The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by Josh Nossiter
Topsy Turveydom
Tuesday, March 28th, 2006
The Nossiter Net is cast  to snare some of  the riper rascalities of the day.  Comments?  editor@nossiter.net
The morning paper is filled with death and destruction, disease and discord, despair, destitution, and dismay.  Is it any wonder that in these parlous times, increasing numbers of our fellows are turning to religion?  Through faith, the inconsolable find comfort, the inexplicable is explained, and the clueless are clued in.  New religions are springing forth to answer the growing need.  One both old and new is the Church of Topsy Turvey, whose prophets are W.S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan, and whose charismatic leader is Peter, Bishop of Rum-ti-foo, latest in a long line.  Always in search of answers ourselves, this page sat down with Bishop Peter over glasses of the church’s ceremonial drink, rum.  Neat.

The Nossiter Net: Why rum, Bishop Peter?

Bishop Peter:  The prophet Gilbert wrote of the flock of the very first Bishop Peter of  Rum-ti-foo:

His people — twenty-three in sum —
They played the eloquent tum-tum,
And lived on scalps served up, in rum —
The only sauce they knew.*

We of the Church believe the scalps in the verse to be symbolic. The rum, however, we interpret quite literally.  Liberally too, I might add!

TNN:  Yours is a very rapidly growing faith.  How do you explain the appeal of the Church of Topsy Turvey?

BP (draining his glass and thoughtfully pouring another):  It’s really quite simple.  The sacred writings of Gilbert, set in many instances magnificently to music by prophet Sullivan, and hence ready-made for mass (indeed, some have complained that the Gilbert and Sullivan canon is decidedly “churchy,” as though that were a bad thing!) reveal our world better than any other text.

For example, today we have the Afghan government desirous of killing one Abdul Rahman for the crime of converting from Islam to Christianity.  In the United States, there is Zacarias Moussaoui.  He, though known to the authorities as a malefactor long before 2001, and whose timely detention and interrogation may well have prevented the catastrophe of 9/11, might also be put to death.  His crime: failing to be properly detained and interrogated by the authorities.

Both of these circumstances appear to be so outside the bounds of reason, so beyond the pale for any thinking being, that many of our fellows are reduced to despair in contemplation of them.  For a Topsy Turvian, however, the explanation is quite clear, as lucidly expressed by Apostle Ko Ko in the Book of  Mikado:

As some day it may happen
that a victim must be found,
I've got a little list--I've got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed--who never would be missed!

TNN:  Well, that does seem very clear.  What other revelations can the Church of Topsy Turvey offer us?

BP (thoughtfully draining, filling, and draining his glass again):  My son, one of the mysteries of our world is that of the rise of unqualified, indeed hopelessly idiotic and incompetent, persons to positions of great power and high repute.  Contemplating those who lead us today, be they in Washington, London, Peking, Pyongyang or Canberra, many are inclined to beat their heads against a wall, or tear out their hair.

The Topsy Turvian turns instead to the Book of Pirates.  Therein, the apostle Ruth tells the parable of the pilot:  Ruth was nursemaid to a bold lad, Frederic.  His father ordered her to apprentice Frederic to a pilot, in order to learn an honorable seafaring calling suitable to his bold nature.  Ruth, being rather stupid and a little hard of hearing, misunderstood her orders, and apprenticed the lad to a PIRATE.

TNN:  Very illuminating.  The point being…?

BP:  Ah, did you not know?  One day, a librarian named Laura Bush was about to brush her teeth in a bathroom in Austin, Texas.  She reached for the toothpaste, only to find the tube quite empty.  And so, fatefully, she called out to her husband:  “Honey!  We need a new Pepsodent!”  Her husband, being rather stupid…

TNN:  Is there any more rum?

BP (opening another bottle):  Finally there is the greatest mystery of all.  Why, with such a short span of years at their disposal, do our fellows devote so much energy to shortening each other’s spans still further?  Why, in other words, war?

The answer lies in the Book of Ida, and the chant of the three warriors, Arac, Guron, and Scynthius:

Bold and fierce, and strong, ha! ha!
For a war we burn,
With its right or wrong, ha! ha!
We have no concern.
Order comes to fight, ha! ha!
Order is obey'd,
We are men of might, ha! ha!
Fighting is our trade.

TNN:  Excellent rum, this.  You know Bish, at long last, I believe I’ve found religion.

*All G&S quotations are from the indispensable: http://math.boisestate.edu/GaS/index.html

©Joshua C. Nossiter, 2006
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