Out of a pool of light, they came - some call them the angels, for showing us the way. Others call them demons for destroying what was. Perhaps "messengers" is closer to the mark. Before the messengers appeared out of nowhere, we lived in harmony. All of us adhering to the teachings of the book. There was no question on what those teachings were, how they ought to be understood, how they applied. Everyone did what they were supposed to do - we all lived by the book. There was cohesion in our lives - a strong bond of unity. We were content with the way things were.
So when the messengers first appeared, we were startled to meet anyone who had not heard of The Book and as a result did not live lives according to the Book. We did know anyone could live that way. How could one lead a happy, moral life apart from the Book? So we decided to share with them The Book, we gave each of them a copy and invited them to join us so that they might learn the interpretation and application of the text and live as we do.
Before they arrived, gatherings were simple. We came together, the Book was read, we were told what it meant and how to apply it. At the first meeting, the messengers did nothing but disrupt the gathering. One asked: "Is this passage a metaphor or absurd exaggeration to make a point?" Another spoke up: "Could this be interpreted the other way around, as well?" The third pondered: "Is this the original language or an interpretation?" And the fourth concluded: "It seems to me that the application could be just as valid if lived out this way, rather than that way." Since these were all legitimate ideas, meant in a good-spirited curiosity, we called upon the leaders of the gathering to answer them - as the rest of us were unprepared for such inquiries - not having had any disagreement on the Book as far back as the oldest of us could recall. The leaders decided to spend the evening consulting each other on the matter, studying the official commentaries, and would get back to us in a special gathering once they were ready to answer the questions.
But that would take time, and the impressionable youth were awe-struck by these messengers who had a new way, a different perspective of looking at things, owing to their upbringings without the guidance of The Book. The idea they latched onto was the messengers concept of love. The messengers came from a place where there wasn't just one book, but there were many. Not all of them believed in the same book and the ones who did have the same book had different interpretations of it. In their book, there was a story about a being who made the rules, but his love for the human beings he made could not be denied. He broke the rules and found a way to save human beings in the process. Obeying rules is a kind of love, but sometimes loving people means breaking the rules. There was one story, about a woman who was caught breaking the rules. Their teacher said that whomever hadn't broken a rule ever may be the one to punish her. But everyone there had broken the rules except for the teacher. When he looked around and saw that the people who wanted to punish her were gone, he had no desire to harm her and let her go. It was the teacher's love that broke the rule that rule-breakers must be punished.
In the hours between the disrupted gathering and the elder's special gathering, this idea of breaking the rules for the ones you love began to spread like wildfire. The messengers had fully read The Book and had different ideas about interpretation and application and meaning and significance.
In the hours between the disrupted gathering and the elder's special gathering, the adults watched nervously as the youth were being swept up into something new and dangerous. They were falling away from the one interpretation of the book and choosing to believe in different interpretations. They talked about this love that breaks the rules and asked: "If you love me, you would break the rules to release me from punishment, right?" The adults had no idea what to make of these strange ideas.
By the time the special gathering had been called, the elders were faced with an entirely new problem. This fusion of new and different ideas had eroded the system - it destroyed centuries and decades worth of compliance and brought discord and dissension. Their answers were all but ignored - "The Book is to be understood in the manner in which it is read." "There is one interpretation of the Book." "The language of the Book is that in which it is written." "There is one application of the Book and that is according to the one interpretation of the Book." All seemed irrelevant in light of the question on love. To them, the loving thing to do was to obey; was it not written: "Obedience is love and to love is to comply with the authorities over you."?
Towards the end of the meeting, the messengers were called away - as suddenly and strangely as they had appeared - in like manner they left.
"This will all blow away," One leader remarked, "So long as we adhere to the Book, then we will live in an order of peace and harmony, as we were before, so shall we be again."
"It's all too true, my friend, the youth often brim with excitement over every new thing, but new things eventually become old and tired. They will lose interest soon enough." Another agreed.
"Change is dangerous. Better to stay the course. Section three, chapter nine, verse sixteen." One stated. They all nodded in agreement. Now was not the time to break with tradition.