A story about stories

Wow you made it to the secret ending! Great!

You might wonder: why exactly a secret ending? Isn't the official ending good enough? Well yes, I am rather satisfied with the official ending, but there is one matter I need to write off my chest. I'll explain.

I have, throughout the entire story, extensively summarized what other men have said. Yes I know, I am the narrator, so obviously my voice shines through. Nonetheless, I feel like I have chronicled, or perhaps synthesized, the ideas and events of other smarter men than me. Which has not been my purpose from the start. It just turns out that when you are standing on the shoulders of giants you have a tendency to simply describe what you see. And that's what I have done.

But I do have this one idea that has always stuck with me. I did not like to cram it into the official story, but here we are, in the basement of this website, which seems like as good a place as any to cram it into. So, let's get into it.

Messing around with code

I mentioned I had a fall-out with Jim. We made amends, but I did not go into our disagreements too much, because I did not think it was overly important for the story. But I think the disagreement was rather interesting, and I would like to get into it here.

What I said was basically: look Jim, everything you say is the absolute bees knees. We ought to make what you say religious canon. You should be a prophet and deliver God's word directly to us. But Jim said, no, I am not going to do that. I don't want to be a prophet -- prophets tend to have a short life-span. Instead he insisted on just being a man wanting society to return to God's fold as per Christianity.

This initially frustrated me. I was looking for the same kind of faith as we saw Andrew Torba espousing; the kind in which you fully surrender to Jesus Christ. I had the familiar problems in conciling the nature of Christ's resurrection with the scientific method.

Eventually, I came around to seeing that Jim was absolutely correct and that it was arrogant of me to demand him to do even more than he was already doing. Here's a man who has gone to extreme lenghts to hide his identity and speak the truth, and I tell him it's not enough? It was dumb. And there is also the unresolved matter of whether I'm even right in my assertion that we need a prophet. But I do believe there is something there.

We've talked about Christianity as social technology, meaning it is a manual for society to thrive. Jim argued that, like with programming, you can't throw out the code and start anew. Or rather, you can try, but you'll run into a million unforeseen problems. Much better to respect the old code and carefully add on to that, creating plenty of back-ups in case things go terribly wrong. Which is exactly what he has done regarding Christianity -- he has 'patched' it and turned it into a working software.

Now it is impossible to argue with the results of that. Looking at my own life, and looking at the comment section over at Jim's, it is obvious that his method bears fruit. Yet I feel like adding something still. What if we do mess around with the code a little bit?

 

 

The bible, summarized

We've discussed before how we really have no way of knowing what our purpose in this 'ere universe is. Yet, here we are, alive and well, with emotions and instincts and everything. So we might as well make the best of it.

OK, what is the best? Well, you can get all technical about it, but for the sake of brevity, let's just say: whatever makes a good story. Which is all religion really is. An ongoing story of our existence.

As societies die, so does their story. The Roman Gods no longer live. But the reverse is just as true: if societies survive, so does their story. Christian God lives still, and it has been one of the longest stories in human history.

The Christian story starts with Moses, arguably the first great prophet, who led his people out of a collapsing Egypt and into the desert. He did so under the banner of the Lord who had created the earth and guided His people. That's a fairly powerful story, no?

Moses did not conjure up the image of God out of thin air -- he built upon the traditions of his ancestors, Abraham among them, who was 'instructed by God' to cut of the foreskin of everyone in his tribe. Cutting off the foreskin seems harsh, but in terms of game theory you might see it as a manner to create group cohesion -- remember, we are always trying to get to a cooperate-cooperate equilibrium! Equally, Moses could have explained the Jews' exodus in terms of 'guys we need to stick together obey my orders otherwise we'll surely die' but he conveyed the exact same message much more succinctly by saying 'the God of our forefathers speaks to me, we damn well ought to listen and obey.' Did God really speak to Moses? In one way, no. We have no way to check of course, but all this 'God appeared in a cloud' business was probably Moses using some chemists' trick to make an impression on his people, and the voice in Moses' head was mighty likely just Moses' own.

