You Got to Be Kidding: The Cultural Arsonist’s Literal Reading of The Bible
Title: You Got to Be Kidding: The Cultural Arsonist’s Literal Reading of The Bible
Author: Joe Wenke
Publisher/Year: Trans Uber, 2012
Genre: Adult non-fiction
Source: ARC from NetGalley
The premise of this book is simple: Joe Wenke reads the entire Bible and write snarky summaries/commentary about each book as he goes. He offers up witticisms about everything from the story of Noah’s Ark to God’s apparent obsession with fruit. I can’t sum it up for you very well without sharing a few quotes:
“They say the Bible is perfect, but it appears that God needs an editor.”
“Fruit—it’s one of the weirdest motifs in the Old Testament.”
“God is crazy. If he thinks you’re messing around with other gods or doing anything he doesn’t like, he’ll kill you as soon as look at you—and not just you but your whole family and all of your livestock, too.”
Now, I’ve never read the entire Bible. I want to, but that’s going to have to wait until after grad school (seriously — it’s on my shortlist of life goals). This book definitely makes me want to read the whole thing, since I’m fairly certain I’ll agree with a lot of what Wenke’s trying to say here: that the Bible is a weird, inconsistent book that represents different people’s voices in different time periods, but that it probably isn’t the literal word of God. I don’t like to get into my religious beliefs too much, but I will say that I agree and believe that humanity would be better off reading the Bible as a general guide and historical text rather than an infallible reference book. I came to this conclusion after reading all of the Gospels during Lent one season, realizing there is no possible way all four stories of Jesus’s life could all be true. But I digress.
If you are interested in the Bible, there are probably better sources for reading on this topic. Bart Erhman’s Misquoting Jesus: The Story of Who Changed the Bible and Why and Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible and Why We Don’t Know About Them both provide good info on these topics, and AJ Jacob’s A Year of Living Biblically is a great source of humor on the topic. I think having already read those going into this book, I just wasn’t impressed. I know Wenke is not trying to be an academic, he’s writing comedy. And there were some GREAT one-liners! Overall, though, I wanted more. More info, more comedy, more depth, more…something.
FINAL GRADE: D I hate giving books a D. I really do. But in this case, I feel it is deserved. This book had the potential to be really good, but it felt like there was not enough time, editing, and creativity put into it to get it there. The idea of looking at the inconsistencies and weirdness in a satirical way is clever and cool. It just wasn’t followed through. As a reader, I was let down. I’m glad I didn’t pay money for this book. It did have its funny and interesting moments, so I would say borrow the book or get it on sale.
Assigned reading: If you are interested in weird Bible trivia, humor, or inconsistencies you might want to skim this book.
Library recommendations: I wouldn’t put it in a school library, but I think there would be a definite market for this book in a public library e-book collection — I think it might actually see high circulation, as opposed to sitting on the shelf unread.
Without getting too controversial, do you have a favorite piece of Bible trivia/weirdness that you find interesting and want to share?