The Last Rites of Bokonon

As invented by Kurt Vonnegut for Cat’s Cradle: The Last Rites of the Bokononist always stuck in my mind as a simple, humble reminder of the immense awe and gratitude we people get to experience as human beings enjoying a blissful moment upon this sweet planet.

As directed by Verse 1 in the Book of Bokonon, “All of the true things that I am about to tell you are shameless lies.” The Warning from title page reads: Don’t be a fool! Close this book at once! It is nothing but foma!” Foma, of course, being: “lies”; “harmless untruths”; “a useful and harmless sort of horseshit”.

The practitioners thus utter their last rites with a self-awareness of the mythology they’re playing out. I think this honesty serves to poeticize the life and death of the Bokonist, and this great difference between Christianity and Vonnegut’s imaginary religion highlights the unease of the Christian when encouraged to believe in extreme truths that contradict scientific discovery, and even, often, common sense.

Honesty! Transparency! Light-heartedness! Why not?

The Last Rites of the Bokononist
(Each line is said once by the person giving the rites and then repeated by the dying person.)

God made mud.
God got lonesome.
So God said to some of the mud, “Sit up!”
“See all I’ve made,” said God, “the hills, the sea, the sky, the stars.”
And I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
Lucky me, lucky mud.
I, mud, sat up and saw what a nice job God had done.
Nice going, God.
Nobody but you could have done it, God! I certainly couldn’t have.
I feel very unimportant compared to You.
The only way I can feel the least bit important is to think of all the mud that didn’t even get to sit up and look around.
I got so much, and most mud got so little.
Thank you for the honor!
Now mud lies down again and goes to sleep.
What memories for mud to have!
What interesting other kinds of sitting-up mud I met!
I loved everything I saw!
Good night.
I will go to heaven now.
I can hardly wait…
To find out for certain what my wampeter was…
And who was in my karass…
And all the good things our karass did for you.
Amen.

For more Bokononisms: Here…
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