Saturday, 7 January 2012

The Dirty Parts of the Bible: Review

The Dirty Parts of the Bible
By Sam Torode
Published by CreateSpace
Published in March 23, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-1450567633

I purchased this book myself. As an ebook. Again. I know!

Bad: Your parents have a massive row one night which leads to your father getting fantastically drunk and crashing his car into the side of the local church. He is thrown clear but a bird poops on his face whilst he is passed out leaving him blinded.

Worse: Your father is also the Pastor of that church.

Tobias Henry is the only child of an evangelical Baptist pastor father and long suffering mother living in Remus, Michigan. Although he has been raised in the church he has always had questions about the apparent contradictions within the Bible. His father is of the Bible as a literal document of Fact school of thought who (before his extraordinary fall from grace) preached that sex was vile and sinful and that alcohol is temptation from the Devil. How come then, Tobias wonders, are there all these references in the Bible to turning water into wine and some passages that talk of breasts? Having been involved in the Baptist church for a couple of years when I was a teenager, these are questions echo ones I also had, although I was far less concerned than Tobias about the sexual aspects of the Good Book! In the end, it was partially the failure to find answers that satisfied me that was responsible for me deciding that formal religion wasn't a good fit for me.

With these questions in his mind and a need to find a way to support his family now that his father had been thrown out of the the ministry pushing him along, Tobias sets off to Texas. His father has told him of an abandoned well on his family's farm where he hid some money many years before. Thus commences a journey of discovery and learning, guided by the unlikely character of Craw, a homeless man whom Tobias befriends along the way.

What I really connected to within this story was Craw's take on the Bible. He claims that taking the Bible literally is to miss its point entirely, that the meanings of the stories within the Bible are layered within, only found after some digging and thought. This whole idea reminded me of a discussion I had with one of my oldest NZ friends when she visited me here in Taiwan recently about Christianity. Her take is that it is not about judgement or trying to be perfect, rather it is about Grace and faith that what you believe in will ultimately be your salvation. This is an explanation which really struck a chord with me and one I wished far more people shared.

This book is a quick and fun read whilst also giving you something to chew over once you reach the final page. It's a classic coming of age tale with a twist of mysticism with a dash of romance thrown in. If you're looking for a light read with a bit of substance to it, this is a good pick.

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