The study of theology is the study of nothing. It is founded in nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and admits of no conclusion. Thomas Pain
Chicago (AP) – Roy Larson, religion writer for the Chicago Sun-Times, recently had a visitor at the newspaper. Gene Townsend wanted to talk to him about a new church.
“When I introduced myself, I was struck by his lack of enthusiasm. The reason soon became clear,” said Larson.
Their conversation went like this:
“I understand you’re starting a new church.”
“That’s right,” replied Townsend.
“What’s it called?”
“The Church of the Living Apathists.”
“What’s an apathist?”
“Someone who’s apathetic.”
“Why did you ask for the religion writer?” Larson asked.
“Because we’re religious apathists. We’re apathetic about religion. If we were apathetic about sports, I would have asked for the sports writer.”
“You said ‘we’. That means you’ve got some cohorts. Right?”
“Have you gotten yourselves organized?”
“We’ve had a few meetings. We’ve got the application blanks to organize as a not-for-profit corporation in Illinois.”
“Do you plan to file them?”
“I don’t know. So far we’ve been too apathetic. Besides, we don’t have an address. Or any money. And we never will.”
“Do you have any scriptures?”
“Yeah. It’s a book filled with blank pages.”
“What’s your chief symbol?”
“It’s a gray rectangle. It symbolizes nothing.”
“Are you the high priest or are there any ministers in your church?”
“A true priest in our faith would be one who wouldn’t show up for meetings.”
“Doesn’t that make you a phony? Why did you bestir yourself to come in and tell me about your new church?” asked Larson.
Townsend said: “I guess you’d have to say I’m not a true believer. I’m a borderline apathist.”
“Why did you come in?”
“I just happened to be walking by the building and decided to stop.”
“Do you plan to call any meetings to get your church under way?”
“We’re thinking about it.”
“How do you rate your chances of success?”
“Great. If we call a meeting, chances are no one will come. And that will mean the meeting is successful.”
“What’s your potential membership?”
“Already, I think 10 per cent of the American people are members. Maybe, it’s 100 per cent.”
“Just one more question. As you see it, what must I do to be saved?”
“Nothing. Absolutely nothing.”
“I see. Well, keep the faith, friend.”
“Thank you. And may the god of emptiness be with you.”
*This article was taken verbatim from “The Southeast Missourian”, January 30th, 1976. See here.
**Painting by Zdislav Beksinski