But in another way, it is quite obvious that God spoke to Moses. God 'spoke' to Moses in the sense that Moses knew what his people had to do in order to survive a very tricky situation. And survive they did! Starting out as not much more than one family, they grew into the tens of thousands. Then, after being exiled from Egypt into the desert, they survived, and conquered other nations -- quite an impressive feat, which took many hard decisions, among them Moses' decision to murder thousands of his own tribe after they were caught worshipping false idols. And Moses' laws were written down so that they could be passed down long after he was gone. The Jews were thus, in terms of social technology and game theory strategies, ahead of their time.

But the story did not end with Moses! The beauty of having a line of prophets under one God is that your religion becomes easy to understand and transfer. It becomes a story that can be passed down generations. Which is exactly what the Jews did, thus keeping intact a sense of tribal identity. Even though its participants are born and pass away, the story itself continues throughout time, from Abraham to Israel to Moses to David and so on. They are kings and warriors and philosophers who share their wisdom with the Jewish people, but also betray their humanity through their sins. The bible thus becomes a historical tale, but a history interweaved with meaning. It is a tale that gives us a signal to the divine, even if the signal is distinctly human, seemingly random, and quite hazy.

This line to the divine continues in the second half of the Old Testament. The tone however changes. God grows increasingly displeased with his people. A long row of prophets preach that the Jews have lost their way are punished for disobeying God. These prophets are ridiculed throughout their lives, killed even, but in the bible still acknowledged as speaking for God since they are proven right in the end. From a Darwinistic perspective this is an impressive feat -- as the saying goes, is history not written by the winners? But in the bible, it is equally written by those who speak and understand truth, as if to say that in the end, truth wins. Impressive!

Unfortunately the Jews keep disobeying God's laws. Even though God grows angrier and angrier, the Jews still disobey, no matter what his prophets say. It gets bad. The prophet Ezechiel compares the Jews to a woman turned into a beautiful queen by God, only to later in her life murder her own children and whore herself out. And not just whore herself out, she pays men to have sex with her! The Jews were accused of worshipping false idols, sacrificing their children, lying, ignoring their God's commandments, and no end of other bad things. Note again that each of these events can be explained as humans doing human things, but in the context of God they can be tied together as a cohesive story.

So what happens next? Well, we all know what happens next... God, disappointed with his chosen people, sends us his son, Jesus Christ. Jesus gathers a group of disciples and gives us the good news: although the Jews have greatly sinned, they may still return to God by following Jesus, for to follow Jesus is to follow God. However, no longer are the Jews God's chosen people -- anyone who follows God's son, follows God, and receives God's love in turn. The prerogative that previously belonged to the Jews, now belongs to everyone.

But of course that is not all that the son of God brings to humanity. Jesus heals the sick and chases away demons wherever he goes. And Jesus does not just deal with the lost, he also deals with the Pharisees, e.g. the Jews who very strictly adhere to the rules set by Moses in Deuteronium. Jesus accuses them of following the letters of God's law, but not its spirit. In other words, Jesus accuses them of not understanding that the bible is a collection of stories meant to help people. As just one example, Jesus breaks the sabbath during harvest, for although the sabbath was meant as a collective resting day for God's people, that does not mean the sabbath can't be broken when important works needs to be done. Is the important work done, back to the sabbath. It's the spirit of the law that counts!

Also, just like Moses before him, Jesus dispensed all sorts of rules and wisdom. In the parabel of the golden coins he explains that investing and multiplying your money is good, thus endorsing capitalism. But at the same time he warns for too much greed, saying what do riches matter when you die? Jesus also says you must first turn the other cheek, which interpreted in terms of game theory means that you must offer 'cooperate' to initially hostile strangers as to give both parties the biggest chance to get to a cooperate-cooperate equilibrium. There is a very strong argument to be made that this formed the basis for the post-Roman Western civilisation: where other nations kept backstabbing one another, Christians always went that extra mile before they reached for the sword.

But Christ's biggest message of all was of course the simple fact that he was God's son sent to earth. Contrary to older prophets, who claimed to have a line with the divine, Jesus claimed to himself be divine. Within the context of the old testament there was plenty of precedence for this claim -- Zechariah, Daniel and especially Isajah all predicted the arrival of a messiah. Christ's disciples make it abundantly clear that the story of Jesus Christ is a clear continuation of the biblical tradition, fitting in to and adding on to the story until now.

