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Chapter 13: Religious Persuasion

It's the fourth week of classes in winter. Dorm students go to sleep late, and I'm considered a party pooper going to bed at midnight. Getting up at six I need to make two extra hours, and today this is supposed to be it, in the morning before my Civ lecture. I'm not asleep quite yet, just reviewing what I accomplished. The Xylogen people made their deadline, due in no small measure to my efficient and charming reform of certain management practices, and to indefatigable chasing after cell lines and supplies and statistical analyses and technical writing, whatever seemed most important at the time. And I got their backups working, and little fire-retardant fiberglass spacers in the raceways to separate the data from power wires, and a fail-soft hub arrangement. They were so happy they gave me a five hundred dollar bonus, and they were astonished when I took my whole pay in Xylogen stock, 4500 shares at forty cents each, minus payroll tax. As I told them, my goal was to have a dignified and civilized sleeping place and diet, which Mr. Wu generously provided, and the cash wasn't encumbered, and my portfolio was rather light on risk issues.

And I revised the physical training lesson, adding the obviously needed supplements on stretching and running, and I expanded the discussions of injury prevention and of what progress rate to expect. I incorporated many good suggestions from the project staff and the other lions. Many people commented how cute Samson was in the illustrations.

My Civ paper is due Friday afternoon, and the math midterm will be that morning. I'll be thoroughly wrung out. Several of the kids are going to take the Caltrain into San Francisco Saturday morning to hear the Archbishop of Canterbury. I think it'll be a good relaxation to go with them. I've been in the Memorial Church, of course, to practice on the organ, but I've never been at an actual service. And afterward I can visit one of the great art galleries. In the art studio class I'm taking this quarter, Sensei keeps telling me my drawings lacks spirit, and that I have to see what real artists (his words) have accomplished.

I'm dreaming of Daumier when I'm interrupted by a knock on the door.

Me: Ummm, yeah, who is it? Come on in, I'm awake.

Alec: I'm sorry, I didn't know you were taking a nap. But there's something troubling me that I thought you should know about. There's going to be a rally today at noon against genetic engineering.

Me: I saw the signs. I've been trying to decide if I should go and speak for the other side, or if I should just let the hot air rise unencumbered to the sky while I study useful lessons.

Alec: Well, I don't know about attending, but I was at a planning meeting last night and it really troubled me. Some of the people in my church are planning something as kind of a finale for the rally. A march and demonstration. Here. The idea is to get genetically engineered mutants off campus. Their words.

Me: That puts a different light on it. It sounds like a threat. If they're planning to do something here, I don't want that, not at all. That means... Rush them. I'll tell them what I think of them at their own meeting, so the confrontation will be there. I'll have to make some real quick plans. Do you know any details?

Alec: No, that's the problem. I told them they weren't doing the right thing and how you had been kind to me. They threw me out of the meeting! Called me Satan-lover!

Me: It's really none of my business, but I think they weren't very nice. Thank you very much for letting me know. I'll try to keep the action as far from the dorm as possible.

Alec: It could be dangerous. That might not be a good idea.

Me: I think sitting here is more dangerous. Probably for your future relations with your church it would be better if you didn't get closely involved with me today, but thanks a lot for the warning.

Alec: I think you're right. This may sound kind of hokey from your point of view, but may the Lord bless you and keep you.

Me: I appreciate it. I'm going to need everyone's help who will give it, including a god who isn't mine.

Alec gives me a very odd look and gets out. OK, let's get busy; there isn't much time. Goal: to get out of this with minimum damage to my epidermis and to my room. And the rest of the dorm. Issues: to recruit outside help. One, Ms. Donegal; the project must be notified immediately, and the notice updated when I have a plan. Two, the cops. Three, the university. Four, other students, but there's probably no time to organize a counter-demonstration. Next issue: where should the interaction occur? At the rally, I've already decided, but should I be a normal speaker or should I harass from the side or rear? I'm supposed to be a scholarly real person, and I'll do it right, as far as they'll let me, which won't be far. Sub-issues: not likely they'll just write my name on the speaker list, so how do I take the podium without permission, and how do I exit gracefully and intactly afterward. To plan that will take a site visit. Next, if the people do trash the dorm, what stuff can and should I save? And what about Ken? Add Prof. Meltzer to the notification list.

The first action -- I do it as I think -- is to make a full backup of my machine, simultaneously to disc and trans-net to the Lion Foundation. Isn't the net wonderful? I wish I could back up Ken's machine but I don't have his password. I write up a notification, outlining my plan, as the backup runs, and mail it to Donegal, Ken, Prof. Meltzer, and the police. Who in the university? I settle for the president's secretary. And the student newspaper. I phone Prof. Meltzer. She's not in her residence downstairs nor in her office; both places I leave a message on the machine telling her to read mail. The backup is just finishing. I fill my pack with my machine, Ken's, both our backup discs, and both our checkbooks and financial records. Ken has class all morning and there's no way I can contact him unless he chances to read mail; he is going to be pissed when he finds everything missing. I leave him a cryptic note. I almost forgot: my medical kit; I could be injured! I grab it and run out of the room, planning as I go. First stop will be the emergency room, all the way across campus. It rained last night and the air smells clean, and the sky has choppy little clouds. I wish I could take the time to enjoy them. On breathless arrival in the disinfectant atmosphere of the emergency room:

Me: Ms. Thompson, here's my medical kit. If I'm brought in here, it has a writeup on basic lion medicine. And remember, tetracycline will kill me. Wish me luck; I'm going to need it. Bye!

