In an effort to acquire more followers, the gods devised ways to set themselves apart from they others. In the old days, there had been no need for sweeping rules because a god and his follower were in constant communication. Each day was filled with advisement and actions and mistakes and adjustments with limitless guidance and patience. But with many followers to each god, it became necessary for each god to come up with a platform, to lay out some basic tenants, and to even brand itself.
One god mused: “People are noble, they want to work hard for a life of purpose. If I can give them rules that will guarantee a life of meaning, they will flock to me in great numbers.” So he made very strict rules for people about what to eat and when they could make eye contact and what to think at sunset and how to sing a song so that people could focus every minute of the day on the instructions and be sure that their life had meaning. Many people enjoyed the freedom of not having to think for themselves and they did indeed come to him in great numbers.
Seeing this, another of the gods said to himself: “That is folly! People are lazy, they would rather think of nothing at all than have to be obedient all the time. If I promise them that following me will guarantee that nothing will be required of them, they will flock to me in great numbers.” So he offered one hundred holidays per year and encouraged gluttony in all its forms and took away all the rules about what people could do with their bodies (he even gave some suggestions) so that people could know that they were truly unbound. Many people enjoyed the freedom that came with not having to think at all and they came to him in great numbers.
These two gods were so successful that, in time, the number of gods dwindled and humans followed one or the other. In time, this left the two powerful gods with many followers and a single other god with one loyal human to her name.
The last of the gods looked at the other gods and puzzled. She had remained non-aggressive, un-competitive for all this time. She believed in inter-deitic harmony, she mourned his now-distant brothers and sisters, and she ached over the folly of the competition between the other two gods.
She watched as the strict god constricted his rules ever tighter, constantly pursuing a greater purity. There was only one day of rest in an entire year and smiling was forbidden. The tired people who followed that strict god became ever more shrunken and weak. In their minds they were confused, the purpose they devoted to much energy to seemed out of reach. Any time they made a mistake they lost favor with their god and started over again. They hoped they wouldn’t die before they had a chance to re-accumulate their liberation. In desperation, many defected to join the ripe people of the lazy god.
She turned then to watch how, at the side of the lazy god, the people regained their color, they unclenched their minds, they smiled and stretched. She saw too how they stared at each other with expressions of constant bewilderment, each moment was a question that never received an answer. The lazy god removed boundaries even further to show his people how free they were- they need not leave the bed to relieve themselves, they need not ever bathe. Any time they followed the old ways of caring for themselves and their surroundings, the lazy god mocked and belittled them so that they stopped, and retreated back into their filth in shame. In time, many defected back to join the strained people of the strict god. The image of the pinched and confused expression on the faces of the people as they defected back and forth embedded itself into the mind of the third humble god.
She knew that it was only a matter of time before she lost her only follower if she did not act and she knew that the people of earth were doomed to absurd and empty fates without her help. But how to proceed? She saw she could not have the hardest rules, nor the weakest- that had already been done and anyway, it wasn’t working. There was logic in both, but neither was quite right.
She said to herself “people are both noble and lazy, if I promise them that following me will mean that their life will have both purpose and comfort, then they will flock to me in great numbers.” She determined that she would make one very strict rule, the ultimate requirement, which, once met, would promise his followers that no broken rule in their future could remove from her favor and guidance. So she puzzled mightily about what that rule should be. Kill your firstborn child? – That was no way to grow your flock. Mate with the foulest person in your village? – That was no way to build your great nation. Cut out your tongue?– That was no way to have praises spoken in your name. She puzzled some more. And finally found her answer.
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