I always love reading XKCD comics, and I usually understand them. This one, though, it’s powerful.
This is some of the funniest, best writing I've read in a long time.
"Next I see the gluten-free section filled with crackers and bread made from various wheat-substitutes such as cardboard and sawdust. I skip this aisle because I'm not rich enough to have dietary restrictions."
Today's XKCD made me LOL.
For anyone who grew up in evangelical Christianity, reading the stories of Matthew Paul Turner (Twitter link) will bring the memories flooding back. His funny storytelling, weaving tales of his childhood as he tells his story of spiritual growth and development.
I first came to know of MPT through his blog, Jesus Needs New PR, where MPT posts some of the absurdities of the very diverse, very amusing body of Christ. He pushes the envelope and holds some views that, undoubtedly, people will find offensive, but he's always raising a serious point - if these are the people who are supposed to be representing Christ in this world, then, seriously, Jesus needs new PR.
At any rate, I downloaded Churched: One Kid's Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess onto my Kindle, and while I didn't read it straight through, I did open it from time to time - usually in the evenings before bed - to read a chapter or two and have a good laugh.
MPT begins his memoir by recounting the story of moving from a Methodist church to a Fundamental Baptist Church. As he said, "[Mom] and Dad had come to the conclusion that God wasn't attending our old church and it didn't make sense to go to a place even God didn't want to go to." Funny stuff.
Churched is a great read. I definitely recommend it. Below are a couple of excerpts that I found especially hilarious:
On the Second Coming:
The way we saw things, it didn't matter that God had created the heavens and the earth--he did not want us excited about living here. A good fundamentalist worth his weight in guilt was quick to remind any skeptic that the world was going to hell in a handbasket.
On Clean Living:
I did learn on thing about having Jesus as a bodily tenant: he would not tolerate cigarette smoke. Mr. Parsons, the assistant pastor in charge of children's ministries, made that perfectly clear.
"Do you want to give Jesus cancer?" His voice was gruff and he put his hands on his hips. "Well, do you? Think about it, young people. Do you want to be the person responsible for giving God's Son cancer? Or how about emphysema?"
After his talk, Mr. Parsons stood at the door, shook our hands, and gave us Hershey bars. Jesus didn't mind getting fat.
"Matthew Turner was one of two boys who asked Jesus into their hearts this morning," said Pastor Nolan during the announcements at church. "Four years old! Wow. I wish I'd known Jesus when I was four. Imagine what kind of Christian he's going to be when he becomes an adult. Can't wait to see that."
Again, it's a great book. You can buy it on Amazon.com for Kindle or in paper. For those of you who have a Kindle (or a Kindle app) and would like to read Churched, I have a single copy I can share. Comment on this blog and let me know, and we'll work to get the copy sent to you.
If you know me, you know I like free books. I also like gadgets. So when Matt Mikalatos (Twitter link) tweeted that he was giving away digital copies of his book Imaginary Jesus, I thought, "What the heck? I'll check it out." I read the first chapter (Chapter Zero, for those of you keeping count), and I was hooked. In this fun combination of personal memoir, allegory, and fantasy fiction, Matt is at a yuppie vegan cafe in Portland with flesh-and-blood Jesus when a guy named Pete approaches and punches him in the face. Read the scene:
"That--" Pete pointed out the window at the racing back of my Lord--"that was an imaginary Jesus, my friend. And now that we're on to him, he's going to run."
I crossed my arms and frowned. "I've known Jesus for a long time. What makes you think that you know him better than I do?"
"Because," Pete said, heading for the door, "I'm the Apostle Peter."
I won't lie - this is a strange story. But it's brilliant. Matt's writing is in the same vein as C.S. Lewis in A Pilgrim's Regress, but not on the same level (sorry Matt - you're good, but not that good). But the story in terrific. With the help of the Apostle Peter, a former prostitute, a talking donkey, and Mary, Matt takes on his Imaginary Jesus, and battles it out with other Imaginary Jesuses in the process, to find the true Jesus of Nazareth and begin to really understand Christianity.
Other Jesuses we meet are King James Jesus (quite the strict one - "It was centuries before he even allowed New King James Jesus to exist."), Liberal Social Services Jesus ("He thinks the best way to tell people about God is through service, because he never talks about God. He's great to have around because he keeps the place spotless."), Conservative Truth-Telling Jesus ("He has no arms. He thinks the only way to tell people about God is through hard truth, and he never raises a hand to help people with their physical needs."), Magic 8-ball Jesus (who has twenty replies: ten positive, five negative, and five neutral), Perpetually Angry Jesus (apparently, he's the Calvinist Jesus that Mark Driscoll worships), Testosterone Jesus (a popular men's retreat speaker), and Harley Jesus. There are more, but you need to read the book.
And, great news. The book is free through the month of February, so check out Matt's blog and download a copy. I promise, you'll enjoy it.
G. K. (Gilbert Keith) Chesterton, a metaphorical and literal giant of his day (in addition to writing hundreds of books, poems, and essays, Chesterton stood at 6'4" and weighed 300 pounds) is still one of the most influential Christian writers of modern times. His book The Everlasting Man was key to the conversion of C. S. Lewis:
I read Chesterton's Everlasting Man and for the first time saw the whole Christian outline of history set out in a form that seemed to me to make sense. Somehow I contrived not to be too badly shaken. You will remember that I already thought Chesterton the most sensible man alive "apart from his Christianity." Now, I veritably believe, I thought - I didn't of course say; words would have revealed the nonsense - that Christianity itself was very sensible.
This book, The Quotable Chesterton, is a collection of Chesterton's quotes, organized by topic and complete with reference to the original source. This, of course, isn't meant to replace reading Chesterton's works, but rather, to provide the Chesterton fan with quotes and references to Chesterton's thoughts on a broad set of topics and themes. Some brief excerpts:
Atheism: Rossetti makes the remark somewhere, bitterly but with great truth, that the worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank.
Beer: Let a man walk ten miles steadily on a hot summer's day along a dusty English road, and he will soon discover why beer was invented.
Bigotry: Bigotry is an incapacity to conceive seriously the alternative to a proposition.
Cheese: Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.
Cleverness: Cleverness kills wisdom: that is one of the few sad and certain things.
Education: Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.
Politics: It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged.
Political Theory: That is my political theory: that we should make England worthy copying instead of telling everybody to copy her.
Of course, I could go on and on, but that would defeat the purpose. This is a fun book for the Chesterton fan, and a terrific reference for when you just need that quote, or a reference, or a one-liner to bring the point home. If you're interested in this book, please purchase through my Amazon Associate's link.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.