A Mighty Fortress – Snippet 24
Which is the biggest surprise of all, really, he thought. And where does that leave you, Klairmant?
He thought about that carefully. He was the consecrated Archbishop of Corisande, as far as the Church of Charis was concerned. Which, of course, made him an utterly damned apostate heretic where the Church of God Awaiting was concerned. After what had happened to Erek Dynnys, as Ahdymsyn had just reminded him, there was no doubt in his mind what would happen if he or Ahdymsyn or Mahkhynroh ever fell into the hands of the Inquisition. That was a thought fit to wake a man wrapped in the cold sweat of nightmares, and it had, on more than one occasion. In fact, it had awakened him often, making him wonder what in the world — what in God’s name — he’d thought he was doing when he accepted his present office.
And now this.
As archbishop, he was Ahdymsyn’s ecclesiastic superior. Of course, Ahdymsyn wasn’t assigned to his archbishopric, so he’d properly come under Gairlyng’s orders only when those orders did not in any way conflict with instructions he’d already received from Maikel Staynair. Still, in this princedom, in this archbishopric and this office, Ahdymsyn could neither give Gairlyng orders nor pass judgment upon him. All he could do was report back to Staynair, who was thousands of miles away in Chisholm, assuming he’d met his planned travel schedule, or even farther away than that, in Emerald or in transit between Eraystor and Cherayth, if his schedule had slipped. Yet Ahdymsyn was Staynair’s personal representative. He was here specifically to smooth the way, prepare the ground, for Staynair’s first pastoral visit to Corisande. Despite everything, Gairlyng had expected a far more overtly political representative, especially given Ahdymsyn’s hierarchical pedigree. But what he’d gotten . . . what he’d gotten raised almost as many questions in his own mind — questions about himself — as they’d answered about Zherald Ahdymsyn.
“My Lord,” he said finally, “I’m honored by the honesty with which you’ve described your own feelings and beliefs. And I’ll be honest and say it had never occurred to me that you might have . . . sustained that degree of genuine spiritual regeneration.” He raised one hand, waving it gently above his desk. “I don’t mean to imply that I believed you’d accepted your present office solely out of some sort of cynical ambition, trying to make the best deal that you could out of the situation which had come completely apart for you in Charis. But I must confess I’d done you a grave disservice and assumed that that was much of what had happened. Now, after what you’ve just said, I find myself in a bit of a quandary.”
“A quandary, Your Eminence?” Ahdymsyn arched one eyebrow, and Gairlyng snorted.
“Honesty deserves honesty, My Lord, especially between men who both claim to be servants of God,” he said.
“Your Eminence, I doubt very much that you could — in honesty — tell me anything that would come as a tremendous surprise,” Ahdymsyn said dryly. “For example, I would be surprised — enormously surprised — to discover that you had accepted your present archbishopric solely out of a sense of deep loyalty and commitment to the Empire of Charis.”
“Well,” Gairlyng’s voice was even drier than Ahdymsyn’s had been, “I believe I can safely set your mind to rest upon that point. However,” he leaned forward slightly and his expression became far more serious, even somber, “I must admit that despite my very best efforts, I felt more than one mental reservation when I took the vows of my new office.”
Ahdymsyn cocked his head to one side, and Gairlyng glanced quickly at Mahkhynroh. This wasn’t something he’d admitted to the Bishop of Manchyr, yet he saw only calm interest in the other man’s eyes before he looked back at Ahdymsyn.
“First, I would never have accepted this office, under any circumstances, if I hadn’t agreed Mother Church — or the vicarate, at least — has become hopelessly corrupt. And when I say ‘hopelessly,’ that’s exactly the word I meant to use. If I’d believed for one moment that someone like Zahmsyn Trynair might demand reform, or that someone like Zhaspahr Clyntahn would have permitted it if he had, I would have refused the archbishopric outright and immediately. But saying I believe Mother Church has been mortally wounded by her own vicars isn’t the same thing as saying I believe the Church of Charis must automatically be correct. Nor does it mean I’m somehow magically free of any suspicion that the Church of Charis has been co-opted by the Empire of Charis. Mother Church may have fallen into evil, but she was never intended to be the servant of secular political ambitions, and I won’t willingly serve any ‘Church’ which is no more than a political tool.” He grimaced. “The spiritual rot in Zion is itself the result of the perversion of religion in pursuit of power, and I’m not prepared simply to substitute perversion in the name of the power of princes for perversion in the name of the power of prelates.”
