This Book’s Plot Just Doesn’t Make Any Sense!

As far as book reviews go, I have to admit: this one really captures the essence of its subject:

More could have been shown about God’s unique mental condition. The Jesus character lacked flaws which is usually seen as poor writing. Jesus and his father never fight or disagree. The main characters were often sent to the background for a cavalcade of secondary and peripheral characters. They are not mentioned at all in the book of Esther. The perspective shifts a lot. Because the main characters are immortal, but the story is told through the lives of mortal characters, we often follow characters for a short passage, but then leave them for other, sometimes less interesting generations. Not all plot points are fully explored or explained, but other items are described in exhaustive detail. I think in some ways the anthology is trying to be everything to everyone.

In particular, the plan of salvation is presented over a series of events that might leave some readers confused and in need of someone else to explain it. A plot point that significant would be expected to be made clearer earlier in the narrative, but the story is clearly meant to be a slow build.

Love it :)

You can read Jay Wilburn‘s full review here.

(Thanks to Annie for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    i am a strong proponent of the “just read it, cover to cover” club. i really can’t think of another better way to make an atheist out of a christian. i love the interwebs; there are so many sites out there today which highlight all the ways the buybull contradicts and backtracks itself. anyone who reads the whole thing pretty much has to come down to one of two conclusions: i am an atheist, this is silly nonsense, or, i am just going to pretend that i don’t understand logic, reason, and fantasy, because… well, i have some reason, and it’s probably rooted in money, power or fame. and my desire for all/some of those. also: thinking critically is Hard Work and i don’t want to do that. it’s too much like cleaning the bathroom or mowing the lawn.

  • Matt

    Anyone who has read the bible from front to back is either an atheist or a pastor.

    • C Peterson

      Not to mention a bit of a masochist.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Or really, really bored.

        • coyotenose

          It would take a helluva long doctor’s visit, let me tell you. I’d even read completely through the pregnancy magazine there first.

          I mean every copy of the same pregnancy magazine.

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            Ugh, I’ve done that. (And why is it always, like, six copies of the same outdated magazine?!)

    • Dezzydez

      Yup. I was an atheist before reading the bible. Got part way in before putting it down in disgust. I just can’t understand how people think the bible is a good source of morals.

  • Rain

    The Jesus character lacked flaws which is usually seen as poor writing.

    I thought the walking on water part was a little underwhelming as far as miracles go. Then Peter walked on water and then started sinking because he doubted. For some reason apparently you start sinking when you’re walking on water if you have any doubts. I guess the water thinks you’re an idiot and then makes you sink.

    • trj

      I believe it’s called the Tex Avery principle of physics. You see it often in cartoons.

      • Rain

        Yes exactly. Everything is okay as long as they don’t look down, or as long as they can keep running in place.

      • allein

        I always call it Wile E. Coyote physics.

  • observer

    I just had an interesting idea, what if someone re-wrote the Bible so you wouldn’t think it was written by some desert nomads, but the context of the stories is still there, and modernized as well. Give it to some Christians, and see how long it takes for them to be offended.

    • TheBlackCat13

      An alien overlord secretly impregnates an underage girl. She gives birth to a super-powered human/alien hybrid. The hybrid is allowed to grow up in human society and learn human ways.

      Once he is an adult, he is visited by probe carrying a message from his father explaining his purpose on Earth is to turn humans to their side. The hybrid then goes around trying to collect soldiers using his special powers, promising that they will merely be enslaved instead of exterminated like the rest of mankind when the alien armada arrives to conquer Earth.

      The government catches wind of the plan and manages to convince one of the followers to expose the plot. Realizing the humans are on to him, he has his closest followers eat a bit of his body in order to gain some of his powers. A human military unit catches the hybrid. They publicly reveal his plan, at which point all but his most loyal followers turn on him.

      He is executed and his body housed in a seemingly secure facility, but he quickly regenerates and escapes. He tells his remaining followers to turn more people to his side before leaving Earth to join his father’s invasion force, which will attack at any time.

      Cut to a scene of the invasion force with ominous music, then roll credits.

      • Barbara Baker

        Your version sounds really good!

      • pRinzler

        Brilliant! Some film-maker should be all over this.

      • observer

        A bit too modern…

      • random

        First paragraph is the plot of Superman.

    • GCT

      I believe this study was conducted and the stories were generally seen as immoral.

  • Baby_Raptor

    “The Jesus character lacked flaws, which is usually seen as poor writing.”

