The Outlaw Life

running, reading, blogging, loving

[09] Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

lamb

For what is curiosity if not intellectual temptation? And what progress is there without curiosity? On the other hand, can you call such a profound weakness a gift, or is it a design flaw? Is it temptation itself at fault for man’s woes, or is it simply the lack of judgement in response to temptation? In other words, who is to blame? Mankind, or a bad designer?

Lamb follows Christ (called Joshua, or Josh) and his best friend Levi-called-Biff from childhood (when they first meet Mary “Maggie” Magdalene0 through Joshua’s crucifixion. Covering both the later events covered in the Gospels, the book describes Josh and Biff’s adventures East to search for the three Wise Men – whom Josh believes will teach him how to be the Messiah. From the Wise Men, Josh learns about the Great Spark (that the power of the universe is in and around all of us – something Josh ends up calling the Holy Ghost) and sees a caste system at work in India that is so abhorrent to him that he vows to make sure all who ask to be allowed in his future kingdom will be allowed in – including sluts and Romans. After returning to Bethlehem and following the events of the Gospels, Biff and Maggie watch their best friend tortured and sacrificed. Learning it was Judas who was responsible, Biff runs off after after him and kills him, shortly after which he kills himself. We learn all this because Josh, from Heaven, has decreed that Biff be brought back to life in order to write his gospel and finally have the chance at life with the woman he loves – Maggie Magdalene. Maggie will always love Josh more, but then again, so will Biff.

This book was not only a quick read, it was FREAKING HILARIOUS and surprisingly thought provoking and mostly just really really filthy. Of course, as the afterword reminds us, there is no real knowing what happened to Josh during the 30 years the Bible doesn’t cover, but this explanation seems as good as any to cover how Josh became the man the world knows, as well as some of the strong similarities between the teachings of Jesus and the philosophies of many of the Eastern religions (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism). It was also a favorite part of mine to see Josh’s really early years of life, when he was being a petulant brat and causing accidental miracles and giving Joseph shit about not really being his father, so why should he listen. There is something so touchingly real about a teen Josh wondering if he’s really the Messiah, and if he is, how to be that way and what to do. It turns like, like, literally larger than life story into something relate-able and understandable – in a way other mediums fail to do.

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Turning this story into essentially a bromance between Josh and Biff not only made me laugh my ass off, but it helped to provide insight into a “character” that is difficult to consider as a character. Perhaps one of the unintentional effects this book had was making me think that, rather than being a spin on the “facts” of Christianity, it’s really a spin of a story: we don’t really have many ‘facts’ about Christ, and what we have in the Bible is still a collection of stories – Josh himself teaches in stories and parables throughout the Bible.

‘Compassion is the same way,’ said Joshua. ‘That’s what the yeti knew. He loved constantly, instantly, spontaneously, without thought or words. That’s what he taught me. Love is not something you think about, it is a state in which you dwell. That was his gift.’

Rating: OMFGZ!

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[01] The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

September is a willful, stubborn girl who, like most willful, stubborn girls, is one day approached by the spirit of the wind and a green leopard, who whisk her off to Fairyland, where she meets witches, goes on an epic quest for a magic spoon against an evil leader, and has all kinds of adventures – and some sadness too.

Hello, girl version of The Phantom Tollbooth (only not really, because I don’t think that books have genders, and especially not THAT book). But for real, this book follows a general format that definitely echoed Juster’s amazing tale about a bored boy named Milo. But I had absolutely no problem with that, as The Phantom Tollbooth has long been one of my favorite books, and I have a feeling that Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland might just one day join it. There are not only crazy adventures and memorable characters (the “wyverary” – a wyvern/library combo – and a marid named Saturday), but the whole book is written with this tone of the absurd, mixed with literary wordplay and a certain meta-recognition (*note to self: ass*) of fairy tale tropes. It allows the book to poke fun at itself, it’s genre, and to relate to children and tell them a story without teaching down to them or making them feel like using their imagination is a stupid or frivolous thing to do.

Without a doubt, my favorite part of the entire book was when September when to visit the Worsted Wood in the autumn kingdom. Valente created such AMAZING descriptions of the nightly feast and marriage of the prince and princess of autumn, for the entire kingdom is one where nothing changes and everything is gold and amber and smokey and fall and, in my opinion, absolutely wonderful. True, halfway through the Worsted Wood, September begins to turn in to a tree, which was odd, but overall the adventures she had there were the ones I most wished I had been able to have when I was little.

The fact that this book was originally published online raises some interesting discussion about the nature and value of self-published books, especially those that may get picked up by traditional brick-and-mortar publishing houses, which this author desires to make NO comment on, but who would recommend the following article as a starting point!

Rating: OMFGZ

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