“Granted.” Ahdymsyn nodded. “Yet the problem, of course, is that the Church of Charis can survive only so long as the Empire of Charis is able to protect it. The two are inextricably bound up with one another, in that respect, at least, and there are inevitably going to be times when religious policy is shaped by and reflects political policy. And the reverse, I assure you.”
“I don’t doubt that for a moment.” Gairlyng reached up and squeezed the bridge of his nose gently between thumb and forefinger. “The situation is so incredibly complicated, with so many factions, so many dangers, that it could hardly be any other way.” He lowered his hand and looked directly at Ahdymsyn. “Still, if the Church is seen as a creature of the Empire, she will never gain general acceptance in Corisande. Not unless something changes more dramatically than I can presently imagine. In that regard, it would have been far better if she had been renamed the ‘Reform Church,’ perhaps, instead of the Church of Charis.”
“That was considered,” Ahdymsyn told him. “It was rejected because, ultimately, the Group of Four was inevitably going to label it the ‘Church of Charis,’ whatever we called it. That being so, it seemed better to go ahead and embrace the title ourselves — I speak here using the ecclesiastic ‘we,’ of course,” he explained with a charming smile, “since I was not myself party to that particular decision. And another part of it, obviously, was that mutual dependence upon one another for survival which I’ve already mentioned. In the end, I think, the decision was that honesty and forthrightness were more important than the political or propaganda nuances of the name.”
“Perhaps so, but that doesn’t magically expunge the unfortunate associations in the minds of a great many Corisandians. Or, for that matter, in my own mind, and I was scarcely born here in Corisande, myself.” Gairlyng shook his head. “I don’t claim to understand all of my own motivations myself, My Lord. I think any man who pretends he does is guilty of self-deception, at the very least. However, my primary reasons for accepting this office were four.
“First, my belief, as I’ve already said, that Mother Church has gone too far down the path of corruption under her current hierarchy to be internally reformed. If reform is even possible for her at this late date, it will happen only because an external threat has forced it upon the vicarate, and, as I see it, the Church of Charis represents that external threat, that external demand for change.
“Second, because I desire, above almost all other things, to prevent or at least mitigate the religious persecutions and counter-persecutions I dread when I look at a conflict such as this one. Men’s passions are seldom so inflamed as when they grapple with issues of the soul, My Lord. Be you personally ever so priestly — be Archbishop Maikel ever so gentle — violence, vengeance, and counter-vengeance will play their part soon enough. That isn’t an indictment of you, nor even an indictment of the Church of Charis. The Group of Four began it, not you, when they launched five other princedoms at the Kingdom of Charis’ throat. But, in its way, that only proves my point, and what happened at Ferayd only underscores it. I do not wish to see that cycle launched here in Corisande, and when this office was offered to me, I saw it as my best opportunity to do something to at least moderate it in the princedom which has become my home.”
He paused, regarding Ahdymsyn steadily until the other man nodded slowly.
“Third,” Gairlyng resumed, “I know there are far more members of the Corisandian priesthood who share my view of the state of Mother Church’s soul than anyone in the Temple or in Zion has ever dreamed. I’m sure I need hardly tell you this, after what you’ve seen in Charis, and in Emerald, and in Chisholm, yet I think it deserves to be stated anyway. The Group of Four, and the vicarate as a whole, have made the serious, serious error of assuming that if they can suppress internal voices of criticism — if they can use the power of the Inquisition to repress demands for reform — then those voices and those demands have no strength. Pose no threat. Unfortunately for them, they’re wrong, and there are pastors in this very city who prove my point. Bishop Kaisi is already aware of several of them, but I hope, My Lord, you’ll take the opportunity to attend mass at Saint Kathryn’s soon. I think you’ll hear a voice you recognize in Father Tymahn’s. I hope, however, that you’ll also recognize that what you’re hearing is a Corisandian voice, not that of a man who considers himself a Charisian.”
He paused once more, raising one eyebrow, and Ahdymsyn nodded again, more firmly.
“A valid distinction, and one I’ll strive to bear in mind,” the bishop acknowledged. “On the other hand, I scarcely thought of myself as ‘a Charisian’ when all of this began. I imagine that, in the fullness of time, your Father Tymahn may actually make something of the same transition on his own terms.”
