A fable set after the Millennium, when Satan is loosed for a little seasonpatterned after Luke’s New Testament account of Paul’s ministry.

  1. Redd had been a pious aspirant—a larval tool for old men and older ways; Jedd was a rock star—a tireless influencer for orphans of the stock.
  2. Nothing summons the wrath of networked men quite like an outsider going viral, so we weren’t surprised when they shamed Jedd, even as he chided his most foolish cosplayers. Of course, this is how cult plays out, but… seeing it happen in person felt sharp, like jagged stone cracking dry skin.
  3. And so it goes, the old texts confirm from beginning to end, we are caught up in a tale of brothers quarreling over the proper nature for brethren.
  4. Whether hemmed in or on the loose, Jedd had a way with anyone from a hostess to a jailer. A thought mover worthy of his street team, he reached certain hearts immune to the gravity well of a mob.
  5. Concerning the network, for over a thousand years they’d been the guardians of the Constitution in old Zion. Who was this man to come forward in a new season and make their God a little less knowable?
  6. Pressed by his cause, stretched by his followers, pushed by the fed, pulled by the hungry—this was Jedd.
  7. He turned the hearts of many who’d come to see AI as worshipful, as if streaming data should ever be reverenced like spirit matter. His followers threw down their smart devices, melting them with primitive fire. Those in industry SHOUTED AGAINST HIM; those newly converted SHOUTED FOR HIM; and many others SHOUTED FOR THE SAKE OF SHOUTING WITH THE SHOUTERS.
  8. So in a little season, matters go from fingers tickling screens to hands gripping knives, and too soon heroes set to daydreaming a good death while singing in the rain of our tears.
  9. When all that brethren have created becomes a thing they cannot control, they proclaim, “The will of the Lord be done.”
  10. One more time, Jedd turned uproar to silence, perhaps his greatest miracle: “It’s true I am a child of the stock, but I was one of the worst. Now I desire only to share the truth of my spiritual experience, of the voice which entered my mind, and the signal which came to my heart. Are we not all the last born, coming long after the first resurrection? Is any of us the very elect?” Then the viral mob resumed its uproar, marking Jedd for death. But when agents came at him with knives, he cried out to them, “Is there no help for a networked man?” And they gave him a temporary reprieve.
  11. The high priest of algorithm ordered Jedd’s fingers split open, even as the mob divided bitterly over how best to end him; nevertheless, Jedd’s earbuds spoke only of holiness and his feet pointed toward a salted basin.
  12. Next, the flatterers brought him before the arms dealers, hoping for a well-ordered execution. Jedd said to the leader of the armed, “Know I am condemned not for speaking, but for having been read and shared.”
  13. So that all brethren involved might be partakers of prestige, appeals for and against Jedd were made—back and forth, higher and higher. So may we all feel the rush of being rendered unto Caesar.
  14. Before a secular president, Jedd testified: “I was born a watchdog to those late-born who second-guess the first resurrection. Then a vision came to me, one given without a handheld device. I heard a trump sound; I saw one standing before me who had been weighed in the balance. He spoke my name, removed my shame, making me his minister and witness. He sent me out to preach repentance to all who love a Liahona more than the hand of god. This is all I have done.” The president frowned in the shadow of every brotherly dispensation—from first to last—knowing by virtue of his appeal to political prestige, Jedd had surrendered his life.
  15. Jedd was taken by high-speed rail toward the seat of government. He prophesied a near-fatal crash caused by wind and falling rocks, and it came to pass. The jailer and his prisoner walked arm in arm from the wreckage.
  16. Lucifer watched from the top of the mountains as Jedd let himself be taken into the Great Basin Kingdom. He saw a dull people growing keen. And the old serpent felt heaven’s cords binding him again, while pure religion’s final martyr preached openly in the capital.

Notes:

You can backtrack and read Acts of the Apostles: Part One.

This fable was developed by reading Acts in three translations: The King James Version, in particular the audio edition from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; the New International Version; and Thomas A. Wayment’s The New Testament: A Translation for Latter-day Saints. Each numbered paragraph corresponds to the chapter of the same number in Acts.

The featured image of ruins in Cyprus is from Dimitris Vetsikas on Pixabay.

Reactions are welcome in the comments section below, along with reflections on the teaching that Satan will be loosed for a short time following the Millennium.