The official religion of Shalampax is Paahlmism, which sprang into existence on our island shortly after we acquired language in 1952 (see history
). To the best of our knowledge, Paahlmism is not observed anywhere else.
Religious observance is not mandatory, but, with only one exception, all Shalampaxians are practicing Paahlmists. The one holdout's atheism is not the only thing that makes him unique. He is also the only Shalampaxian whose name, "Worm," is the same as his nickname. He further distinguishes himself by considering himself to be a rebel. The rest of us think of him more as a royal pain in the ass.
Paahlmists believe that the coconut palm trees native to our island are the physical manifestation of our God, Paahlm. Obviously, Paahlm's name is derived from the tree that It uses for Its corporeal manifestation, but with a reverential "ah" inserted to make the name look more Godlike.
We refer to Paahlm as "It" rather than "He" because we believe It to be either androgynous or sexually confused. Besides, referring to It as "He" would be ridiculously male-chauvinist. The women here are quite strong. They would beat the crap out of any man who was stupid enough to try something like that. Extreme cowardice runs deep in our gene pool, so nobody wants to risk it.
We firmly believe in the existence of a supreme being because, given the isolation of our island, early humans could not have migrated to or from it, at least not without divine help. Because the probability of humans evolving simultaneously on and off our island is so close to zero as to be considered to be a ridiculous notion by all rational human beings, not to mention most radical evangelicals, we believe that Paahlm must have independently created two groups of humans — one on our island and one in Africa. Either that or It created humans on our island, built an ark from half of a gigantic coconut, and used the ark to transport some people to Africa, from where they spread to the rest of the world. (See creation story
for more details.)
Paahlmists do not believe in an afterlife, but we do believe that memories of our parents' nagging will plague us long after their deaths.
Our religion doesn't have any holy books as such. This is a consequence of it having been founded and, for most of its existence, practiced without the benefit of a written language. Nevertheless, we have since come to revere one book — BYTE-ing Satire: A light-hearted poke in technology's eye
. There are two reasons for this. First, BYTE-ing Satire
is quite funny and Shalampaxians like nothing more than a good laugh. And, second, it has an illustration of clown on the cover. Most of us think that our God, Paahlm, is a clown (we mean that in the figurative, not literal sense) so we have a deep respect for any book with a clown on the cover.
For a time, we thought that Paahlmism was not unique to Shalampax. When we began to make regular contact with the outside world, we frequently encountered people who called themselves "palmists". Naturally, we thought that "palmist" was a foolish misspelling of "paahlmist" and, as foolish misspellings are our specialty, we prepared to welcome them as enlightened religionists.
Then we learned that palmists are not Paahlmists at all. Instead, they believe they can read anyone's personality, as well as his or her life's past, present and future, from the lines on his or her palm. We had no moral qualms about palmists' contentions because, as has already been said, Shalampaxians love nothing more than a good laugh. Nonetheless, whenever we thought about palmistry we could not avoid laughing so hard that we peed our pants, so we decided that it would be best if we did not welcome palmists into our congregation after all.
In truth, with only one exception, all Paahlmists believe that their religion, and all other religions, are out and out bunk. The only true believer is a Shalampaxian, Greenturd, who is widely suspected of regularly inhaling deeply while his nose is buried in the communal glue pot. The primary reason the rest of refuse to publicly admit our atheism is that we are reluctant to forfeit the abundant holidays (see holidays
There is another strong motive behind our rigorous and exclusive adherence to a religion that we believe to be ludicrous. Following such beliefs ensures that our society will never spawn individuals who will decide to ride off on murderous crusades, mount brutal, fanatical inquisitions, blow themselves up in crowded buildings or buses, bomb abortion clinics, or fly fully fueled and loaded airplanes into buildings in the name of their religion. Call us crazy, but we think it's wise to adhere to a creed that, by being universally perceived to be utterly inane, has absolutely no chance of inducing the slightest of thoughts of undertaking such insane acts.
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