The Common Good
May 1994

The Gospel of Who? Oh, Him.

by Ed Spivey Jr. | May 1994

Our top story this month has the theological world "all in a tizzy," which in the original Greek means "something much too nuanced for you to understand since you’re just a lay person."

Our top story this month has the theological world "all in a tizzy," which in the original Greek means "something much too nuanced for you to understand since you’re just a lay person." I’m talking about the so-called "gospel of Thomas," the ancient text that

some scholars think could be a legitimate part of the New Testament. Thomas, you will recall, was the first person to use the expression, "Not!" when confronted by the resurrected Christ. Not that we would have recognized him either, given the Upper Room’s notoriously bad lighting.

Discovered 50 years ago in a small Egyptian village, the Thomas text omits most of those unimportant gospel themes—such as the birth, death, and resurrection narratives—and gets right down to the all-important "secret sayings" of Jesus. You know, the kind of stuff A Current Affair would be interested in. These sayings reveal a "more tolerant" Jesus, one a little more accepting of human frailty. And we can only assume Thomas’ "laid back" Messiah, when faced with evil, would admonish his followers: "Dudes. Like...don’t sin. OK?"

Scholars say the Thomas manuscript reflects the influence of an outcast sect of followers, called the gnostics, who were tormented by gnasty head colds and were generally pretty cranky.

Gnostics reportedly went around "teachig" and "preachig" and complaining about their health. Sample sermon title: "Oh sure, the kingdom of God is at hand, but can’t we get a decent decongestant?" Theologian Karl "Barth" Simpson was unavailable for comment.

Competing for Olympic Green

By now, our proud Olympic athletes are all back home, and we hope they left a little bit of America back in Norway—preferably Dan Rather and Connie Chung. That way, we won’t have to watch those inane commercials, the ones where they’re posing as normal people.

But seriously, our family really enjoyed the Winter Games, especially the occasional competitions that we briefly glimpsed between the ads. ("We’ll be right back" is now an official part of the Olympic logo.)

Our kids loved the Olympics, too, although we had to explain a few things: No, Nancy Kerrigan isn’t competing now. She’s doing a Reebok commercial. Nope. Not now either. That one’s for Campbell’s Soup. No, Mickey Mouse is not her usual pairs partner. ("Hey, Nancy Kerrigan! You’ve just won the gold...er, the hearts of America. What are you going to do now?" [Excitedly] "I’m being paid to go to Disney world!!"

We were glad that host country Norway won the ski-jumping competition, even though, as our 8-year-old correctly pointed out, the polar bear had a much longer jump, and a higher degree of difficulty (he held a Coke bottle in one hand).

And do you notice how they always hold Olympics for hard stuff, like ski-jumping and skating, but never for things that average people can do? Like vacuuming, for instance, or changing cat litter. I’d get at least a bronze in that one. ("We’ll be right back after this word from Glamour Kitty.")

But when it comes to tricky stuff like the triple Lutz, most of us can’t achieve the same athletic brilliance. (I did a quarter Axel last night, but I was in my slippers—I tripped on the rug and frightened the gerbils.)

Like thousands of other American girls watching the Olympics, our 10-year-old imagines herself competing in the 1998 Olympics (the Diet Coke Winter Games), if only she sticks to the ice-skating classes that I insist she take. Unfortunately, at this point in her young life, she foolishly prefers spending her time on art, math homework, and church activities. But as her business manager...I mean, as her father I know she wants to represent her country, and make her parents beam with pride in their new imported luxury car.

Now, if I can just get her to memorize the tragic family history we just discovered.

Sharing the Sojourn

In response to a recent "H’rumphs" wherein I complained about office chip-snatchers, a Canadian subscriber sent me $1.50 to buy a bag of Doritos. I deeply appreciate this, even though it only amounted to about 37 cents in U.S. currency. But that’s beside the point and I shouldn’t have mentioned it. Heaven knows Canadians have enough problems of their own, such as free health care.

REMINDER: Although it’s only a coincidence that our receptionist distributes our letters and drives a Lincoln Town Car, please do not send cash through the mail.

The End of Gridlock

Belated congratulations to Congress for finally passing the Brady Bill. Despite years of lobbying and Republican stonewalling, this horrible television show has finally been outlawed. Under the new legislation, which went into effect last month, all taped episodes of The Brady Bunch must be immediately surrendered to the government for disposal.

Emboldened by public support, Congress is now working on an even tougher law—known as the Gilligan Bill. The president has already promised to sign it.

Please Note

-Let the record show that nowhere in this issue do the names Tonya Harding or Jeff Gillooly appear. We have too much respect for our readers to cover those kinds of tabloid topics.

NEXT MONTH: "I Was in a Small Group With John Bobbitt: One Woman’s Tragic Story."

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