Tuesday, March 22, 2011
CBRIII: Book#15: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore
I didn't like this book at first. I was frightened. I've never read the Bible and I was concerned that I may not be able to follow what Moore was doing. I'm also Catholic (I converted in my early twenties to marry a Catholic boy. However, the guilt comes to me easily) and I wondered how this novel might fit into the religious views of a former Athiest and current lazy Catholic. I soon stopped worrying about these things and began enjoying Moore's take on the life of Jesus H. Christ, aka Joshua.
We begin with Levi known as Biff being brought back from the dead by the angel Raziel and taken to a hotel. A four star hotel where Biff is given the gift of tongues and told to write out his experiences with Jesus/Joshua. Biff starts at the beginning, which is when he first met Joshua in Nazareth. Joshua was allowing his little brother to smash a lizard and then resurrecting said lizard by placing him in his mouth. Apart from the whole resurrection bit, isn't this how most of us meet our best friends at age six?
Biff becomes the constant in Joshua's life and the sounding board for the young messiah. They experience the world together, until certain rules prevent it, and give each other what one might be lacking. Biff is the smartass, self-proclaimed inventor of sarcasm that selflessly beds harlots in order to explain sex to his best friend since Joshua may never know the touch (wink, wink, nod) of a woman. Biff brings the funny and the anchor that makes Joshua into a person one could relate to instead of Jesus H. Christ, Son of God.
I don't need to tell you the other characters, do I? Mary of Magdalene is here but known as Maggie. Biff and Joshua love her and she loves Joshua. She loves Biff too, but only because she can't have Joshua. (Women, right?) She isn't a prostitute here, but a childhood friend. She and Biff make the pain of what we all know is coming more palpable in her warmth and devotion to the men.
Moore has really made something wonderful here. He doesn't particularly feel restrained here, as there are jokes about Kama Sutra and men "knowing" various animals, but he isn't offensive to the material either. The comedy is there and you are aware that Moore is writing the story but you aren't taken aback and terrified of being smoted. Smited? Smoten? Struck by lightning. For those that MAKE LOUD NOISES and insist that Moore is mocking their religion or that he has made them feel stupid, I give you the words of Moore himself: "...if one's faith can be shaken by stories in a humorous novel, one may have a bit more praying to do." And in the words of Joshua, "It's like a mustard seed..."