Leaving dropped jaws behind me I run hard back to the Student Union, which has storage lockers. Coin operated. I get change at the fragrant sandwich line, and deposit my full pack in a locker. Thinking ahead... I intend not to miss my Civ lecture, and by quick running I've left myself over half an hour for route planning. That should not be rushed. The rally will be by the bookstore where there is a kind of bandstand, and waterproof electric outlets for an amplifier. The broad area is damp from the night's rain. I pace the perimeter, not placing myself obviously at the speaker's position. The audience area is closed at the back by a fountain, with space to egress on either side. Audience, but not speakers, could also leave around the bookstore. Directly behind the bandstand is the music building and a possible exit route is under its arch, but walking it I think it rather straight and leading only to a few trees: useful in a pinch but not what I would prefer. On the other hand, the whole west side is unobstructed, leading up to the Student Union over pavement with a circle of grass in the center. The first side branch goes behind the Old Union building where religious and service organizations have their offices. The route beyond is through a grid of low classroom buildings backed up to the Memorial Church and the main quad. I have a vision of seeking sanctuary in the church, and the side door is unlocked, but I don't pursue that fantasy further. I quickly check another route near the Student Union which leads into the same maze. Now it's time to plan my ingress. Not five meters from the bandstand is an emergency exit from the music auditorium. It's locked. But class is just getting out and I walk around to the front of the building. I buck the flow of students down to the stage. I have to cut across the stage, but in the wings I could wait for my cue near the exit door, unseen by the class.

Now I have some more running to do. I swim through the tide of entering students and dash to the Student Union. I sacrifice another coin to rescue my laptop from the locker. Then I run to my Civ lecture, which is around behind the music building. I'm in a seat with seconds to spare. What I'm going to do now is try to pay attention and take notes on the lecture, but at the same time I will marshal arguments against genetic engineering in general and lion people in particular, and try to come up with snappy responses which I hope will separate the religious nuts from less committed followers. I type furiously. About forty minutes into the lecture:

Prof. Baker: Simba, your fangs are showing. I can't imagine that Korzybski excites you to so much energy.

Me: Sorry, ma'am. I'm trying to take notes in one window, and work up arguments in another. It's necessary; I have to perform in twenty minutes. Sorry.

Prof. Baker: Surely you weren't invited to the genetic engineering rally?

Me: I may be the guest of honor, but no, I wasn't invited. I'm speaking anyway.

Prof. Baker: Class, I have an idea; let's change the homework assignment for this week. If you've done it already, turn the original one in for extra credit. Everyone attend the rally and take notes. Analyze a selection of the arguments given according to the principles of logical positivism, and try to work in some quotes from Korzybski that you've been reading. Don't show only illogical arguments; try to find at least one that's a good example of positivism. Simba, that's a hint. Let's quit five minutes early so Simba can get the butterflies out of his stomach. See you all next time.

I give Prof. Baker a broad smile, and get out of there with all deliberate speed. The next phase is going to take more running, and an extra five minutes is very welcome. First I run to the Student Union and feed the greedy locker again to place my laptop in safety. The next step has to be handled carefully. I retrace almost my entire route at a run, and approach the bookstore through an alley from the rear, to reach the post office and the student mailboxes. I can see the bandstand, and be seen, clearly if anyone cares to look. They don't. I dial the combination of my box and pop the locker key inside, an instance of hiding in plain sight. Again I run the route, placing me in the crowd of students entering the music auditorium. Fortunately the prof hasn't arrived yet. I hop on the stage and pop into the wings; if anyone noticed they don't call out to me. Through the heavy door I can faintly hear rally organizers testing the microphone and commenting on the large size of the crowd that's assembling. The professor out front gets started lecturing on renaissance madrigals. The first example he plays is kind of neat and I regret not being able to pay full attention.

The first speaker warms up the crowd and sets the tone for the rally. God's plan for the earth versus corporate greed. Environmental disaster brought down on us by the forces of evil. Blah, blah, I'm not much interested in the content, but I'm very interested in when he's going to finish because I intend to be the second speaker. It doesn't do me any good to let them work the audience into a frenzy without me. Is this the conclusion? No, just the end of another fatuous section. At least the speech has some organization; the kid after all has attended a Stanford writing class. And now it gives me great pleasure to introduce Sally Schwartz... On ``great pleasure'' I have the door open. Taking care that the heavy fire door doesn't close on my tail as I slip out, I smoothly cut in front of the small but intense next speaker, taking and speaking into the microphone.

Me: Sorry, but there's been a change in speakers. I'm Simba Leones, the foremost genetic engineering project of this century.

Sally: God damn it, mutant, give me that microphone!

