Theologygrams: Theology Explained in Diagrams
London: Darton, Longman, & Todd, 2014.
Available at Amazon.com
By Rev. Andrew Esnouf
One of St Anselm of Canterbury’s most enduring contributions to theology has been the conception of theology as ‘faith seeking understanding’, on this conception of theology, Theologygrams is a failure. All is not lost, however, because Theologygrams has a different purpose, described in the sub-heading as ‘Theology explained in diagrams’, which greatly undersells the entertainment value found in the diagrams. The diagram on the front cover is a more accurate representation of the book, using a Venn diagram to place the book at the intersection of Theology, humour and diagrams. The comedic credentials of Theologygrams are immediately bolstered with the endorsement of Milton Jones, a professional comedian and committed Christian, whose comedy shares a similar economy of words with this book.
Theologygrams is a product of the mind of Rich Wyld, an Anglican priest with a PhD in theology. The project has it’s genesis as a blog to distract and entertain during Wyld’s theological studies, and has now transformed into a book which is both easy to read and highly enjoyable. The book is well ordered, beginning with diagrams about the Old Testament, followed by sections on the Gospels, the remainder of the New Testament, the life and experience of the church, and s final section on theology. Within these chapters, you can find verses of the Bible summed up handily in Venn diagrams, the effect of Jesus’ miracles expressed in graphs, a pie chart expressing the confusion over Jesus identity, and Paul’s missionary journey explained in the style of a London tube map.
I have found myself both reading through sections at a time, and pursuing the time honoured adventure of flipping to a random page, with both approaches proving successful in quickly discovering humour. The strength of this book is found not in it’s not any developments of theological, not in any teaching of theology, but in its jokes about theology. The book is accessible and well crafted, with both the theological most diagrams needing only minimal biblical and theological knowledge, and Wyld encourages readers to read the biblical texts for themselves. There are a few exceptions to this accessibility, though they are clearly a minority.
For several years I worked at a Christian bookstore, and I have always been struck by the fact that the church is well supplied with books encouraging readers to believe and share the gospel, to know and understand theology, and to form the habits, virtues and perspectives of the Christian life. The one genre that was consistently lacking for resources was the humour, and Theologygrams fills this vacuum mightily. This book is ideally suited for any committed Christian who has a sense of humour, and its value to the reader increases with greater knowledge of theology. This book was birthed out of a period of deep and sustained theological research and would be ideal for helping readers continue in their own theological journey with the aid of comic relief.
The original blog has further material, which can be found at https://theologygrams.wordpress.com/ and Wyld also has a further blog which is focussed on parodying motivational posters and memes through the use obscure quotes from the King James Version of the Bible, which can be found at https://hipsterkjv.wordpress.com/.