Rev. Mark H. Creech
Once upon a time, in a land named Arran, which means “very wealthy,” there was a man named Eli, who was known as one of the Architects of Policy. Eli was beloved and respected by many because he governed with such wisdom, honesty, and fairness.
In those days, the Greed Games were quite popular. Participants, who were called Risk Enthusiasts, would run a treacherous obstacle course filled with promises of tantalizing riches. But Eli knew the games exploited the impoverished, who would chance their mental health, familial relations, financial stability, and even enslavement and death in pursuit of the Tidy Sum.
The route of play was glamorous and possessed an enchanting ambiance. Everywhere was illuminated by a kaleidoscope of lights, capturing the essence of a never-ending party. Lined along the main course of the Greed Games were iconic buildings of magnificence, opulent and elegant, adorned inside with intricate decor and glittering chandeliers. Vulnerable guests and candidate Risk Enthusiasts were lured from far and near, and provided with world-class entertainment and incomparable dining experiences. The course and its surroundings were a bustling place, a place where the desperate wished to escape the mundane, and where the craftiest of marketers manipulated their emotions, selling a counterfeit hope from which they would get no return.
Compared with the number of Risk Enthusiasts, who took part in the games, only a tiny fraction would leave as winners. It was the Thrill Wizards, the promoters of the games, who walked away with exorbitant sums from plundering participants. Despite the Thrill Wizards’ rigging of the games, creating unequal playing courses which ensured their own wealth grew immeasurably, more and more were overcome by their magic – a potion of cupidity mixed with envy, discontent, irrationality, and a rabbit’s foot.
The Greed Games were not allowed in the enchanted Old North Land of Arran where Eli lived. They had generally been frowned upon there. But then came the Persuaders, dozens of them, most of them well-heeled by the Thrill Wizards, who raided the Upper and Lower Houses of law, and foxes leaped from their mouths, slyly soliciting the Architects of Policy to be their friends, to normalize, to legitimize and preside over their fraud, for a handsome piece of the Tidy Sum.
Except Eli was not deceived by the cunning foxes. He believed permitting the Greed Games would be unwise for his homeland. He knew these games were duplicitous, dangerous, and diabolical. The Persuaders and the foxes that leaped from their mouths only made the games seem respectable. Nor was he overcome by the spell craft of the Thrill Wizards.
But as time passed, Eli’s resolve started to waver. He witnessed the fame of the games and the captivating power of the Thrill Wizards’ charms. He saw other Architects of Policy warm to them as a quick solution to various economic challenges, compromising and eroding values once held as fixed and dear. Some were now saying the games were a matter of freedom. They argued the Thrill Wizards should be free to steal, defraud, hook and crook, break down, use and manipulate, and financially rape, as long as they could hitch it to a good cause.
One sad day, the bewitchments of the Thrill Wizards, the Persuaders and the sly foxes that came from their mouths, finally proved too strong for Eli. He began to feel quite lonely as he held tightly to his virtue, especially when labeled a backward-looking old hat. Over and again, he was told his resistance was futile.
Swayed by such pressures, Eli dissuaded himself from believing the verifiable and serious sundry warnings about the games.
“Maybe they aren’t so bad, after all. Maybe it will be alright. Maybe, the games really will provide excellent jobs and affluence,” Eli said to himself. “If the polls favored it, how could so many be wrong?”
So, Eli strategized, proposed, and endorsed a plan to codify the Greed Games in the Old North Land. His silver tongue, which had previously been used to impart insight, was now employed by a dodgy fox, too. Eli proceeded to convince his fellow Architects of Policy there was no longer a true north, the games were not necessarily evil, the Thrill Wizards were simply entertainment specialists, and the Risk Enthusiasts had a right to consensual theft.
“The time has come for the Upper and Lower Houses of law to embrace the Greed Games and get a portion of the Tidy Sum,” argued Eli. “O, you can abuse just about anything, I suppose. We can even take a dash of the Tidy Sum to help fettered Risk Enthusiasts who have lost their liberty. Furthermore, we will apply the considerable capital to public services.”
Though the argument sounded right, it didn’t feel right. Nonetheless, most went along.