She makes a grab for it, and at the same time the first guy, whatever his name is, realizes what's happened and makes to shove me bodily off the bandstand. Holding the microphone where it is and moving my body, I allow both of them to collide and lurch off-balance into the crowd.

Me: I heard who was going to be speaking. The university teaches us to be balanced, to learn about both sides of each issue, and so I thought I'd add some balance to this event.

The microphone goes dead; someone with brains has turned off the amplifier. I click off the mike, and unscrew the wire one turn. Microphone connectors are nasty that way... I hand the mike to the sound operator who so obviously wants it. He is astonished. Under cover of that confusion, I use the opposable toe on my foot to unplug the power cord of the amplifier and toss it in the bushes. I hope it will take them many minutes to fix three different problems with the sound. I depart from usual practice and allow my claws to be visible, subtly, and the usurped speakers follow the hint. I continue viva voce, loudly.

Me: So have you ever stopped to think of the good you're getting out of genetic engineering, and how much more good could be done with it? Did your god tell you not to eat bread, which comes from genetically engineered wheat?

A flat speech isn't going to cut it; I have to interact with the crowd, a difficult gig. It's hard to identify specific voices in the crowd, though I do my best to mark who says what. A Wagnerian young lady shrieks:

Student: Take your pollution and shove it, mutant!

Me: So you seek out old style wheat, do you? And how do you justify the added pollution required to grow inefficient varieties? Huh?

A black student toward the rear speaks loudly: What about genetically engineered hormones injected into milk and meat cattle?

Me: Good question; let's have more of those! Cattle produce those hormones naturally and we eat or drink them. When the cattle are dosed, we eat more, but not much survives our stomachs and we don't grow larger, and the cattle make more efficient use of their plant food.

Same student: And the transfer of artificial genes out of crop species, that sounds pretty bad to me!

Me: Bad for the people who paid for them because chemical herbicides don't kill the weeds that pick up the genes. The farmers are inadvertently adding to the genetic diversity of the biosphere, and if you're rooting for the biosphere, that's a plus.

Another student: Mutants off campus! Mutants off campus!

Me: The black guy was a lot more interesting. Who here has a genetic defect, raise your hands! Wave them high. These people want you off campus! Are they good Christians? No! And who's next after they get finished with the differently abled? Will it be the niggers next? Or the Jews? You down in front with the squiggly hair, are you comfortable in the same group with those people's hatred of those different from themselves?

I can't hear his answer but I'm heartened to note a sense of movement in the crowd, a segregation.

Student: We only want you, mutie!

I lash my tail, flash my fangs momentarily and shout:

Me: I'm not a mutant, I'm a monster! Genetically engineered for superb performance! See my belly; I make my own vitamins here. Wouldn't you like to have that? No more deficiency diseases, except among the over-conservative.

Another student: Blasphemer! We're made in God's image...

Me: And God has to take vitamin pills! Is that what He told you, with the heavenly choir? I think God finds you arrogant, trumpeting your idea of His plans.

First student: Shove it, spawn of Satan! Don't pollute the name of God in your foul mouth!

Me: So it's religion at issue, not genetic engineering, right? However I arose I contradict your vision of the white male god and you can't bear that, right? So, minority, how're you going to deal with the real people who aren't like you and your precious inner vision? Huh?

Yet another student: Kill the mutant! Kill the mutant!

Me: We had that already; I'm a monster, not a mutant! Kill the monster!

I wave my hands like an orchestral conductor and actually get a responding shout which trails down to embarrassment as the students realize how stupid they sound, responding to me.

Me: Christians, hah! You'd make the Pharisees blush, that hounded Jesus! You disgust your church.

That hits a nerve. The committed, numbering about thirty, who are now concentrated closely around the bandstand separated by a gap from other audience, let out an animal growl and rush at me. A radial rush leads to wedging in the front rank. The time has come for egress. I step on the amplifier sitting next to the bandstand as the sound man makes a grab for my tail, which I flick out of reach. The box is sturdy and I don't think anything breaks. I bounce through the clivia flowers as the furious students try a flanking movement and are tangled up in the outer ring of spectators I have created. I catch a glimpse of several people thrown roughly aside as I sprint for the corner of the Old Union, pursued by cries of ``There it goes'' and ``Get it!''

Now a high speed run, forget the church, I'll lead them across the main quad and right under the president's office window. I round the corner. Oops! My way is blocked by two cops with helmets, face shields and large sticks. A polite explanation is probably not going to open the way effectively. Snap judgment. In a flash, almost as if running on flat ground, I'm up the middle of three eucalyptus trees that has a branch extending near the open window of a third floor office.

In full cry of ``Kill the mutant!'' the pack rounds the corner seconds behind me. The lead student throws one cop to the ground and gets a boot heel in the belly for his trouble. His companion telegraphs a fist blow and is clonked on the head with the riot stick. But the odds are against the cops, and having them mauled is not in my best interest. I sparge a full throated lion's roar and all eyes are upward to me instantly.

Me: Wolves baying! Is this what they teach you in Christian school?

