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018 Letter 16

To our friends at Merni through Ketadod:
It is with haste that we have prepared this letter, for Keplodorinan fully appreciates the gravity of your news. All that we have believed becomes manifest at this moment, for it seems that no greater error arises than when people misstep now. We send Kireca’s wisest brothers to observe with you. I would come myself, but my health regrettably prevents it. However, since our leaders want written guidance to go to you as well, I am with you in spirit through these words.
Surely all of your work, reflection, and moral training converge for this task, for our beliefs were designed to handle circumstances like these. It seems like this type of error—if this turns out to be error—is of the most serious kind and quickly breeds all manner of other error. We agree with you in not disclosing the content of the revelation claimed by this individual. If it is false, there is no need for anyone to know what it was. Too much error circulates already.
Now in circumstances like these, we recommend this: first, determine if the individual is serious. Sometimes, we find, a person will purport to give a prophetic message but do so flippantly and thoughtlessly. Remember, if a god speaks to a person and reveals so much that its recitation takes from sunrise to sunset, that person is a prophet. However, if the message that a person spreads is simply, “the god is with us,” that person is no less of a prophet. A prophet is a prophet regardless of the length or detail of the revelation. This is why when a person, seeking solitude and walking through the woods, returns saying “I feel that the god stands with us,” he commits egregious error. Hunger, thirst, sorrow, and joy: each can greatly affect our thinking, and how wrong it is for someone to believe that a god has acted because a fleeting thought has passed through his mind. A god, presumably, is quite powerful, and if it wishes to speak, it can do so more clearly than by flashing thoughts through a weakened mind. To confuse one’s emotion with the voice of a god is horrible.
Thus approach this person and say, “you claim revelation, even if it is merely, ‘the god stands with us.’ If you do know about a god, you are a prophet, and a prophet is to be, of all people, most revered. You are to be our leader and treated like Uman.”[1] Hearing this, some will recant and say, “I had considered my words, ‘the god stands with us,’ to be benign. I understand now the gravity of my words and am ashamed to have elevated myself so highly and unjustly.” Therefore, approach this person in sincerity to see if he corrects himself.
However, if he persists, then next ensure that he is brought into stable circumstances. Make sure that he is well fed, and if his health is poor, wait until he recovers. If he is in mourning or bereavement, wait until some time has passed. If he has experienced some other tragedy, wait until his mind returns to normal. At that point, approach him again, reiterating his conduct’s implications.
If he persists once you feel that his mind is clear, then your task becomes more difficult. Often, a purported revelation will contain a mixture of verifiable and non-verifiable claims. For instance, if a person says, first, “the god causes all people to enter the afterlife,” and, second, “the god will destroy the harvest of those who do not follow it,” then by all means go to a place that does not believe in that god and see if the harvest is destroyed. If it is not, then you must also reject the portion about the afterlife. Although it cannot be verified, its linkage to that which can be dooms it.
Now if the purported revelation contains no verifiable element, approach this individual and ask him to supplicate to his god for a miraculous sign. If he responds that his god will grant this request, make sure that the sign is witnessed by many in your midst and others as well. Krear and Befran are prudent men, and we send them to you fully prepared to act wisely in such circumstances. Have also some followers of both Jaipni and Qualiae present, for this will impact them just as much as us.
However, if this person says the god will not grant a sign, then you are forced into a difficult situation. All you have is an individual who insists on some totally unobservable claim. Regardless of what it is—whether the claim is “such and such number of gods exist” or “yet another prophet will come at such and such a point” or “only people of such and such a description shall find joy in the afterlife”—these are just words. Anyone can say words, and we should not distinguish their respective truth. Many people, after all, appear sincere.
Therefore, if a claim comes to you without any confirmatory content, you should not affirm it. This is perhaps of all acts in life the hardest to do. It is not with casualness or self delusion that we refuse to follow the potential will of a god. However, ultimately, our belief is pragmatic: it is less harmful to be cautious and ignore a true god’s command then to be gullible and embrace scores of commands from false gods. Surely if not following the will of a god is harmful, then assigning to a god a command that it did not make is just as harmful. We know that more false claims exist than true claims do, for many are mutually exclusive. Therefore, caution will ultimately lead to less error. We do not say this lightly, nor do we wish that this were the case. Nevertheless, it is, so we act accordingly.
Now if confirmation is available—either in the content itself or in an accompanying sign—then we have a most serious situation, for the tide of history itself will have turned in your midst. What happens next, of course, hinges on the nature of the revelation itself. At that point, we would ask you to make the content known to us so that we too may consider its implications. We suspect but do not presume, however, that you will not reach that point, for these moments have arisen many a time without leading to any truth.
We are honored that you asked for our help, and we strive now to fulfill that request. You are wise and thoughtful servants of truth and will handle these consequential decisions well. We would speak highly of you to anything good.
Keplodorinan sends his greetings.

[1] This is no small statement given that Uman was the central prophet for both Umanite and Fricolic Qualiaites.