The Gospel According to The Simpsons, Bigger and Possibly Even Better! Edition: With a New Afterword Exploring South Park, Family Guy, and Other Animated TV Shows

Overview

Is there anything holy in Springfield, the home to irascible Bart Simpson and his naive dad Homer, their enthusiastic evangelical neighbor Ned Flanders, the sourpuss minister Rev. Lovejoy, and the dozens of other unique characters who inhabit the phenomenally popular TV show? In this revision of the 2001 bestseller, author Mark Pinsky says yes!

In this entertaining and enlightening book, Pinsky shows how The Simpsons engages issues of religion and morality in a thoughtful, ...

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Overview

Is there anything holy in Springfield, the home to irascible Bart Simpson and his naive dad Homer, their enthusiastic evangelical neighbor Ned Flanders, the sourpuss minister Rev. Lovejoy, and the dozens of other unique characters who inhabit the phenomenally popular TV show? In this revision of the 2001 bestseller, author Mark Pinsky says yes!

In this entertaining and enlightening book, Pinsky shows how The Simpsons engages issues of religion and morality in a thoughtful, provocative, and genuinely respectful way. With three new chapters and updates to reflect the 2001-2006 seasons, Pinsky has given a thorough facelift to the book that Publishers Weekly called "thoughtful and genuinely entertaining."

The new material includes chapters on Buddhism and gay marriage and an extensive afterword that explores how religion is treated on the animated shows that have followed in the footsteps of The Simpsons: South Park, Family Guy, Futurama, American Dad, and King of the Hill.

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Editorial Reviews

Publisher's Weekly
Religion journalist Pinsky offers a thoughtful and genuinely entertaining review of faith and morality as reflected through the irreverently sweet comedy of The Simpsons, drawing on a wide if not encyclopedic knowledge of key episodes and interviews with the series' creators. The animated series is unique in many ways, including its longevity and creative freshness, but no less remarkable is the show's attention to religious themes especially considering the prevalent invisibility or irrelevance of religion on TV. A recent convert to the show who only started watching in 2001, Pinsky had been repelled by controversy surrounding the series' edgier early seasons. But as the program and its characters have matured, many viewers have seen a fundamental affirmation of spirituality, family and community life that emerges in spite of the sarcasm and exaggerated situations. Chapters are devoted to important characters Homer, Lisa, Ned Flanders, Reverend Lovejoy, Krusty and Apu and the faiths they represent, as well as to issues such as images of God, the Bible, prayer and ethics. Pinsky reminds readers that ultimately The Simpsons is played for laughs, not deep spiritual or sociological insight. Yet the abiding charm of the show is how often its caricatures are devastatingly on-target and point to a deeper truth, as Tony Campolo points out in an excellent foreword: "Do not go too hard on Homer Simpson because more people in our churches are where he is than any of us in the mainline denominations want to acknowledge." (Sept.) Forecast: One of WJKP's longest-selling titles has been The Gospel According to Peanuts, which clearly provided a model for this new rumination on faith and popular culture.Here's hoping that Pinsky's book achieves similar success; given the publisher's recent economic troubles (see PW's "Religion BookLine" newsletter, July 9), the small Presbyterian press could really use a hit. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal

Religion journalist Pinsky here considerably updates and expands his best-selling guide to issues of faith and morality as seen, sideways, through the astonishingly and persistently popular animated series The Simpsons. Although the sarcasm and exaggerated situations that characterize The Simpsonsmay blindside some viewers, Pinsky, demonstrating a wide and appreciative knowledge of the series, sees a fundamental affirmation of the values of family life and even faith. New material includes a chapter-long treatment on daughter Lisa Simpson's conversion to Buddhism, as well as the controversial episode that treats gay marriage. Most intriguingly, Pinsky devotes a final long afterword to the animated series that have sprung to life in the series' wake-South Park, Family Guy, Futurama, American Dad, and King of the Hill. Here, Pinsky demonstrates the same sympathetic acuity that made the original edition of this work such a delight; readers will want him to expand this portion into a book or books. Highly recommended.


—Graham Christian
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780664231606
  • Publisher: Presbyterian Pub Corp
  • Publication date: 6/28/2007
  • Series: The Gospel According To... Series
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 990,675
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Mark I. Pinsky is the author of The Gospel according to The Simpsons (with Samuel Parvin), The Gospel according to Disney, and A Jew among the Evangelicals. His writing has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and the Columbia Journalism Review. He appears frequently in national media discussing religion and culture.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2007

    Finding God in Unexpected Places

    In THE GOSPEL ACCORDING THE THE SIMPSONS, Mark Pinsky shows us that it's possible to find God in some of the most unexpected places. Originally, The Simpsons was largely eschewed by the evangelical Christian community, because of Bart's rebellious ways. But as the show grew older, and the focus turned more towards Homer, Pinsky shows that people of faith who weren't watching were missing out on some of the most 'Christian' television around. Seriously. The Simpsons not only contains blatantly Christian characters but it explores issues of faith that other shows would never touch with a 50 foot pole. Ned Flanders, though ragged on by Homer a lot, is perhaps the best depiction of an evangelical-type Christian in mainstream television history. Lisa Simpson seems to present the side of the social Gospel. Marge's real faith in God also shines through. Though characters with faith are often made fun of, in the end the show always seems to prove that the joke is on the joker, not the jokee. The Simpsons isn't trying to evangelize, but it is surprisingly fair and evenhanded in its presentations, and with how it deals out the humor. In its history the show has dealt with subjects like cults, hypocricy, why God allows evil, hell, and forgiveness. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THE SIMPSONS surprised me, made me laugh out loud multiple times each chapter, and was just an all-around enjoyable read. The picture of Christianity that is presented isn't perfect. The writers stumble on theological points many times (such as grace vs. works). This will happen when you're not a theologian and, in most cases, not even a Christian. But in spite of that, Pinsky shows that the Springfield world of Homer is one that is rich in faith and religious devotion. For Christians who can let their hair down and roll with a few jokes, The Simpsons proves that even in the midst of our post-Christian culture, in Hollywood, and even on the Fox Network, God can be found if you dare to look for Him. As Homer might say, 'Mmmmm.... a FIVE STAR book...'

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted July 16, 2010

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