Back in our pregnancy days, my wife and I were selecting baby names for our child, and I suggested "Nicholas" if it was a boy. This selection was in reference to the main character of the Nicholas Seafort Saga, a series of science fiction novels by David Feintuch. Although the series was never very commercially successful, I long found the character of Nick Seafort to be among the most gripping in fiction. This was a person that I could admire, in spite of his flaws, and I wanted my son to see in the pages of these books a person worthy of his emulation.
Now, when I glance through the pages of the Nick Seafort novels, his world seems so unrealistic. To Nick, nothing is more important than upholding his word and fulfilling his duty. It is these traits, along with a bit of cleverness and luck, that propel him to great fame and glory.
Nick lives by a code, largely framed by his oath of enlistment to the UN Navy and the Naval Code of Regulations. He would rather die than break a letter of them. People, especially troubled young men, gravitate toward him as they desire to become like him (much to Nick's befuddlement).
I'm no Nick Seafort, but my wife has told me that I'm rather similar in that I live by a set of rules; a code of conduct and principles. I was never conscious of this trait until my wife asserted that I view the world this way more greatly than anyone else she has ever known, including her own father.
So perhaps the United Methodist Church appealled to me because of its codification of everything in The Book of Discipline. I knew this book backwards and forwards, and assumed it to be the rulebook for Methodist life. Of course, I read enough in the news to know that it was not always followed (e.g. the homosexuality controversy). But I always assumed that those above me, such as my District Superintendent, my DCOM, and the Bishop, would act in good faith to adhere to the Discipline, or at the bare minimum, give lip service to it.
So as I followed the complaint process, I figured that I would greatly inconvenience these overlords as I argued solidly and indisputably that the subjects of the complaints had violated the Discipline. To weasel out of the plain text of the Discipline would require great effort.
I was to be disappointed. When I filed a complaint against my DS, Bishop Whitaker simply refused to process it. And so, as his actions were contrary to the Discipline (among other charges), I filed a complaint against him to Bishop Ward. In doing so, I provided a five-page single-spaced argument with numerous citations from the Discipline about how Whitaker had violated the Discipline. Ward responded in a single sentence that she found no violation of the Discipline. When I pressed her via e-mail to explain, citing the Discipline, how I was wrong, she simply refused.
My assumption that senior Methodist officials would give even a whit as to the regulations of the Discipline was completely false. I had lived by a code, but found that others did not.
I found that one cannot appeal to the law to a person who has no regard for it; one cannot appeal to righteousness to someone who has no conscience. So I dropped the matter, realizing that it was futile to continue.
In a more realistic novel, Nick Seafort's sense of honor, adherence to his word, and obedience to Naval regulations would have gotten him booted out of the Navy in disgrace, if not killed.
That's why I'm no longer sure that I want any future son to be named Nicholas. I wouldn't want him to read the novels and think that a life of honor and integrity has any future. Nick Seafort, by his own example and leadership, encouraged people to become greater, more noble men and women. But if set in our own world and not a fictive one, Nick would have been found dead in a corridor with a knife in his back.
I don't think that I want a son of mine to end up that way. I don't think that I want my son to be a sucker. Like his old man.
I want him to grow up cunning and crafty. I want him to know when to tell the truth and when to lie through his teeth. And I want him to value his own security and that of his family above anything else.