This is the tale of the life and death of lightbulbism, a world religion that was so popular...it almost mattered.
It all began on the day a college freshman arrived at his dorm room to find it completely empty aside from a lightbulb hanging from the ceiling, a rusty bed, a rotting cabinet and several dead bodies.
His name was Rudolph, and he was mastering in psychology, if that's how you spell that word. This was his first day of class. He cleaned the bodies out of his room before heading off to class.
"Hello, you little bastards," said the professor as the students filed into the room. "I expect you're here to learn about physiology, or whatever the hell it is I'm supposed to be teaching. Not that it matters in the slightest."
The students sat in stony silence. "I'm supposed to take attendance, but I can't pronounce half your names so I'll just randomly mark a few of you absent."
The students started expressing anger at this. The professor laughed uproariously. "This, my friends, is what psychology--or however you spell that word--is all about. You all reacted with anger. Animals. Sheep. Your behaviour is as easy to predict as the weather. If you step on a cat's tail, it will hiss at you. If you tell a student you'll mark them absent, they'll get angry. Humans are animals. Their behaviour is just as predictable."
"No it isn't!" said Rudolph indignantly.
"You are the 45th person to say that to me," said the professor, "I get that response from every single person I say that to. Humans are like robots. The human mind is drearily predictable and easy to manipulate."
The rest of the class passed by in the same way. The professor talked and talked about how sheep-like humans are. Rudolph was furious by the end of the lesson.
"I've got to prove him wrong," said Rudolph, "I've got to prove that humans aren't easily manipulated. That they're capable of independent thought."
So he went back to his dorm room and thought it over, staring at the lightbulb that hung from his ceiling. Suddenly, he had a brilliant revelation. He'd make up a religion. He'd simply fabricate it. Then he'd try to convert everyone on campus. Surely nobody would listen to a religion as preposterous as "lightbulbism!" He'd prove that professor wrong. Humans weren't sheep.
The next day, as students were headed to class, Rudolph flung the windows of his dorm room open and looked out at them.
"Here I go," he said to himself, "Let's see if any of them are dumb enough to listen to the nonsense I throw at them."
He bellowed: "MY FRIENDS! FELLOW STUDENTS! Listen up! I've had a revelation! A vision! I've been saved! I've been shown the love of the Great Lightbulb! Last night I was struggling to finish my homework when the lightbulb in my room suddenly SPOKE! It told me that it was a genius and would serve as a guiding light for the misguided human race! If worshipped, it would reward all who worshipped it!"
Rudolph had expected his fellow students to laugh at him, call him insane--but instead they were all standing at attention, looking compelled.
"Uh...he uh, will allow anyone who has followed his rules to enter the great realm of Chocolatey after they die. Chocolatey is a place made completely of chocolate. Those who disobey him will be sent to live under the horrifying Snivvle, an evil can opener." Several of the students screamed. "Oh, but do not be afraid of Snivvle, my friends, if you follow the light of the Great Lightbulb you will never have to fear anything ever again!"
The crowd cheered, to Rudolph's horror. Surely they saw how foolish his gospel story had been? But no, they were all kneeling beneath his window, calling to see the great lightbulb. "LET US SEE HIS LIGHTNESS!" they yelled. "SHOW US THE GREAT LIGHTBULB."
"I, uh..." said Rudolph, "Uh...I can't unscrew him or he'll uh...lose his magic."
"THEN DON'T DO IT!" screamed the crowd in unison, "HE MUST RETAIN HIS MAGIC TO SAVE US FROM EVIL!"
Worship & Revolution
Over the next few days, hundreds of people filed one at a time into Rudolph's dorm room to try and talk to the lightbulb. "You talked to Rudolph, why don't you talk to me?" asked one student to the lighbulb, "I'm not worthy, am I? I have to make sacrifices in order to hear your word, don't I?" He screamed out to the crowd outside, "WE HAVE TO MAKE SACRIFICES! THE LIGHTBULB IS UNHAPPY!"
"Wait a second," said Rudolph as the students began burning their own possessions, "You don't need to do that! The lightbulb doesn't want you to!" But the crowd ignored him.
Word soon got out that the teachers in the school didn't believe that the lightbulb was alive. "That's foolish," said the head of the school, the 87 year old Mrs. Lindsay Phlegm, "Inanimate objects aren't alive. Except for my vibrator. I'm pretty sure he's alive. But the idea of a lightbulb being alive is just absurd."
"BLASPHEMY!" screamed the crowd, "SHE DENIES THAT THE LIGHTBULB LIVES!" They ran to Rudolph's dorm room to tell him. "THE DIRECTOR DOESN'T BELIEVE IN YOU!" said one student to the bulb. It sat in silence. "HE'S TOO ANGRY TO SPEAK!" he informed the crowd. They bellowed to overthrow the principal and replace her with a pro-lightbulb leader.
"No!" said Rudolph, "Don't do it!"
