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We all have that friend, the one who’s always just a little bit better. Mine was Jenni Williams growing up – always thinner, better at sports, more popular. But, what if your best friend were, literally, holier than thou? What if your best friend were Jesus? If you’re Biff, the narrator of Christopher Moore’s Lamb, it would be hilarious.
Lamb is what happens when Moore, the author of Bloodsucking Fiends and Island of the Sequined Love Nun takes a crack at the big J.C., specifically the “missing years,” before all the fancy miracles, the parables, the walking on water and such. What would a teenage Son of God do for fun? He’d play practical jokes with yak tea, or make friends with the Abominable Snowman, or learn kung fu. Duh. Biff and Jesus (née Joshua) travel the globe, learning, teaching, and punching each other in the arm as, for some reason, guys are wont to do, even in Biblical times.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m no Tim Tebow. I do go to church, and I love me a good bluegrassy gospel song, but I really really don’t like blatant evangelism. Or using the Bible to justify being a dick. And in Lamb, Moore creates just the kind of Jesus I’d like to hang out with. A Jesus who often wishes he could just be a regular guy, who is genuinely nice, but who regrets not being able to visit brothels for the same reason everybody else does, a Jesus who worries constantly about being good enough for his father (I mean, your best friend being the Messiah is one thing, but what if your dad were, well, GOD? Oy.). And Biff is just the kind of best friend you’d want Jesus to have, because he’s loyal and devoted, but also calls Jesus out when He’s getting a little too Messiah-y. He helps Jesus understand sarcasm. He explains sex to the Son of God. He really does not like parables:
“I’ve got to think that that was unethical,” Joshua said.
“Josh, faking demonic possession is like a mustard seed.”
“How is it like a mustard seed?”
“You don’t know, do you? Doesn’t seem at all like a mustard seed, does it? Now you see how we all feel when you liken things unto a mustard seed? Huh?”
I kind of see his point.
Lamb walks a fine line between reverence and irreverence, and reminds me a lot of Monty Python’s Life of Brian (which we watch religiously – har, har – every Easter). I’ve recommended the book to everyone from self-described evangelical atheists to the pastor’s wife, and everyone loved it (except my dad, because he thought there was too much cussing, but hey, he’s my dad). It shows a Jesus who is totally human, bearing the loneliness and the pressure of being the savior of humanity, but who enjoys a good leper joke with the best of ‘em. While it’s a book that Moore researched in Israel, and has lots of little Biblical jokes, it’s not trying to subconsciously convert you. Promise. You shouldn’t read it for the religion. You should read it because when you read it you will laugh out loud during your commute, because you’ll actually want to hang out with Jesus, which is more than I can say for any actual religious text I’ve ever read. It’s like the ultimate bromance roadtrip adventure, complete with a love triangle involving Mary Magdalene, who of course only has eyes for Jesus (Biff, I feel your pain, dude). Maybe you can imagine Jesus as Paul Rudd and Biff as, like, Owen Wilson? I dunno. You’ll have to read it.
Kelli Landes: Knows all the words.