- Paperback: 328 pages
- Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press; Upd Exp edition (May 24, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0664231608
- ISBN-13: 978-0664231606
- Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #648,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Gospel according to The Simpsons, Bigger and Possibly Even Better! Paperback – May 24, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Religion journalist Pinsky offers a thoughtful and genuinely entertaining review of faith and morality as reflected through the irreverently sweet comedy of The Simpsons, drawing on a wide if not encyclopedic knowledge of key episodes and interviews with the series' creators. The animated series is unique in many ways, including its longevity and creative freshness, but no less remarkable is the show's attention to religious themes especially considering the prevalent invisibility or irrelevance of religion on TV. A recent convert to the show who only started watching in 2001, Pinsky had been repelled by controversy surrounding the series' edgier early seasons. But as the program and its characters have matured, many viewers have seen a fundamental affirmation of spirituality, family and community life that emerges in spite of the sarcasm and exaggerated situations. Chapters are devoted to important characters Homer, Lisa, Ned Flanders, Reverend Lovejoy, Krusty and Apu and the faiths they represent, as well as to issues such as images of God, the Bible, prayer and ethics. Pinsky reminds readers that ultimately The Simpsons is played for laughs, not deep spiritual or sociological insight. Yet the abiding charm of the show is how often its caricatures are devastatingly on-target and point to a deeper truth, as Tony Campolo points out in an excellent foreword: "Do not go too hard on Homer Simpson because more people in our churches are where he is than any of us in the mainline denominations want to acknowledge." (Sept.)Forecast: One of WJKP's longest-selling titles has been The Gospel According to Peanuts, which clearly provided a model for this new rumination on faith and popular culture. Here's hoping that Pinsky's book achieves similar success; given the publisher's recent economic troubles (see PW's "Religion BookLine" newsletter, July 9), the small Presbyterian press could really use a hit.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
On the heels of The Simpsons and Philosophy [BKL Ap 15 01] comes a seriously funny examination of the spirituality of the popular TV show. The Simpsons, after all, spend more time in church than any other TV family, though Homer can still only describe his religion as, "you know, the one with all the well-meaning rules that don't work in real life. Uh, Christianity." Pinsky makes a compelling argument that the show's writers' view of religious expression is complicated and sympathetic, despite the lampooning of fundamentalist Ned Flanders and Springfield's apathy toward Lisa's Jesus-like social activism. Pinsky, who is Jewish, may be a bit more immune to the Simpsonian critiques of Christian excesses than some fundamentalists, and excessive quotation from the show sometimes makes the book confusing and out of focus. As in The Simpsons and Philosophy, however, those quotations are invariably laugh-out-loud funny, and in the end, no one--not even Baptist activist Tony Campolo, who contributed the foreword to this book--can keep from laughing at and with TV's most religious family. John Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The Simpsons not only contains blatantly Christian characters but it explores issues of faith that other shows would never touch with a 50 foot pole. Ned Flanders, though ragged on by Homer a lot, is perhaps the best depiction of an evangelical-type Christian in mainstream television history. Lisa Simpson seems to present the side of the social Gospel. Marge's real faith in God also shines through. Though characters with faith are often made fun of, in the end the show always seems to prove that the joke is on the joker, not the jokee. The Simpsons isn't trying to evangelize, but it is surprisingly fair and evenhanded in its presentations, and with how it deals out the humor. In its history the show has dealt with subjects like cults, hypocricy, why God allows evil, hell, and forgiveness.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THE SIMPSONS surprised me, made me laugh out loud multiple times each chapter, and was just an all-around enjoyable read. The picture of Christianity that is presented isn't perfect. The writers stumble on theological points many times (such as grace vs. works). This will happen when you're not a theologian and, in most cases, not even a Christian. But in spite of that, Pinsky shows that the Springfield world of Homer is one that is rich in faith and religious devotion. For Christians who can let their hair down and roll with a few jokes, The Simpsons proves that even in the midst of our post-Christian culture, in Hollywood, and even on the Fox Network, God can be found if you dare to look for Him. As Homer might say, "Mmmmm.... a FIVE STAR book..."
The chapters are arranged in an intelligent manner, outlining basic precepts of different Christian faiths: the idea of a personal God and personal prayer, the role of evangelizing, the existence of Heaven and Hell, the authority of the Bible, and so forth. Pinsky does readers the service of exploring the Jewish tradition and even the "miscellaneous" (Hindu/Buddhist) traditions in separate chapters; although these serve as mere introductions to these religions, it offers a nice balance and places the entire book within a larger context.
Although those who have studied Christian theology might want more depth, those people aren't the book's target audience. For those who want to make the teachings of Buber, Tillich, Lewis, Boenhoffer, and other recent theologians accessible to all (especially the low-attention-span, pop-culture oriented youth), "Gospel" is a great way to go about it. The writing is clear (not surprising since Pinsky is a journalist), and the topics timely. Fans of the show will no doubt enjoy seeing The Simpsons portrayed in such a positive light; satire is, after all, the highest form of humor, and the degrees of intelligence that go into understanding all of the show's intricacies will come as a reward for the diligent reader. For Christians looking for a fresh perspective on their faith, watching a few classic episodes with this book isn't a bad way to go.
Final Grade: B+