Faith Is Too Important to Be Taken Seriously All the Time

My cousin Bess once said that to me, quoting a friend of hers who makes witty Christian t-shirts (Jesus: His Dad Got Him A Job, etc.). We often take ourselves way too seriously, I’m afraid, and how boring and unattractive that is.

The quote came to mind this afternoon when I read Ian Frazier’s hilarious “Shouts & Murmurs” column in the most recent New Yorker. It starts with this bit from an AP story: “On membership applications, Boy Scouts and adult leaders must say they recognize some higher power, not necessarily religious. ‘Mother Nature would be acceptable,’ [a Boy Scout executive] said. … The organization bans gays and atheists.”

Frazier’s piece is a satirical confessional e-mail from a former scoutmaster to his troop.

When I filled out the application to serve as your scoutmaster, I answered honestly and fully in the section about religious beliefs and affiliations, affirming that I had a deep faith in a tripartite divinity–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. No problem there, as the Chief Seattle higher-ups assured me. Soon after, unfortunately, at about the time we were planning the light-bulb drive, I happened to stumble onto some old books in my uncle’s garage. While reading them, I became at first interested in, and then infected by, a pernicious false doctrine known as the Nestorian heresy.

I don’t know if many of you are familiar with the incorrect teachings of Bishop Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, for which he and his followers were condemned by the Council of Ephesus in 431. Don’t worry if you’re not, because the the question of the the double nature of the Son (divine and human, or divine or human), which Nestorius raised, is really neither here nor there. I’m just trying to convey what was in my head as we canvassed all of Bremerton pushing those light bulbs–of which we sold a ton, I’m happy to say, and raised almost eight hundred and seventy-five dollars in a single weekend!

The scout master is unable to resist moving from one heresy to another–Pelagianism, Arianism, Dualism, Quietism, Sociniaism, Anabaptism, the Bogomil heresy, Albigensianism: “nothing was too undoctrinal for me.” Christopher Hitchens, a fall into despair, dinosaurs, ejection from the Scouts, and a return to belief follow.  It reminded me of some other favorites.  Think of this as part of MC’s Mardi Gras celebration before the sackcloth and ashes of Lent begin on Wednesday. Check ‘em out after the jump, and share one or two in the comments.

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