    This is a point I don’t see made often, but the above sentence is technically not true. There are several instances recorded in the bible where Jesus does something that, in us regular people, would be considered a sin. They just get skipped over because the bible goes on to say that Jesus was sinless, and what’s reality when you need a deus ex machina?

    There was the incident when he was a child, where he stayed at the temple when the rest of the group he was with, including his parents, left. And when they came back to find him days later, he backtalked Mary. That’s a pretty clear disregard for “Honor thy father and Mother.”

    There was the instance where he refused to heal the Samaritan woman and she totally school’d him, and from then on he didn’t limit himself to only Jewish people. Pretty sure that violates his own commands to love everyone and to help everyone that needs it.

    And then there was the fig tree. He passed a fig tree that wasn’t in season, and then he cursed it because it wasn’t bearing fruit. I don’t recall if there was a law against invoking curses, but I know the bible doesn’t condone impetuous anger, or retaliation in anger.

    • GCT

      I’d like to add that he spits racist epithets at a woman looking for health care for her child.

      He physically whips the people in the temple.

      He steals.

      He advocates punishment for thought crime.

      He invents the hell of eternal torment and often imagines the joy of watching his enemies in torment there.

    • C Peterson

      He claimed to be God! If that isn’t a character flaw, what is? We lock up people for their own safety for simply claiming to be Napoleon! (Well, except in the U.S., where we turn them loose on the streets.) Okay, maybe profound mental illness isn’t exactly a character flaw, but it’s one big flaw, all the same.

  • Patrick Dunn

    I particularly like the label of “horror anthology” – I’ve always thought some iconoclastic filmmaker could make an excellent, pure horror film from most of this material, especially the Jesus story. They almost did, in fact, with “The Robe”.

  • cathouseumbrella

    The review was pretty funny, but is the Devil really one of the main characters? I thought he only appeared a handful of times.

    • Bob McKee

      The art of Story typically has antagonists that have rudimentary arcs. In this instance, the Devil is used as expositionary tool for dialogue and setup for a climax.

    • Randay

      Apparently the Devil only needed to appear once in order to look like Obama in a film.

  • Art_Vandelay

    Speaking of The Bible, what is this Holy Wednesday/Anointing of Jesus thing about anyway? Are we (they) really celebrating an even where a prostitute poured a big vat of really expensive perfume over the Messiah’s head? Aren’t we sort of pushing the bounds of sacredness here?

    • guest

      Two words for you… “holy prepuce”

      • Randay

        That begs the question, were God and Jesus circumcised? If so, who did it? Moreover, if man was made in God’s image, why did his followers think that they could improve on his work? The only good thing that “Saint” Paul said was that circumcision was not necessary. The Greeks and the Romans knew it was barbaric.

        • TheBlackCat13

          No, it “leads to the question”. “Begs the question” means “assumes the answer to the question you are asking”, i.e. the circular logic fallacy.

          • Randay

            Sorry, I used it in the popular sense of “creates a difficulty”.

  • busterggi

    Jesus is a Mary-Sue.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Er… Gary Stu

  • Former Fundie

    I have to disagree with the claim that the Jesus figure lacked character flaws. On more than one occasion in the novel he was very disrespectful to his mother and he basically disowned his mother and brothers for thinking he was nuts (an understandable assumption). He persuaded married men with dependent wives and children to abandon their families (perhaps to leave them to their starvation and death), in order to follow him and advance his new religious cult. Such egregious selfishness is reprehensible. He called people he disagreed with or who were culturally different from himself dogs, sinners, heathens, vipers, sons of satan, wicked, evil, perverse, etc. It seems meekness wasn’t one of his strong points after all. He was presumptuous and very much wrong about things he asserted as absolute fact that would happen in the near future. Plus the whole ruckus he caused in the temple with the wild accusations he leveled against the temple currency exchangers and sacrificial animal salesman was hard evidence that he was ignorant of his own scriptures which outlined the reasons why it was absolutely necessary to have people providing these services in the temple. In short, he was an arrogant, disrespectful, ignorant little brat that got executed for his ignorant, intolerant, and violent actions. The moral to the story should be to not behave like a total prick to others based on religion, especially a religion that you know little about.

    • anniewhoo

      That was quite possibly one of the most blasphemous paragraphs I have ever read. Well done! ;-)

    • Stev84

      Don’t forget his inexplicable hatred of fig trees

      • guest

        god hates figs and fig-enablers!

      • Randay

        Also don’t forget his inexplicable act of driving a group of pigs mad so they would run over a cliff. Indeed, how do you drive a pig mad? It must be a miracle.

