f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Dodging Lightning Bolts—A Week of Christopher Moore’s <em>Lamb</em>

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Monday, March 15, 2004

Dodging Lightning Bolts—A Week of Christopher Moore’s Lamb

Christopher Moore is the author of seven books including Island of the Sequined Love Nun, Practical Demonkeeping, and his latest, Fluke which came out last year and is about a whale with the words “Bite Me” on its tail. Prior to Fluke, he published the book up currently for discussion, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. And this week we’ll be talking about humor writing, the role of humor in writing, and the very nebulous line one walks when writing comically about all things “sacred” or “holy”.

Seeing many of my fellow brethren react with vitriol to this and-that-affront to Christianity and/or common American values, I sometimes wonder if I shouldn’t just get offended more often. It’s a tough question. Has my heart hardened? Am I missing out on fine opportunities for righteous anger? Do I not own enough respect for the sacredness of my own faith? Maybe Lamb would push me over the edge.

Nope. Wasn’t offended. Yes, angels cursed. Yes, Jesus did too. (And Biff does A LOT.) But in the end, Moore’s Jesus is an interesting, complex character endowed with many of Jesus’ character traits—and one who seems more “real” than I found the simple, agonized beatific savior of Gibson’s film. Both are fictionalizations of Jesus. One hews closer to the gospels and yet somehow seems to end up further from the truth.

The book begins in a third-person omniscient POV as Raziel the angel, not one of God’s shining examples of the genre, is ordered to earth to resurrect Levi who is called Biff in order that Jesus’ boyhood friend can write his take on Jesus’ life while he and the angel stay at a hotel in St. Louis, Missouri.

The majority of the book, however, is told through Biff’s first-person, both present-day, and then in his writings as we enter his gospel to witness Jesus’ life as a boy and man. You see many scenes that you’ll recognize from the gospels…and many dealing with the 18 unmentioned years in the Bible that are speculative.

The book is not short and, in a quick review, seems to be one of those perfect definitions of uneven. Jokes fail, sections lag, and nearly all the present-day sections are annoying. That said, there’s a lot that works and much to enjoy. I laughed out loud a handful of times and way more jokes work in the book than miss.

That’ll be it for today. The rest of the week we’ll be talking about humor (probably two or three days), research and history, dialogue, philosophy in fiction. Come along!