Republic of Shalampax
An Inane Island in an Insane World
 

Zeroism

At the beginning of time, a children's expandable sponge bath toy fell into an enormous sphere of water floating in an immense, infinite space. Apart from the sponge bath toy and the sphere of water, space was a vacuum. In the absence of constraints, the sponge bath toy expanded into a god, known as God Zero.

How did the bath toy and sphere of water come to exist, you ask. That is not for us mortals to know. They just did. That should be enough for you. Even the gods don't know the answer to this eternal question.

Speaking of the gods, God Zero created seven other gods, known as God One, God Two and so on. God Zero felt that creating seven gods was a full, respectable life's work, even for a god, so he went into retirement after assigning to the other gods the tasks of creating the universe and all of the creatures in it, or, rather, all of the creatures that were to be in it after they got to work creating them, and then watching over their creations for the rest of time. Gods One through Seven worked collaboratively on their universe creating tasks.

Now, the active gods work in shifts to manage and administer the universe. God One works Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. God Two works weekdays 4:00 p.m. to midnight EST. God Three takes the midnight to 8:00 a.m. EST shift. In return for having to work weekends and twelve-hour shifts, Gods Four and Five are required to work only 24 hours a week rather than the usual 40. God Four works midnight to noon and God Five works noon to midnight on Saturday and Sunday. Gods Six and Seven cover the other gods' generous vacation, sick leave and statutory holiday allowances.

To avoid offending any of the active gods, the religion was named after the one god who has retired and who doesn't give a good god damn what the hell the religion is called. Hence the name "Zeroism."

Worship

Three times a day on weekdays and twice a day on weekends, just after the beginning of God One through Five's shifts, we stop wherever we are, put down whatever we are doing and engage in a half-hour's worth of prayers, even if that requires setting an alarm clock to wake us up. Praying includes a lot of bowing, kneeling and beating of chests as we repeatedly chant, "I know I say this to all the gods, but you, (fill in the on-shift god's name here), really are the greatest of all gods. Those other gods mean nothing to me. Really. I was just humoring them when I prayed to them. Honest."

Keeping on the good side of Gods Six and Seven is a problem because we haven't got a clue as to when they're filling in for one of the other gods, but we give it our best shot. At the exact second of a god shift change, we chant one quick prayer to God Six and Seven in the hope that He or She will hear it while the other gods are going off shift and, therefore, not listening. We are more than a little concerned that Gods Six and Seven will get infinitely pissed off at us if we pray to one of the other gods when, in fact, God Six or Seven is filling in for Him or Her, but what can we do? We're mere mortals and don't know the way or the schedule of the gods, so landing in deep doo-doo with the deities is probably our alliterative fate no matter how hard we try to keep in the gods' good graces.

Afterlife

Each of the seven active gods maintains a separate Heaven. When we die we become angels and we are assigned to a Heaven on a rotating basis. So, for example, if the person who died immediately before you somewhere in the world went to God Four's Heaven, you'll end up in God Five's Heaven, assuming, of course, that you have been good enough or you have offered sufficient donations to the church to warrant going to any Heaven. Thus, you have only a one in seven chance of seeing any particular one of your loved ones in Heaven, that is assuming that you can even spot him or her in the crowd up there. With all of the people who have gone up to one Heaven or another over the millennia, the Heavens have become lousy with angels these days.

In theory, you can apply for a transfer from one Heaven to another to be with, say, your spouse or to be apart from, say, your spouse, but because the gods are compensated on a per-angel basis, they are reluctant to part with any of their angels. Rumor has it that they will do so if they are paid a large sum of money, but because no one has yet been able to disprove the old adage, "you can't take it with you," no angel has so far been able to raise the necessary cash. 

Because each god is responsible for decorating His or Her own heaven, each Heaven looks different. Pray that you are assigned to God Three's Heaven because She's decorated the walls with a paisley pattern that is to die for.

Commandments

In the past, we would have followed God Zero's original command to smite nonbelievers, but we rewrote the commandment and stopped the practice of smiting, partly because it was inconsistent with the "thou shalt not kill" commandment, but mostly because we discovered that we did not fare well in prison.

Dietary Laws

The eating of leeks is strictly forbidden. All Zeroist farmers devote half of their fields to leek, but these crops are never eaten or sold because as Schmuel, one of God Three's early prophets, said, "Blessed are the leek for they shall inherit the earth."

Some scholars have argued that this is not an accurate recording of Schmuel's words and, therefore, the wasteful leek growing and non-consumption practices should be abandoned. However, all of those scholars have been excommunicated and their words ignored.

Holidays

We celebrate God Zero's birthday and retirement date, January 1 and December 25, by refraining from all work on those days. We also celebrate the birthdays of Gods One through Seven, February 5, March 17, May 12, June 24, August 5, September 29 and November 13. We've incorporated into our worship rituals prayers for the early retirements of Gods One through Seven so we can get some more days off and not have to worry about praying to them all of the time.


Tithing

God Zero is retired and asks nothing of us. Gods One through Seven, on the other hand, demand our respect and insist that we tithe in their honor to the church. Seven Gods, one tithe each, that's 70% of our salary that we must fork over to the church or face the consequences, if not in this world then in the next.

Pray ye that God Zero does not create any more gods. If he creates four or more additional gods without any of Gods One through Seven retiring then there will be no way to avoid being eternally screwed.

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