Bookshelf: Beam Me Up, Jesus

Beam me up, JesusI picked up this book, by Jim Gerard (who is apparently a comedian) expecting a witty, well-researched, ‘Louis Theroux’ look into end-times rapture pop culture – the cousin of Christian theology that we don’t mention in polite company, but I must have been thinking of another book and mistook it for this one.

To be fair to Gerard, he does offer a disclaimer right at the start and this should be taken as a pitch for the humour and intellect level to be expected – “If you’re a secular humanist who believes in reason rather than magic fixers, this book will provide that warm feeling of smug superiority.”

The book does start off well, the first few chapters and the Readers Digest version of the Book of Revelation really did make me genuinely laugh. As I delved further into the book however, the book became less of a research-based humourous guide or retelling and instead more of a compilation of tired and stretched out anecdotes and bad jokes.

It’s painfully clear that Gerard has made up the bulk of his research with Wikipedia and Google. Nothing wrong with that I guess, but it’s obvious that material gleaned from search engines dried up pretty quick – which left Gerard to pad the rest of the book with drivel.

By about half way through the book, it seemed as though Gerard had outsourced the writing to an angst-ridden 14 year old. I hate not finishing a book, so I began to skip chapters until I got to the end – I found I skipped most of the last half.

The real tragedy about this book however, is that there is so much real funny material to go on, why make it up? Why couldn’t Gerard interview some real people who believe this doctrine and utilise subtlety to drive the point? I felt this Amazon.com reviewer put it very well:

“And yes, this book could be humorous, but in my own view, most of the humor would derive naturally from the peculiarity of the doctrines and beliefs that comprise Rapture Christianity. Instead, however, author Jim Gerard has apparently done only a small amount of research and then has embellished his meager findings with a whole lot of kooky commentary and absurdist tangents. It’s a kind of Dave Barry-esque treatment, and for me it just did not work. In some places it’s actually difficult to differentiate between what is truly strange or funny about the Rapture community and what is merely “schtick” added by Gerard to beef up his chapters and evoke readers’ guffaws.”

To sum up, you should really only read this book if you are:

  • An angst-ridden atheist 14 year old
  • You hate Christians in general and revel in any opportunity to reaffirm your bias and loathing, regardless of accuracy
  • You don’t understand the humour of Louis Theroux, Ricky Gervais, Sacha Baron Cohen… actually just about any British comedian as well as Michael Moore, Stephen Colbert, possibly even Jon Stewart or books like The Men Who Stare at Goats and think they are not real comedians.

And for those people, I’m going to offer up the Amazon link anyway. Buy Beam Me Up, Jesus: A Heathen’s Guide to the Rapture now at amazon.co.uk.

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