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Is Reading This Novel A Form of Blasphemy?

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Alpha Echo

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I heard an interview with author Christopher Moore in NPR and was intrigued. He's a humor fiction writer, and when I looked him up on Amazon and read a few excerpts, I was hooked. He's hilarious!

I downloaded Lamb to my Kindle because I'd never heard of anything like it before. Here's the blurb:

The birth of Jesus has been well chronicled, as have his glorious teachings, acts, and divine sacrifice after his thirtieth birthday. But no one knows about the early life of the Son of God, the missing years -- except Biff, the Messiah's best bud, who has been resurrected to tell the story in the divinely hilarious yet heartfelt work "reminiscent of Vonnegut and Douglas Adams" (Philadelphia Inquirer).


Verily, the story Biff has to tell is a miraculous one, filled with remarkable journeys, magic, healings, kung fu, corpse reanimations, demons, and hot babes. Even the considerable wiles and devotion of the Savior's pal may not be enough to divert Joshua from his tragic destiny. But there's no one who loves Josh more -- except maybe "Maggie," Mary of Magdala -- and Biff isn't about to let his extraordinary pal suffer and ascend without a fight.

I am a Christian. I am not the best example of a Christian, by far. But I do the best I can, talk to God like he's my best friend, and try to live the life He wants me to live, be the woman and wife and mother He made me to be.

Is it wrong that this book cracks me up? I know it's not true. I don't take a word of it seriously. But it's such an interesting fictional take on the story of Jesus that I can't help but love it!

I plan to read more of Moore's books, but I'm struggling a bit with this one. The morality of reading it. Is it wrong? Is Christ disappointed that I'm reading something that, in a way and probably to most readers, mocks Him?

I don't look at it as mocking because I know it's fiction. I look at it like a story. Like a fairy tale. I imagine, I look at it the same way many non-Christians view the stories in the Bible.

Has anyone else read it?

Thoughts?
 

Calla Lily

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Moore isn't my style of humor (Mr. Lily likes his stuff). But one of my favorite movies is Dogma. Can't link because I'm at work, but it's Jay and Silent Bob do Catholicism. It's side-splitting. My mom would say that Dogma is mocking the faith and God and it's a horrible movie. Yet the movie, while mocking a lot of things, is 100% reverent. Seriously!

*puts on nun hat*

This is the way I look at it: If it bothers you, like if you get this nagging feeling that you shouldn't be reading it, then put it down and pray about it. There's a difference, IMO, between a funny take on things and outright nastiness. Some book came out a while back that had Jesus and the apostles doing the nasty. That kind of thing. Kazantzakis' The Last Temptation of Christ, while raising hackles everywhere, was also a take on Jesus-as-human and having the same kinds of doubts and feeling the same kinds of emptiness we all feel.

Gah. I'm lecturing. I say, take a look at the book and your faith side-by-side. It comes down to what you, yourself, think is appropriate and relevant to your faith.

/lecture
 

Alpha Echo

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Thanks. It's not a nagging feeling so much as...perhaps my mother's voice?

Considering she and I don't talk anymore, and I like it that way, it's not a voice I want to hear. LOL.

I've never seen Dogma, though I've heard about it.

I'd never heard of Moore, but I'm so glad I did because I think he's hilarious! So far, there isn't anything I think is downright just plain awful in regards to Christ. In fact, some of the things he's stated so far are, to me, downright truth.
 

Nimram

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That book is on my list for some time now.
If God is the biggest thing ever, he must have the biggest sense of humor. So, for me, reading the book would be a form of prayer.
 
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There's always Monty Python's 'Life of Brian', which my ultra-religious relatives were convinced was a ticket to damnation for anyone watching it.
I found it full of some oblique, uncomfortable, and hilarious truths. Same with 'Dogma', or Terry Pratchett's amazing 'Small Gods'.

The Creator, if he's paying attention at all, must have a grand sense of humor to begin with. I'm not sure I could love a God who didn't laugh along with me.
 

