The Early Church

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March 20, 2013 by jamesessj

Janus of Minneapolis (120-142 A.D.)

Born in a tenement slum, Janus was the first person in history to have been born to two different women at the same time. The first woman, Uterus, was a fishmonger’s wife who’d had one too many daiquiris and gone home with a Roman centurion; the second woman, Fallopia, was a schoolteacher who longed for a better life but would have settled for a better stove. Neither woman proved much of a mother to the child — Uterus drank herself into an early grave and Fallopia killed herself and three others in a vain attempt to change her mind. Under Roman law Janus was considered to be his own twin, and therefore eligible for double the usual amount of government cheese, toward which he developed a lifelong devotion. “Whatever the question,” he wrote in later life, “cheese is the answer.”

He was raised in an orphanage in the now-lost Greek metropolis of Minneapolis, one of two “twin cities” that were destroyed by a pair of extremely specific meteor strikes. In the orphanage Janus was first exposed to Christianity when he noticed that some of the other boys were circumcised — when queried as to why, they answered, “We put together ‘Jesus saves’ and ‘Jesus cares’ and came up with ‘Jesus carves.’” Due to the orphans’ Athenian street accents, however, what Janus heard was, “Cheese, us saves,” “Cheese, us cares,” and “Cheese, us carves.” He converted on the spot.

Eventually he was claimed from the orphanage by an itinerant wanderer, Edam of Gouda, who had also recently converted to Christianity from the rival faith of Organism, which worshiped the male member. Together Edam and Janus traveled the ancient world and spread the gospel of, respectively, Jesus and Cheese-Us. Edam was killed in a freak shaving accident in 137 A.D. and Janus was left to develop his own ideas regarding the fledgling faith. Under Edam’s tutelage he had become a powerful orator and author — his letter to the Canadians, dated from 138 or 139, is a model of rigorous argument and proper use of the word “irony.”

In 140 Janus returned to Minneapolis and became a pillar of the church; but after a few weeks his back started to hurt and someone else had to take his place. Nonetheless his influence continued to grow, until pastors across Asia Minor were preaching from his seminal text, “Cheese-Us Is The Whey.” His thinking is said to have inspired Church Fathers Clement and Origen, and also early cheesemaker J.L. Kraft.

The next year Janus met a young woman with whom he fell deeply, but not widely, in love. Her name was Velveeta. In his “Letter to the Bedroom Door, But That’s As Far As We Got,” he describes her eyes as “wheels of Brie” and her breasts as “two servings of Stilton.” She spurned his advances, however, as she was already engaged to another woman. Heartbroken, Janus took his own life on February 14, 142 A.D., by swimming less than an hour after a meal. He was covered with wax and buried inside a refrigerator.

Euthanasius (253-319 A.D.)

Born to a noble Grecian family who dwelt inside an enormous urn, Euthanasius was the twelfth of eleven children. None of his siblings survived into adulthood, however, as they were needed for firewood. Euthanasius’ parents doted on their child, spoiling him so badly that the rest of the children in the neighborhood took to calling him “Rancid.” Unable to make a real friend, he made an imaginary one, Pluto, whom he doted on and spoiled so badly that the rest of Euthanasius’ imaginary friends took to calling him “Fetid.” Euthanasius would hold mock funerals with Pluto at which he delivered eulogies for famous historical figures who hadn’t been born yet. He grew up a lonely, tortured soul whose only joy in life was autoerotic asphyxiation.

In the year 270 Euthanasius was sent to study with the Transylvanian scholar Kevorki, whose work on shortening lifespans had revolutionized the field. Euthanasius soon outstripped his mentor, however, by discovering no fewer than fourteen new methods of overeating. Word of his exploits spread, and by 276 he was the ancient world’s foremost authority on wart removal.

Yet an emptiness remained within him. He wrote of this void, in a diary entry from 286:  “It is like a blank space inside me. Like someone has inadvertently placed the corner of a book atop the spacebar of my soul.”

