Book Review — You Got To Be Kidding: The Cultural Arsonist’s Literal Reading of the Bible

You Got To Be Kidding! A Radical Satire of The Bible by Joe Wenke

Atheists, heathens, believers in Asgard, and others may find this book funny. Biblical literalists will not. Fair warning.

I remember sitting in Catholic school, seventh grade or so, and learning about free will. The whole concept puzzled me. I remember asking “Doesn’t God know our fate before we were even born?”
“Ah, but you have free will and can change behavior and go to heaven.”
“So I can surprise God?”
“No, God knows everything.”
“So God knows my free will choices before I make them?”

I never got a good answer. I originally thought of it as something un-understandable, like imagining the edge of the universe, where it is and what is beyond it. That kept me awake at night thinking more than free will and still does. As I got older I started noticing things that did not make sense and really couldn’t continue on that path.

Wenke has seen the same dilemmas and instead of quietly walking away he plays his role as a self-described “Social Arsonist” and goes on the offensive with humor and sometimes sarcasm to make his point.

He uses the Bible and makes his case. In more cases than not God seems to be a fan of Rube Goldberg machines. Instead of using godly power to change things, he goes about it in a very roundabout method. God could have just had the Israelites walk out of Egypt instead of the plagues and parting of the Red Sea. He must have know that the theatrics would not have helped consolidate his chosen people. He had to know about the Golden Calf and the unfaithfulness his people demonstrated…repeatedly. God seemed to be present on a regular basis back then. He talked to Moses almost daily, now he just talks to Michelle Bachmann and that’s not doing her much good.

Other small issues are brought up like what happened to Joseph? Jesus’s foster father is barely mentioned and not mentioned at all after “finding Jesus at the Temple.” He is not mention at the wedding feast or any other time Jesus is with his mother. Mark never mentions him and John only mentions him in passing. What about heaven? It never existed as a place for people until Jesus’s time. Previously people went to Sheol, a dull grey place where all the dead went to whether they lived good or bad lives.

Most people know that the God of the Old Testament seems kinder and gentler in the New Testament. Satan also changed too. He was sly, clever, and hung out with God in Old Testament like in the story of Job. In the New Testament, Satan is pretty stupid. He tries to tempt Jesus with the Earth. I mean, Jesus’ father made the earth, who’s earth is it really, Satan?

Wenke is a bit hard on the Holy Spirit, almost making it seem like the Aquaman of the Trinity. But, he does hold a soft spot for Jesus:

Thank you, Jesus, for hanging out with shady people. Shady people are the best company.

Thank you, Jesus, for advocating the Golden Rule,
Thank you, Jesus, for saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers

Thank you, Jesus, for expecting nothing in return.

Jesus cried at the death of Lazarus, a very human experience especially since he raised him from the dead shortly after that.

To be fair, Wenke is not balanced in his writing, but that is to be expected. You would not expect a Christian to give a glowing review to Islam or Hinduism. This is a book that delivers what is expected and does so with humor and sarcasm. Wenke does not give an emotional argument but looks at what is written and comments on it from an outsider’s view. It is not for everyone, but it does hit its target audience dead on.

This is a book review.  I am not entertaining theological questions or arguments here.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Book Review — You Got To Be Kidding: The Cultural Arsonist’s Literal Reading of the Bible

  1. fromcouchtomoon

    “the Aquaman of the Trinity” lol…

  2. I liked the part about Rube Goldberg machines. I was always fascinated by them.

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