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Friday, June 17, 2011

The Prince of Light


The Prince of Light was written in April of 2008, but has never been blogged.
 
Once upon a time long, long ago, a kingdom reigned where the rich, strong and powerful committed violence against the poor, sick, and broken. Then arose a prince of light. He gave wealth to the poor and poverty to the rich; he brought health to the sick and pain to strong; he made the broken whole and the powerful broken. Many loved him and many hated him.

What he asked of the people of his kingdom was simple, but great. He asked them to do for one another what he had done for them: to care for the poor, heal the sick, and bind up the broken.

Knowing that these simple commands were much more difficult than they first appeared, the prince made two promises to those who decided to live out his message: he promised to help each one who called to him for help and he promised a reward in his kingdom.

Those who especially loved the prince decided to tell the world about the prince and his message. But the prince’s message became increasingly unpopular. Giving to the poor, healing the sick, and binding up the broken was too hard.

But his followers remembered that the prince had promised to help everyone who called to him. So they decided to tell people about their prince and his goodness. If they could persuade people to love to their prince, then the people would be ready to hear his message. So the followers spent many years telling people about their prince; they taught their children and their children taught their children.

Eventually, the world was filled with people who loved the prince. But the followers’ grandchildren no longer knew that teaching people to love to the prince was merely the first step to the true goal of helping people to live his message. So the grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren only heard that a prince of light lived who promised a reward in his kingdom to those who loved him. Many generations never heard what he asked them to do.

Finally, one of the great-great grandchildren read about the prince and discovered his message. He began to teach people to live the message. But he neglected a critical piece: he forgot to tell people that the prince promised to help anyone who called to him for help. So this great-great grandchild’s followers became wearied and burdened and they toiled for long days living a message that was too hard for them.

In time, the story of the prince and his message was widely published. But rumors still spread through the world about who he really was and what he really taught. Some wondered whether he ever existed at all. Those who believed he did spent much time arguing. They argued over which of his qualities he really had, what he actually said, whether it was more important to believe in some facet of his identity or do what he said. Once that was decided, they argued over which facet or what message was the most important.

Everyone wanted the reward, but each believed something different was necessary to get it. Whatever each decided, it was usually easier than doing what the prince had asked and rarely required calling upon him for help. Worried about their children, many searched for rituals their children could do. Some even found rituals so easy they began performing them on behalf of their babies. That way, their babies could receive the reward regardless of early death or poorly lived life.

Whatever they believed, they argued about it. Argue, argue, argue: this was the reputation of the princes’ followers throughout the land. Eventually, argument turned to violence. Some followers were so incensed with anyone who disagreed with them that they committed murder against them.

In a painful story of paradox, the prince’s message to care for the poor, heal the sick, and bind up the broken was twisted into exactly the opposite activity. The rich, strong and powerful were once again committing violence against the poor, sick, and broken. But this time, the atrocity was greater; it was done in honor of the prince of light.

After much time, the prince of light surprised everyone and came back. His followers had expected to delight in his return, but they soon discovered his displeasure in them. “If you loved me,” he asked, “why did you not live my message?” “And if you loved me, why did you not call to me to help you do what I asked?”

Once again, the prince returned light to his kingdom. He gave wealth to the poor and poverty to the rich; he brought health to the sick and pain to strong; he made the broken whole and the powerful broken. Many who thought they loved him now hated him and many who thought they hated him now loved him.

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