“He may, My Lord.” Gairlyng’s tone conveyed something less than confidence in that particular transition, and he grimaced.
“I’ll be honest,” the archbishop went on, “and admit that the sticking point for quite a few Corisandians is the assassination of Prince Hektor and the Crown Prince. Whatever his faults from the perspective of other princedoms, and I’m probably more aware of them than the vast majority of Corisandians, Prince Hektor was both respected and popular here in Corisande. Many of his subjects, especially here in the capital, bitterly resent his murder, and the fact that the Church of Charis hasn’t condemned Cayleb for it makes the Church, in turn, suspect in their eyes. And, to be brutally honest, it’s a point upon which those trying to organize opposition to both the Church and the Empire are playing with considerable success.”
“The Church,” Ahdymsyn said, and for the first time there was a hard, cold edge in his voice, “hasn’t condemned Emperor Cayleb for the murder of Prince Hektor because the Church doesn’t believe he was responsible for it. Obviously, condemning the rulers of the Church’s sole secular protector for an act of cold-blooded murder would be politically very difficult and dangerous. Nonetheless, I give you my personal assurance that Archbishop Maikel — and I — genuinely and sincerely believe the Emperor had nothing at all to do with Prince Hektor’s assassination. If for no other reason than because it would have been so incredibly stupid for him to have done anything of the sort! In fact –”
He closed his mouth with an almost audible snap and made an angry, brushing-away gesture before he sat back — firmly — in his armchair. The office was very still and quiet for several seconds, until, finally, Gairlyng stirred behind his desk.
“If you’ll recall, My Lord,” he said, and his tone was oddly calm, almost mild, considering what had just passed between him and Ahdymsyn, “I said I had four primary reasons for accepting this office. I fully realize that what you were about to say, what you stopped yourself from saying because you realized how self-serving it would sound, is that you believe it was Mother Church who had Prince Hektor killed.”
Ahdymsyn seemed to stiffen in his chair, but Gairlyng met his gaze levelly, holding him in place.
“I do not believe Mother Church ordered Prince Hektor’s murder,” the Archbishop of Corisande said very, very quietly, his eyes never wavering from Ahdymsyn’s. “But neither do I believe it was Emperor Cayleb. And that, My Lord, is the fourth reason I accepted this office.”
“Because you believe that, from it, you’ll be in a position to help discover who did order it?” Ahdymsyn asked.
“Oh, no, My Lord.” Gairlyng shook his head, his expression grim, and made the confession he’d never intended to make when these two men walked into his office. “I said I don’t believe Mother Church had Prince Hektor killed. That, however, is because I’m morally certain in my own mind who did.” Ahdymsyn’s eyes widened, and Gairlyng smiled without humor. “I don’t believe it was Mother Church . . . but I do believe it was Mother Church’s Grand Inquisitor,” he said softly.
“You do?” Despite all of his formidable self-control, and all of his years of experience, Ahdymsyn couldn’t quite keep the surprise out of his voice, and Gairlyng’s thin smile grew ever so slightly wider without becoming a single degree warmer.
“Like you, My Lord, I can imagine nothing stupider Cayleb could possibly have done, and the young man I met here in Manchyr is anything but stupid. And when I consider all the other possible candidates, one name suggests itself inescapably to me. Unlike the vast majority of the people here in Corisande, I’ve actually met Vicar Zhaspahr. May I assume you’ve done the same?”
Ahdymsyn nodded, and Gairlyng shrugged.
“In that case, I’m sure you’ll understand when I say that if there is one man in Zion who is simultaneously more prepared than Zhaspahr Clyntahn to embrace expediency, more certain his own prejudices accurately reflect God’s will, and more confident his intellect far surpasses that of any other mortal man, I have no idea who he might be. Prince Hektor’s murder, his instant transformation from one more warring prince to a martyr of Mother Church, would strike Clyntahn as a maneuver with absolutely no disadvantages, and I’m as certain as I’m sitting here that he personally ordered the assassinations. I can’t prove it. Not yet. In fact, I think it’s probable no one will ever be able to prove it, and even if someday I could, it wouldn’t suddenly make the notion of being subordinated to Charisian control magically palatable to Corisandians. But knowing what I know of the man, believing what I believe about what he’s already done — and what that implies about what he’s prepared to do in the future — I had no choice but to oppose him. In that respect, at least, I’m as loyal a son of the Church of Charis as any man on the face of the world.”