Christ being the messiah gave him the exact gravitas that perhaps previous prophets lacked: a prophet can be ignored, a messiah cannot. One can imagine what went through the heads of Jewish priests at the time. 'Jesus, king of the Jews! He barges into our temples, destroys stuff, riles up the people against us, and - get this - claims he is the messiah! Meshugga!' So what did they do? They did the same thing they did throughout the latter half of the OT: they rejected Jesus. Complained to their subjugators, the Romans (because of course they were subjugated), and got Jesus nailed on a cross. Only for Jesus to come back from the dead three days later. Was this God's plan all along? Did He set a trap He knew the Jews would fall for? Was it merely a final test the Jews failed? Whatever God's intentions, by killing Christ the Jews decidedly lost their prerogative as God's chosen people, and just as Christ said, anyone, anywhere in the world, who accepts lord Jesus Christ into his heart is favored by God. These people would call themselves Christians, and they would have at their disposal not just the social technology of the Old Testament but also that of the New Testament. What an upset, what a story!

 

God's kingdom on earth

 

So after Jesus dies, resurrects, and returns to his Father, the bible tells us the story of the early spread of Christianity. Mostly through the letters of Paul, a Jew converted to Christianity. Paul travels through the near-East, spreading the good word, advising young and blossoming Christian communities. He is an honest man, understanding of people's differences, yet insistent that they stay true to the teachings of Jesus. He keeps it simple, repeating that they may thank the Lord for they have all been saved through the grace of Jesus Christ, who sacrificed himself out of love for mankind, meaning that it was also God himself who gave his life out of love for mankind. We must leave behind our old lives, and start our new lives as Christians. The time had arrived to bring about God's kingdom on earth, as Jesus had preached.

Now, what does that mean exactly? God's kingdom on earth... Well, the bible keeps it rather vague, but with the benefit of hindsight it is rather easy to explain. Ever since Constantine and king Alfred turned their nations Christian, ever since Europe became an amalgamation of Christians living on Christian lands, we have brought about God's kingdom on earth. God's kingdom on earth is a Gnon-ordained state of affairs, in which men live together under the harmony of God -- that despite their differences, despite their natural and completely healthy urge for warfare and competition, they are all men under the same God, striving to live in accordance with the spirit of God's laws. It is this state of affairs, this millennia-long pax Christiana, which has led to our scientific and industrial revolution, to us conquering the skies and planting a flag on the moon. Only when we live and behave as God's kingdom on earth are we capable of feats previously thought impossible.

Unfortunately, God has all but left our churches. Europe these days is straying ever further from God, much like the Jews in their latter OT days. One of Paul's iron rules was not to engage in forbidden sex -- these days we have big parades celebrating forbidden sex. We were once God's chosen people, now we are whoring ourselves out.

Even more unfortunately, who else can God turn to? There is no one else on earth besides us, no one else who can hear God's voice at least... Will he abandon us in favor of some alien race? Or will we abandon our sinful ways and re-establish God's kingdom? The outcome is far from decided...

 

The show must go on

 

I hope that at this point it is somewhat clear what I have been hinting at. I'll spell it out anyway.

A civilisation thrives when it inhabits a unified meaning. Who are we? What is our purpose? Why are we here? These questions need to be answered, and faith always provides the answer. Sometimes, a faith no longer provides a fully, satisfactory answer for all. This may be for a myriad of reasons. One of those reasons may be that the conditions in which the faith originally arose have changed thusly that the faith is in need for a new impulse. Christianity has had many churchian additions since Revelations, but it has had no biblical additions since Revelations. Which on the one hand makes sense, since Revelations explicitly forbids any additions, which has the benefit of preventing shills from muddling Christ's message. Yet on the other hand Revelations is an acid induced trip which may have come to pass, may have not come to pass, who knows, it's really kind of vague.

The takeaway of this is that, as strange as it sounds to our scientifically minded brains, the correct scientific conclusion of all this pondering is that the story of Christianity must continue. Which means men who hear the voice of God, who speak on behalf of God, who speak with the authority of God. The return of the prophets. We started with the God of Abraham, who became the God of the Jews, who became the God of all Christians. Just like the story did not end with Abraham, did not end with the Jews, so it does not end with Revelations.

