The Firesign Theatre’s “I Think We’re All Bozos On This Bus” and the dignity of the human race


I heard this theatric presentation on the radio once back in the day when they were “popular” and remember enjoying it, while certainly having no clue to what their aim was. My recent reading of something  written by Christian theologian Eugene Peterson about a bus trip, that will be the substance of this post, was what brought it to mind.

An autobiographical side note is the fact that another Firesign Theatre title called “Everything You Know Is Wrong” for several years became my personally adopted mantra in my quest for truth that brought me the long way around from Christianity to Christianity. Of course I was merely unknowingly following the method G. K. Chesterton recommended in his introductions to “The Everlasting Man” and “Orthodoxy.” In “Orthodoxy” Chesterton says,

But I have a peculiar reason for mentioning a man in a yacht, who discovered England. For I am that man in a yacht. I discovered England…For if this book is a joke it is a joke against me. I am the man who with utmost daring discovered what had been discovered before…

The man from the yacht thought he was the first to find England; I thought I was the first to find Europe. I did try to found a heresy of my own; and when I had put the last touches to it, I discovered that it was orthodoxy.



In “The Everlasting Man” Chesterton describes the process in similar fashion but it may provide some needed focus to what goes on in such a “method.”

There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there. The other is to walk round the whole world till we come back to the same place; and I tried to trace such a journey in a story I once wrote…

The point of this book, in other words, is that the next best thing to being really inside Christendom is to be really outside it. And a particular point of it is that the popular critics of Christianity are not really outside it. They are on a debatable ground…

Now the best relation to our spiritual home is to be near enough to love it. But the next best is to be far enough away not to hate it.

So perhaps an imaginary world circumventing trip in which “We’re All Bozos On This Bus,” that arrives back home to the truth that, essentially… we’re not, is working with the same basic method of quest for truth. I’ll assume that exhibit A, the  bozo’s bus trip, is something we are familiar enough with, having lately been much promoted by the bozo tour guide drivers guild that includes the neo-atheists Dawkins and Hitchens. For exhibit B, Eugene Peterson will tell a little story as we arrive back home in Christendom. In his book “Christ Plays in Ten-Thousand Places” Peterson writes,

There is a great deal of so-called creation appreciation, or “love of nature,” that prefers to look the other way when men and women appear on the scene. Genesis 2 will not permit it. Men and women are as integral to creation as the garden with its trees and rivers, its animals and birds.

Several years ago one of my students who lived a distance away and rode a crowded bus to the college each day said to his wife as he went out the door one morning, “I’m just going to go out and immerse myself in God’s creation today.” The next day his parting words were the same. On the third day, she called him back, “Don’s you think you ought to go to class today? A couple of days of walking in the woods or on the beach is okay, but don’t you think enough is enough?”

He said, “Oh. I’ve been going to class every day.”

“Then what,” she said, “is all this business about immersing yourself in creation?”

“Well. I spend forty minutes on the bus each morning and afternoon. Can you think of a setting more thick with creation than that – all these people created, created in the image of God, created male and female?”

“I never thought of that,” she said.

“You mean you’ve never read Genesis?” (Peterson, p. 82)

Now, perhaps The Firesign Theatre were not assuming that the “bozohood” of humankind was something that could not somehow coincide with the “imagehood” of humankind. On the other hand, “bozohood” may imply that humans are merely robotic clones of mechanistic determinism with no inherent dignity. So I raise the contrast mainly to ask a few questions:

  • what view of humankind is the one that we practically adopt as we go about our lives?
  • what view of humankind is the one that is true?
  • if we are merely cloned bozos, why does that idea seem to disturb us?
  • are we, like Chesterton, destined to daringly discover Orthodoxy? (Christianity)

For those interested in the Firesign Theatre’s album, here are some links for further enjoyment! Here is a review that was in a sci-fi digest in 1972. Here is a link to some info on the album at  And if you wan’t to hear the album; here it is.

If you have any thoughts about any of these thoughts, please feel free to comment! Thanks

My concluding thought is “What a long strange trip it’s been.”

Original Content © Bryan M. Christman and Manifest Propensity, 2014. Excerpts, links, and reblogging may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bryan M. Christman and Manifest Propensity with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s