My favorite Christmas story just happens to be about traveling. Kinda. Convenient, as this means it is an acceptable thing for me to write about here. My favorite book is not traditionally thought of as a Christmas tale. It is not read out loud by families on Christmas Eve (or ever). It is not displayed on Barnes & Noble’s holiday table. However, when I place the book between branches of my parent’s Christmas tree, it looks much more festive.
But my favorite Christopher Moore book really is Christmas-y! “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal,” is my go-to-gospel even though it’s not really a gospel or in the Bible and liberally uses the word “fuckstick.” The premise of this book is that Biff has been resurrected by an angel in the year 2000 to write another gospel, this one about Christ’s life starting at age seven. While the angel watches soap operas, professional wrestling matches, and MTV, Biff writes his gospel. He tells about how he and Jesus (called Joshua in the book) TRAVELED through Asia (see, traveling) to find the three magi that followed the star to attend his birth in Bethlehem. They then return to Jerusalem to round up the disciples. An excerpt, if I may:
“What can we do?” said Andrew. “We’re only fishermen.”
“Come with me and I’ll make you fishers of men.”
Andrew looked at his brother who was still standing in the water. Peter shrugged and shook his head. Andrew looked at me, shrugged and shook his head.
“They don’t get it,” I said to Joshua.
Thus, after Joshua had some food and a nap and explained what in the hell he meant by “fishers of men,” we became seven.
We came to another small village and Peter pointed out two brothers who were fitting a new oarlock into the gunwale of a fishing boat.
“Come with us,” I said, “and we will make you oarlock makers of men.”
“What?” said Joshua.
“That’s what they were doing when we came up. Making an oarlock. Now you see how stupid that sounds?”
It is hands down the funniest and most thought-provoking book I’ve ever read. Although some would describe it as sacrilegious, I actually feel more spiritual and okay with Christianity after reading it.
Although most of the story is made up, the setting, events, and characters are meticulously researched. There are many references to the Bible in the story, some of which are real Bible verses and some of which are made up (from the books of Amphibians and Excretions for example). Author Christopher Moore has this to say on the subject:
…if the reader knows the Bible well enough to recognize the real references, there’s a good chance that he or she has decided not to read this book. [We]…advise those who are not familiar with the Bible to find someone who is, sit them down, read them the passages in question, then say, “That one real? How ‘bout that one?” If you don’t know someone who is familiar with the Bible, just wait, someone will come to your door eventually. Keep extra copies of Lamb on hand so they can take one with them.
I often want to go look up this and that in the Bible after reading Lamb. I’d been re-reading Lamb last Christmas and hadn’t had a Bible handy in some time to look things up. That Christmas Eve, my brother, father, and I were drunkenly headed to midnight mass after a lively family dinner. We rolled up late, ignored warning glares from my mother in the choir, and found a pew. Then my brother and I had the following exchange:
Me: “Where are all the Bibles around here?
Jay: “They don’t have Bibles in church.”
Me: “Why not? I want to look up something questionable.”
Jay: “That’s exactly why they don’t put them in church.”
This was extra hilarious after several glasses of wine. We couldn’t look at each other for the rest of the service without laughing. It should be mentioned here that Jay and I are loud and not discreet even in sober circumstances.
My parents were so glad that we’d come to church with them.
A final Lamb quote:
“Nobody’s perfect…Well, there was this one guy, but we killed him.”
Purchasing Lamb via the affiliate link in this post will earn me a bit of money, so thank you!