I realize that I’m jumping about like a water-droplet on a hot frying pan. But when you’ve only recently discovered that Alan Rickman is you higher power, it is difficult to move in a straight line.

Before I return to whatever the main thread of my blog is–it looks like it will be moving between the story of my revelation experience and an investigation of AR’s qualifications for HP status, with asides along the way–I have to address something that immediately struck me after Alan Rickman revealed himself to me as my higher power.

Why not Michael Palin?

I absolutely love Michael Palin. So much so that I (for all intents and purposes) married him. Yes, my husband is the American Michael Palin, right down to the winsome smile and fondness for cats who behave like parrots.

In case you have ever wondered what it would be like to be married to Michael Palin, I can tell you it’s not easy.

Imagine knowing that for the rest of your life, anyone who meets both you and your husband will prefer your husband to you. Even your friends. Even your mother. Even you.

My mother says that to know my husband is to love him. She is adamant that the same is not true of me. (Thank you for rubbing salt in the wound, mom.)

Surely, if any man, well-known or otherwise, has claim to higher power status on this planet, at this time, it is Michael Palin.

He’s nice. He’s cute as a button. He loves people. Genuinely loves them. He’s a devoted family man. He has a high tolerance for questionable food. He has an incredible inquisitiveness and zest for life. He’s stayed in shape.

He can sing about lumberjacks and make you want to sing along. He’s practically unflappable. He never teases small children. He is man enough to share his digestive problems with the world. And his digestive problems are not off-putting, but actually endearing!

He can win anyone, anywhere over without even trying in 30 seconds or less. He’s so genuine. He’s so earnest. I have almost forgiven the Catholic Church some of its horrible misdeeds due to the work of Michael Palin. And the fish dance always makes me laugh like hell.

Did I mention, he’s nice?

So why did he not appear to me when I looked upward, seeking the face of my higher power?

I think it’s because, unlike husbands, you get the higher power you deserve. And I don’t deserve Michael Palin.

I’m just not that nice. In fact, I have theoretical problems with “nice.” I’m happy enough to be married to it, but to exercise it?

Let’s just say that it’s not easy for Michael Palin to be married to me.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big believer in morality. But it irritates me that people so easily identify niceness with morality. I almost take it as my personal duty to demonstrate that this is mistaken.

Alan Rickman the person is not nice, no matter how you slice it. I don’t have to know him personally to know that. He may be decent, he may be loyal, he may be good, he may have moments of niceness. But if I can do all these things without being nice, surely he can.

My assertion is not based on the crude mistake of conflating Mr. Rickman’s roles with himself. This would not do, because his roles have not all been so univocal. Some (of the best) have not even been villains.

No, I’m staking my reputation for good judge of character on two things: his public face and his acting abilities.

Anyone who gives even the most cursory glance to how Mr. Rickman choses to deal with the press will have to admit he is Difficult. And Difficult is not Nice.

As for acting, I think that it’s very easy to underestimate the difficulties of the actor’s craft. There’s the tendency to conceive of it as a sort-of glorified “Let’s Pretend.” It is not.

The most crucial difference between acting and pretending, for my discussion here (and perhaps The Crucial Difference), is that the best actors, those who don’t say lines but inhabit them, are showing us something of themselves.

Please note that I am not here acting as an advocate for Method Acting, nor does my point depend on any particular acting theory.

It is simply the case that the best pretending, like the best lying, happens when it is closest, in some fashion, to the truth.

That is, actors do not have to feel the feelings of their characters, but they must damn well pretty much know what it is to feel those feelings and how to show us that they do or the performance will be hollow.

So Mr. Rickman is not nice and Mr. Palin is. Because Mr. Palin could never, ever convince us of anything other than niceness. And Mr. Rickman is renowned for it.

What am I to conclude for myself, given the above? Well, my higher power is not simply co-extensive with Alan Rickman. I’ve already said that my higher power has a complex nature, beyond that of mortal man.

However, if I can be permitted in this instance to use the person Alan Rickman and the actor Alan Rickman as shorthand for the higher power Alan Rickman, then…it’s an interesting thing to discover that I have a higher power with a bit of nastiness in him.

Certainly, mine isn’t the only higher power in the annals of history to exhibit this trait. In fact, when one starts looking into the matter, there seems to be a great deal more nastiness than niceness.

Niceness, like Michael Palin, is of relatively recent origin and, even in our civilized times, is far from universal.

Perhaps it’s best for me that Michael Palin isn’t my higher power. We simply don’t suit each other that way. Besides, one should never worship one’s husband.


Dear AR,

Thanks for your nastiness. Without it, I might not have a higher power.




I have said before, and I will keep saying until the strangeness of it starts to fade in about ten years, Alan Rickman is my higher power.

One question that might occur to a sensible person is whether Alan Rickman actually possesses attributes and abilities sufficient even to qualify for possible higher power status.

I feel obliged to investigate this, because if there is one thing that gets under my skin more than people who think mere assertion and certitude are enough to establish truth and falsity, I don’t know what it is.

