The Apocryphal Discovery of Isaac Newton’s 1661 Trinity College Thesis on the Catholic Church

Sir Isaac Newton: Scientist extraordinaire and genealogical forefather of Rod Stewart. Sir Isaac Newton: Scientist extraordinaire and genealogical forefather of Rod Stewart.

Mrs. Hattie Beasley of Ipswich expected nothing more than a serviceable Queen Anne picture frame when she paid a bargain 3 quid 10 bob for it at the estate sale of dearly departed Gwendolyn Chatham in 1992. She planned on removing the existing picture of 4 English Bulldogs playing poker and replacing it with one of her own – a little hand-painted still life of apples for which she was renown in Suffolk County. In fact for about the price of a pint of mead, the purchase yielded Mrs. Beasley much more than she bargained for. Because when she removed the frame’s backer and withdrew the folded spacing materials that helped to press the English Bulldog print flush against the glass, she discovered a trove of remarkably well-preserved papers from Trinity College in Cambridge dating from 1661. Amazingly the authenticated papers were written in the strong, clear hand of Sir Isaac Newton, who, at the time they were written, was known as Isaac the Underachiever. As she examined the clean and unspoiled historic sheets, she noted they were from some kind of examination paper whose subject was titled: Catholic Church History: On Tracing Its Origin, Development and Cultural Semiotics with Respect to its Hierarchy, Heresies and Celibacy – All within an Aristotelian Construct.

And that was the truncated title. A longer one was crossed out. The paper appeared to be a 1st Draft as factual errors, wax stains and general incoherency were rampant throughout the manuscript.

Mrs. Beasley’s serendipitous discovery was one of the greatest historic finds of our time surpassing Emma Philby’s of Liverpool, who found the Beatles original handwritten lyrics to Love Me Do tucked into a 1964 copy of Tiger Beat magazine while rummaging in her mum’s attic. And while Miss Philby’s discovery was quite a find, it must be noted that Sir Paul McCartney is one level of Knighthood, but Sir Isaac Newton’s is quite another. And as these historic documents now reside in The British Museum and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame respectively, I thought I’d share with you the inaugural public unveiling of the former.

With the inestimable assistance of Cambridge University Calligraphic Interpreter William Cardigan, and the unstinting support of Phillip Raglan, the Curator of Stolen Greek Treasures at The British Museum, I (whoever I am) have been able to reconstruct verbatim what this blossoming 19 year old genius wrote in the days when a laser pointer was a lit arrow fired from a crossbow.      

And so in the full and bleak knowledge that the sun does indeed now set on the British Empire, I present with dauntless constancy and constant dauntlessness, this historic treatise written by 19 year old Isaac Newton on September 15th 1661 for his Trinity College Comparative Religions class taught by Prof. Holyoke and entitled:

Catholic Church History: On Tracing Its Origin, Development and Cultural Semiotics with Respect to its Hierarchy, Heresies and Celibacy – All within an Aristotelian Construct 

Or:

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Church

{Initial Delineation for Prof. Holyoke}

The Catholic Church, as of late widely disparaged in these Anglican environs, has had a tortuous and not altogether stellar history. What began as a superb business plan, featuring the matchless tenets of Jesus Christ, has devolved into convoluted dogma better suited to the Dark Ages than today’s modern world of buckle shoes, sundials and shooting irons. And although I attend Trinity College I cannot lend credence to the Catholic Church’s chimerical belief in the Holy Trinity. So while the teachings of Christ are immaculate, his human translators have left a benighted legacy of a flat Earth and a flood of candle wax.   

Christ won a scholarship to Yeshiva University after changing their god-awful cafeteria food into something edible. However he quickly ran afoul of the University’s administration and faculty when he promulgated the heretical idea that: “At the current rate of enlightenment, the amount of wisdom available should double about every 2 years.” And when Christ’s fraternity voted him “Most Likely to be the Son of God,” it was the last straw. He was expelled and took the familiar route of most entrepreneurial evangelists of his day by tinkering with the worthy tenets of his sermonizing start-up in the solitude of his father’s garage in Nazareth. 