The decorative border dissolves and they start chucking bricks. Their aim is execrable and I hear breaking glass at the second floor level. A stick sails by and I have to reach to catch it. I glimpse a black bearded gentleman with a skullcap in the window behind me.

Rabbi: Quick, in here, you can escape!

Me: Thanks but my duty is out here. Hey, Christian fanatics! Your logic is as lousy as your aim! Take this stick back and next time put some Stanford humanities training into it! I see you two down there with the cigarette lighters. Watch out for my urine on the flames!

That latter threat is mere puffery; they'll never light the tree on fire that way, nor could my urine reach the flames if they did. I dodge the best aimed brick of the day. But reinforcements have arrived, a whole row of police. While I harangue they arrest, and the students below don't even realize what's happening until it's nearly over. Aah, a semblance of peace. I sit on my tree branch and shake.

A white haired gentlemen comes running up trailed by two aides, a man and a woman. It's President Wilson, come so quick! He confers with the policemen. They look upward.

Pres. Wilson: It's all over, son. You can come down now.

I wave to the rabbi, and descend daintily, avoiding broken glass. My skin is impervious, but I don't want to track the chips further than they've already spread. Scorched bark can be smelled very faintly.

Pres. Wilson: I sincerely apologize for this treatment. Are you hurt?

Me: Shaking, but not hurt. You don't have to apologize for someone else's behavior.

Pres. Wilson: Those people have got to be punished. What am I going to do with them?

Me: I did have a chance to think about that, preparing my speech. Did you hear it, perhaps? I tried to show most of the crowd how wrong it is to attack different people, like myself. But I'm not naive enough to think I could convince them all, as you saw. The ones after my skin I think have two motivations. One is pure raging xenophobia. The other is, they think they have some kind of pipeline to their god, and God is telling them to kill the mutant. Their words. In either case, university-type reason isn't going to affect them, and neither is making them martyrs; it will just strengthen their belief and put you on the side of evil. I think the best you can do is to get a priest on your side. They might listen to a priest.

Pres. Wilson: What do you want done with them?

Me: I want to write my Civ paper and study for my math midterm. In the unlikely event that the religious nuts get un-nutted, that's fine with me. If they stay nuts, I would really like them to do it somewhere else. Let's talk about the university's interest in this. I listened to your speech on opening day, and I think the threat to you is that this riot will repeat. Other students, or the same students, will say we're not going to tolerate this or that. We have a message from God or higher moral principles or something, and some other group is unacceptable and we're going to run them off campus. That's not the way the university works.

Pres. Wilson: Many hear, few listen. I think you're right, and I think I know what to do about it. We're going to have a meeting of the student honor committee.

Me: If the mob are going to attend, you'd better speak to the cops, because it's my understanding that people arrested are taken promptly to jail.

Pres. Wilson: Mike, could you see to that? Hold up the transport if you can, and let me know right away if you can't? And Harriet, I think the Redwood Room is about the right size; would you reserve it for, say, half an hour from now, and dragoon the committee members? Thanks. Now Simba, can you do this for me? Simply describe to the committee what happened. And bring your reg card.

Me: In half an hour? Will do. If you don't need me any more, I'm going back to my dorm now. I stashed my roommate's laptop, worrying that those people might trash our room, which was their plan, and I want to return it to him.

Quickly walking, not running, I retrieve the locker key from my mailbox, retrieve my pack from the locker in the Student Union, and return the pack to my room. Prof. Meltzer and Ken are both there, having just heard rumors of what happened. I fill them in verbally while posting a quick report to the Lion Foundation. It seems like the rally took forever, but lunch has only just started, and I drop by the cafeteria to grab a stack of bagels, before returning munchingly to the honor committee meeting.

The university president, five senior professors, and the president of the Associated Students glower. The former howling mob, with hands cuffed or tie-wrapped behind their backs, are surrounded by police. A reporter from the campus paper has been allowed to observe from the rear. I am asked to testify.

Me: I heard a rumor that the genetic engineering rally would end, since I'm the prime example of genetic engineering on campus, with a demonstration in my room...

Student: I protest this thing addressing the honor committee!

Pres. Wilson: Your name? Dexter? Your protest is explicitly noted. Continue, Simba.

Me: So I secured my and my roommate's computers and other items, and prepared to address the rally at their location rather than mine. I pointed out some of the advantages of genetic engineering, and how their position was religiously inconsistent...

Another student: Blasphemer! Child of Satan!

The student is jerked to silence by a cop and I proceed.

Me: They were upset and charged the podium. I ran, and took refuge in a nearby tree. They threw bricks, hitting unintended targets but not me. The two cops who were there got attacked. Reinforcements arrested everyone and it was over.

Pres. Wilson: Do any of you have anything to add to this story? Dexter, you want to speak?

Dexter: That thing is a blasphemy by existing, and it blasphemed the name of God!

Pres. Wilson: Any other pearls of wisdom? Simba, do you happen to have your student ID card with you? Please read it to us.

Me: Stanford University. Student identification card. Simba Leones, and my number and photograph.

Pres. Wilson: And what is its significance?

Me: That I'm a student at Stanford.

Pres. Wilson: And what obligation do these people have to you as a student, under the honor code?