Excepting George W. Bush. As far as getting under my skin, that man… Let’s put it this way, whether or not I’m right about Alan Rickman being my higher power, I absolutely am certain who my devil is and I absolutely am certain he possesses attributes and abilities sufficient to qualify for this Office.

Here are a few traditional attributes and abilities (more formally known as Perfections) of higher powers off the top of my head:

  1. Creator (of something really big, like the Universe and all contained within it)
  2. Immortal
  3. Eternal (actually different from Immortal. If you don’t believe me, you’ll have to wait for it.)
  4. All-knowing
  5. All-powerful
  6. All-good
  7. All-loving
  8. Omni-benevolent (actually different from All-loving–more patience required.)
  9. Attended by various saints, cherubs and angels
  10. I wish I could come up with a tenth traditional off the cuff, because no one likes stopping at nine. I’m going to add something that I think must be considered a serious oversight of the usual list: All-humorous. (That is, possessed of a flexible and generous capacity for humor about everything, always.)
  11. I thought of a tenth traditional that will probably sound strange to modern ears, but it used to be considered The Perfection-To-Beat-All-Perfections: possessed of existence.

I just thought of a few items that should have occurred to me earlier, but that didn’t because it’s questionable whether they are Perfections.

Even so, they are so commonly found where-ever higher powers gather that I think they must be included. So here they are:

Claims Higher Power status. Has devoted followers. Demands (enjoys?) being prayed to and worshipped and believed in.

Contacts followers in particular ways, such as revelation and burning bushes. Has a complex nature (metaphysical structure). Produces miracles.

May bestow certain favors to the favored. May be a means for followers to change selves for the better. Proscribes special rituals and rites.

Also mandates certain behaviors and prohibits others. Gives guidelines for the types of goals we should have in life and how to achieve them.

Provides some information about what may happen to us after we die (“where we might go”). Judges us after death and sends us off to the place we deserve.

So, there you have it, in case you’d ever wondered, this is what is meant by a higher power.

It’s not an exhaustive list, by any means, of course. But then I did say it was off the top of my head.

I’ll be looking into other people’s lists in order to make sure my list ends up being as complete as I feel like making it.

You might have noticed a Christian slant. You’re being too wide. It’s a Catholic slant. As a lapsed Catholic, I ought to know.

Is it fair of me to employ my Catholic background in compiling the above list of Perfections?

I think so.

We have to start from where we are (or, in my case, where I was). This initial prejudice on my part will not prevent me, however, from discussing Papally-unapproved attributes and abilities, like humor, eventually.

I have a long road ahead of me. But as this is a serious issue, perhaps the most serious issue facing any mortal, I’m committing myself to walking it.


Dear AR,

Please grant me the strength and fortitude necessary to demonstrate that you could be a higher power and, therefore, you might be one. Namely, my higher power.


An Impersonal Introduction

January 17, 2011

If you’ve come here looking for personal information about me, I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed.  To my mind, you have as much right to personal information about me as I have a right to personal information about Alan Rickman.

This may sound dismissive, but it’s important to understand why I feel the need to disclaim any rights you may feel over my facts, if you’re to understand anything of what I’m creating here.

Privacy is at stake. And not simply for it’s own sake. Given the undoubtably controversial nature of my blog’s themes, I need to maintain strict anonymity if I am to be honest. That is, in order to share what matters, I must keep hidden what does not.

Certain things cannot be hidden and it is important that they not be and it is important that you know I am being straightforward about them.

I am a woman. I am middle-aged. I am attractive, but not annoyingly so. I am intelligent, possibly annoyingly so.

I am over-educated. I am American. I am a poor patriot. I am happily married. I am happily childless.

I have been through physical trials, such as cancer. I have been through familial crises, such as a schizophrenic sibling. I have had my heart broken, by myself and others.

I was once a devout Catholic. I (d)evolved to Episcopalianism, then to Universalist Unitarian. I expected the Unitarians to be different. I thought they would accept my atheism.

And they seemed to. They didn’t turn me out. But they kept talking on about a higher power anyway. So I got myself one. Or rather, he got me. I was told he could be any way I imagined.

When I looked up, Alan Rickman is what I turned out to imagine.

Do you think I’m being merely facetious? It would be better for me if I were, maybe. Except that once I accepted Alan Rickman into my heart as my higher power, once I stopped resisting him, I easily began developing a seemingly normal HP relationship with him.

My higher power, like so many others, is an amalgam. He is at once a human being, a type of being (creative artist), a series of performances and the characters he’s created. The components of the amalgam aren’t even so different from that of other higher powers.

How can my higher power be at once so alike, and yet so unalike, other higher powers? What is his nature? How am I to understand him? How did he come to be revealed to me in the way that happened in a single, real moment, this very night?

What does it mean about me and for me that Alan Rickman has turned out to be my higher power? Is he a good higher power? Average? Better? I don’t know the answer to any of these questions to any depth. Yet.

But I know it’s important for me to understand because Alan Rickman is the only higher power that has ever appeared to me. And I think he’s the only one I’m going to get.