Sundaily Hilarity: Permission Slip

I have been hearing numerous appalling stories of late of public school districts incorporating field trips to churches into their activities.  On Facebook, in reply to my friend Jessica’s anxiety about what to do about a proposed trip for her own son, another friend, Glynis pointed to an e-mail exchange presenting one approach for dealing with such situations.  Below is the permission slip a father received, followed by his exchange with the purportedly secular school’s chaplain.


From: David Thorne
Date: Wednesday 10 March 2010 7.12pm
To: Darryl Robinson
Subject: Permission Slip

Dear Darryl,
I have received your permission slip featuring what I can only assume is a levitating rabbit about to drop an egg on Jesus.

Thank you for pre-ticking the permission box as this has saved me not only from having to make a choice, but also from having to make my own forty five degree downward stroke followed by a twenty percent longer forty five degree upward stroke. Without your guidance, I may have drawn a picture of a cactus wearing a hat by mistake.

As I trust my offspring’s ability to separate fact from fantasy, I am happy for him to participate in your indoctrination process on the proviso that all references to ‘Jesus’ are replaced with the term ‘Purportedly Magic Jew.’
Regards, David.

From: Darryl Robinson
Date: Thursday 11 March 2010 9.18am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Permission Slip

Hello David
The tick in the box already was a mistake I noticed after printing them all. I’ve seen the play and it’s not indoctrinating anyone. It’s a fun play performed by a great bunch of kids. You do not have to be religious to enjoy it. You are welcome to attend if you have any concerns.

Darryl Robinson, School Chaplain

From: David Thorne
Date: Thursday 11 March 2010 11.02am
To: Darryl Robinson
Subject: Re: Re: Permission Slip

Dear Darryl,
Thank you for the kind offer, being unable to think of anything more exciting than attending your entertaining and fun filled afternoon, I tried harder and thought of about four hundred things.

I was actually in a Bible based play once and played the role of ‘Annoyed about having to do this.’ My scene involved offering a potplant, as nobody knew what Myrrh was, to a plastic baby Jesus then standing between ‘I forgot my costume so am wearing the teachers poncho’ and ‘I don’t feel very well’. Highlights of the play included a nervous donkey with diarrhoea causing ‘I don’t feel very well’ to vomit onto the back of Mary’s head, and the lighting system, designed to provide a halo effect around the manger, overheating and setting it alight. The teacher, later criticised for dousing an electrical fire with a bucket of water and endangering the lives of children, left the building in tears and the audience in silence. We only saw her again briefly when she came to the school to collect her poncho.

Also, your inference that I am without religion is incorrect and I am actually torn between two faiths; while your god’s promise of eternal life is very persuasive, the Papua New Guinean mud god, Pikkiwoki, is promising a pig and as many coconuts as you can carry.
Regards, David.

From: Darryl Robinson
Date: Thursday 11 March 2010 2.52pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Permission Slip

Hello David
While it would be a pity for Seb to miss out on the important message of hope that the story of the resurrection gives, if you don’t want him to attend the presentation on Monday then just tick the box that says I do not give my child permission to attend.
Darryl Robinson, School Chaplain

That’s the weirdest part of this whole e-mail exchange—I thought Darryl was clear earlier that there were no indoctrinating goals involved.  He must have just forgotten about them in the previous e-mail.  He couldn’t have lied, seeing as how he’s a Christian in an official chaplain capacity.

From: David Thorne
Date: Thursday 11 March 2010 5.09pm
To: Darryl Robinson
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Permission Slip

Dear Darryl,
I understand the importance the resurrection story holds in your particular religion. If I too knew some guy that had been killed and placed inside a cave with a rock in front of it and I visited the cave to find the rock moved and his body gone, the only logical assumption would be that he had risen from the dead and is the son of God. Once, my friend Simon was rushed to hospital to have his appendix removed and I visited him the next day to find his bed empty. I immediately sacrificed a goat and burnt a witch in his name but it turned out that he had not had appendicitis, just needed a good poo, and was at home playing Playstation.

Someone probably should have asked “So the rock has been moved and he’s gone… has anyone checked his house?” I realise Playstation was not around in those days but they probably had the equivalent. A muddy stick or something. I would have said “Can someone please check if Jesus is at home playing with his muddy stick, if not, then and only then should we all assume, logically, that he has risen from the dead and is the son of God.”

If we accept though, that Jesus was the son of an Infinite Being capable of anything, he probably did have a Playstation. Probably a Playstation 7. I know I have to get my offspring all the latest gadgets. God would probably have said to him, “I was going to wait another two thousand years to give you this but seeing as you have been good… just don’t tell your mother about Grand Theft Auto.”

Also, is it true that Jesus can be stabbed during a sword fight and be ok due to the fact that he can only die if he gets his head chopped off?
Regards, David.

From: Darryl Robinson
Date: Friday 12 March 2010 10.13am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Permission Slip

Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus have a sword fight. Learning the teachings of the Bible is not just about religion. It teaches a set of ethics that are sadly not taught by parents nowadays.
Darryl Robinson, School Chaplain
From: David Thorne
Date: Friday 12 March 2010 2.23pm
To: Darryl Robinson
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Permission Slip

Dear Darryl,
You raise a valid point and I appreciate you pointing out my failings as a parent. Practising a system of ethics based on the promise of a reward, in your case an afterlife, is certainly preferable to practising a system of ethics based on it simply being the right thing to do.

And that’s not all of it, the back and forth only escalates in hilarity as it proceeds.

The whole website is filled with some of the funniest writing I have ever come across online.

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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