Bokononism, Humoristianity, and Christian Science: A Really Scholarly Essay

The time for thinkers has come. –  Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures

“All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies.” –Kurt Vonnegut’s character, Lionel Boyd “Bokonon” Johnson, in Cat’s Cradle

You must be able to recognize how ludicrous your beliefs might appear to others. – Alpha Wingoov Karen, The Humoristian Chronicles


I just finished reading Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. In his book, Vonnegut introduces us to a new religion, Bokononism. I very much enjoyed learning about Bokononism. I am also pretty sure that I myself am a Bokononist.  But then, the books suggests that we ALL are.

So, counting the religion I was raised in – Christian Science – and the religion I founded – Humoristianity – I guess I can now identify myself as a Humoristian Bokononist Christian Scientist – or HuBoChriSci, for short.

I thought it might be useful – at least to me – to compare and contrast these three sects.  In keeping with the religion I founded, Humoristianity, this will, of course, be a really thorough and scholarly presentation. 🙂

And away we go…


Truth, independent of doctrines and time-honored systems, knocks at the portal of humanity. – Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy

As Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science Church, states in The Manual of the Mother Church, the Christian Science Church was  “…a church designed to commemorate the word and works of our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing.”

In the textbook for Christian Science, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Eddy defines “Church” as “The structure of Truth and Love; whatever rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle,” and says, “The Church is that institution, which affords proof of its utility and is found elevating the race, rousing the  dormant understanding from material beliefs to the apprehension of spiritual ideas and the demonstration of divine Science, thereby casting out devils, or error, and healing the sick.”.

In Cat’s Cradle, Vonnegut’s character, “Bonobon” Johnson, explains the purpose of his religion in a “calypso” poem:

I wanted all things
To seem to make some sense,
So we all could be happy, yes,
Instead of tense.
And I made up lies
So that they all fit nice,
And I made this sad world
A par-a-dise.”
–Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle

My purpose in founding Humoristianity was to bring laughter to those weary seekers of humor, athirst in a discussion board desert of stodginess, pomposity, and people who took themselves waaaay too seriously.

Here, as I laid them down on that discussion board, are the tenets of Humoristianity:

1) You must be able to laugh at yourself.

2) You must be able to recognize how ludicrous your beliefs might appear to others.

3) You must want nothing but good for everyone, everywhere in the universe. (Editor’s note: Don’t let this one scare you. None of us is quite there, yet.)

4) You must have a natural aversion to meetings, committees, and scheduled events (as we will be having none of those).

5) You must enjoy the humor of Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert, Tom Lehrer, and Jerry Seinfeld (if you’re a Jerry Lewis kind of guy, you might want to think about starting your own religion – although we wish you nothing but good).


God is Love. – I John 4

In the Christian Science textbook, Eddy writes, “’God is Love.’ More than this we cannot ask, higher we cannot look, farther we cannot go.”

And in Cat’s Cradle, one of Vonnegut’s characters seems to echo this thought when she recounts a (fictional) conversation she had with one of the inventors of the atomic bomb:

“Do any conversations stick in your mind?”
“There was one where he bet I couldn’t tell him anything that was absolutely true. So I said to him, ‘God is love.’”
“And what did he say?”
“He said, ‘What is God? What is love?’”
“But God really is love, you know,” said Miss Faust, “no matter what Dr. Hoenikker said.”
“Miss Faust,” Vonnegut writes, “was ripe for Bokononism.”


Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. – John 8

“Dr. Breed keeps telling me the main thing with Dr. Hoenikker was truth.”
“You don’t seem to agree.”
“I don’t know whether I agree or not. I just have trouble understanding how truth, all by itself, could be enough for a person.”
– from Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

“Truth is ever truthful, and can tolerate no error in premise or conclusion,” writes Eddy in the Christian Science textbook, and “Christianity as Jesus taught it was not a creed, nor a system of ceremonies, nor a special gift from a ritualistic Jehovah; but it was the demonstration of divine Love casting out error and healing the sick, not merely in the name of Christ, or Truth, but in demonstration of Truth.”


What? You want me to, like, give you an actual answer to this question….?


“Are you a Bokononist?” I asked him.
“I agree with one Bokononist idea. I agree that all religions, including Bokononism, are nothing but lies.”
“Will this bother you as a scientist,” I inquired, “to go through a ritual like this?”
“I am a very bad scientist. I will do anything to make a human being feel better, even if it’s unscientific. No scientist worthy of the name could say such a thing.”
– Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

“In this country most people don’t even understand what pure research is.” 
“I’d appreciate it if you’d tell me what it is.”
“It isn’t looking for a better cigarette filter or a softer face tissue or a longer-lasting house paint, God help us. Everybody talks about research and practically nobody in this country’s doing it. We’re one of the few companies that actually hires men to do pure research. When most other companies brag about their research, they’re talking about industrial hack technicians who wear white coats, work out of cookbooks, and dream up an improved windshield wiper for next year’s Olds-mobile.”
“But here…? “
“Here, and shockingly few other places in this country, men are paid to increase knowledge, to work toward no end but that.”
“That’s very generous of General Forge and Foundry Company.”
“Nothing generous about it. New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become.” 
Had I been a Bokononist then, that statement would have made me howl. – Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle



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