IVP - Strangely Dim - Fun with Doctrinal Statements

July 8, 2005

Fun with Doctrinal Statements

by David A. Zimmerman

It’s the beginning of InterVarsity’s fiscal year, which means it’s time once again for me to annually reaffirm InterVarsity’s doctrinal basis. I’m happy to do so, but as my saintly mommy always says, read it before you sign it. (Actually, I’m pretty sure she never said that, but she’d sign it if she read it.)

As I reread the statement, I realized that I hardly ever read anything like it anymore. So I thought it would be an interesting experiment to write something common, ordinary—like our instructions for people who feed our cats while we're away—in the style of a doctrinal statement. Here goes . . .


The Zimmerman Declaration Regarding Care of Cats

We believe in the regular and persistent nourishment of cats who are in our care—that even in our absence they require and deserve, as creations of the Creator God, food and drink.
In keeping with this belief, we keep a stock of both dry and moist food for our cats, which may be found under the sink in our kitchen.
We acknowledge that our cats, who have not been blessed with opposable thumbs, are at the mercy of human beings to negotiate the packages that contain their food.
We therefore expect that whoever pledges to care for our cats in our absence will regularly prepare and serve both moist and dry cat food to our cats on our behalf.
We likewise keep a dish filled with water easily accessible for our cats, and we anticipate that our surrogate will replenish the water as needed from the pitcher in our refrigerator.
We also strive to keep the lid to our toilet down, in order to discourage our cats from drinking water that we hold to be unhealthy, and we expect similar stewardship of the toilet water while we are away.
We believe that the air quality of our home will be compromised by the neglect, over time, of our cats’ litter box.
We further believe that the contents of our cats’ litter box should not be flushed down the toilet, but instead should be bagged and discarded with the rest of our trash on a regular basis.
In keeping with this belief, we maintain a ready supply of bags for use in discarding the contents of the litter box in the hope that our cat’s steward will regularly dispense with said contents.
We have come to accept that our cats will hide under the bed when strangers enter our home; therefore we expect that our surrogate will rarely (indeed, perhaps never) see our cats while we are away.
And while we mourn, on behalf of this faithful friend, the apparent absence of our cats during the tenure of stewardship, we trust in our cats’ prevailing presence, though hidden.
And we wait in joyful hope for our return home and our blessed reunion with our cats, kept safe in our absence.

With Gratitude,
The Zimmermans

Karen Sloan, an up-and-coming (you might say “emerging”) minister I met at a conference, offered this postmodern-esque critique of my doctrine of cat care:

Pet parents in the emerging culture may look back on our declarations (systematic instructions, etc.) as we look back on medieval litter boxes: possessing a real beauty that should be preserved, but now largely vacant, not inhabited or used much anymore, more tourist attraction than holy place. . . . If pet parenting doesn’t bear fruit in a way or rhythm or pattern of life that yields well cared for cats in real measure, they aren’t interested.

Which just goes to show, you can make fun of virtually anything.


I can't let pass without comment the two particularly weird advertisements I've seen recently. One is a TV commercial from Mitchum, with all the markings of a beer or hard liquor ad, except that it's selling deodorant: "If you've ever WAITED TILL THE COMMERCIAL . . . [cue hard rock music] . . . to CHANGE A DIAPER . . . then you're a MITCHUM MAN." Even weirder, I think, is the full page sexy ad for Rohto V redness relief eye drops, with the blurred images and the hip font and color changes: "are you ready for the Rohto V experience?" Brought to you, incidentally, by The Mentholatum Co., Inc.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at July 8, 2005 7:46 AM Bookmark and Share

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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