Book Review: A Comedian’s Guide to Theology
This book review is brought to you by the good people at Family Christian Stores.
Well, not really. But I thought I’d give a shout to my FCS brethren before I tell you why I avoid Christian bookstores like a six year old boy avoids bath water.
I haven’t always avoided Christian bookstores. I used to be quite the connoisseur. Back in the days before Perks cards were cool, I was the guy who collected the little stamps that Christian music publishers would put on the back of CDs. Five stamps = one freebielicious disc of Steven Curtis Chapman. Or maybe Petra (hello, late 80’s). Nary a week went by that I wouldn’t borrow my mom’s Oldsmobile and make the drive to Huntsville, Alabama, where I would visit not one, but TWO Family Christian Stores. They were glad to see me coming because they knew the Proverb that says a high school fool and his money are soon parted, and this fool had a hankerin’ for some Sake of the Call anthems.
And don’t get me started on the Southern Baptist version of Christian Wal Mart. Not only was my name in the Lamb’s Book of Life, it was in the Lamb’s Book of LifeWay.
Somewhere a few years back, I decided that I no longer wanted to be a FCS or LifeWay devotee. Perhaps it was when I first spotted Joel’s Your Best Life Now board game (if it had a button that you pressed and heard “This is my Bible…” I’d have bought it for sure). Maybe it was when Testamints came on the scene (“Your breath smells like hellfire and brimstone. Have a mint.”). Or possibly it was when every book came with its own product line (Prayer of Jabez salt n pepper shakers? We got ’em. Purpose Driven Life swimming pool floaties? You betcha.). But somewhere, somehow, I decided to walk away.
But I’m fickle, so I went back. Besides, I have lots of friends who work at both stores, and I don’t want them sending me nastygrams. (At least there are no little Pass it On cards that say “You’re a butt.”)
On one of my return trips, I picked up the book that is the topic for today’s post (seriously, it is. Go back and read the title of the post, if you don’t believe me.). A Comedian’s Guide to Theology screamed at me from the shelf (or maybe that was the voices coming from the charismatic section, I can’t be sure), and my sweet wife bought it for me a little while later. I had never heard of Thor Ramsey before I bought it – mainly because I ran out of CD stamps a long time ago and therefore no longer buy CDs, comedy or otherwise – but this guy is my new best friend.
Thor mixes my two passions: the Bible and making fun of things. You would think that giving a comedian free reign to write about theology would be a bad thing…kind of like mixing a hot air balloon show with a porcupine petting zoo. But to my surprise and delight, Thor came out with a conservative enough book that I can recommend it to you. He takes on…
…emerging church leaders (“Remove the doctrine of hell and Christianity soon becomes a religion of ‘what’s the point?’ Brian [McLaren]’s book on hell seems to be an adventure in missing the point. Tee-hee. Hand over mouth.“)
…the removal of sin from the church (“The language of therapy has replaced the language of theology in parts of the Church…Phrases like, ‘I’m trying to salvage my marriage.’ You’re trying to salvage your marriage? Sounds to me like you’re going to a relationship dump to look for parts.”)
…and the necessity of salvation through Christ alone (“The gospel is not polite. It is demanding. ‘Repent and believe’ is not an invitation. In some parts of the world, you can’t speak freely because they actually throw sticks and stones. In America we just call you names, tell people you were stoned and hope it sticks.”).
Oh, and the footnotes alone are worth the price of the book.
I feel somewhat sheepish telling you to buy this book (I wooly do!), because if the truth is known, I’ve already adapted some of Thor’s one-liners into my life. As a matter of fact, I just re-read a paragraph that I used Monday in a counseling session. I had no idea it was Thor’s. Totally thought I came up with it myself. Dang, I’m such a poser.
But really, you should buy it. And Thor…if you stumbled here via your narcissistic Google alerts, you should know that the last book review on this blog ended up with a comment by the author himself. If you’re out there, help me keep the streak alive.