The Parable of the Cardboard Box

I wrote this way back in 2006 and had pretty much forgotten about it, but I was informed that it had been used last year in an introduction to a meeting of former Mormons. I had neglected to put it anywhere permanent, but I found it on So, I’m posting it here so it won’t get lost again. Yes, it’s been around the block but it still seems about right to me:

There once was a boy who lived all his life with a cardboard box over his head. His parents taught him that he should never take the box off, for doing so was dangerous and foolish. The box protected him from the scary world outside of it.

On the inside of the box, he could make out some letters, and he could see the outlines of the box around him. His world was brown cardboard. His parents taught him to study the inside of the box carefully, for in it it was all the wisdom he needed to navigate life. Inside the box was security and safety. Inside the box was reality.

Some of his friends told him that they had taken off the box and life was much better, but he didn’t believe them. His parents made sure he stayed away from these people, who clearly wanted only to hurt their boy.

But as he grew older, he found that he kept bumping into sharp and painful objects that he couldn’t see because of the box. His parents told him that those things weren’t real, that he was safest and happiest inside the box. But each day brought more injury as he seemed to constantly run into painful things.

“Just take the box off so you can see where you’re going,” said his friends.

“No! You can’t! You’ll hurt yourself, and you might even die!” warned his parents.

After too many painful days, he made up his mind to see what was out there on the other side of the box. The light hurt his eyes briefly, but after a moment, he could see colors and trees and sky. It was more beautiful than anything he had ever imagined.

He looked around and saw his friends, who smiled at him and welcomed him to a better world. And then he saw them. His parents and friends came groping toward him, boxes on their heads.

He called out to them, “Take the boxes off! You’ll see that there’s so much more out here! Trust me!”

But his parents told him sadly, “We have failed as parents. All we ever wanted was for you to be happy, and now you’ve rejected us and everything we hold dear. Please, son. Put the box back on, for us. You’ll see that we know what’s best.”

“But Mom, Dad. It’s so beautiful out here, and the world is full of possibilities. Can’t you just lift the box, if only for a moment? You’ll see that I’m telling you the truth.”

His parents turned sadly and told their friends, “We have lost our son. Let this be a lesson to you. This is what happens when you take off the box.”

And they groped their way slowly away from the shining sun.

3 Responses to The Parable of the Cardboard Box

  1. Faith says:

    I just emailed this to my husband, who keeps pleading with me to return to my faith. Thank you.

  2. Diane Sower says:

    I read on another comment that if anyone was going to make abortion illegal a mormon would. I disagree. If anyone had the chance to make a stink about abortion, dubya did, but made no such move because his wife and mother are pro-choice. I look at legislation passed while Mitt was governing in Massachusetts, and feel like he worked fairly well with both sides. Not that I’d vote for him mind you. Once you are President, it’s time to pay off those who got you elected, and if you are conservative, you have to keep the tax code intact so that billion dollar companies don’t pay any taxes. Screw with Head Start, and pick on poor people on Medicare, but take care of the billionaires, by God. Real Christian people, aren’t they?

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