Editor’s Note: I asked several Clergy Project members write a sermon they wish they could have given when their beliefs had changed but they were still in the pulpit. Another alternative was to write a sermon that they actually gave–that was sufficiently vague or had enough double entendre that they felt comfortable presenting it to their congregation. Responses varied. I received some actual sermons, either changed slightly to protect the identity of a current non-believing pastor, or reconstructed from memory or edited down to size. Others wrote sermons that were pure fantasy – very imaginative and fun to read but if ever preached would get the preacher quickly fired and/or assessed for mental illness. We’ll start with one of those. /Linda LaScola, Editor
By Mason Lane
Good morning. Today I have an exciting sermon about NOAH’S ARKS!
After we humans branched off to evolve into big-brained, bipedal apes as Hominins on a branch of the hominoid tree, we developed speech and a vivid imagination. Initially, this was just a new enjoyable phase of evolution. Then, as story telling grew it became an integral form of entertainment around the nightly fires that lit up ancient moonless nights and kept wild animals like lions and hyenas at bay.
There were so many things that humans could not possibly understand during this dawn of humanity era: earthquakes, lightning, thunder, tornados, hail, disease, those twinkling lights in the night sky, comets, meteors, or aneclipse of the moon. These kinds of things remained as mysterious to humans as to elephants.
Then something changed.
Imaginative storytellers began explaining these phenomena with captivating tales that caused the listeners’ wide-open eyes and attentive ears to become transfixed. The most entertaining tales drew the largest tribal audiences around the glowing fires.
Stories began telling of unseen magical creatures that explained so many things and told of a non-material world with spirits, demons, and more powerful beings in the heavens above called Gods.
Then humans found themselves coalescing into two very diverse groups: the atheists and theists. The atheists were a large majority since during all previous human history there were no stories, about a mystical non-material world realm, for people to believe in.
Concern grew among the tribes as the theists developed fervorous new behaviors and spoke to each with alarming insider peculiarities. Songs, though crude, were passionately sung at gatherings. Chantings developed that often produced ecstatic babblings of incomprehensible speech.
The theists continued to cause ever increasing consternation, division, and instability heretofore virtually unknown among the tribes. Theists verbally accosted atheists telling them they needed to accept the new revelations and tales about the powerful deity in the sky above and open their blind eyes to the invisible realm. Neighbors and families became estranged. Theists were forbidden to mate with atheists.
In one tribe, there was a wise and renown leader named Noah who had four crafty industrious sons: Hamni, Shemo, Japheti, and Yamo. The tribal council decided something needed to be done with the theists since they were causing terrible division, chaos and strife with their new theistic ideology.
Meanwhile, the theists were spending their time telling their new stories, having meetings, getting new converts, while shirking their duties in hunting, gathering, and the new process of grain cultivation. The stability and the ancient union of tribal society were at serious risk of collapse.
A plan was devised that called for Noah and his four sons to head up the construction project of many ARKS. ARKS (Atheism Rehabilitation Kamp Ships) was an acronym (acronyms having recently come into verbal vogue). This project to save the Union of early human tribal society became known as Noah’s ARKS.
These large square vessels with thatched roofs would travel the rivers and lakes to where the tribes lived. Humans hadn’t yet migrated to coastal areas, and the theists would be detained and placed into internment on a ship for forty days and nights to rehabilitate them from their destabilizing societal beliefs.With Noah and his sons spearheading the building of the ARKS, and a multitude of tribal workers working 24/7, the ships were finished in six moons. These vessels were powered by oar crews who were also the warriors who rounded up the theists at tribal villages.
Most of the theists responded positively to the reeducation-rehabilitation process and at the end of the forty days and nights realized they’d become irrational and delusional with these stories that started out merely as wholesome entertainment and fun, but got way out of hand. They were thankful for the atheist tribal leaders for saving them and helping them regain their natural senses.
One of the memes that was recited daily on the ships was,
“Better to say that I don’t know than to fill with hot air and give a blow.”
However, there were some theists on each ship who were hopelessly resistant to the social salvation they were offered by the tribe.
So, after those who’d been successfully rehabilitated were set ashore at their villages, the recalcitrants were taken back out into the waters. All efforts to help them had been thoroughly exhausted. They were tossed overboard and drowned, often eaten dead or alive by alligators like hapless wildebeests.
Unfortunately, this true story, like so many stories that are told and retold over thousands of years, morphed into something barely resembling the original. One sterling example is the very popular Hebrew myth about Noah and the Ark, which was originally plagiarized from the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh flood story, which was subsequently plagiarized from our sermon n today — the true ancient story about ARKS. But there was no flood, just a deluge of drownings.
Noah and the Ark became a tale about a flood that killed the wayward theists in all the tribes on planet Earth.
Only Noah, his wife, his sons and their wives were saved along with a sampling of animals. All of the millions of other animals were drowned for no good reason at all. Isn’t that a monstorus story?!
So you see, brothers and sisters, how a story can be plagiarized, terribly twisted and changed over thousands of years, until it’s barely recognizable. How the names of Noah’s sons survived, almost intact, defies probabability theory. But always remember that you learned the true story of Noah’s ARKS, right here in church. Now go into the world, in peace and love and knowledge.
Bio: Mason Lane: As a credulous child, I was raised Christian fundamentalist Baptist. I later became a glory-shouting Pentecostal and was ordained by the Christian Faith Church Pentecostal in Mishawaka Indiana. I ceased believing in the irrational and supernatural at age 30, thanks primarily to reading the Bible while thinking. At the time of my de-supernaturalizing, I was General Manager of WHME-FM radio station, a Christian radio station, and Pastor of Christian Faith Church in Mishawaka, Indiana. I resigned both positions and moved to Phoenix, Arizona where I became dean of students at DeVry University.
I’m still a person of faith. My faith is now in science, nature, love, friends, family, music, humor, art, The US Constitution, the 5,000 year old Golden Rule and Separation of Religion and State.
>>>>Photo Credits: By Französischer Meister um 1675 – The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. ISBN: 3936122202., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=151040: By derivative work: A. Parrot (talk)La_tombe_de_Horemheb_(KV.57)_(Vallée_des_Rois_Thèbes_ouest)_-4.jpg: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra – La_tombe_de_Horemheb_(KV.57)_(Vallée_des_Rois_Thèbes_ouest)_-4.jpg, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5611130