There was something familiar with the well dressed man approaching Ante and Bjorn. Bjorn knew he had seen him before somewhere, but could not remember where. He was not surprised, though, when the man put out his hand for a handshake, introducing himself as Frederico.
He did indeed look very German, yet he spoke with a Brazilian accent. The man was probably, as Thomas had said, a third generation descendant of Nazi war criminals. But there was nothing immediately unpleasant or sinister about him. Quite the contrary, he seemed like a very nice guy. And when Bjorn asked about the symbolic significance of the armillary sphere, he was eager to explain.
"You are quite right," the man said with genuine enthusiasm. "It is indeed an old symbol of empire. You will find it quite commonplace in countries like Portugal and Spain, but I like to read a little more into this symbol than the merely superficial."
The man went up closer to the sphere to illustrate how the ball in the middle was the earth and the various bands represented the stars and the heavenly order associated with it.
"And as you know," Frederico concluded. "Heavenly order is guaranteed by God Himself. This is in other words not merely a symbol of any old empire, but the symbol of God's own empire, the Fifth Empire which I am sure you've already heard about."
"The Kingdom of God, in other words?" Bjorn suggested, curious to hear Frederico confirm this himself.
"Well... Not really. The Kingdom of God will eventually fill this empire completely, but the empire and the kingdom is not one and the same. Anyone can become a citizen of the empire. But to enter the Kingdom of God, you have to be a Christian as well."
"Or put another way. The Fifth Empire is the secular framework of the kingdom. In order to get to the kingdom, you first have to enter the empire."
Bjorn looked confused, and Ante looked like he felt a little embarrassed on Frederico's behalf. But Frederico was not the least bit deterred by this.
"You know the Golden Rule, right?" Frederico asked.
"Sure!" both Ante and Bjorn replied, with a nod.
"Well, the empire is where you go if you embrace this rule fully and wholeheartedly."
"And you do not have to be a Christian to agree with the Golden Rule, do you?"
"No, you don't."
"But you have to embrace this rule fully in order to be a Christian."
"It says so in scripture. The Golden Rule is the law. Everything else is just regulations, and any regulation that conflict with the Golden Rule is plain and pure evil. The so called laws out there that conflict with the Golden Rule are of the Devil. They are evil constructs that will ultimately be the end of civilization as we know it."
"That is a little rich, isn't it?"
"Not at all. How could doing something to a person that you would not want done to yourself ever be anything but evil?"
"Yeah, but the end of civilization?" Bjorn protested. "I mean..."
"So anyway," Frederico continued, breaking Bjorn off in mid speech. "The empire is the first step towards the kingdom. No one can get to the kingdom without entering the empire first. It is quite impossible, and that is what makes the empire so important to us. Not only is the empire a secular framework on which everyone can agree, it is the first steppingstone on our way to the His kingdom."