Alpha Echo

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That book is on my list for some time now.
If God is the biggest thing ever, he must have the biggest sense of humor. So, for me, reading the book would be a form of prayer.

That is an excellent point. And based on the events in my life, God has an incredible sense of humor...I can't wait to meet him. Because he has a lot to teach me...even about humor. :)
 

Nonuw

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Stories can be a way to enhance our understanding of our own spirituality and beliefs, to provide an examination in changing times. Granted this is not a serious look at an established religion, but important to have people who are not inclined to read a serious tome, to get an entry to some ideas by way of fiction, serious or not.

When the Bible was written, or compiled, from various stories being told around the Middle East - time was slower, people established (they weren't mobile like us), most were illiterate, or superstitious. Times are different now - we have different family structures (nuclear rather than extended), we migrate from place to place, lose and make new friends, are educated (or at least literate), and are aware of different galaxies, planets, countries, cultures around us. We need an interpretation of ideas (we have moved from a jealous god to a more compassionate one), thoughts, yes, even a little humor.

In that context, looking at the big picture - how can it be blasphemy?
 

Alpha Echo

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Stories can be a way to enhance our understanding of our own spirituality and beliefs, to provide an examination in changing times. Granted this is not a serious look at an established religion, but important to have people who are not inclined to read a serious tome, to get an entry to some ideas by way of fiction, serious or not.

When the Bible was written, or compiled, from various stories being told around the Middle East - time was slower, people established (they weren't mobile like us), most were illiterate, or superstitious. Times are different now - we have different family structures (nuclear rather than extended), we migrate from place to place, lose and make new friends, are educated (or at least literate), and are aware of different galaxies, planets, countries, cultures around us. We need an interpretation of ideas (we have moved from a jealous god to a more compassionate one), thoughts, yes, even a little humor.

In that context, looking at the big picture - how can it be blasphemy?

Another excellent point.

Even as Christians, we debate hundreds of things. God encourages us to do so. We also have many questions about Jesus' life and other stories in the Bible.

Why not explore these things with a little humor?

Still enjoying the book, BTW. :)
 

Roger J Carlson

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You know, for as common as charges of blasphemy are in this world, the Bible says very little about it. Consider this link. Many are references to false accusations of blasphemy. The majority of the rest are Old Testament references when the the world was ruled by the Law rather than Grace.

Mostly, charges of blasphemy are used by the establishment to control the faithful, and as such, are (in my opinion) more Satan's work than God's.

You might better consider:

1 Corinthians 6:12: “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.

1 Corinthians 10:23: “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.

Most commentaries on these verses go to great lengths to show that Paul doesn't *really* mean all things are lawful. But Paul is not disputing the lawfulness of all things. He does, however, modify it to have the reader consider whether they are helpful or not.

I firmly believe that the "helpfulness" of an action is an individual decision. Most often, we have people deciding that an action is not helpful to themselves and is therefore unhelpful for everyone.

So I think that you have to decide for yourself whether reading that is helpful or harmful to your walk with God. Does it build up (edify) or tear down your faith? The answer will differ for each person.
 

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Have you thought about talking with your minister or priest about it? They may have some perspectives for you that might help you.
 

Alpha Echo

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So I think that you have to decide for yourself whether reading that is helpful or harmful to your walk with God. Does it build up (edify) or tear down your faith? The answer will differ for each person.

Excellent post, and I think you've nailed it here at the end. That's the main question I should be asking myself, isn't it?

And reading this is not in any way tearing down my faith. It makes me laugh. Sometimes, it makes me roll my eyes and think, "Yeah, right." And still other times, it makes me scratch my head and think, "Well, yeah. I've always wondered that. He makes a good point, and, well, it could have gone like that. Probably not...but it's something to consider."
 

Alpha Echo

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Have you thought about talking with your minister or priest about it? They may have some perspectives for you that might help you.

No, but...I haven't committed myself to church yet. I've been and off and on church goer for years. There's a church I love because of the service, but because of my intorvert-ness...(I know that's not a word), I don't fit in. It's a mega-church, and...I don't know. But I love the services.