Zherald Ahdymsyn sat back once more, regarding him for several silent moments, then shrugged.
“Your Eminence, that’s precisely the point at which I began my own spiritual journey, so I’m scarcely in a position to criticize you for doing the same thing. And as far as the Church of Charis is concerned, I think you’ll find Archbishop Maikel is perfectly prepared to accept that starting point in anyone, even if it should transpire that you never reach the same destination I have. The difference between him and Zhaspahr Clyntahn doesn’t have anything to do with their confidence they’ll someday reach God’s goals. Neither one of them is ever going to waver in that belief, that determination. The difference is that Clyntahn is prepared to do whatever he must to reach the goal he’s dictated to God, while Archbishop Maikel trusts God to reach whatever goal He desires. And,” the bishop’s eyes warmed, “if you can actually meet Archbishop Maikel, spend a five-day or two in his presence, and not discover that any Church he’s responsible for building is worthy of your wholehearted support, then you’ll be the first person I’ve met who can do that!”
Some people may not like this stretch of dialog, but it is really good and helpful to the storyline. Unfortunately, making Maikel Staynair such a saintly man makes me think that he will sooner or later become a martyr for the Church of Charis.
If Maikel dies this early in the game, Charis loses. Oh, we could see a whole bunch of people make him a martyr, but unless its something truly epic, he won’t have the effect he has now. Sides, losing him means the top guy in the church might not know the truth. Also, we’ve seen no one who could easily take his place.
Reading this I was struck by how similar this assassination is to the murder of the ruling council of Komarr in the Vorkosigan universe. There too everyone with a hint of sanity agreed that it was a remarkably stupid thing to do. And that Aral Vorkosigan is anything but a stupid man. That however didn’t stop rebellions from cropping up for the next several decades.
Heh, now I need to go back and reread that series.
It does sound as if we may have a new branch starting out. One that agrees that “Mother Church” is corrupted but who finds it difficult to subordinate to the “Church of Charis” because it’s from a foreign land. As was posited previously, this may the be equivalent to the creation of say…Methodists from the Lutherans. I hope not the Calvins with their concept that everything is ordained from birth on whether you are blessed from God or not.
@3 Old friends like these will probably appreciate an occasional spontaneous and unannounced visit.
I thought that in one of the books Staynair left a list of people whom he considered worthy of replacing himself. I am sure that all of them are members of the inner circle. That is the first point. Secondly one of the reasons for the current conflict (though minor) is the right of rulers to apoint the Bishops in their area of jurisdiction. This would leave Caleb with the final say at this point unless he is dead then it is his wife or child in that order. With the exception of the unborn child’s influence I find it very hard to see the replacement being anyone not in the inner circle.
Lastly it looks like the Arch Bishop for Emerald is being lined up for a replacement role. In fact from a purely political point of view this would be almost ideal as it means that there is no favorits in the Church and even non-original member states can have high rank rulers in the church. Additionally there is huge millage to be had (as pointed out above) by being able to distance the church from Charis. On this point it might even be better to have a “Church of Corisade” unconnected to the “Church of Charis” as this would get to Merlin’s goals more quickly. Fragment the religeous thought and then reform is easier on each of the various smaller churches in different directions.
I really don’t see Staynair being martyred. Now a Miracle courtesy of OWL’s tailoring? That I see as a possibility….
@4 Karina, Calvin’s fundemental assumption would actually help Charis more. If Charis asserts that God is absolutely sovereign with respect to who is acceptible to enter His kingdom, then it follows that the Archangels and everyone else is removed from God’s perfection and omnipotence. That remove means their actions are NOT God’s. Where the argument goes from here is anyone’s guess. Yet that separation is essential to create theological transition away from the proscriptions and the Law as given by Langhorne.
It may be that such a theological transition is neccessary for exposing the Big Lie without complete chaos.
Ah yes! And, oh no not again! Weber has done another bullet-point list! Is he ever going to write a book without one?
@3, Elim, I think that is actually a decent analogy, although it is QUITE a stretch as well. I’m not quite sure how many people outside of Komarr believed Aral. It was more a matter of “didn’t care” on pre-Cordellia Barayar. Most of the rational people in Komarr would agree that it was a foolish thing to do, but I don’t actually remember anybody there being willing to admit it. And most of them didn’t care whether “The Butcher of Komarr” was responsible or not because who they were revolting against was his Emperor, not Aral himself.
