"I don't get it," Rodney Falk interjected. "If Jefferson and them were so concerned about fencing religion out of the whole thing, how could the structure they created have any mystical significance?"
Richard took a calming breath and considered the high-strung black activist's agitated energy field before responding. This was the first actual meeting of Constitutional Evolution he had attended, and the only person here he'd even met before was Derek Boa, the leader.
"Like I told your gamer friend when she roped me into this group," he said evenly, "magic is mostly a matter of symbolism and intent. The framers did a lot more than just lay out the rules of government. They also set the staging. Any well-designed ritual is going to resonate emotionally. That's why religious ceremonies are so much like theatre. They laid out rituals of governance. If they were going to work, they had to resonate. And resonance is at the heart of mysticism."
Rodney exchanged puzzled glances with Derek. "So you're saying that if we want to be certain that organized religion can't get its mitts on the levers of power, whatever we end up with has to be just as hokey as what we've got now?"
Derek shook his head. "Sounds counter-productive to me. But there's only one way to find out. So we'll do some role-playing experiments one of these days and see for ourselves the difference in how it, um, resonates."
Richard looked over towards the door of the library meeting room they were using. "I think there's someone out there. Someone with a lot on his mind."
It opened a crack, then widened, but the uncertain young man gripping the knob didn't let go.
Derek strode towards the door, raising a hand in greeting. "Ron. I'm glad you decided to come back." They shook, and the door swung shut behind them.
"Wait a minute," Rodney called out, fast approaching, "the last time you visited, you just about freaked at some lettering on a piece of cardboard. If you're that sensitive, you might not want to --."
"Hey," he said. "Chill. I was on assignment. I'm okay, now. Honest."
"Assignment?" Derek echoed. "Does that mean you've left your credential at home this time?"
Richard joined them. "What's this about?"
"Ron hasn't come out and told us yet, but it's pretty obvious that he works for some intelligence agency or other. He said he wanted to help. I guess now we'll see if that's true." He turned to Ron. "Come on in. We were just discussing government as theater."
The others took seats at the long table, but Ron remained standing. "I have a... a confession to make. My name's really Craig. I lied because that's what I'm being trained to do. Going undercover and spying on --."
"On who?" Rodney snapped. "Terrorists? Who do you work for, anyway, and why should I believe you?"