I need to start going more regularly.
 

Lavern08

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...And reading this is not in any way tearing down my faith. It makes me laugh. Sometimes, it makes me roll my eyes and think, "Yeah, right." And still other times, it makes me scratch my head and think, "Well, yeah. I've always wondered that...

This is the way I felt when I read (and totally lurved) the controversial book, The Shack.

I also believe God/Jesus/Holy Spirit has/have an awesome sense of humor. :D
 

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Lamb is a story that encourages you to think about religion. If the gospels are accurate, this was one of Jesus' favorite methods of instruction.
 

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I plan to read more of Moore's books, but I'm struggling a bit with this one. The morality of reading it. Is it wrong? Is Christ disappointed that I'm reading something that, in a way and probably to most readers, mocks Him?

I don't look at it as mocking because I know it's fiction. I look at it like a story. Like a fairy tale. I imagine, I look at it the same way many non-Christians view the stories in the Bible.

Has anyone else read it?

Thoughts?

I have Practical Demonkeeping, and consider Moore interesting....like a Wayan's Brothers movie with better odds--when his stuff is on, it is hilarious, and when not, it is frustratingly self-indulgent. Just my thoughts.

That said, if you're that concerned about God, surely you've come across the notion of free will, and you're also aware Jesus didn't do much preaching at Catholic Churches....he got out into the world, mixed it up....everyone has their own ideas, but I can't imagine God giving us these minds and damning us just for using them to look at anything that dissented.
 

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I wouldn't read anything my mother wouldn't have read.

That said, I don't think there was anything she wouldn't read, not based on some of the books I found in the house when we cleaned it out.
 

Mara

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Even if blasphemy was a concern, I'm pretty sure blasphemy has to come out of your mouth, not go into your eyes or ears, right? You're not making a statement or claim by reading a book, so I wouldn't think it would be a problem?

Personally, I think God would prefer more people have a sense of humor about religion. And less worry. Some parts of the New Testament say we're heirs, not slaves, and I personally believe that includes having the right to laugh about things.
 

Elias Graves

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On the one hand, you gotta watch out for folks skewing God around and making light of faith. It's a serious matter. That can be challenging, as many evil things have been done in God's name.
On the other, if it's something that reinforces your faith in a true and rightful fashion then that's what it does.
I don't believe God stopped communicating with us after the scriptures were written.
You just have to be an astute enough reader to know when something is leading you astray.
 

Ralyks

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I think this is a case of, as Paul puts it, “There is nothing unclean in itself, but to him who esteemth it to be unclean, it is unclean.” If your conscience “offends you,” then you should heed your conscience so as not to “sin against [your own] conscience.” So, if your question arises from your own niggling doubts and concerns, don’t read the book. If your question arises entirely and exclusively from your fear of the judgment of others, then, well, that’s not your conscience speaking and that’s another matter altogether. You’ve got to sort out those voices, but when I have doubts I prefer to err on the side of caution myself. For me personally, I feel okay enjoying stuff that mocks Christianity or Christians, but not stuff that mocks Jesus. But if it mocks Jesus, I don't think I would find it funny in the first place. Like that supreme court justice said about porn - I don't know what blasphemy is, but I know it when I see it. Or something like that.
 

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200 years ago, this book would have been considered blasphemous. No question, no debate, go straight to the other place, do not pass GO, do not collect your £200/ $200.

Today we are talking about it. Not quite sure. Debating. Probably okay. make your own mind up.

In 200 years time? Who knows? My guess is that it won't even be worth worrying about.

Attitudes are shifting all the time. But it seems that the pace of change has never been as quick as it is right now.
 

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Someone mentioned the Last Temptation of Christ and that's the 1st thing I thought of when I read you post. When that came out many years ago I went to see it specifically so I could learn the devil's message and know how to fight it because everyone was saying it was blasphemous. After watching it all the way through and the surprise ending along with the title I found out it was one of the most Godly movies I've ever seen. Looking at God as Human can be very healthy and Christian. I don't see anything wrong with it.
 

