Book Review: The Book Of Genesis Illustrated By R Crumb

Having grown up in church for as far back as I can remember most Bible stories are at minimum familiar, at worst, rote. Having heard some stories 50 or 60 or even 100 times in a lifetime, it’s hard to approach them as fresh. With all of the preaching, teaching and Sunday School lessons, the initial story often gets obscured. Getting a  view,from someone whose life experience doesn’t include church can often be refreshing. Especially if the new eyes actually follows the text. Such is the case with The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb

R Crumb’s previous work includes the the x-rated cartoon Fritz the Cat. Not exactly an Evangelical pedigree. Nonetheless, Crumb goes through great pains to stay with the text. His illustrations are very detailed and stay with the action. That being said, this is not a children’s Bible. Some of the illustrations are graphic and takes the text at its word.  He doesn’t Bowdlerize the text as what often happens in even illustrated adult Bibles.

This brings me to one of my pet peeves. Too often, we Christians blunt the text of the Bible.  In order to make it more palatable for those with delicate constitutions we deny the graphic nature of the text, Crumb doesn’t have the Christian sensibility that at times can cause some subtle censoring. God put what He did into the Bible so that we would see that it was relevant. That it does apply to us. And, most of all, that we would see ourselves for what we are:sinful people who need a Savior.

The success of Crumb’s version is that he takes it seriously without the religiosity. He doesn’t satirize , sanitize, or demean the text. The downside is that Crumb’s style is a little rough. Let’s put it like this: If you like Kinkade,you probably won’t like Crumb.


Book Review Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions

In some Christian circles, intimate  cross gender relationships (unless you’re married to the person) are pretty much verboten. Those who are single are told to seek friendships with the opposite sex ONLY if they are seen as potential mates. Married couples are strongly advised to eschew any contact with the opposite sex outside of a hand shake (and even THAT may be too much contact). Most relationship books will tell you to be careful of intimate friendships because they could lead to (gasp) sex.

In his new book, Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions author Dan Brennan explores cross gender relationships from a new and different perspective. Using historical references and Biblical sources, Brennan breathes a breath of fresh air into the discussion. Instead of yelling “run away” at the first sign of a close intimate cross gender friendship, he encourages them. Now, lest I mislead, Brennan is not advocating intimate as in sexual intimacy. Rather he is advocating that cross gender friendships can be spiritually intimate. I can hear the gasps now. To quote from the Introduction:

This book makes a simple but provocative claim; stories of paired cross-sex friendship love are journeys toward communion with God and our neighbor in the Christian story. In the new creation, men and women are not limited to stark contrasts where we must choose between romantic passion in marriage or inappropriate sex/infidelity. Chaste, but powerfully close friendships between the sexes stir our curiosity and resist formulaic gender roles in marriage, friendship, and society.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Brennan’s book. Unlike many relationship books, he doesn’t assume that yours is broken and he has got the repair kit. Just the opposite, the assumption of the book is that the reader’s relationship is working. He assumes that his readers are mature Christians. If you believe in the more traditional way of thinking about cross gender friendships, this book will not give you shelter. However, it will give you pause to think. For those who have cross gender relationships, this book will affirm some of your  thoughts and feelings.