But I agree that a reread may be in order. If nothing else it helps pass the time until April, right? :)
@7, Maggie, I too at least half-expect a failed assassination. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not, but I’m sure that the MWW could at least make it interesting to read if nothing else.
@8, PZ, my understanding of Calvin’s basic premise was NOT that God had complete control over who was acceptable to Him. In fact, I suspect that premise is shared by every version of Christianity ever invented (and most other religions as well). My understanding was that Calvin’s basic premise was that the acceptance or lack thereof was completely irrelevant to what you did in life and completely based on whether you had been “chosen” prior to birth.
Absolutely regardless of whether this idea has any merit in the real world (trying to avoid getting THAT argument started), would it really help Charis? I would think in many ways that this would be the exact opposite of helpful. In fact, saying that what you do as a human has no bearing on whether you will be accepted by God after death would seem in many ways to be exactly the position of the corruption of the existing Church! After all, they are the princes of the Church, they were born (selected from before birth) into a position that led to their power in the church and afterward whatever they did wouldn’t matter since they were born to be accepted!
No, I think Calvin’s premise is exactly backwards of what the Church of Charis is proposing. Or should propose, either.
I see that you have failed to understand Calvin’s position, RH. What you post is one possible result of his premise. To get there one must assume that God can never change His mind (bible evidence suggests that He does change his mind). If this last is true than why bother praying at all, since prayer is a plea for just that? I also don’t want to continue this argument in this forum, but will say the results are not as simple as you describe since we would get into a discussion of the Omniscient and Eternal nature of God.
I agree with you that an immutible pre-assigned salvation (for want of a better description) as you describe would not be helpful at all. What is helpfull is the stress that God is absolutely sovereign. He may impart some authority to others but that does not make the actor or his actions automatically good. Nor does this delegaton also mean that the individual also partakes of God’s omniscience. These concepts are just what the doctor ordered with respect to the CoGA and their Archangels.
I realize religion played an important part in history, mostly by causing wars and killing lots of people as painfully as possible. I have a history of the crusades and other histories; I got into this series because of the sci-fi, politics and military. Soon I’m going to go read my history books instead of fictitious religion.
The main problem with the Church of Charis asserting anything is that the CoGA will declare it blasphemy (unless it is fundementally contained in the writ). Doesn’t the writ say something about obedience to the word of the Archangels to be necessary, if Charis asserts that only God chooses who is acceptable to enter his kingdom, then they may be technically correct, but they are also ignoring portions of the writ. It will turn some people away from Charis and toward the CoGA.
They have to lead Safehold into a subtle change in theology, where one small step paves the way for the next. Of course the first step has to be the biggest, and most dangerous, but then they have already asserted that the CoGA is not perfect. Now the make it stand up in reality (by surviving), and in some years (a decade or more is likely) they can start the next step. It will be a couple of generations before the world is ready for the truth. It might even take a century or two, barring some miracle.
The key is slow process where people don’t really notice most of it as it happens.
One way to get peoples minds open to a different version of the history they know might be to have a sermon on the old saying “history is written by the victors”. For now, base it on what would be written about Caleb & co if Mother church wins vs. if Charis wins.
PZ and RH, As I understand it his position is largely to do with the concept of grace. By this he took the position that all actions are irrelevant to salvation and God will forgive a believer anything but the believer must believe for him/her self. This was fundermentally different to the Roman Catholic church of the time which held that anyone who was a child of a Catholic was a member. In fact at this point a better comparitor would be Martin Luther. In the case of book there are many similarities between the aim that Staynair had in sending his letter (and hundreds of copies else where for all to read) to the CoGA and Martin Luther had in attaching his letter to the church door (for all to read). This being to convince the population that faith is personel not institutional. In both cases there was lots of other complaint related to church coruption.
In this vein I go back to my position Merlin is better of with lots of churches than only one or two. This makes it easier to influence one group here and another group there. Doing this allows lots of changes simultaineously that would be regarded together as heresy but as stand alone items would get through. Then natural cross polination over time will get you further ahead.
