The Birth (and Curse) of Institutionalized Religion
A fable originally and cheekily published on Easter Weekend, 2016 for the Coffeelicious.

© E. Viona, March 26, 2016.


In the days before people wrote words, there stood a mystic mountain. Its summit held the secrets of existence: why we’re all here, if there is an afterlife, our true purpose, and such things. Those who reached the mountain’s summit would become privy to these secrets.

No one had reached the top before, but one man set out to be the first. He began climbing with little more than the clothes on his back and his determination, which he aimed at the clouds that obscured the summit.

There existed superhuman forces who guarded these secrets from humanity. Humans could challenge their power if armed with this divine knowledge. So when minions spotted this climber forging through the tree line, they rushed to their ruler in a panic.

“My liege,” shrieked an imp to his ruler, “this man intends to conquer the Mountain of Universal Truths!”

It was dangerous to anger this ruler, because he was a godlike being with power over life on earth, both real and imagined. This news angered this being now.

The malevolent being threw legions of his minions at the climber. These minions sabotaged the man’s climb with all sorts of bad luck and hardship. It slowed the man down and frustrated him, but it did not stop him.

The being then besieged the man with all sorts of illusions and temptation. The man’s thoughts and dreams became filled with worry. He ached for the comforts and loved ones that he left behind. He missed the safety that he once knew. The man was weighed down with regret, fear, and crippling awareness of his frailty. Still the man pushed onward.

Angered further, the malevolent ruler threw down the very wrath of the earth. Rockslides, hypothermia, starvation, dehydration, and thin air nearly killed the man. Armies of minions continued to bite at him. What nature and imps failed to damage, the man’s mind did the rest. Yet the man continued onward.

At last the man reached the summit, and all misery fled from him. The man’s eyes opened and he became enlightened — the first of us all to become so.

The minions rushed back to their ruler. “All is lost!” they wailed. “The man has learned the secrets of existence! He possesses knowledge of the universal truths!”

The ruler said nothing. Then he began to laugh. “That’s fine,” he said.

The minions shot each other confused looks. “But my liege,” stepped forward one. “He will share the universal truths with the others!”

Smirking, the ruler watched the man begin to descend the mountain with the universal truths.

“So we convince the man to institutionalize them,” the ruler said, still smirking.