Thursday, September 04, 2008

Me of Little Faith, by Lewis Black

(hb; 2008: non-fiction)

From the inside flap:

"What do we believe? And for God's sake why?

"Those are the thorny questions that Lewis Black, the bitingly funny comedian, social critic, and bestselling author, tackles [in this book]. And he's come up with some answers. Or at least his answers. In more than two dozen essays that investigate everything from the differences between how Christians and Jews celebrate their holidays, to the politics of faith, to people's individual search for transcendence, Black explores his unique odyssey through religion and belief.

"Growing up as a nonpracticing Jewish kid near Washington, D.C., during the 1950s, Black survived Hebrew school and a bar mitzvah (barely), went to college in the South during the tumultuous 1960s, and witnessed firsthand the unsettling parallels between religious rapture and drug-induced visions (even if none of his friends did). He explored the self-actualization movements of the 1970s (and the self-indulgence that they produced), and since then has turn an increasingly skeptical eye toward the politicians and televangelists who don the cloak of religious rectitude to mask their own moral hypocrisy.

"What he learned along the way about inconsistencies and peculiarities of religion infuriated Black, and in Me of Little Faith he gives full vent to his comedic rage. black explores how the rules and constraints of religion have affected his life and the lives of us all. Hilarious experiences with rabbis, Mormons, gurus, psychics, and even the joy of a perfect round of golf give Black the chance to expound upon what we believe and why -- in the language of a shock jock and with the heart of an iconclast."


The description on the book's inside flap is accurate. Black's humor stems from his cogent, well-written, and often-hilarious outrage at those around us who brazenly disregard the rules/facts of logic and good social behavior, in, as it says in the book flap, "the language of a shock jock and with the heart of an iconclast." Those who are religious and easily offended should not read this book, because it'll just tick them off. (Black also offers this warning in the beginning in Me of Little Faith.)

Thankfully, Black doesn't just come across as a funny jerk. His ideas, humor and personal experiences are shot through with some of the finer elements of humanity: humility/acceptance of his limitations and knowledge, cogent reasoning, and warmth for those around him.

Check it out, if you're not sensitive/close-minded about religious matters, and not afraid to enjoy some truly dark-ish humor.

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