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The Gospel According to the "Simpsons": The Spiritual Life of the World's Most Animated Family [Paperback]

Mark Pinsky
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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The Gospel According to the Simpsons: Bigger and Possibly Even Better! Edition The Gospel According to the Simpsons: Bigger and Possibly Even Better! Edition 5.0 out of 5 stars (1)
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Book Description

15 Oct 2001 Gospel According To...
The Simpsons is one of the longest running, funniest, most irreverent, and, according to some religious leaders, the most spiritually relevant show on television today. Journalist Mark Pinsky explores the moral and religious dilemmas faced by Homer, Marge, Bart and other key characters in the series - including Ned Flanders (the evangelical next-door neighbour), Reverend Lovejoy (the town's pastor) and the long-suffering Apu (the Hindu shopkeeper). Mark Pinsky looks at the show's treatment of God, Jesus, heaven and hell, the Bible, prayer, and asks why The Simpsons was so strongly denounced by conservative Christians back in the early 90's. He concludes by considering the question, Is The Simpsons supportive or subversive of religious faith? "The Simpsons is one of the most subtle pieces of propaganda around in the cause of sense, humility and virtue. Mark Pinsky manages to decipher the code without deadening the humour, which is quite an achievement." The Right Revd Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Wales"

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The Gospel According to the "Simpsons": The Spiritual Life of the World's Most Animated Family + The "Simpsons" and Philosophy: The D'oh! of Homer (Popular Culture and Philosophy) (Popular Culture & Philosophy) + Planet Simpson: How a cartoon masterpiece documented an era and defined a generation
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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster/John Knox Press,U.S.; 1 edition (15 Oct 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664224199
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664224196
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.2 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 85,875 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"The Simpsons is one of the most subtle pieces of propaganda around in the cause of sense, humility and virtue. Mark Pinsky manages to decipher the code without deadening the humour, which is quite an achievement." The Right Revd Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Wales

About 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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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George Bush the Elder once denounced it; his wife, Barbara, called it dumb. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Searching, fun and fair-minded 2 Aug 2004
By Martin Turner HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
This is a book by a Jewish journalist about the way Christianity is portrayed by the largely atheistic writers of the Simpsons. If you're a member of the George Bush family, you've probably already decided that the Simpsons are a generally bad example to us and we should all watch the Waltons instead, which means you probably won't be buying this book.
Which is a pity, because, as Pinsky points out, the Simpsons offers by far the most sympathetic portrayal of Christianity and Christians of any mainstream US show. This is a rich paradox, which the author explores in some depth, reviewing relevant episodes fairly carefully and interviewing writers and other staff.
I love the Simpsons, and I really enjoyed this book. As an outsider to Christianity, although a professional religious journalist, Pinsky gives a nicely balanced, objective picture of what is in the series. His fundamental conclusion is that Groening and his colleagues satirise all of American life even-handedly and affectionately, without the sound of grinding axes.
What we see then is different kinds of Christians and responses to Christianity. Marge tries to keep her ostensibly dysfunctional family on the straight and narrow. Revd Lovejoy and his wife less committed than their role in life would seem to demand. Ned Flanders is absolutely genuine - admirable but annoying. He is of course the perfect counterpoint to Homer who is loveable but hard to admire.
By and large this book gets it more or less right - no mean feat, considering that loads of episodes have been released since it was written which could easily have proved it wrong.
The only issue which I struggled with is Pinsky's suggestion that Lisa speaks for Jesus.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fun, informative and so very true 1 May 2002
Format:Paperback
As a huge (some would say obsessive)simpsons fan, and being fairly religious, i knew this book would be for me. i had noticed many religious references in the programme and was amazed to see that some one else actually noticed the significance of them aswell. whilst the quotations arn't always completely correct, Pinsky has picked out the vast majority of religious references to be found in the show. And what he lacks in detailed knowledge of "the Simpsons" he more than makes up for with accurate insights, and he still manages to understand that nothing is said maliciously. Whatever is said in "the Simpsons" always has to be taken with a pinch of salt. This book would be particulary good for those who, for religious reasons, are dubious of the morals within the show. It will show them how "The Simpsons" asks and answers philosophical questions, and how it comments on religion in society. Also an essential read for any devout Simpsons fan
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Treading cautiously but affectionately 14 Jan 2002
Format:Paperback
Two groups probably more than any others in the US dislike the cartoon family The Simpsons. On the one hand many Christian fundamentalists see it as the work of the devil, undermining and ridiculing Christian moral values and beliefs. Against them are ranged the humanists who assert that the program is the most insidious propaganda for Christian faith in the whole the mass media. Presumably they cannot both be right.
Mark Pinsky's The Gospel Acording to The Simpsons is one of a burgeoning number of academic and popular studies which seek to solve the riddle of the extraordinary cultural phenomenon which is The Simpsons. Now in its fifteenth year, the cartoon family has been of no small significance in the development of Rupert Murdoch's media empire, providing a steady stream of viewers all over the world and more than a billion dollars in sales of licensed goods.
The Simpsons appeal has crossed class and generational barriers because it works on so many different levels. While children love its irreverence, adults may appreciate the sophistication which delivers a rich diet of literary and artistic references. Creator Matt Groening confesses that he would be unlikely to be recruited as a writer on the show today, since most of them are now graduates from Ivy League universities.
Religion plays a central part in the life of the Simpsons. On the surface level the life of the family and community are soaked in religion. Church attendance is mandatory every Sunday and characters talk regularly to God in times of need. More importantly, however, plotlines exploring religious themes occur regularly.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written and challenging but not flawless 29 Oct 2002
By Martin
Format:Paperback
As the most socially aware sitcom on TV the Simpsons does feature a lot of religious references. Whether this is coincidental, caused by simply the show's aim to truly analyse and satirise Middle America, and its ability due to its cartoon format, to use such a variety of cahracters and settings, or an intentional promotion of faith (Archbishop Dr Rowan Williams claims that the show promotes 'humility and virtue', is the subject of this book by Jewish author Mark Pinsky.
He looks individually at the main religious characters, such as the Reverend Lovejoy, Evangelical neighbour Ned Flanders, and Lisa, who he considers as speaking for Jesus, as with her radical vews and strong faith (I always thought of her as speaking for Matt Groening myself, a kind of window on the world to see through the variously immoral, hypocritical and downright stupid attiudes of the Springfield townspeople). Script from the show and quotes from various intellectuals and Simpsons writers augment and reason his ideas.
Other religios are not overlooked either, with the references to Catholicism, Judaism and Hinduism looked at in depth. Like many sitcoms the show is slightly critical of the Catholic Church, reverent about Jews and their culture (there is a slight 'pro-Semitism' feel about this section, which is understandable but still slightly irksome), and refuses to discuss Islam for fear of reprisal. Indian Convenience store owner Apu 's faith gets a good look, showing that the show does not mock Hinduism, but shows it in its real light, and lets the reader make its own mind up (its ideas of Ganesh seem ludicrous at face value, yet Hindus are generally peaceful and postive people)
Interviews with the writers featre too- surprisingly most of these are not religious.
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