Monday, September 8, 2014

Drunken Book Club Presents: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, by Christopher Moore

Welcome to another episode of Drunken Book Club!

I’m your host, Anna, Queen of the Ox People and Head of the Dragonslayers Northern Guild. This episode features:

I chose this book specifically to read because first off, reading this book while having my delicious dinner of grapes was the best idea I ever had. (Fermented grapes. In liquid form. I have needs.) Also, I have a lot of Christian friends who are wary about reading this book because they are concerned with Christ being ridiculed or be portrayed as anything different than what we know Him to be.

Well, the good news is that Christ is not portrayed as anything other than having a pure heart, and I wasn't upset by his portrayal in the least. He’s presented as a friend you would have liked to have known in his youth. The bad news is, if you’re easily offended, this definitely isn't the book for you. Seriously, it’s one of the most obscene religious books I've ever read. It contains raunchy humor, adult situations, brutal violence, and some seriously frightening political situations. This book is also hilarious, and I guarantee you will never laugh so hard at any other book. There were so many times I had to set my Kindle aside because I was laughing so hard. You’ll find yourself unable to put the book down, and you’ll laugh so hard your neighbors will think you are a crazy drunk with no self-control. Or maybe that’s just my neighbors.

Lamb: A Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal is told in the point of view of Levi, or Biff as we come to know him. The story starts two thousand years after Jesus was crucified, when Biff, being His closest companion, is brought back to life to tell the untold story of Christ’s boyhood and adolescence. He ends up in a hotel room in the U.S. (USA! USA! 'Merica) with the angel Raziel, who has an inherent fascination with daytime and reality television. With Raziel making sassy comments during commercials, Biff writes about what it was like having the Son of God as your best friend.

Biff writes about the amazing untold years of Jesus' boyhood, adolescence, and early adulthood, essentially covering all the years we know little about in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They were awesome years rich with adventures and filled with insights into the person and the character of the Messiah. Through author Christopher Moore's gifted imagination and keen sense of Jesus (here called Joshua), you are able to get a glimpse of what it might have been like to know the Messiah as a young man who is searching for His way in the world, deciphering His unusual vocation, and always bearing God's heart of love and compassion for the world.

One of my favorite scenes in the book, to which I raised my glass in Moore's honor, was the one from when Joshua and Biff were about seven years old and in the Antioch Marketplace:
"Joshua was bumping people in the crowd as he passed, seemingly on purpose, and murmuring just loud enough so I could hear him each time he hit someone with a shoulder or an elbow. 'Healed that guy. Healed her. Stopped her suffering. Healed him. Comforted him. Ooo, that guy was just stinky. Healed her. Whoops, missed. Healed. Healed. Comforted. Calmed.'"
When Biff warned Joshua to stop this behavior due to the risk of his being found out by the Pharisees, Joshua's reply was so perfect that I did the Carlton dance: "But I love these people." That was amazing guys, and if you say otherwise, you are a filthy liar.

Remember how I said that this book is full of adult humor and situations and all that? Yeah, most of that revolves around Biff, who is my new fictional best friend. He's sort of the anti-hero to Joshua, doing all the stuff that Joshua just doesn't have in Him to do. Don't think this makes him a bad guy — he's really not. The friendship between Joshua and Biff is selfless and unwavering. Biff supported Joshua through every step of His journey to prepare him for the task that His Father had set for Him. Biff is the perfect best friend. He defended and protected Joshua, even if it put his own life in danger. At the same time, Biff kept Joshua grounded, and up until the very end, his faith never wavered in his best friend.

The situations that Biff and Joshua find themselves in are as hilarious as the dialogue between them. Whether Joshua made friends with a cobra that followed him home, or a game of Moses and the Pharaoh got a little too intense (Joshua was always Moses, obviously), the two stuck together through thick and thin.

At this point, I think everyone reading this gets the fact that I think this book is hilarious and amazing and something everyone should read. If you didn't get that, I think that's enough wine for you. Now, I'm going to cover some of the points that I know many Catholics won't be thrilled about.

First and foremost, Joshua has a few stepbrothers whom Joseph fathered. Our Mother Mary is not portrayed as the Ever-Virgin, but rather, the book assumes a common Protestant belief that she bore many children with Joseph after the birth of Jesus.

The second really big point I can't really say without spoiling the book and answering the given explanation of why Biff was never mentioned in any other Gospels. The ending, which of course describes the Crucifixion of Jesus, had me bawling like I do when I watch The Lion King. Seriously, for such a funny book, the ending was one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever read. It does go against Catholic beliefs, and I could see why it would be controversial, but still it wasn't enough for me to not love the book.

My last point: Please remember this is a book of fiction. It's not rewriting the Bible; it's not claiming to be the true story. Lamb is a funny and insightful book that gives you the opportunity to imagine what growing up with Jesus as a best pal might have been like. (FYI: It would be awesome!) It is alternatively historically accurate and anachronistic, biblically reliable and incredibly imaginative, and a side-splitting, hilarious ride.

Now, go and read it; it's more than worth it. Lamb will have you thinking what it might have been like to have grown up alongside the Saviour of Man. You will laugh, cry, and most of all, you will be thinking more about Jesus' time on Earth.

Until next time, my literary boozers. Read thirsty, my friends.

1 comment:

  1. I'd seen that on the shelf at the library but passed it over assuming it to be the work of yet another so-called "recovering Catholic." Who knows, I may give it a shot one day, but only after a certain amount of vino, of course. The wiki plot summary of his novel "The Stupidest Angel" makes it sound hilarious, btw. That his novels feature recurring characters increases the chances I'll read more of him if one of his books turns out to my liking...
    I've recently finished a hilarious book by a lapsed Catholic - William Giraldi's Busy Monsters. It sounds like it's written in the same spirit as Lamb, so you may dig it Anna.
    Thanks for the review!