It’s been some time – years perhaps – since Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba has heard anyone speak of a “just so” story. The reference, in case you’ve forgotten, is to a volume of tales for children written, more than a century ago now, by British writer Rudyard Kipling. The stories are fictional, not to mention fanciful, explanations for how certain things came to be – how the elephant got his trunk, for instance.
YFNA came up with this tale as he was reflecting on recent political and social events in these Untied States. I’ve called it a just so story, because it seems pretty fantastic, but you, dear reader, may make up your own mind about how fictional it is.
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Many years ago, in the Desert on the eastern shore of the Sea, there was a Nation and its People. Now this Nation was part of a great Empire, and its People toiled under a great set of Rules. Some of the Rules came from the Emperor, but others the People imposed upon themselves, because they thought they had to do it. And the People were sad.
Then, one day, a Man appeared among the People, and he asked them “Why do you make yourselves follow all these Rules? You don’t need them! Follow me, and I’ll show you how!” And indeed, many of the People did follow him.
This Man died – some say he was murdered – but his chief Followers did what he told them to do, and they assembled a great Community. They lived together, holding all that they owned in common, and they discarded the Rules that had oppressed them. And they were happy.
But the Emperor was not. “Who are these strange People from the borders of my Empire, and why are they bringing their strange Ways to us? They will lead My people astray!” By which, of course, he meant that he was afraid that His people would stop doing what the Emperor told them to do.
The Community’s leaders heard about the Emperor’s suspicions and fears, and they became fearful themselves. “If we do not please the Emperor, he will strike us down! What good are our freedoms from Rules if we are not alive to enjoy them? What value our forbearance of our Community’s imperfect members, if for that forbearance we are put to death? We’d better purge our group of anyone deemed offensive, and start kowtowing to the Emperor. Or else.”
And this is how those who profess to follow a fearless Man, who promised release from obnoxious Rules, came to be known for their fearful adherence to oppressive Rules.
These “Christians” are with us to this day.