Saturday, November 16, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: God is Disappointed in You

Written by Mark Russell
Cartoons by Shannon Wheeler

I have finally read the bible. Praise, Jesus! My first attempt at reading this book was abandoned pretty early—like midway through Genesis early. I quickly became hopelessly bored after the 200th "begat". A few years ago, thanks to R. Crumb, I did make it through Genesis, but even that was no walk in the garden, so to speak. It is probably not surprising either, that after roughly 15 years of forced church going, I was pretty close to being totally ignorant of just what the heck went on in this book. (Some pretty crazy shit is what the heck.) Now before you get too proud of me, let me just say that I didn't actually read the whole unabridged version of the Bible, but I did read the pithy 200 plus pages of Mark Russell's God is Disappointed in You and that counts. While this Mark Russell is certainly a satirist, he is not the piano playing political comedian, Mark Russell, you may be thinking of. No, this Mark Russell is actually funny (sorry other Mark Russell).

God is Disappointed in You boils down the essence of each and every book of the Bible, Old and New, into small digestible morsels. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, and yes, by the very fact that it exists, it is irreverent, but it's the good kind of irreverence, not the sacrilegious, blasphemous variety. It's more like a gentle, good-natured ribbing to remind us what ridiculousness appears in these allegorical tales. It doesn't read like an atheist's jab at the Christian tenets of faith. The Richard Dawkins version would be very different, and humorless. This is just a lighthearted romp through hundreds of years of blood, gore, enslavement and miscellaneous human suffering. Whether you’re a fan of religion (this one or that one), a skeptical atheist or a wishywashy agnostic, whether you are Pat Robertson or  Bill Maher,  this is simply a hilarious book that keeps the morality intact. (More so the New Testament, the O.T. is just bananas, quite frankly.)

The cartoon illustrations were provided by Shannon Wheeler, whose work you may recognize from the New Yorker and his long running Too Much Coffee Man series.

Chris Auman

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