Me: Besides that I shouldn't lie about which is my work and which is someone else's? I should have the freedom to study and learn, without being chased by a howling mob because I think differently or am a different kind of person. A point which I made somewhat differently at the rally, to no effect.

Pres. Wilson: You ab-hominable people are obligated under the honor code to grant this thing the freedom of university study, and you not only did not honor your obligation, you trampled on it egregiously! I propose immediate dismissal for all of you, with the committee's option to upgrade that to expulsion in particular cases to be decided later by the committee. Do the other committee members want to discuss?

Dexter: I protest this kangaroo court! You're trampling on our due process rights! And get that thing out of here!

Pres. Wilson: Committee members, is anything unclear? Show of hands please -- unanimous. You have the right of appeal if you don't like how this meeting was handled. Until then, have your stuff out of the dorm by six tonight. You can call someone from the jail. Get out of my sight!

The police escort the sullen former students to their fate with the real world's judiciary. The real world doesn't appreciate rioting and trying to beat up cops. The committee members shake my hand and assure me that such outrageous behavior is rare these days. The reporter comes forward with questions, starting with me.

Reporter: I'm Consuela Moreno from the Daily. You can call me Connie. How did it feel to be attacked like that?

Me: I'm sorry to be ungracious, but my math section has already started and I don't want to miss it. Contrary to what some people say, we're really supposed to go to class at Stanford. And I have a lab afterward. Can you come by my dorm room about six? Believe me, I'll have a lot more coherent answers for you then, if you can wait. You know the location, Serra third floor by the stairs? OK, bye everyone, and I hope we'll meet again under happier circumstances.

Again I run. I've gotten in a proper dose of exercise today. Outside the classroom I take a few quieting breaths; then I slide through the door and into a seat. The teaching assistant interrupts his explanation.

Bart: Simba, are you all right? What's going on out there, cop cars all over the place? The rumors are intense!

I give a brief summary, and mention Prof. Baker's switched homework assignment, which draws a laugh.

Bart: Well, I'm glad you're OK. And I hope I'm not antagonizing too many people in this class, but I really don't like how those freaks go on and on about genetic engineering.

Me: When you've been taught all your life that something is wrong, and you come here and get its furry face shoved in yours, it's really hard for them to choose what to do. We talked about this in Civ in connection with last century's Vietnam war, and World War Two, except in those cases the moral rejection strategy was held up as the right way to behave. I don't like to be on the receiving end of that lesson, but neither do I want to say you mustn't act against viciousness, like Hitler snuffing Jews. It's hard.

Bart: I wouldn't be so forgiving after being chased up a tree. Anyway, Eddie was asking, if the conjugate gradient method is so great, why isn't it better than brute force Newton's method. And I was having trouble answering because for me it is better. You're good at explaining things; what did you find?

Me: I suspect our method is incomplete. I'll bet next week's material, preconditioning, makes both methods work a lot better. But I have a Civ paper due and I have to study for our midterm, so I didn't have a chance to play around with it.

With lion discipline I get through the math lesson. I'm not shaking any more, but my emotions are still roiling. When the student reporter started asking questions I told myself I have to do something to calm myself down, and just running isn't going to blow off a shock like that. The lab I mentioned is an art lab, and it's not my regular day to go to it, but I'm going to try to make a cathartic picture.

It's a one unit studio that's normally taken in conjunction with one of the art theory courses. I just want to make progress in drawing. Mr. Wakiyama wasn't too happy, since I'm not an art major and don't have any theory class, but seeing that I have some degree of skill he tolerates me on a pass-fail basis. I'm doing monochrome line art. He says when I have that down cold I can go on to charcoal, and when I can do gray scale then I can start color. Being used to color on my computer paint program I'm impatient, but I can see my skills improving under his guidance.

Walking over to the art studio I plan the picture. It's going to be jazzed up; there will be peasants with pitchforks and torches in place of the actual students. Let's see, view from the rabbi's window, wide angle so both the peasants and I are visible. And the two cops. What do I want in the background? I don't have much time for details like the Hudson River school. Essentials only, like Picasso. But I'll put real students' faces on the people, as many as I can remember. I want the fire on the tree to be visible, not just slight scorching from two cigarette lighters. I don't have the skill for line art smoke. I can sneak in one swipe of charcoal.

In the studio I unobtrusively get out my pen, ink and big drawing pad, and I turn the latest unfinished work around to the back. There are several vacant drafting tables. I lay out the geometry in pencil and get right to work on the frontmost plane, the rabbi's window, which is nonfactually broken and decorated with a Hebrew inscription, which I fake up from memory. Now the tree trunk outline, leaving a large gap in which I am to be drawn. Oops, what am I? If I draw stripes the picture will be too busy and I won't match the other elements. And my fur tends to stick out like a human's crew cut or a bulky sweater: a bitch to draw. I represent myself in basic lion color with laying down fur, as if I were sweating, just a few lines interior and the outline furry. And my tail stands up jauntily defiant, while in reality my tail posture was strictly business. Now the upper tree elements...

