comes from "The Debate of Finrod and Andreth" in Morgoth's Ring. Jesus' comment about ghosts comes from Luke 24:39; Carson's follow-up is based on the end of The Silver Chair.
I'm picturing this particular AU as part of a Lewisian multiverse, one in which all possible worlds are "joined at the God" (to quote my mythopoeic friend G). The canon Stargate multiverse is generally written from an agnostic perspective, so far as I can tell, but it rather pointedly refuses to rule out the possibility of Yahweh's existence; and while Rodney typically tries to lose himself in his work when he's hurting, Season 4 definitely leaves the potential for a spiritual crisis of this kind. Thus, IMO, this is AU by virtue of being plausible within canon parameters but not completely in line with events in upcoming eps--for example, as of this writing, we know Carson's in "The Seed" (Season 5, Episode 2) but not exactly how much time passes between "The Kindred" and "The Seed," and I suspect I'm overestimating. And yes, this is the "corrected" timeline after "The Last Man" and "Search and Rescue."
In case someone's wondering:
St. Elizabeth, St. Cecilia, St. Thomas Aquinas, GKC, JRRT: Catholic
Carson: Presbyterian (I'm guessing, since he's a Scot)
The point being, of course, that Rodney's goal at this juncture needs to be mere Christianity, not any one branch of it. Also, the reason I show Rodney getting frustrated so quickly is not only because that's part of his character but because that's the way pretty much all Gifted and Talented people are when it comes to learning something new; GT kids usually learn a thing in one to three tries (as compared to three to five for most kids), and if they haven't got it by the third try, they often assume they can't get it and get frustrated or give up. (I know coz I are one.)
And this story is absolutely the fault of Enola Jones. Not directly, but reading her fic got me hooked on SGA again.