NB – Being an atheist and humanist it may surprise some to know I have the utmost respect for Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Along with Dante’s Divine Comedy it’s one of the greatest and most imaginative stories ever written. The following is a parody, but I hope a reasonably affectionate one. Here, my everyman equivalent of Bunyan’s Christian decides to lay off the proverbial Kool Aid 🙂
And I saw and beheld in my dream that Averageguy did stand in the Celestial City which is also call’d the Palace of Boredom and did wail and gnash his teeth in much anguish for he was much troubled.
Presently there came a wise old man with a long white beard who did speak freely unto him saying ‘Why art thou troubled, my good fellow?’
And Averageguy did wail and cry ‘Oh sir, have pity on me, for I am but a poor inmate of this Palace of Boredom wherein all men who doth believe are confin’d and spend their days doing naught but praising the master of the clouds and singing until we be hoarse – verily I cannot take this vexation any longer!’
At this the kind old man, whose name was Mr Humanist did say ‘Why say thou so, my good man? Know ye not of the circle of the noble pagans?’
And Averageguy did cease his weeping and acknowledg’d that he knew not of such a place.
‘Why, tis a place for such as thee who canst not stand ye doggerel of religious mumbo-jumbo’ quoth the old man.
Averageguy was much encouraged and ask’d the wise old man where such a place might be discover’d.
‘Verily, the path is hard, for ’tis blocked by many knavish villains, but if ye heart and mind be set upon ye course, then can prevail against ye not.’
And he did give Averageguy several learned books to read, among them ‘The God Delusion’ by the learned Mister Dawkins and ‘God is Not Great’ by his learned friend Mr Hitchens, the like of which Averageguy had scarce seen before.
And he did warn him also of the many dangers that could assail him in his quest.
‘For,’ he said ‘At the start of thy journey thou shalt meet many silly fellows on the road, with names such as Mr Cantsee, Mr Cloth-ears and Mr Senseless, common knaves all, blinded to the wealth of evidence and logic which be all around us that religions be a thing of naught.
‘And then there be the inhabitants of the dread Wishywashy Fair, inhabited by such characters as Mr Keepingup-Appearances, Mrs Whatwillthe-Neighboursthink and Goodman Respectability, all of whom do continue to support ye knavish Lord of the Clouds and do not realise that he be but a puff of smoke dream’t up by their forebears.
‘The worst ye shall encounter shall be those who know the Lord of the Clouds to be a fiction and yet continue in the worship of him, for their worldly power be still stor’d up in his image and they do wish to lord it over the rest of us. They are call’d things such as Lord Theocracy, Lord Intolerance, Lord Doublethink and Lord Notoursort all of whom are ye enemies of intellectual honesty, compassion and humanity.;
Averageguy quailed and spake saying ‘They do sound a frightening bunch of fellows – how shall I resist them?’
‘If I were you,’ Mr Humanist did say, ‘I’d get out of here right now and get some reading done.’
Thus speaking he did give Averageguy a copy of Ye Book of the Master of the Clouds also call’d Ye Goode Booke or Ye Kool-Aid to read and instructed him to read it well and mark it well also – using red pen to circle all the bits which were bonkers.
The gates of the Palace of Boredom did creak open upon their joints and Averageguy did depart much the happier for it.