Several people, in fact quite a few people, come over silently to see what I am doing. Mr. Wakiyama gives me a ``humpf'', which I translate to mean the picture isn't too bad for someone of my level of talent. It's getting quite dark and someone turns on the overhead lamps. Having filled in the smoke I put down two peasants lighting kindling around the tree with their torches, joining the front rank of peasants with real faces. I fill in more mob with less detail, and in the end it looks like everyone at the rally joined in the lynching. Done! I letter it in the corner, ``Religious Persuasion'', Simba Leones.

Sensei: Humpf. Spirit out requires spirit in. Clean your pen and go to dinner now.

I bring my portfolio with me; I want to show the picture around at the dorm. Many of the art students have stuck around to see what I was going to draw, and outside, so Mr. Wakiyama can lock up the studio, we chatter about the rally and its aftermath. It's after six and we're all hungry. It's not like Sensei to let students, particularly insignificant ones, keep him stuck in the studio and away from his family and dinner. We scatter in our respective directions.

Crossing the lounge in the dorm I'm waylaid not just by the Stanford Daily reporter, but also by a television camera crew.

Me: Hi, Connie, sorry I'm late. I hope I didn't keep you waiting long. And your names are?

Reporter: Barbara Harris from CNN. My cameraman Mike, and sound man George.

Me: How do you do? It's going to work out, isn't it, for you to kind of share access? And where should we do it, here where there's more space, or up in my room, which is cramped but visually mine?

Ms. Harris: Here. Mike, what's a good angle?

Mike: That couch, by the plant.

Me: And Connie can sit opposite so she can talk to me but stay out of view. That's how you operate, right?

Ms. Harris: Right. George, getting it? Simba, what really happened out there?

Me: As you know, I'm a genetically engineered construct, not made divinely. That bothers some people a lot. For a long time there's been debate whether humans ought to modify living organisms, and the Lion Project inflamed that debate. There was a rally today about genetic engineering -- against it. There were participants who can't stand me on religious grounds. Lion people depend on the tolerance of human neighbors, and I felt that tolerance, among the less religiously vigorous people, might be eroded. So I addressed the rally, not exactly with the organizers' cooperation. There were some good questions, which I answered as well as I could, but religion soon took over. I made it clear to the audience that I felt the most fanatic people were not acting towards their neighbor, that's me, the way their religion tells them to. The fanatics then chased me up that tree. You're not supposed to do that in the university; trying to beat up someone who thinks different or is different from you is a real no-no, and they're in trouble now. I'm sure you've gotten that part of the story better than I can tell it. Connie?

I could see Ms. Harris gearing up for another question and I wanted the local person to have a chance.

Connie: How did you feel, being attacked like that?

Me: I was scared. From beginning to end. I don't like threats to pop out of the blue, like finding out the agenda of some of the rally organizers. Originally I had planned to just ignore the rally as generic talk, but then I found out I would be the uninvited guest of honor. It scares me when my environment might shift out from under me. And when that happens I'm willing to take scary risks like talking to a big crowd that I expect to be hostile.

Ms. Harris: The term ``abomination'' has been used, for lion people. What's your opinion of that term?

Me: Some people call lion people unfriendly names. We certainly aren't compatible with their religion. I can't expect everyone to enjoy me, though most do. But I wish the ones who don't would make a policy of just staying away from me, and I'll do likewise.

Connie: Do you think the punishment for the rioters was appropriate, dismissal from the university?

Me: I think it's not my place to make a judgment on that. Preserving the university and dealing with students, I'm not an expert in that at all.

Ms. Harris: Don't you care what happens to them?

Me: I really have no control over what happens, so it doesn't do me any good to get emotional about it. I want them not to attack me. I've done my part by convincing as many people as I could to at least be neighborly, whatever their feelings about how I was created, but for the others, I've done my best and now someone else will take it from there.

Connie: If only someone had been there with a camera.

Me: Well... I was rather upset, and I made a drawing, to splurt out my emotions. I'll show it to you on one condition: you have to promise to label it as emotional hype. It's not a news photo; some elements are exaggerated. Promise? And a copyright release will be needed.

Connie: Promise! We'd put a note in the caption.

Ms. Harris: How much is this release going to cost us?

Me: How about a dollar. Now about the disclaimer?

Ms. Harris: We'll present it as an emotional reaction to the event, not as fact. OK?

Me: Perfect. Here it is. Connie, I'm going to take it over to the library and digitize it, and I'll give both of you the URL for the file.

Ms. Harris: Oh, that's powerful! Hold it up so we can get a good shot of it.

Me: Thanks. I put in more people, and dressed them up like rock-throwing peasants in a horror movie, because that was how I felt about them. And the burning, the real thing was trivial, but as a symbol it really got to me so I drew it as a big fire.

Connie: It's so surreal, I mean, I'm just talking to you like to anyone, and you draw so nicely, but then...

Me: I'm an ordinary person who has a life, like any student, except in other ways I'm not ordinary at all, fur and fangs and claws, and how can I be so different, and yet be the kind of person you'd enjoy having as a roommate or neighbor? I think everyone I've met is different in one way or another. My differences are just so much more visible. I'd like to leave the viewers and readers with that thought. I'd also like to not miss dinner, which will be closing in about three minutes. If you can take a hint.