So. Who will pick up the mantle? Who is crazy enough to hear God's voice? Be warned, it's not a fun occupation. Prophets have a rough life and a short life-expectancy. On the flipside, you'll achieve a place in the ongoing story of humanity. So there's that.

Course at the end of the day it's not really about choice. Your are either chosen or not. For instance, I have never heard God speak to me, so it's not like I--

*bzzzzzzz*

Hey what's that.

*bzzzzzz*

Oh that's my phone. Strange I swear the batter was dead... Just a moment let me answer.

Hello?

...

What?

...

You're calling to talk to me? Holy sh... I mean sorry I don't mean to curse. I was just not expecting this.

...

I should stop writing this down as I speak to you?

...

Disrespectful?

...

Yes I do have a childish sense of humor.

...

Yes Lord.

Excuse me for a moment dear reader, I need some privacy.

An unexpected phone call

Well you're never going to guess who I just got off the phone with. God! I'll tell you the conversation as close as I remember it.

I fell to my knees and said: Lord, please forgive our sins, for we have strayed far from your path. To which God responded: get up Alf and stop trembling, for I have come to tell you that I am a proud father.

So I asked: but Lord, look at what humans are doing. They have not just turned away from you, they are enthusiastically worshipping demons! To which the Lord responded: do you think this is the first time my people have turned their backs on me? My children's sins sadden and anger me greatly, but surprise me less. I have created a stubborn people.

The Lord continued: but I am happy, for I sent my son and you worshipped him as my flesh on earth. You built churches in my honor. You lived in harmony with my laws. You spread my word to the furthest corners of the earth. Kings and slaves knew my might, and were thus rewarded, for I was a proud father.

The Lord continued: And so, because man's piety of old pleases me, my wrath for the sins of the young shall be slow. I shall take away the holy spirit of the unbelievers. I shall cut their tongues. And in time, I shall punish these demon worshippers greatly. But my children, who have made me proud for so long, I will reward. Equally I will reward those who repent and return to my flock, as I have always rewarded those who love me.

I asked: Lord, how are we supposed to believe your omnipitence when we doubt the resurrection of your son? To which He responded: For I only reveal what you are ready to see.

God then continued: some read about me and say: 'I don't trust the stories! Science has discredited God!' They have forgotten that I did not just create man and earth. I created all the planets, all the stars, all the molecules and all the atoms. I created the very physics they claim disproves my existence. They are cursed with blindness, and are easily swayed by Lucifer.

The Lord then said: but as I curse those who deny my existence, so I curse those who deny the fruits of my kingdom on earth.

And the lord continued: some read about scientific advances and say: I don't believe these findings! They are too complex! They would rather find me in a piece of wood than in a nuclear fission reactor. They have forgotten that I have sent my son to tell you about my new kingdom, and that my kingdom will be built with more than sticks and stones. They are cursed with fear, and are easily swayed by Lucifer.

I asked: Lord, the kingdom built in your name has been overtaken by sinners and demons. What are we supposed to do? To which He responded: If it has already been overtaken by sinners and demons, why mourn its downfall? Let them eat each other, while my children rebuild my kingdom.

I asked: Lord, how are we supposed to do that? To which He responded: by returning to me. Everything that man has, man owes to me. Just as I have given it to them, I shall take it away, and only those who return to me shall keep everything I have given, and so much more.

I complained: but Lord, return to you? Is that all? Isn't there more you can tell us... To which He responded: I reveal only what you are ready to hear. If you demand more, well, personally I read Jim's blog.

And I said: then so will I, Lord.

And I asked: Lord, what does it all mean? Why did you create us? What is our purpose? To which He did not respond, for the call had ended.

So ended my phone call with God.

 

End

Well that was quite the unexpected turn. I had planned on writing something about how prophets and quite possibly Christ himself will have to make a comeback in order to continue the story. But I guess this is even better. Strange. I had really planned on saying more. Seems unimportant now. How can I possibly say anything more meaningful on the topic?

You know what, here's a link to some minor practical advice I'd like to share outside the scope of this story.

Otherwise I hope that you, dear reader, feel as inspired and certain of your telos as I do. May you find your way back to God, and may He reignite your heart with the holy spirit.

Thank you for reading, blessings upon you and your loved ones.