Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. ISBN: 9780061161087 (eBook).
Because I rarely go to church, I forgot that Easter Sunday is on the 24th and so didn't mean for this particular reading to coincide with the holiday, but this leads me to an amusing Easter anecdote. About ten years ago I attended a church in the Deep South. Recently the local theatre had put on a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream and so the gift shop was selling sets of horns, like Puck's.
One Sunday I decided I was going to wear my new set of horns to church. The Sunday I chose? Easter. Completely by accident. Had I been anywhere but a Unitarian church, I would have been screeched at and chased out of the building. Instead, everyone thought it was really cool and assumed I was celebrating the Pagan fertility aspect of Easter rather than the Christian rising from the dead, etc.
Anyway, the thing I liked about this book is that it presents Christ as an actual human. It is too easy to see him as a perfect person, as the son of God, and a Savior, but what really makes him so special is the journey he took to get there. Therefore I appreciate that Moore filled in the 30 year gap in the Bible, and not only showed us Christ's tumultuous childhood, but also presented him as a seeker of knowledge. As a lifelong seeker of knowledge myself, this appeals to me for several reasons.
For one, it implies that Jesus's teachings weren't just handed down to him by God to give to the people. That would be too easy, there's no learning or reflection involved in that path. I think it is difficult to be a compassionate person if one merely accept tenets of faith rather than understanding the reasons behind them. You can know not to covet they neighbor's wife, but if you don't know why it's bad then it won't do you any good except that you might be less inclined to break the rule because you're afraid of what someone told you will happen when you die. However, if you understand that coveting someone else's wife will cause strife in the community and ruin your own home life, you will be more accepting of that rule (if you are a sane and logical person) because it has immediate consequences and is in place for a reason besides determining who gets into the Sky Lounge.
By having Jesus travel to India and several other countries to learn how to be the Messiah, Moore is espousing one of the tenets of my faith, which is the free and responsible search for truth and meaning. Jesus had to learn for himself what was True and of Value. His search took him on both a physical and spiritual journey so that he could form a core of teachable values, etc., that would be applicable to his people at the time. And if we wish to walk in Jesus's footsteps, we must do the same. This does not mean we should all fly off and study Jew-do (as Moore put it), but it does mean we should take the time to deeply reflect on what we have been taught to value in religion, and determine if it is actually valuable to us, or if perhaps it is time for change. Here I will let Moore's Jesus speak for me,
"Confucius is like the Torah, rules to follow. And Lao-Tzu is even more conservative, saying that if you do nothing you won't break any rules. You have to let tradition fall sometime, you have to take action, you have to eat bacon." Page 202.*
So with that, I hope you all have a Happy, Thoughtful, Irreverent and Bacon-filled Easter.
Great review (as usual) from The New Dork Review of Books.
LibsNote: Library copy via Overdrive Media.
*For eBooks I use the page numbers provided in the document. Otherwise I use what the eReader assigns.