But it was too late, his dorm room was empty. He looked out his window in horror as they stormed Mrs. Phlegm's office and brought her out, tied up and gagged. "The lightbulb loves all human beings!" said one student, "And because you refuse to believe that, we'll torture you until your throat stops working from screaming too much!" They dragged her into a cellar that they had devoted to containing non-believers. They then chanted Rudolph's name.
"What do you guys want?" said Rudolph, on the verge of tears.
"Become our leader!" they screamed. "Lead us! We'll do whatever you tell us! Become our dictator!"
"I don't want any power!" screamed Rudolph, "I don't want to seize power and become a dictator!"
"You don't have to seize power! We'll give it to you!"
He had no choice but to accept. They were giving him all of their possessions as sacrifices to the lightbulb. One girl walked up and said, "I already gave all my money to the lightbulb, along with all my food. But I'd like him to have my arm." she yanked it off and handed it to Rudolph.
"WHAT?" screamed Rudolph.
"Oh, are you angry? Is it not enough? Here, he can have my legs too! And my arms! And my brain!"
A fire was burning in the middle of the college. The students were burning all their textbooks, all their computers, anything that had to do with learning. "None of this academic material acknowledges the power of the lightbulb!" yelled one student as he burned an anatomy textbook, "So we'll destroy it all and rewrite the facts so they are pro-lightbulb!"
The students began planning raids on other colleges. "Oh, great Rudolph," said one student, bowing down to Rudolph, "We must spread our wisdom to other schools. When we lived in ignorance of the lightbulb, we were blind to the truth. Now we KNOW that the lightbulb exists, and look how happy we are! We must teach other colleges our belief. If they don't believe us, we'll kill them until they do! We'll simply use weapons to change their opinions!"
Rudolph had had enough. This had gone too far.
Rudolph grabbed a microphone and walked out onto the porch.
"The Great Dictator Father Rudolph is going to make a speech!" bellowed the eager crowd, "Perhaps the lightbulb has spoken to him again! Or maybe he's got some orders to give us!"
"You people are so mindless! You'll accept whatever you're told!" bellowed Rudolph, "There is no such thing as the Great Lightbulb! The lightbulb in my room is just an inanimate object! I made it up! Snivvel doesn't exist either! It's all fake! I wanted to test your reaction!"
The crowd was silent for a second. Then a brother and sister, the brother named Waldo and the sister named Lisa, stepped forward. "Rudolph has betrayed us!" bellowed Lisa.
The crowd roared in anger.
Rudolph felt terror slowly build inside him.
"WE MUST OVERTHROW HIM!" bellowed Waldo, "He has lost faith! Snivvel is probably possessing him! He must be killed!"
"KILLED?" screamed Rudolph, "YOU PEOPLE ARE GOING TO COMMIT MURDER OVER SOMETHING THAT ISN'T EVEN TRUE!"
"It IS true!" said Lisa, "We BELIEVE it!"
"That doesn't mean anything! If I believe I can fly, it won't save me from splattering if I jump off a building!"
"STOP THIS BLASPHEMY!" screamed Waldo, "SEIZE HIM! SEIZE THE TRAITOR"
The crowd ran up to Rudolph's dorm room. He tried to lock the door to keep them out, but they blasted it open with dynamite. They dragged him to the ground and started beating him repeatedly.
"SACRIFICE HIM TO THE GREAT LIGHTBULB!" yelled Lisa.
"NO! PLEASE!" screamed Rudolph, "NONE OF THIS IS TRUE! IT'S ALL NONSENSE! I--"
They silenced him.
"Well, I'm glad he's dead." said Lisa, tossing Rudolph's thoroughly obliterated body in a dumpster. "He denied the warmth and love of the Lightbulb, so we killed him. Now we can spread peace and harmony. That's what the lightbulb wants."
"No," said her brother Waldo, "The lightbulb wants us to spread love and goodwill."
"No, brother, he wants us to spread peace and harmony."
"No, you stupid bitch, it's Love and GOODWILL!"
"PEACE AND HARMONY!"
"LOVE AND GOODWILL!"
Lisa punched her brother in the nose, breaking it spectacularly, and screamed, PEACE AND HARMONY!"
Waldo stabbed his sister in the shoulder with a swiss army knife as he bellowed, "LOVE AND GOODWILL!"
Soon, everyone on campus was either on Waldo's or Lisa's side. They all started fighting each other. The fighting was so violent that all the buildings on campus shook.
All the buildings on campus shook VIOLENTLY.
The college shook so violently that the Great Lightbulb dropped from the ceiling and shattered on the ground. None of the students noticed. They were all too busy strangling each other.
The fighting between the students continued for another three weeks, until a new episode of "American Idol" aired on TV and they all forgot about Lightbulbism completely.
So ended the days of lightbulbism.
Doorknobism emerged several days later.
| Magnificent Madness
This article was one of the Top Ten articles of 2008.