Actually my kind of food would still be set out for a few minutes more, until the student workers put it back in the refrigerator, but I am both hungry and tired and I think I've given what I had promised. The reporters thank me and I hike up the stairs to stick my stuff in my room.

Ken: Simba, you're back! There's this guy trying to call you on the phone, several times, says it's urgent and you should call back right away. And what's that?

Me: Smiling face to you, hungry lion look to the guy on the phone. This is the picture I drew. You can look at it while I get some food. Then I'll call the person. Did he say anything about what he wanted out of me?

Ken: He just said he's from the Church of England. You know, Henry VIII, Archbishop of Canterbury and all that. Weird.

Me: Yeah. I'll bet it's a reporter trying to get an interview. Well, I'll call him when I'm good and ready. And that means fed. I'd better run or there'll be no food for me. See you!

Yes, there is still food, though my favorite sesame bagels are all gone. I treat myself to a banana as well as bagels and rolls. So who is this mysterious caller? Well, the only way to solve the mystery is to call the phone number. Back in my room, I do just that.

Me: Hi, I'm Simba Leones. I got a message that you've been trying to find me. What's up?

Phone: I'm the Reverend John Hodges, the private secretary to his Grace the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury. His Grace was wondering...

Me: The Archbishop of Canterbury! Jeez, how did President Wilson pull this off? I told him to get a priest, and he couldn't get the Pope to hop a plane for Stanford so... This is so unreal. Sorry, I've had rather a busy day and I'm not used to so much attention. I'll be businesslike. But I'm used to a pretty hidden life, and when a world power starts wondering about me I get nervous. OK, what does, you address him as ``his Grace''? What does his Grace wonder?

Rev. Hodges: It has been brought to his Grace's attention that you have been the subject of religious persecution, and he feels a public statement from him could possibly remind people of a range of faiths that persecution is not what God asks us to do. The first question is, what would be your reaction to such a statement?

Me: You have to understand, I'm not Anglican. We lion people are definitely not welcome in some churches, and we find our position ambiguous at best, in all human religions. We claim no standing.

Rev. Hodges: So I gathered from your limited public statements. We aren't going to try to convert you, if that's what you're thinking.

Me: OK, if the message is going to be that humans and lion people should stay out of each others' faces on the subject of religion, I agree with it. That's lion person policy and I speak for all the lions and for the Lion Foundation. A statement like that would be welcome. To us.

Rev. Hodges: His Grace will be pleased to hear it. Now just what happened out there? Concentrating on the religious aspects. We've seen news video, which was not at all informative.

Me: OK, here's a quick summary. As you probably know, the Bible says that all creatures were created by God. We were created by humans, not God. That creation bothers a lot of Christians, and some are bothered so much that they would like to see us de-created. Some are willing to go farther than others to get their wish. There was a rally against genetic engineering, and a subset of the organizers decided to harass me at my dormitory as a finale to the rally. In their words, to run the mutant off campus. I considered this a threat, and preemptively spoke at the rally. Besides fielding responsible questions, I pointed out the lack of charity of some of the people. I gave them some pretty pungent tidbits; I prepared the speech in a rush but I had a little time to spice it up. I can give you, or mail you, some quotes later if you want. My goal was to emotionally and physically separate what you would call the people of good will, from the ones who were going to attack me whatever I said. I succeeded; only about thirty attacked. They chased me up a tree. Cops then arrested them, and they were dismissed from the university. Does that give you what you want?

Rev. Hodges: Chased you up a tree: the news made it look like a full scale riot. How badly were you injured?

Me: Not a bit. The situation was dangerous but I'm not stupid. I can fill you in on the tactical issues but I thought you wanted the religious angle.

Rev. Hodges: That's true, and I would like those quotes; I'll give you my e-mail address. It sounds like we have actual persecution here, mistakenly in the name of the Lord, and that's what his Grace was concerned about. You no doubt know that his Grace is flying in to San Francisco from Seattle on Saturday and is going to officiate at a special service, and then continue on to Honolulu, Hong Kong, Singapore and Delhi. Our tentative plan is to add a service Saturday afternoon at Stanford. I understand that the Memorial Church is adjacent to the place where you were treed?

Me: About a hundred meters, yes. It would be an honor to the Stanford community for his Grace to speak to us, and I regret the circumstances that brought it about.

Rev. Hodges: We regret them too. His Grace would like to speak with you now, to plan some details.

Archbishop: Hello, Simba, I'm Peter Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Me: I'm honored to speak with you, your Grace.

Archbishop: People of good will regret what happened to you today

Me: Thank you for your commiseration. But I'm counting it a success. I shamed most of the people into not attacking me, and I didn't have to kill any, or even slash them, and nobody was significantly injured. I think I'm safer now than before. But I think if you remind people of good will what good will means, it will help the lion people. And it's our honor to serve as examples for your lesson, which I'm sure will be more tactful and more effective than mine.

Archbishop: Thank you for your tact. So the teeth are not just for show.

