Taking the top slot in the ``truth is stranger than fiction'' category are the Lyrians, named after Matthew Lyrius, one of the weirder Gnostics ever to poke his head out of a gopher hole.
      Lyrius saw the Truth as an inherently objective thing, which could be grasped at only vaguely and bumblingly by the subjective Mind. Real understanding of the Truth could only be accomplished by Spirit, which transcends the boundaries of Mind. Speech, he noted, could not even convey accurately or completely what Mind conceived and perceived, so it was even more removed from Truth.
      A student of his found it odd that speech, which seemed to be less subjective than direct experience, managed to be farther from objectivity. Lyrius responded, ``Only if you fail to understand that you cannot make a whole apple from half an apple by cutting away more.'' Then he hit the disciple in the head with a cane.
      Another disciple (who didn't know how to take a hint, it seems) asked Lyrius if Speech transcends Mind, since language could convey things that the mind couldn't conceive of (``the round square'' was the example the disciple gave). ``Without the journey,'' responded Lyrius, ``the destination is no different from the starting point.'' Then he hit the disciple in the head with a cane (it has been suggested that most of Lyrius' early philosophy was rooted in Zen mysticism, and this seems to be good evidence of that theory [Okay, okay, so I embellished the stories a little and added the knocks in the head. I've always loved the parallels between Zen philosophy and the Three Stooges]).
      He decided that, while Mind should be encouraged to transcend itself and approach Spirit and afterwards Truth, Speech's attempt to encompass Truth could do nothing but profane it. ``Dirt,'' Lyrius once said (and, if the stories are to be believed, it is the last attempt he ever made at speaking the truth), ``however many times one might pass it over the scrubbing-board, will sully linen. Speech, however well-meaning and pure of intention, can do no better to Truth.'' The truth, he realized, is too sacred to be spoken.
      It is said that, after speaking these words (which have become known as the ``Final Profanity''), Lyrius was ``struck insensible by sublime gnosis'' and awoke the following morning a complete and thoroughly unshakable liar.
      As a kind of moral exempla (which were all the rage during most of antiquity and still have their modern counterparts in Steven Segal movies) there is a story that Lyrius' best friend went off to fight in the Crusades and was believed to be killed in battle. Lyrius was devastated, and sat alone in his garden weeping. When a few well-meaning disciples tried to comfort him, he simply looked at them and said ``It is good that he is dead.''
      As is usually the case in such stories, rumors of Lyrius' friend's death were much exaggerated. When he came to the monastery to see Lyrius, Lyrius ran to him, threw his arms around him and wept heavily. ``I had hoped never to see you again, you worthless bastard,'' he managed to croak out. ``I hate you so very, very much.''
      Of course, Lyrians (even with their silly belief in the Truth [which is real enough, but has been sitting on my desk for quite some time now and hasn't shown the least intention of being sacred]) are, of course, a sister faith of Discordianism. I can scarcely imagine the level of confusion (Hail Eris) that a Lyrian would cause in any circumstances you'd care to put him in (to say nothing of the parties they must throw).