The Gospel According to the Simpsons

Growing up, I was not allowed to watch The Simpsons. This made all the funnier the fact that my dad loves the trailer for the upcoming movie when Homer puts muddy pig prints all over the house singing, "Spider-Pig, Spider-Pig, does whatever a Spider-Pig does" to the tune of Spider-Man.
A few years ago, I read Mark Pinsky's The Gospel According to the Simpsons. I really enjoyed the book (having caught up on most of the episodes I could not watch growing up in college) and found the insights to be very well though-out and thought provoking. I even used the book when candidating for an associate pastor position in California (which I eventually was called to). I was asked to lead a college group study and we looked at the perceptions that Christians have (especially highlighted in the Simpsons) and Biblical imagery used in the show.
The book has since been expanded and a separate Leader's Guide is available for small group study. It is not only a funny book, but one which points out the moral and theological dilemmas of many people today.
Each of the chapters shows a different aspect of the Christian life - relationship with God, prayer, Scripture, heaven, hell and the devil. Mr. Pinsky also explores the Simpsons view of other religions, such as Hinduism and Judaism. The best chapter, in my estimation, is the one on Ned Fladers - The Evangelical Next Door. In this chapter, Mr. Pinsky explores the character and day-to-day qualities of evangelicalism, embodied in the Simpsons by Ned Flanders, Homer's next door neighbor. I believe, as does Mr. Pinsky, that the writers do a good job of portraying evangelicals through Ned. He has a different purpose, and tries to always put a positive spin on things. He sees all aspects of life as having a divine purpose and generally attempts to love others, even when they are intending harm for him.
This book is a great resource to have, especially with the movie coming out. It is witty, well-written and thought provoking. Here is an article from the Houston Chronicle speaking about the TV show, the movie and this book, in part. Link

Other books all these same lines:

The Gospel According to Disney
The Gospel According to The Beatles
One Step Closer
Walk On
Wizards, Wardrobes and Wookies

1 comment:

Jason said...

I never realized that this book existed! I have thought about this topic for years, but have always been too lazy to really put my thoughts down on paper in any kind of coherent form.

I have the DVDs for the first 4 or 5 seasons and I remember listening to the commentary for "Homer the Heretic" (where Homer starts his own church and talks to God). Apparently people have used that episode in Sunday School classes, small groups, etc. That is absolutely not what the writers intended, but they seemed flattered.

That episode also has one of the best potshots at evangelicals. Near the end Rev. Lovejoy explains how people from all faiths can help each other whether they be Christian (looks at Ned), Jew (looks at Krusty), or Miscellaneous (looks at Apu). Apu balks and says, "Hindu, please! There are over 20 million of us" (or some large number)

Rev. Lovejoy responds with a very condescending, "That's super".

Anyhow, thanks for blogging on this.