Me: Oh, no, certainly not, your Grace. But we'll go to a lot of effort, as I did, to avoid using them. We're supposed to live with people in a happy community, not slash them into shish kebab.

Archbishop: An attitude I find commendable. And I'll mention it in my sermon, if you don't mind. Now I'm given to understand that you play organ.

Me: Oh, no! No way can I handle a church service. I only know three church-type pieces.

Archbishop: Well, I didn't expect you to play the whole service. What are they?

Me: Sheep may Safely Graze, Ein' Feste Burg, and I'm finishing Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring.

Archbishop: Splendid selection! Could you play just those? I think the symbolism would not be lost on the congregation of the persecuted lion playing organ for them, particularly Sheep may Safely Graze.

Me: I see your point. OK, I'll do it. When in the service would I play this? I don't know anything about church services.

Archbishop: Normally in the Anglican service there's a musical introduction, and accompaniment for the various hymns during. Suppose we let the university organist handle most of the introduction, and you take over for the last three pieces. Ein' Feste Burg last, I think. Then you will descend from the organ loft and join me in the front row. The university chaplain will begin the service, and after several prayers I will be introduced for the sermon. I believe I will have one or two hymns during the sermon suitable for the topic. The chaplain will finish the service. Afterward there will be a reception of some kind with the president, members of the board of trustees, local community leaders and so on. At that hour, probably tea, and given jet lag I'll surely be ready for dinner. I would like you to join me for that, to be seen with me. It will reinforce the message. You don't have to talk.

Me: Just be charming and don't say anything stupid. I'm good at that. Sure, I'll follow that plan. You know, since you're breaking up your schedule for me and going hungry, the least I can do is offer you dinner. I know this Chinese place in town. Do you like Chinese? And, um, how many people are in your, what's it called, entourage?

Archbishop: Just me and John Hodges. But Alex Wilson and I go back a long way; we were at Oxford together, he on a Rhodes scholarship. He'd be disappointed.

Me: The president and his family could come too. You could talk over dinner.

Archbishop: Why, that's so kind! But student budgets are often not copious, and the Church of England does provide a living for me...

Me: True, but trust me, I know how much money I have, and I won't go hungry. It would be an honor to me if you would let me return the favor you're doing for the lion people.

Archbishop: Very well, I'll accept your generous offer. Hmmm, will you invite Alex? That will keep the lines of responsibility clear.

Me: Clear; I'll do that. Could I ask something about the sermon, please?

Archbishop: Go ahead.

Me: I'm thinking of how the media are probably presenting all this: the poor lion chased up a tree until someone comes to rescue him. If you don't mind a short story... The staff wanted to test how our physiology would hold up under heavy workloads, and so we planned a route across our valley and went out running in the morning, in February with snow on the ground, and came back after eight hours. This is something we're able to do. When we got back they took a liver biopsy, which is no fun, but that's the only way to measure several of the most important parameters. People were saying things like, ``Oh you poor things, you must be famished after such a long run without food'' and ``What brave lions you are to go through the liver biopsy''. We knew they were trying to be nice, but we were a bit peevish after having needles stuck in our bellies, and we decided to show them how tough we really are. So instead of going to dinner we grabbed our packs and took off, and ran the course again. But unfortunately we got lost in the dark and spent a chilly night in the forest, before finishing the course.

Archbishop: In my fiery youth I might have pulled something similar in spirit, but not quite on that scale. Running through the darkness seems somewhat hazardous.

Me: You're right, things can go wrong in the dark. We can see on passive infrared, but not clearly like with our eyes, which is why we took the wrong turn. My point is, I'd rather have people think that I was in a tough situation but I got out of it competently and even did something a little good with it, rather than that I was the victim, was forced to run away, was chased up a tree, and had to be rescued. Really, I have some tactical sense; I had at least two ways out of that tree, through the rabbi's window or onto the roof, and he told me to come through his office but I stayed out on the tree to keep the peoples' attention away from the cops. I'm hoping not to be the poor little persecuted lion cub. If that won't spoil your sermon.

Archbishop: Yes, I'm glad you reminded me of that aspect of it. And you're right, sermonizing about victims is a lot easier. But in fairness to you, I'll rise to the challenge, you can be sure. In return, may I ask you a religious question? I would very much like to know if you believe you have a soul.

Me: That's unexpected. Well, from a religious power, maybe not so surprising. I've read about the soul in Civ. I feel like a person, and if human persons have souls, I can't see why I would lack what they have. But you understand, the whole religious issue is ambiguous for us right now.

Archbishop: Highly ambiguous, I'm afraid. But I concur in your judgment. It's been a pleasure talking to you, Simba Leones.

Whew! This genetic engineering rally is sprouting ramifications. I hope it's not going to get yet more ramose. I fill Ken in on the side of the conversation he didn't hear, and I mail a full report to the Lion Foundation. I feel like a page out of one of Charlie's history books. Sure, I'm historic as a thing, as a project, but as a person I don't feel like I should be historic at all. Just one lion doing the best I can.

Speaking of history... I click on the Church of England's web site. There should be a bio of his Grace, and maybe it will tell if he's a descendant of Thomas Cranmer.

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