Parable Of The Islanders And Their Idols

On an island far away in the middle of a vast ocean, all the people spend their blood, sweat, and tears to obtain meat and food in great amounts. But not for themselves, no! This is solely to claim possession of little wooden idols. The entire population is obsessed with these religious trinkets.

The wooden idols themselves do nothing, but make the people feel that they “own a piece” of one of their gods. These are items of prestige, and the more one has, the more esteem they hold in the eyes of their fellow islanders.

So these islanders pass around the idols in exchange for the fruit of their labor, giving up ever more meat and food for especially coveted idols. When it rains, the rain god’s idols are can only be parted with for more meat and food. When thunder rumbles and and lightning strikes, the storm god’s idols are worth more. Several sunny days in a row are followed by the sun god’s idols commanding premium amounts of meat and food, while the idols of the storm god fetch only the smallest of fishes and flyblown fruit.

These wooden idols do nothing for the natives of the island, other than the religious importance of possessing these idols, and the hope that perhaps another islander will part with more meat and food for them. Some of the islander priests deliberately create more idols just to obtain meat and food.

A few, like the idols of the buffet god, keep commanding greater amounts of meat and food for those obsessed with possessing more of them, but otherwise do nothing for their owner. The buffet god has served no feast in all the time his idols have been in existence, though the fruit trees continue to multiply and the herd animals have fattened greatly over the years.

Interestingly, there does appear to be some magic going on. A small minority of the wooden idols actually produce a little meat and food without having to be traded away. Some provide only a tiny morsel. Others, a little more. These few, the wiser islanders come to realize, are the only ones that actually provide any value at all…

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