    • Pattrsn

      Cheers!

    • Claude

      Plus the whole ruckus he caused in the temple with the wild accusations he leveled against the temple currency exchangers and sacrificial animal salesman was hard evidence that he was ignorant of his own scriptures which outlined the reasons why it was absolutely necessary to have people providing these services in the temple.

      There’s a great scene in The Last Temptation of Christ where a bemused rabbi explains to Furious Jesus the necessity of having moneychangers in the temple:

      “You expect people to pay the tax in Roman coins? They have images of false gods on them. You want pagan gods in the temple? All foreign coins have to be changed to shekels. That the law.”

      Jesus says, “I abolish the law. I give a new law and a new hope!”

      The Sadducees: come again?

      Wild!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1199783929 Jonathan Duran

      [Slow clapping] Bravo! ……Bravo!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Harrison/23417637 Michael Harrison

    The problem with this approach to Biblical criticism is that the Old Testament is, from a poetic point of view, a second-rate translation that commits terrible crimes against the beauty of the original, and the New Testament is Old Testament fan fiction.

  • jay

    Funny, apparently the reviewer didn’t read the whole book though.

  • trj

    I liked the surprise twist at the end. You think Jesus is dead, but then, surprise! He’s totally alive! Didn’t see that coming.

    I can’t wait for the sequel to see what zany antics Jesus gets up to next.

  • rick_povero

    ** Xian texts can now be put aside as unworthy even for parody

    Any need for adolescent reviews of primary xian texts has long passed. Direct textual criticism from atheists in a publicly published western volume begn with Jean Meslier’s Testament in France, 1739. Baron d’Holbach — another rare atheist among fashionable deists in 18th century France — published Christiany unveiled, a critque of Paul’s life and writings, and a crtique of Peter, in the 1750s.

    Nietzsche’s stinging “God is dead” first appears more than 130 years later in the 1882 first edition of the Gay Science [= meaning 'carefree' not 'homosexual']. German linguistics put an end to biblical literalism with its fundie busting “higer criticism” before the 20th century.

    Before Nietzsche, Mary Ann Evans — aka George Eliot found inspiration by translating Feuerbach’s The essence of christianity (1841), not an atheist volume but an influential god solvent. Richard Owen — England’s greatest comparative anatomist in mid-century — published his reconstructions of “dinosaurs” (Owen’s coinage) which unintenionally caused Tennyson to wax agnostic under the influence of ‘nature red in tooth and claw’ to quote from In Memoriam — Queen Victoria’s favourite poem published in 1850, nine years before Darwin’s Origin.

    America’s most successful atheist died in 1899 — Robert Ingersoll, subject of a recent biography, The great agnostic (2013) by Susan Jacoby, herself an atheist and staunch defender of church/state separation and rationality in the Meslier-d’Holbach tradition. As a final nod to Raison — Michel Onfray’s Atheist Manifesto (2006) goes a long way towards showing how hard it will be to de-xianize western culture.

    You can put the old bible on the shelf alongside the Koran, Dhammapada, the Gita. Religion is not the problem — religious institutions with secular ambitions are the problem — their attempt to turn several states into mini-xian tyrannies plays out all around the country. Legitimate secular power must oppose illegal secular power grabs by ultra-right knownothings who call science “lies from the pit of hell.”

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

      religion will always be with us. so long as there is free money in it, someone will be making some fantastic, unprovable claim to desperate, lonely, hurting people, and they will hand over cash and social authority to the huckster. i’ve read most of the scholars on your list, and it’s depressing to realize how little their excellent scholarship has been able to affect in all the centuries since they risked their necks to be published. but the bottom line is some people want easy answers to complex questions, and don’t want to face reality without the equivalent of a blankie that little children cling to and don’t want to give up, even when they’re too old to still be clinging to one.

      • meekinheritance

        Only some people? I would *love* to have easy answers to complex questions. I just don’t like making up shit when I reach a point where the right thing to do is admit, “I don’t know (yet).” Most people I know don’t like to think. It’s why they don’t like to discuss religion with me, because it forces them to think about the inconsistencies in itself, in their living up to its standard, and its inconsistencies with observed reality.
        I wish there were something “natural” that would satisfy this desire for answers. Sadly, religion is the most popular thing humanity has come up with so far.

    • GCT

      “Religion is not the problem…”

      It certainly is a problem. Without it the religious hucksters would have no platform. Religion is based on faith, which is an inherently faulty method of figuring out what is true and leads to all sorts of atrocities. Yes, religion is a problem.


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