But within a few years, it became abundantly clear that Eli’s change of heart had devastating consequences for many in the Old North Land – consequences their government, which was pledged to protect them, had facilitated. One of the worst of which was people who never played the games were made responsible for helping bear the costs of the myriad of problems caused by them.
Very few Risk Enthusiasts would ever recover their freedom, despite offers to help them, for the sorcery of the Thrill Wizards was too strong, and without enslaved Risk Enthusiasts the profits from the Greed Games couldn’t be sustained. Moreover, there was no amount from the Tidy Sum that could replace the loss of life’s most precious endowments. Those were gone forever.
Typically, the electrifying sounds of the games: the ringing of bells, the laughter, the cheering, would drown out the sounds of chaos and suffering. It was only the upright in heart who could hear the weeping, the moaning, and the worry-laden voices frantically asking themselves what to do.
One day, a lone voice dared to challenge Eli for what he had done. A wise sage named Lightbringer, known for his ability to extract truth from a web of deceit, and an earnest follower of the Book of Sacred Writ, stepped forward.
Seeking an audience with Eli, he yearned to make him realize how foolishly he had acted.
Lightbringer approached Eli and spoke softly, weaving a tale about a powerful King recorded in the Book of Sacred Writ. This King misused his power. “Architects of Policy are supposed to be ethical and protect their subordinates,” Lightbringer said to Eli. “But this King, along with many others from his roundtable, coveted what didn’t belong to them. They abused their authority by establishing an alliance with Sons of Belial who looted and pillaged their own subjects.”
The story incensed Eli. “Surely this King was brought to justice?” he queried. “He and his accomplices, everyone, is worthy to suffer similarly.”
“You are correct,” Lightbringer said with a raised eyebrow and a piercing gaze.
Suddenly, the parable lodged deeply within the Architect of Policy’s conscience. It struck him with a thunderbolt, rousing him out of his self-delusion. He wept, acknowledging the significance of his betrayal. With newfound determination, he pledged to right his wrongs.
He rallied his fellow Architects of Policy. He stood before them humbly admitting his mistake. He confessed his folly, and beseeched them to aid in rectifying the damage he had helped create.
And so, the saga of Eli, once an Architect of Policy, who lived in the enchanted Old North Land of Arran and strayed from the way of the Just, serves as a timeless reminder.
It is a story of inordinate affection for wealth and the way it can cloud even honorable intentions, leading to immense suffering. It is a yarn that entreats us to cautiously consider the weight of our actions, warning us of unsavory influences by seedy characters, and unholy alliances. It is an account that points to the critical need of those who bring light, and the immeasurable importance of repentance and redemption.
An allegory is a special kind of story where characters, events, and objects represent deeper meanings or ideas. It’s like hiding a secret message within a story. The characters and events seem ordinary, but they actually symbolize something else. The purpose of an allegory is to convey concepts in a new and hopefully a more engaging and relatable way. It can be thought of as a story within a story, inviting readers to explore deeper layers of meaning and discover hidden truths. A good allegory keeps you thinking for a while. However, not everyone will get it.
This is an allegory about government sanctioned gambling. More specifically, it is about efforts to expand gambling in North Carolina. For those who struggle with allegories, the following key may help:
- Eli, Architect of Policy: North Carolina Legislative Leader (Can be any state legislator, governor, etc.)
- Arran: Wealthy America.
- Architect of Policy: A lawmaker, a government official.
- Greed Games: Forms of gambling or gaming.
- Risks Enthusiasts: People who gamble.
- Route of Play, Main Course: Casinos, Gaming Strip.
- Thrill Wizards: Gaming Operators, Managers, Promoters.
- Old North Land: “The Old North State,” North Carolina
- Persuaders: Lobbyists for gambling interests.
- Foxes from their mouths: Cunning and false arguments.
- Upper and Lower Houses: The state legislature, Senate and House.
- Tidy Sum: Immense proceeds from gambling.
- Lightbringer, a bearer of truth.
- Book of Sacred Writ: The Bible, the Holy Scriptures, Old and New Testaments.
- Sons of Belial: Biblical term for the morally corrupt.
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.