I feel there are two things you should know about me before I go ahead with this review:
1. I am a crazy, obsessive fan of The Simpsons. I don't always realize it until someone mentions a very obscure reference, or I have to correct people on their botched quotes. I have been watching not only since the first episode, but the oft-overlooked Christmas special in which the Simpson family gets their dog, Santa's Little Helper (aka Santos L. Halper). The show has been on the air for more than half my life, and in Los Angeles, airs an average of three times per day. The Simpsons factors into my life in one way or another, every single day.
2. I am an atheist. I am not stating this to get into a debate, nor am I trying to proselytize. I think that I can still give this book a fair review. I just can't relate to a lot of it.
The book proposes to take a look at religion as it is represented in The Simpsons.
The Gospel According to The Simpsons – Bigger and Possibly Even Better! Edition is a well researched book that could stand up in any academic setting. Pinsky gives a good description of episodes for the unfamiliar, though crazy Simpsons fans will probably find these synopses to be lackluster and minutely incorrect. It is quite obvious that Pinsky has never actually watched The Simpsons before writing this book. For example, the author picks out tiny details (such as Ned's soup kitchen work) and presents them as factual and common occurrences within Springfield. In reality, these are usually just character-appropriate jokes, and are never explored or even mentioned again.
However, this book is geared towards those who believe unquestionably in the existence of a god. I know that the show offers a largely positive and unquestioning belief in a god. However, I think that Homer has really been edging towards secular humanism as the seasons go by (for example, Homer consistently saying "Jeebus" instead of "Jesus," or the episode where a simple procedure causes Homer's IQ to skyrocket, and he "accidentally" proves that there is no god — even Flanders can't find fault in his theory). Pinsky glosses over these incidents or ignores them near-completely. I find that very short-sighted.
Bigger and Possibly Even Better! does not put forth any theories, philosophies, or conclusions on religion, save for religion in The Simpsons being a reflection of American religious values. That hardly seems revolutionary, as television is usually a peek into American life. This book is probably best for students who are writing theology papers, and need a good source of religious references. Die-hard fans will probably just be annoyed with such lifeless episode recaps.Powered by Sidelines