WELCOME TO THE TRUE FAITH
Welcome to the Church of Enlightened Self-Interest. It’s a pleasure to invite you to join with us so that, together, we might enjoy the benefits of secular religion. Let me introduce myself. I’m the duly anointed Third Assistant Secretary to the founder and, as such, authorized to indoctrinate you into our mystic realm. My knowledge of the various incantations and the secret handshake, as it were, enables me to perform the ritual quickly and painlessly.
For those of you who still cohabitate with some rival church, don’t give it another thought. Dual “citizenship” is permitted. We figure once you’ve recognized our superiority, you’ll naturally drift away from any competitor. And of particular importance, in this country you can safely escape most religious affiliations with little consequence. Mind you, this was not always the case. Four centuries ago anyone who refused to knuckle down to the approved clerical establishment ran the risk of being burned at the stake. Two centuries later the clergyman-in-charge could still run a heretic out of town on a rail. Even within the past hundred years a miscreant might, through church influence, be alienated from family or employment. Luckily things improved, so that about the worst they can muster these days is a little invective and the threat of a guilt trip. There’s no doubt civilization is far advanced since the bad old days of yore; we can all rejoice.
In case you want to know what benefits we offer over your present denomination, be assured they’re numerous. To begin with, we’re an open-minded group, tolerant of your vices. If you find it more pleasurable to spend Sunday morning on a golf course, rather than crammed into a pew, you’ll nonetheless receive our blessing. Similarly we harbor no objections if you choose to bow down to other Gods on occasion, or sidestep the Sabbath day if it’s inconvenient, or even covet your neighbor’s house or spouse (as long as it’s done discretely). It’s our belief that had Moses been a more skillful negotiator, he could have trimmed the Ten Commandments down to just the three or four so that we might all have lived far more comfortably. There’s simply no point in being a fanatic about this. We say that to get along we must go along.
As to our doctrine, it’s there in our very title: Enlightened Self-interest. What finer act of beneficence might we provide all our parishioners than to encourage promotion of what’s best for them. And on the matter of faith and trust, who better will represent you than yourself. Despite your personal failings, you’ll not intentionally deceive yourself for the benefit of another. Can such a claim be made of your run-of-the-mill religious leaders? If you feel inclined to give your allegiance to a spiritual guide, you’ll be better off selecting yourself rather than someone else. You need only recall some of the historical figures who offered themselves up as paragons to realize this: Father Divine, The Monk Rasputin, Aimee McPherson, Jim Bakker, and Oral Roberts, to name just a few. As diverse as this group may appear to be, they all possessed one thing in common: Though they appealed to the hopes and aspirations of their adherents, they systematically practiced deception for their own personal benefit.
Finally, when it comes to enlightened self-interest, “enlightened” is the operative word. Those whose every action can be clearly recognized as one of self-interest will not fare well. It’s often necessary to do things which may not appear to be in your own immediate best interest if, in the longer haul, they will benefit you. This will normally be a judgment call, with the factors of each instance dictating your actions at the time. What you need are a set of guidelines to lead you through this minefield. You’re in luck! The Church of Enlightened Self-Interest displays below The Ten Admonishments, acquired when our founder recently ascended Mount Horeb, just a bit south of Mount Sinai. You’re encouraged to apply these rules, as they’re the basic tools to ensure your life be healthy, wealthy and wise. And may the best of good fortune follow you forever.
The Ten Admonishments
I. Be nice to people you meet on your way up through life.
[You may meet them again on the way back down.]
II. Maintain a reputation for scrupulous honesty.
[You needn’t actually be honest, but be selective in your
III. Avoid adulterous relationships.
[The physical and financial risks are generally disproportionate
to the enjoyment experienced.]
IV. Maintain an appearance of modesty and temperance.
[You’ll want to avoid making yourself a tempting target for the
V. Never do anything that public opinion or your sense of right do
[Hire someone else to do it.]
VI. In all your utterances, make your words soft and sweet.
[They’ll be easier to swallow when you have to eat them.]
VII. Avoid boastfulness and self-aggrandizing behavior.
[It’s easy to be self-deprecating when everyone can tell at a
glance that you’ve got it made.]
VIII. Shun the limelight.
[When you make a fool of yourself, at least you won’t be revealed
as a public fool.]
IX. Eschew any cause for scandal in your actions.
[Conduct all your nefarious schemes silently and anonymously.]
X. Convey sincerity in all your expressions.
[The ability to fake genuineness is invaluable.]