Tuesday, March 17, 2015

All You Want to Know About the Bible in Pop Culture by Kevin Harvey

My most heartbreaking books to review are the ones that I really, really want to like, but I just can't get on board with it theologically.  Unfortunately, this is one of those books.  I really want to like All You Want to Know About the Bible in Pop Culture:  Finding Our Creator in Superheros, Prince Charming, and Other Modern Marvels by Kevin Harvey.  Unfortunately, there is just too much wrong with it for me to be able to recommend it to anyone.

First of all the obvious...this is not ALL I want to know about the Bible in Pop Culture.  This is just handful of instances where Christians have shown up in movies, TV and music.  And when I say handful, I mean a very small handful.  This book would have been much more accurately titled, "A Few Times Christians Popped Up in Media".  I was expecting something far more encyclopedic than just a few TV shows, a couple of movies and some songs.

Next, the author doesn't "find our Creator" in much of any of it.  It is more of a bashing of any time any Christian shows up in media and isn't portrayed as a perfect, saintly angel.  I really got sick of the author's holier than thou stance.  Any time that a Christian was portrayed as having a flaw, he jumped all over it.  In case he didn't realize it, Christians are just as messed up as everyone else in the world.  If we weren't, we wouldn't need Jesus.  So any accurate depiction of a Christian is going to have them be messed up in some way.  If you're looking for unrealistic, superhuman Christian characters who are the good guys with no flaws, go pick up the latest Christian movie that has come out.

The author also seems to have little ability to find the bigger message in some of the pop culture references he mentions.  He is so upset by the fact that the people who claim to be Christians in the movie Saved! are the bad guys instead of the good guys that he misses the entire point of the movie...that just because you say your a Christian doesn't mean you are any better a person than non-believers.  He also seemed to miss the point of the scene from The Big Bang Theory where Sheldon finds out his mom is having sex with a man she isn't married to.  It isn't saying that it is okay for Christians to have sex outside of marriage.  It is showing how Sheldon deals with a woman who he has always put on a pedestal disappointing him.  For someone who claims to be well versed in pop culture, this author seems to miss the artistry in delivering a message.

The most revolting issue I have with this book is it's theology.  There are some places that are so off the mark, I just want to throw the book in the garbage.  He quotes Ecclesiastes 8:15, "a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun," and says that King Solomon had a misguided view of happiness by writing this verse.  REALLY???  I would be interested to see what the author thinks of the rest of the book of Ecclesiastes if that is his opinion of this verse.  He seems dismayed that different Christians live out their Christianity in different ways.  He seems to forget the grace that has been given to us, and which has been explained over and over again in the Epistles, to express our faith differently.  This author seems to judge people (fictional or not) on a very strict set of Christian rules and categorizes them as either good for people to see or bad for people to see.  He forgets that EVERY Christian should be put in the bad for people to see category, because we all mess up all the time.

Lastly, as if this book wasn't strange enough in all it's flaws, it has a whole section in the back full of puzzles that are said to help you learn about pop culture's favorite book.  Who knows why the puzzles were included; I'm guessing because the publisher felt the book was too short.  But again the title is misleading.  How does a maze in the shape of an ark help you learn about the Bible?  Why couldn't the author have just said, "Oh, and here are some puzzles to enjoy"?

All the fancy fonts, graphics and insets in the world can't save a book that is nothing more than pedantic Christian judgmentalism.  This book had so much promise, but unless you are a legalistic dogmatist, you are going to find the attitudes you encounter in this book to be hypocritical and insulting.

I was provided this book free of charge in return for my honest review. 


Patricia Dompieri said...
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Jenny Wright said...

Thanks for reading! I hate to write bad reviews, but when I do, I try to be as detailed as possible.

SmilingSally said...

As a fellow reviewer, I often wonder if I am the only one to give fewer than 5 stars. When the material is lacking, it takes extra work to give a fully honest review. I appreciate the details you cited.

Jenny Wright said...

Thanks Sally. I know what you mean. I see so many five star reviews on books that at best are so-so that it makes me feel like I'm some kind of awful, over critical reviewer. I'm glad to get some positive feedback from other reviewers on reviews like this!