In short order he brought his garage-perfected philosophy to the local synagogues in hopes of a warm reception, but there were few takers. So he decided to peddle his “Think different” approach door to door and that’s when his business plan started to click. The buzz was terrific. And his few straggling followers transformed into a zealous flock with the Lord as their shepherd. They loved this non-punitive and friendly philosophy espoused by a self-assured, charismatic guy who took no counsel but his own.

Originally Jesus dressed in simple black jeans and matching turtleneck, but eventually reverted to his trademark sack cloth robe and walking staff. It would be the only staff this independent thinker would ever need. By now he had stopped shaving altogether and developed that classic devil-may-care “Jesus look” that women swooned over and men tried to imitate. This guy was wearing pajamas during the day and the public couldn’t get enough of it. Within a few months he adopted a majestic and visionary gaze which his competitors mocked as just a vacant stare. The citizens of Samaria knew he was on to something big and the occupying Romans began to take notice.

Even though by now it was AD, the world was still on Jew time because Jesus had not yet made his mark sufficiently to divide the world’s chronology into the time before his birth (BC) and the time after his birth (AD). His chutzpah was legend. This close relative of God (some say he was like a son to our Lord) said he wouldn’t go to a shareholders meeting in Jerusalem until he had a #1 sermon on the charts. Which, miraculously, he managed in no time with his blockbuster concert in Galilee known as The Sermon on the Mount. This was the first stadium sermon in the history of preaching and produced 3 hit singles: The Golden Rule, The Lord’s Prayer and a cover of James Taylor’s Fire and Rain.

As Christ’s enlightened message moved over the land, a buoyant feeling pervaded Judea prompting Pontius Pilate to remark, “Have the Jews been sipping from the milk of human kindness again?” Jesus paid no heed to the prevailing zeitgeist (then consisting mostly of stoning people as a deterrent to bad behavior) and he displayed a fiercely independent streak that eventually proved his undoing. If only he had played ball with the Romans. Cut them in on the action maybe. Or had gone through proper channels to clear his sermons with the authorities, he wouldn’t have engendered such hostility amongst his competitors and censorship from the gatekeepers. The established evangelical acts of the day were losing market share to this bearded mop top from Nazareth known as The Fab One. He was registering with youngsters and even with middle-aged people who, at that grim time, were actually teenagers.

A sandstorm of Jesusmania preceded him wherever he played a concert or sermonized a crowd. The authorities could barely contain the beatific pandemonium. So they did what any respectable fascist regime does; they issued a cease and desist order in the form of a crucifixion warrant to, “End this disruptive Jesus business once and for all.” And just like that it was over, until Peter, Paul and Mary resurrected his legacy and sang his praises to high heaven in the beatnik coffeehouses of Sodom and Gomorrah. Peter, Paul and Mary tweaked his format and changed some of Jesus’s lyrics so they were a little catchier. After some legal wrangling, they even managed to patent the Jesus name and a religion was born. They were now thinking of expanding the brand from a regional favorite into a Mediterranean multi-national, all on the strength of his beautiful message.   

The Jesus brand had by now become a must-have religion, prompting the executives (or disciples as they liked to be called) to open several Jesus-themed stores in the greater Judea area with hopes of going full-blown “Mediterranean” when market conditions allowed. Some disciples felt the company should remain a small closely held cult, but Peter, he had this vision thing. He wanted to take it public and the next thing you know many of the original stores were converted into Big Box flagship stores called Churches.

There were questions surrounding the viability of the business plan. What was the Church actually marketing: salvation? That’s a tough sell – especially in a world without indoor plumbing. I mean the wheel is an understandable product and means the same thing to all people all the time, but salvation means different things to everyone always. Salvation is an entirely different animal and may not even exist – kind of like a unicorn. And couldn’t people actually get salvation or redemption on their own, without the help of a Church?

