Review - "How to Be a Perfect Christian"
We owe a debt of gratitude to the Babylon Bee. Its satirical critiques and correctives of American evangelicalism are arguably more helpful and effective than the last hundred, more serious books on the phenomena combined. It definitely enjoys a larger audience. And for good reason: the Bee is hilarious, often painfully so.
I'll admit that I was concerned this book would be a lazy compilation of retooled Bee articles, the literary equivalent of a clip show. Had the authors gone the route of a cheap opportunity to "cash in," they would have in one stroke become yet another tired expression of the very thing they so often lampoon: consumerist Christianity. Thankfully, they didn't line the shelves of the Christian bookstore (are there any of those left?) with one more bland Christianized commodity. Instead, they subversively and rather ingeniously planted the seeds of its destruction right alongside aisles and aisles of "Jesus junk."
The satire is great. Of course, much of it will seem an inside joke to those not baptized in the lukewarm waters of American evangelicalism. However, those "in on" the joke will find its "how to" manual style, complete with a meter to measure one's progress in holiness, not only funny - but to some measure liberating.
I've often wondered if some of the Bee's appeal, along with the comedy of people like Tim Hawkins and John Crist, is that it isn't afraid to call "BS" on things about which many American Christians have long harbored deep suspicions, but felt too outnumbered to name. Lamenting a church culture often valuing gimmicks and cultural cliches with the importance some traditions reserve for sacraments, I've been consoled by Bee articles joking about a worship leader no longer able to fit his giant head through the church door, another who ordered even tighter skinny jeans to kick things up another octave, and a megachurch pastor who was worried that his preaching came across as too preachy. They feel like the reassuring though surreptitious communications of an underground movement.
But don't get me wrong. The Bee not only consoles. It cuts deep, like when it reports on a pastor who declares his church a "safe space" from issues of social justice, another who expertly distills two verses of Scripture down to just 67 points, and the pastor who labored all weekend on a blog post only four people will read. Ouch. The Bee stings indeed.
Even so, sometimes a good cure requires a good cut. As C.S. Lewis wondrously commented, "If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it." You knew that I was going to say that, right? You could probably see it a mile away.
Bottom line: This book might cut you, but will definitely leave you in consoling stitches. Highly recommended.
Hardcover: 208 pages