April 1st, 2015
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am ready to announce the “Pathmakers Universal Unity Project,” a potential new theological direction for Pathmakers Church. While some will find this announcement a complete surprise, many may realize that they saw this coming and realize that our leadership has long entertained a full fledged compromise of Biblical values for social expediency and the approval of the wider world. Because if Jesus taught us anything, it’s the supreme importance of superficial unity and an uncompromising willingness to compromise on anything and everything in order to not commit the true unforgivable sin: hurt feelings.
Sure, we’ve tried to take a stand on important issues. But why bother anymore? Taking a stand only makes you an easier target for criticism. Holding to a Biblical view on anything makes one weird, uncomfortable, and challenging to the status quo. And if Jesus was known for anything among the religious leaders and political elites of the day, it was for maintaining the status quo. It’s one of the reasons they liked him so much and gave him an honorary doctorate on Good Friday. It’s why they call it “Good Friday,” right? Because everyone knew that Jesus was teaching everyone to, basically, be “good.” And nice. And then hunt for pastel plastic eggs with candy the following Sunday.
What a nice guy. And that’s what the world needs. Isn’t that the famous Bible verse? “For God so loved the world because He was a nice guy…?”
Also, there’s no more need to talk about the importance of being changed by God. I mean, if God really “so loved” us for who we really are, He wouldn’t want to change us. Everyone knows that. That is the core value of the Pathmakers Universal Unity Project.
Besides, the idea of rebirth and change that Jesus talks about is metaphorical, poetic, and contrarian. By “change,” the Bible really means “you are perfect, don’t change a thing.” By “become more like Christ,” the Apostle Paul meant “adjust your own personal convictions to suit your personal preferences.” When Jesus said “pick up your cross” what He meant was “try to tolerate annoying people if you can, but if you can’t, it’s all good.” “Do good” should be written “do what [feels] good [at the time].” The Lord’s Prayer? Ignore the words, they don’t mean anything. Just hear the rhythm and how it draws you into a deeper meditative state.
Plus, none of these teachers believed in the power of God or the miraculous. No, no, no, they all thought it was figurative… especially Jesus… He told His disciples that Himself. He was always talking about how figurative his teachings were while He was walking on water, feeding the 5000 with only five loaves and two fish, turning water to wine, healing the sick, and raising the dead. Even when He was performing actual miracles, Jesus was doing it figuratively.
The Sermon On The Mount? The Good Samaritan? The Blessings and Woes? The Parable of the Sheep and Goats? Those are just poetic illustrations. Besides, who would preach that for real and mean it? It’s professional suicide. They’d nail you to a cross for talking like that. Jesus would never do that. He was an intellectual philosopher, a great teacher, a master of ethics, not someone with a messiah-complex, for Christ’s sake!
So, in keeping with the true tenets, beliefs, and values of ancient, 2000-year-old Christianity (which, oddly enough, were only recently discovered, written about, and articulated by revisionist scholarship within the last few decades or so), we’re completely redefining and reframing everything we believe. What used to be our “Key Beliefs” for Pathmakers Church will now be “Suggestions of Inclusive Ideas” for the “Pathmakers Universal Unity Project.” (And we will not accept anything except these accepting views…):
1. The Bible – The Bible is an old document we don’t really understand. And if we know anything about old stuff (art, poetry, literature, family recipes, old people in general, karate, etc.), it’s that “newer is ALWAYS better.” So, while we’re going to occasionally read something from the Old Testament prophets (preferably out of context) to support our contemporary post-modern opinions, mostly we’re going to leave the Bible closed, make arbitrary comments about “the true teachings of Jesus,” and call it good.
2. God – God is so difficult to understand, we’re going to stop trying to understand God. In fact, “God” is now going to mean whatever you want it to mean. Him, Her, It, Them, Nothing, My Own Personal Opinion, Myself, Whatever… pick your own god. Just as long as your god doesn’t have any opinion about my god or my way of life. Understood?