One evening, while out searching for his lost innocence, Euthanasius chanced to enter a Christian church that was advertising free baptisms. He described the moment he first saw the happy, smiling faces of the people inside:  “It was a moment. Like, an instant? A second? A brief flash of time, is what it was.” Intrigued by the sermon’s text, which came from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Huns, Euthanasius began a study of Christian theology. He read Ignatius, he read Irenaeus, he read Joel Osteen. In 291, at the age of thirty-eight, he became a Christian.

But he immediately came into conflict with the early church, thanks to his teaching that since this life is but a prelude, why not get on with the main event? He taught that suicide was a holy endeavor, and that assisted suicide was not only holy, but, in the right hands, outrageously lucrative. He set up a clinic outside Ephesus where he would, for two pigs and a chicken, make certain that a person’s journey into the next world was as quick and sharp as, literally, a knife to the gut.

Church authorities moved against Euthanasius in 293. He was one step ahead of them, but this was still within easy reach and he was captured and imprisoned in the Christian jail at Thessalonica. He escaped two years later, after an earthquake that collapsed every part of the jail except the guard he was lying under. The following day he was on a boat to Bermuda. A terrible storm arose during the boat’s second night at sea, during which Euthanasius preached a message to the crew; by the next morning they had all taken their own lives and he was left alone to steer the vessel. He ran aground in North Africa, where he lived a hermetic existence among the Arab nomads until his death from male pattern baldness a quarter-century later. When questioned as to why he had not followed his own doctrine to its logical conclusion, Euthanasius replied, “I do not fear death. I fear not being alive.”

His writings have come down to us mostly in the form of short, self-pitying notes written in a hurried hand or typed up neatly and signed at the bottom, “Not that you care.” His most popular collection, Goodbye, Cruel World, is available only in sign language.

Skepticus (297?-397 A.D.)

Experts are uncertain as to where and when Church Father Thomas Skepticus was born, but what is certain is that by 320 A.D. he had already earned a reputation for distrustfulness unparalleled in the ancient world. He did not believe anything. He did not believe the sky was blue. He did not believe the Pope was Catholic. He did not believe bears sh*t in the woods. He believed nothing — even when asked if he believed that he believed nothing, he was famously quoted as saying, “Yes, I don’t.”

Skepticus initially trained as a doctor, but kept telling patients they didn’t really have a problem, which angered hospital administrators, who relied upon necessary tests for ninety percent of their profits. Skepticus then took up the law, but couldn’t pass the bar because he didn’t believe he was actually taking it. He then labored as a backwoodsman for two summers while he tried to sort himself out. In 326 he attended a “Salvation Show” put on by an evangelist named Dr. Feelgood, at which he was converted not only to Christianity, but also to Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, and thirty-seven other religions. In the space of a single evening he went from believing nothing to believing everything.

Skepticus was an enthusiastic convert. He ran from town to town preaching the good news of Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, Buddha, Vishnu, et al., a philosophy which he had distilled to, “Do unto others.” His message found a receptive audience, most of whom had been doing unto others their entire lives, and were happy to continue. By 343 Skepticus had traversed the known world (a region of approximately twenty square miles) and set out for terra incognita:  Antarctica, which would not be discovered for another 1500 years, but which he’d read about in a dream. “It’s there!” he told friends. “If it isn’t, then boy, will I feel stupid!”

In 351 he returned, feeling not only stupid, but also hypothermic and gangrenous. He slowly recovered over the next twelve minutes, but would never regain the use of his gall bladder. Now in his mid-50’s, Skepticus began his monumental opus What’s The Difference?, an attempt to synthesize all the world’s religions into one super-religion. The work was completed in 360, but the writing went on for another thirty years; by the time What’s The Difference? was released, Skepticus was in his 90’s and too weak even to smile.

