This is an unedited book review that was originally published in August 2018. As such, it was housed on an archival page. Therefore, it is unedited, and just put here.
One of the best tips that I can give any aspiring writer is to read. Read, and write, and do the two things as much as you can. There are some professionals that will tell you to avoid this, but that’s just something that they have found personally gratifying. Now, if you’re not into writing, but prefer to read more, then by all means, go for it. A well-read society is a great thing. I finally got around to reading “The Gospel According To The Simpsons” by Mark I. Pinsky. This is a book that takes a lot of the themes that you find with the long running television show and dissects it based on their take on religion.
The first thing that I noticed about this book was that there were many stories and comparisons that parents had. From the author to researching the book in general, many parents didn’t want their children exposed to The Simpsons. But as the author and many others realized, the show wasn’t so much comedic at times, as it was a serious take on religious principles and ideas. At the heart of the show, yes, it’s comedic, but it’s a magnifying glass on real life in many ways. Throughout the sections of the book a comparative nature is placed on how Christian philosophy and religion is shown within the confines of the show for better and for worse. There are specific call outs to episodes that deal with morality, and you really see how they all relate to the notion of religious ideas in American culture. My parents didn’t want me watching the show, and yet here I am, a full fan and know a lot of the episode’s lines by heart.
I’ve read a lot of books on philosophy, religion, and more, but it’s with Pinsky’s treatment of the subject matter that I found a great deal of refuge. In my own personal writings for my master’s degree, I take the same approach that he does. Focusing on narration in the first person, then comparing and contrasting the episodes and themes with real news stories, and even interviews from the creators of the show, you never feel as though Pinsky is filling up space. He takes everything in stride, and makes things approachable, even if you aren’t a seminary student. There are references to the show, references to the Bible, and a lot of anecdotal material as a supplement to what you’re reading.
A lot of the surprising materials that is dug up in “The Gospel According To The Simpsons”, is that of news articles, and commentary by critics from the Christian world. I don’t read a lot of those blogs and newspapers, but they have commentary in the positive about special episodes of the Simpsons as a whole. It’s interesting to see how satirical the show has become, and how pro-God the showcases may seem. You may draw your own ideas about the show, but the religious humor found within a lot of the episodes mentioned in this book are dead on accurate, and one of the main reasons why I love the show’s first 20 or so seasons. Today, I am not sure that Pinsky could write a new edition, as the latest of episodes are not exactly the same as the early days, but that’s my opinion.
Overall this book is wildly amusing. I grew up in a Christian home, and went to Christian schools for the majority of my life. It’s there that I found this book so amusing. As an adult with several upper division master’s classes under my belt, I see how well Pinsky has researched and written this book so that anyone can pick it up and enjoy it. It’s a great read, especially if you’re interested in religion, philosophy, and of course, The Simpsons television show.
You can purchase Mark I. Pinsky’s “The Gospel According To The Simpsons” by clicking here. If you review it, as usual, I’ll publish it here on the blog, or link to your review in an update to this post.