3. Jesus – Jesus dying on the cross for sins is just messy, messy, messy. If we do HAVE to talk about it (keep in mind the New Testament is surprisingly saturated in references to this unfortunate event… you might even say it’s central to the entire New Testament… ), we’re going to rephrase it in purely political terms to support our own narrowly inclusive understanding of class, race, gender, sexuality, social liberation, power structures, systems theory, or anything else that sounds like we came up with the idea over coffee last week.
4. Resurrection – Rising from the dead is impossible. Just like sacrificing our own desires for the good of others. Miracles don’t happen. Except the one time the USA beat Russia in ice hockey.
5. Eternity – Heaven is fine. But Hell is mean. We’ll just stop talking about either of them since any Scripture discussing the one invariably leads to the other. Besides, why would we think God would create Heaven or Hell when we’re not even sure He created the universe…?
6. Christ-like Living – “Living like Jesus” is now only a code for “Living for myself.”
7. Worship – Our worship time will now become a talent show for our congregants (the more obscure, obscene, or poorly done, the more we’ll praise it), and bonus points will be given to anyone who figures out a creative way to preach from an entirely different religious text than the Bible… the more nonsensical and unverifiable, the more points. And we’ll be giving out actual points. On a bulletin board. Just outside the main doors.
8. Faith – We will abandon even our most important convictions for an even more important inclusive tolerance that everyone’s individual views are right as long as they agree entirely with our own inclusive views. Otherwise, they’re wrong.
9. Giving & Charity – We are restructuring our charitable priorities. We’ve spent far too much money on helping the poor, caring for children in underprivileged regions, and taking an exclusive view of God’s Love, Freedom, and Hope (aka “The Gospel”) to the wider world. It’s time to fund independent artwork, pet rescue centers, off-Broadway revivals in otherwise empty church buildings, and full service coffee and breakfast catering for ourselves on Sundays.
10. Other Stuff – Unrestrained state-sanctioned sexually-centered relationships and killing the unborn for any reason were always secretly Jesus’ favorite things! No need for forgiveness there. We’re glad people who don’t believe Jesus ever existed finally explained to us what Jesus really thought about all that. However, Bible reading, taking responsibility for my own decisions and, of course, saying anything positive about the USA makes Baby Jesus cry. Do you really want to make Baby Jesus cry? Of course you don’t. And if there is any “Jesus” we love most, it’s Baby Jesus. Oh… but we don’t talk about nor display Baby Jesus at Christmas EVER. Baby Jesus wouldn’t like that, either.
11. More Other Stuff – Baptism is divisive, wet, and creates pressure on others to do it, too. Communion crackers taste weird. No more of any of that. We’ll keep the wine, but only with dinner.
12. Even More Other Stuff – Whatever else we feel like putting in here as time goes on and as popular opinion dictates, we’ll put in here and pretend it took a lot of soul-searching to do so.
Our meeting to vote on the “Pathmakers Universal Unity Project” (or “P.U.U.P.” for short) will be Thursday, April 31st at 3:30 in the afternoon at the new Scientology reading room (btw, they are offering free audits!). We realize this is a difficult time to meet for those who work, raise children, go to school, or are otherwise productive in some tangible way. Especially the stay-at-home moms (ew…). But, then again, inclusion and universal unity can only go so far. We meet when it’s convenient for us. We do good when we feel like doing good. The plaques with our names on them and how much we donated to the new museum exhibit… well, that says it all!
We’ll see you soon.
Yours, (but not exclusively, of course)
The Right Superior Arch-Reverend Jo’Sephy O’Never-Been, Esquire
P.S. …and Happy April Fools Day to one and all! Hope you got at least one smirk, if not one good laugh out of this satirical piece. I wish it was more of a joke than it really is today. What isn’t funny is that a growing segment of Christianity in the USA is heading down this path of rejecting the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And, really, there isn’t much that is more foolish than that. (Psalm 14:1) -Joe, Pathmakers