That’s when the Church devised the concept of “original sin” and inserted it into scripture – to create a bogeyman from which to be saved. Spot on marketing. Institutionalize a need and then fill it. A real stroke of genius. Obviously this train had left the station and was gathering steam and even though trains and steam engines won’t be invented for a century or so, they are hinted at in some of Lenny’s [Newton is referring to Leonardo DaVinci here] Codices I’ve read.

By now Christians were getting out of the retail business and began selling truth wholesale in order to increase stakeholder equity and market share (and you thought wholesale was the sole province of the Jew). In the good old Dark Ages the Church controlled the entire supply chain of truth: Manufacture of it (Bibles), Distribution of it (priests) and Ownership of the movie houses where it was presented (churches). They were now vertically integrated which dovetailed perfectly with their linear thinking. This control of production, distribution and presentation of its product drew the scrutiny of the Renaissance which felt the Church was developing a monopolistic stranglehold on the truth and was acting in ways contrary to the marketplace of spiritual ideas. Clearly, a Reformation was in order.

Enter Martin Luther and King Hank 8, two individuals who had quarrels with the Church’s top-down, centralized power structure. They wanted to maximize worshipper-equity. So with the help of some “bad Gutenberg” (as “bad press” was known in those olden days) they broke up the Church into smaller, competitive subsidiaries like Lutherans and Anglicans – or as they were more generally called: Complainers. This forced the Catholic Church to look for new profit centers like selling indulgences and bake sales to fund Our Lady of the Perpetually Leaky Roof. Although the Catholic Church has been weakened by dismemberment and self-inflicted wounds, they’re still a formidable force with their own postal system, candle factories and even an empire – The Holy Roman Empire.

And while their priests are not allowed to have sex, the clergy have employed several clever reach arounds – I mean work arounds to overcome this lack of sexual expression. For example many priests surrender their groinal vitality to a life of God. While others have simply extended the hours of Altar Boys. Jesus has remained a strong front man for this far flung Empire (I understand they’re overseas now in an area called the New World) and while the Church’s reputation has occasionally suffered, Jesus’s sterling reputation has rightfully grown over the years for the exquisite moral philosophy he espoused. His marketers have had good centuries and bad centuries. Their bottom line can’t always be expressed in Pound Sterling or Euros. It’s bigger and more mysterious than that. The current CEO, Pope Alexander VII seems to understand this and has begun an outreach program to the unenlightened using the sagacious tenets of Jesus as a basis for his message. Now if the Catholic Church could only caffeinate the Holy Water, the laity might be able to stay awake during mass.

Who knows what the future may hold for the Catholic Church. Galileo presented truth to power and look where it got him. He became a heretic with an epitaph reading: “Don’t Even…” I’m sure the Church will eventually evolve as science compels them and its laity demands. In this way it will be both traditional and relativistic thereby ensuring a tranquil world and guaranteeing that the Middle East will be an exemplary Citadel of Peace for centuries to come.  

*A note was appended to the bottom of the paper requesting the College Provost (a Mr. Samuel Happenstance) to please provide him with more vinegar, candles and firewood. Master Newton also questioned why, if Popes weren’t guilty of anything, did so many proclaim themselves Innocent.

Aftermath (Calculus no doubt)

In 1997 Newton’s dissertation was sold at Sotheby’s Auction House to Miss Emma Philby of Liverpool for £20,000 plus her Beatles’ handwritten lyrics to Love Me Do. As for Mrs. Beasley, the strangest thing happened; when she placed her painting of apples into that Queen Anne frame which formerly housed Sir Isaac Newton’s papers; the apples kept falling out of the picture and onto the ground. Finally she understood the gravity of the situation.   

Thus ended the fictional saga of the apocryphal discovery of Isaac Newton’s Trinity College thesis on the Catholic Church.

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