Alpha Echo

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I wouldn't read anything my mother wouldn't have read.

That said, I don't think there was anything she wouldn't read, not based on some of the books I found in the house when we cleaned it out.

Well, your mother certainly isn't my mother. LOL. I wouldn't read most of what my mother reads, and I read a whole lot she'd never touch!

Even if blasphemy was a concern, I'm pretty sure blasphemy has to come out of your mouth, not go into your eyes or ears, right? You're not making a statement or claim by reading a book, so I wouldn't think it would be a problem?

Personally, I think God would prefer more people have a sense of humor about religion. And less worry. Some parts of the New Testament say we're heirs, not slaves, and I personally believe that includes having the right to laugh about things.

Very good points. I agree with it all. God certainly gave us the right to laugh, and I think He's proven more than once that He has a great sense of humor (as stated upthread).

On the one hand, you gotta watch out for folks skewing God around and making light of faith. It's a serious matter. That can be challenging, as many evil things have been done in God's name.
On the other, if it's something that reinforces your faith in a true and rightful fashion then that's what it does.
I don't believe God stopped communicating with us after the scriptures were written.
You just have to be an astute enough reader to know when something is leading you astray
.

bold and italics mine - and I agree. You're right. And I believe I'm astute enough. :)

I'm nearly finished the book, and I love it. It's made me think. I think it's a more realistic, well, maybe not more realistic, but at least more realistic taken from a modern world view, of what went down. I think it's hilarious. And I don't think the Christopher Moore in anyway makes fun of God, Jesus, or the Gospels.

If I'd felt he had, I wouldn't have read it. But I don't think he does.
 

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[/QUOTE]
I downloaded Lamb to my Kindle because I'd never heard of anything like it before. Here's the blurb:



I am a Christian. I am not the best example of a Christian, by far. But I do the best I can, talk to God like he's my best friend, and try to live the life He wants me to live, be the woman and wife and mother He made me to be.

Is it wrong that this book cracks me up? I know it's not true. I don't take a word of it seriously. But it's such an interesting fictional take on the story of Jesus that I can't help but love it!

I plan to read more of Moore's books, but I'm struggling a bit with this one. The morality of reading it. Is it wrong? Is Christ disappointed that I'm reading something that, in a way and probably to most readers, mocks Him?

I don't look at it as mocking because I know it's fiction. I look at it like a story. Like a fairy tale. I imagine, I look at it the same way many non-Christians view the stories in the Bible.

Has anyone else read it?

Thoughts?

Hi Alpha:
Yes, I read this book. Several times. I'm a Christian and LOVED it. Loved it. I'll try to resist the urge to gush about this story which would end up as a monster post as a result. But if you want to gab about the book, I am more than happy to participate, haha :)
Lamb is a book that when I wasn't laughing my face off, I was in tears at how touching the story was. Several great replies have been posted here with relevant scriptural quotes that may have helped answer your Q but I particularly agree with the reply above that mentions deciding whether the book helps or hurts your faith and then choosing from there.

Me personally? It is one of my all time favorites and actually did more to deepen my faith and make me feel more firmly rooted in the love of Jesus rather than harming that precious relationship. I was especially charmed by Jesus having a best friend like Biff's wingnut character who was flawed and downright...hm...well, y'know...just Biff!...and they played wonderfully off of each other. Having Biff, with all his human frailties, as Jesus' closest friend comforted me in many ways. In this story, perfection was not a prerequisite for Jesus' loving acceptance...just loving him in return was enough. That was incredibly touching.

If it helps you any, Lamb is included on the reading list of several seminaries. Christopher Moore has also received a lot of positive feedback from Christians about the story, too.

The movie Dogma was also mentioned above and I love that one also. I really enjoyed reading The Last Temptation of the Christ as well. As a believer I keep in mind what my grandmother used to say about such things, 'Eat the meat and spit out the bones.' Keep the parts in heart that bring you closer to Jesus, and let the rest fall by the wayside. :)
 
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