This morning as I was picking the wings off of flies to see if I could get evolution moving a little faster, there was a knock at my door. When I answered the door I found a well groomed, nicely dressed couple. The man spoke first:
Fred: "Hi! I'm Fred, and this is Wilma."
Wilma: "Hi! We're here to invite you to come express loyalty to Hank with us."
Me: "Pardon me?! What are you talking about? Who's Hank, and why would I want to express my loyalty to him?"
Fred: "If you are loyal to Hank, He'll give you the natural reward for loyalty; just like if you work for a company for long time and do well, they rightly reward you. And if you aren't, He won’t give you any rewards, but He will just leave you on your own to your own shame.”
Me: "What? Is this some sort of bizarre mob shake-down?"
Fred: "Hank is a billionaire philanthropist. Hank built this town. Hank owns this town. He can do whatever He wants, and what He wants is to give you a reward for loyalty, but He can't until you are loyal to him."
Me: "That doesn't make any sense. Why..."
Wilma: "What do you mean, ‘that doesn’t make any sense’? Do you think these houses built themselves? Don’t you think you should be thankful to the person who built it and let you live here?”
Me: "Well no, I think these houses just
sort of flew together in a storm one day."
Fred: "I can see why this doesn’t make sense to you then."
Me: "Do you show loyalty to this ‘Hank’ often?"
Wilma: "Oh yes, all the time..."
Me: "And has He given you a million dollars?"
Fred: "Well no. We don’t serve Hank for the reward. We serve Hank because He has earned our trust and loyalty.”
Me: "Huh? But I wanted money."
Wilma: "I suppose if you think these houses came out of nowhere, that’s to be expected."
Me: "Well gosh. It sounds like there’s really nothing in it for me. Do you know anyone who was loyal to Hank, left town, and got the rewards?"
Fred: "Does it really matter? The rewards are not the issue; it is that Hank is a real person who did real things like build your house.”
Me: "Yeah, but I want money, man. Have you seen the price of beer lately?”
Fred: "I’m sorry, but your priorities seem a bit skewed. Remember, if you don't follow Hank he’ll leave you alone…but you won’t be able to achieve your fullest potential that Hank intends. He’ll leave to spend the rest of your existence in boredom and disgrace.”
Me: "Maybe if I could see Hank, talk to Him, get the details straight from Him..."
Wilma: “What makes you think you’d hear any different? Aren’t you just fudging to create a problem?"
Me: "Then how do you show loyalty to Hank if you don’t see him?"
Fred: "We serve Him and His interests. Don’t tell me you need to see and talk to a person to work for them. Have you ever seen the President of this country?”
Me: "Well, no, but --"
Wilma: "We learned about Hank by the record of what He did in history. The records taught us all about Hank and why we should be loyal to Him – because of all that He did, and because He is who He is."
Me: "Huh. And you just took these records at their word when they said there was a Hank, that Hank wanted you to be loyal to him, and that Hank did all this stuff?"
Fred: "No, we checked out the validity of the record and what it said, and compared it to other records. One of Hank’s officers, Karl, wrote down some of it; there were others, too, but here's a copy of what Karl wrote; see for yourself."
From the Desk of Karl
Be loyal to Hank for He has earned your loyalty by providing you with life and all you have.
Use alcohol in moderation.
Pursue righteousness. Don’t misuse this as an excuse to define “righteousness” in your own image.
Hank dictated this list Himself.
The moon is white and shining.
Everything Hank says is right.
Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
Don't use alcohol if it becomes too strong.
Eat your wieners on buns, no condiments.
Be loyal to Hank or He'll leave you to your own devices.
Me: "This appears to be written on Karl's letterhead."
Wilma: "What’s your point?"
Me: "I have a hunch that if we checked we'd find this is Karl's handwriting."
Fred: "So what? When Karl wrote this 95% of people in this town couldn’t read anyway. Most communication was by dictation. Do you have a problem with that? Why not just address the epistemic validity of what is written?"
Me: "I thought you said no one gets to see Hank?"
Wilma: "Not now, but years ago He would talk to some people."
Me: "I thought you said He was a philanthropist. What sort of philanthropist hurts of people just because they're different?"
Wilma: "So you think that Hank ought to give rewards to ungrateful people?"
Me: "Maybe your friend Karl just made the whole thing up."
Fred: "So prove it. We did our research and we found that all that Karl wrote is sound.”
Me: "But 9 says 'Don't use alcohol.' which doesn't
quite go with item 2, and 6 says 'The moon is white and shining,' which is just
Fred: "See, you haven’t done your homework at all. 2 and 9 were both written before alcohol was strong enough to knock your socks off. As far as 6 goes, I suppose you don’t use the word ‘sunset’ in your vocabulary.”
Me: "Scientists have pretty firmly established that the moon reflects light, not that it shines..."
Wilma: "They’ve also established that the sun doesn’t ‘set’. So what is the problem, exactly? Do you have a problem with phenomenological language?"
Me: "I'm not really an expert. I don’t even know what that word means."
Fred: "Obviously not.”
Me: "Item 7 is a real trip, though.”
Me: "You can use it to say Hank's always right because the list says so, the list is right because Hank dictated it, and we know that Hank dictated it because the list says so. That's circular logic, no different than saying 'Hank's right because He says He's right.'"
Fred: "Well, sorry to disappoint you, but we did check out the claims and as far as we have found, item 7 is valid. If you think it isn’t you need to explain why.”
Me: "Maybe later. I need a beer. What's the deal with wieners?"
Wilma: She rolls her eyes.
Fred: "Oh, yes., Wieners, in buns, no condiments. It was written at a time when there were serious problems with condiments being poisoned by poor processing methods, so Hank included a ban on condiments. Buns are required because when this was written, there were no napkins, and people got the grease from the wieners on their fingers and it caused a lot of accidents. These days since we have napkins and better sanitation, we don’t worry about that law.”
Me: "What if I didn't have a bun?"
Fred: "What kind of silly question is that? I told you why the bun was needed. Are you so selfish that you’d risk hurting people just so you don’t have to put up with a bun?"
Me: "No relish? No Mustard?"
Wilma: “Didn’t you hear a word he said? Relish and mustard at the time this was written was deadly.”
Me: (I stick my fingers in her ears.)"I am not listening to this. La la la, la la, la la la."
Fred: "I can see we’re wasting our time with someone who lives in his own little world.”
With this, Fred escorted Wilma to their waiting car, and sped off. I went back inside for a beer. (Or, try this version.)