We know What’s The Difference? by reputation alone – all surviving copies were burned when Pope Pius III fell asleep on them while smoking – but in its time it must have been a blockbuster, for it is spoken of in terms usually reserved for Tom Clancy or Stephen King:  “If you read one scroll this year, make it What’s The Difference?!” wrote Howard Shales of the Carthage Comment. “Skeptic, Us? Not Anymore!” added a clever punster from the Sparta ShoutWhat’s The Difference? became the best-selling religious work of the fourth century, beating out such stalwarts as Jerome’s Goat’s Head Soup For The Soul and St. Ambrose’s Mule-Driven Life.

Despite its accolades, however, Skepticus’ groundbreaking tome was doomed to a short shelf-life. Barbarian invaders sacked Rome in 410 and took home with them all the shelving they could find. Romans were reduced to using desk- and tabletops to store their framed photographs, music boxes, and hand mirrors. Skepticus himself was not alive to witness this travesty, as he had been killed by an arrow thirteen years earlier in a random ride-by.

Devia of Aquitaine (406 – 466 A.D.)

In recent years archaeological evidence has pointed to several previously-unknown “Church Mothers,” among them a barbarian queen who converted to Christianity after partaking of the flesh of a missionary. Never had she tasted anything so delicious, she said, although yak’s bladder came pretty close. She commanded her entire tribe to follow her example and convert as well, but many of them were unwilling to give up their Sunday mornings, and as a result Devia was deposed in 410. Lost, alone, defeated, and only four years old, she found herself without a country. She headed east.

But she went too far, and ended up right where she’d started. She headed south instead, and this time stopped when she reached West Africa, which at the time was suing South America for breach of contract. Devia successfully mediated the dispute, winning a following on both sides of the Atlantic — the top and the bottom. She was created Bishop of Biafra in 413 (the youngest, and also the only, woman ever to hold a bishopric) and installed in a carriage atop an elephant that served as the mobile headquarters of her diocese. She roamed much of Sub-Saharan Africa, gaining disciples as she went, until her retinue became so large that the continent began to tip in whichever direction they were congregated. Though forbidden as a bishop to marry, she interpreted church law liberally and took a series of animal, vegetable, and mineral lovers. For these activities she was called to Rome to answer to Pope Indoctrinatus II.

The church at this time was still riven by doctrinal schisms, particularly over the precise nature of the Trinity and whether it was acceptable to spread jam on sacramental wafers during Communion. The Council of Nicaea in 325 had established the doctrine of the Trinity, but left unanswered the question of who would win two out of three falls, the Father, the Son, or the Holy Ghost. Pockets of anti-Trinitarian sentiment still flourished across the Mediterranean, particularly in Devia’s homeland of Aquitaine, where barbarian Christian scholars had evolved the rival doctrine of the “Infinity,” which taught that everyone was a part of God, and God a part of everyone — except the French. Devia never embraced the concept of the Infinity, but she was also lukewarm toward the concept of the Trinity; there was only one God, she believed, and his name was Jim Beam.

Upon Devia’s arrival in Rome she was greeted with a ticker-tape parade. No people, just ticker-tape. She was not allowed to meet with the pope himself, only his staff, as Indoctrinatus II was deathly afraid of seeing any woman with her clothes on. In these meetings the papal staff upbraided Devia for her libertine lifestyle while at the same time demanding to hear all about it. Devia worked her considerable charms on the College of Cardinals and got herself elected Pope-In-Waiting, first in line to succeed Indoctrinatus and second in line to see any new Star Wars films.

She immediately became a target for those unready to install a woman to the papacy, surviving four poisonings and three crossbow attacks over the next eighteen months, until finally she was mortally wounded in 424 by multiple orgasms. She hung on for another forty-two years before dying in 466.

Devia left no writings, only notches on bedposts, but others wrote extensively of her in their journals, diaries, and motel registries. She is remembered fondly as a caring, nurturing woman who was married only to the Church, until their divorce in 453.


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March 2013
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