I was raised in the South, in a Pentecostal Holiness/Primitive Baptist church family and then in a family that doesn't acknowledge church on anything like a regular basis due to a falling out with those respective churches. We went from my mom putting holy oil on my head to cure an illness to a preacher yelling at her for divorcing my dad in front of my sister and I. Having been in and out of all sorts of churches since, I have seen a lot of awful (and to be fair some good) in organized Christian religion. The good just seems to be so grossly eclipsed by the awful that I feel distressed thinking about it.
When a friend (actually 3 friends) gave me 3 copies of Lamb for my birthday a few years ago, I was skeptical. A comedy about the life of Jesus? There is a part of me that still worries about things like blasphemy but I was reassured that I would love it, even by my one and only church-going friend.
The book starts with future BFF Biff seeing Jesus bring lizards back from the dead to amuse his little brother. Jesus (Josh) knows he's the Messiah, but doesn't know what to do about it at all. So Biff and Josh leave their friend Maggie (Mary Magdalene) and their families behind to seek out the Wise Men and figure out what the heck Josh is supposed to do. Along the way harlots are hired, kung-fu is learned, demons are battled, corpses are reanimated, sarcasm is invented and cafe lattes are created. Oh and there are a lot of hot chicks, if you're into that sort of thing.
We all know how this is ultimately going to end, but the ride getting there is pretty amazing and hysterical. About two-thirds through, the laughs sort of die down, because there's absolutely nothing funny about seeing your best friend be in peril, regardless of the whole Messiah thing.
From someone who has given up on and come back to religion many times, this offered an interesting view on what could have been the life of Christ. I think this sort of thing is often skipped over in churches...the idea that Jesus was an actual person, with wants and needs and desires. Someone that you could identify with somehow, who knows how hard life is sometimes. Even though it's only satire/comedy/whatever you want to call it, I think this book makes some valid points that could be a learning experience for a lot of people.
EDIT: I've also learned that this can be a good asshole detector. A few dates in (I am reluctant to call them dates) a (non?) friend and I decided to trade books that we liked in effort to have something to talk about and get to know each other better.
Yeah, a few dates in we already had nothing to talk about. I know, I know.
Anyway. I gave him Lamb and he never got around to giving me anything...which is telling, in retrospect. We met up at my house for pizza and he gave me back the book and told me I was going to hell. In a non-joking manner which he tried to play off as joking later to mutual friends. I'm pretty sure I might try this trick again and avoid months of hanging out before I find out the guy is a jerk.