However this doesn not seem to be a policy that Merlin can persue anymore as he has become too firmly entrenched in the Charis camp. This should lead to big problems for Merlin as he has traded flexability for loyalty and whilst Caleb and this generation might be worthy he is now in a position where he can’t change his plans if it all starts to go badly. I regard this as a particularly bad choice on behalf of the main character. He/she should have remembered that she is in this for the species and not for the individuals or one particular country. To this end giving access to OWL is in my opinion is particularly bad as he is starting to give the others rights to control his movements and access to OWL. If DW is going to play fair this absolutly has to bite the main character badly. On the other hand DW is not known for illumenating bad decisions on the part of his main characters as much as I feel that this Seijin deserves.
I just thought of a nasty turn of events that could happen.
1. There is a sleeping Archangel that can be awakened by the key.
2. When that Archangel awakens, it uses its SNARCs to assess Safehold.
3. Everyone knows it is a true Archangel because of its actions and how it is the same as its statues/pictures.
4. That Archangel after much soul searching declares that this religion and its writing are a lie, spilling all the beans on Terran history and what Langhorne and Bedard did.
Kim, plenty on Safehold would see that Archangel as a follower of Shan-wei or as another Shan-wei.
Sure Safehold would know that the Archangel was a ‘real’ one but even Shan-wei (in their minds) started as an Archangel.
@15…There is a lot in what you say and Merlin is aware of it at a conscious level, but at a deeper level, Merlin probably has violated the principle of acting for the in-group instead of the race on occasion.
It’s a trade-off that could come back to bite at some time, as you point out. On the other hand, to change a society as set in stone as Safehold, Merlin needs a committed “cabal” who are all pretty much in the know, trustworthy in the extreme, and willing to work over generational timespans. Merlin cannot ignore his responsibilities to that “cabal”, yet he must always remain aloof from it to the degree necessary to fulfill the higher mission.
It’s a dilemma. And, it’s one which will surely work its torturous way out over the years…and volumes.
@15 (added) I too think the idea of multiple churches is a good one. We’ll see if Merlin/Charis think so as well. Staynair just might come up with it on his own.
@18… Whilst I agree that Merlin needs to keep the “cabel” strong. He has given up flexability. In allowing them access to OWL and rights to govenern its behaviour independant of himself he has severly limited the amount of influence he can have. He can no longer do things that will benifit all but might not be what the “cabel” wants. He [Merlin] should be looking more closely at the history of the reformation. It was lots of indipendant actions (Martin Luther, John Calvin, Henry VIII and others) all persuing different goals (political, social, religeous) that forced the most change and brought on the huge advances of the renaisance (which is his medium term goal I am sure). Most of these people disagread with much of what the others did but all played a part. By all means keep a base to work from in the “cabel” but it would be more benificial to start sowing seads of technology similar to the intoduction of Newtonian physics in other places.
@16 (KimS) — A more interesting turn of events would be for the sleeping Archangel and Merlin to engage in trial by combat. The winner has God’s favor. The loser belongs to Shan-Wei. Merlin is a PICA with lots of super-duper technology. The sleeping Archangel is, well, an Archangel (in the minds of Safeholders), and he/she has lots of super-duper technology that nullifies many (if not most) of Merlin’s advantages. It could become even more interesting if, in the trial by combat, Merlin wins but “dies” then “comes back to life”. Of course, that would be really over the top, and I can’t imagine DW writing that into the Safehold story line. Still, it could have interesting/amusing implications for Safehold religious practices — St. Merlin’s Church or Our Lady of Nimue. :-)
“The key is slow process where people donâ€™t really notice most of it as it happens.”
This reminds me of the story of the pastor who decided that the piano in his church should be on the other side of the stage. He found out that it sounded better over there because of the acoustics of the room and a few other reasons, so he had it moved. And the congregation fired him on the spot.
A couple of years later he comes back to visit and what does he see?? but the piano is on the other side of the room! So he goes and asks his replacement about it. “I tried to move the piano and they fired me for it! How did you get them to let you do it?”
His replacement just smiled and said “I just moved it one foot each week.”
@#$%^&*()_+_)(**&^%$# to all you psyho-babblers!
#22: Hehe. I like to use the “boiling a frog” analogy I learned about quite a while ago, that if you turn the heat up gradually enough, you can boil a frog alive without it ever trying to jump out of the pot.
Of course, that’s a bit gruesome, so your “moving a piano” analogy is arguably more useful.