International Burn a Koran Day may or may not be held this Saturday. Whether or not it is, I figured I'd use the opportunity to treat holy books a little differently than Pastor Facialhair...
I started by reading the Koran rather than burning it. Boy, did I learn a lot! Did you know that Jesus is in it? Did you know that the god in it is the same god of Jews and Christians? It's part three of the Yahweh trilogy!
Next I read the Bible. I was told this was an instruction manual for living, but instead it's more like a multi-genred literary anthology: it's got mythology, history, legend, prophecy, songs, poetry, plays, erotica, letters, and more. You should read it! It's most likely not what you think it is!
Genesis was so good that I decided to read it again, as illustrated by the guy who invented Fritz the Cat and the "Keep on Truckin' " bumper stickers. He pictured the serpent as a lizard while I thought of it as a winged dragon, but that's the beauty of difference!
Hey, look! There's some stuff that wasn't included in the Biblical canon. It's just as cool, and it's where a lot of our ideas seem to come from. What do Adam and Eve do after leaving the garden? What does Paul find when he goes to Third Heaven? Find out!
Even Judas has a gospel. It wasn't dug up until recently, but it turns out Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice were absolutely correct back in the 70s!
Holy crap! The Epic of Gilgamesh has a flood story that's identical to the Noah story, but this one is one thousand years older! This stuff is really making me think!
The true mythology of America. It makes me wonder why "In Zeus We Trust" isn't written on our coins.
Sure, this Hindu text doesn't weigh as much as the Bible (and certainly not as much as Gary Larson's complete Far Side cartoons), but it's just as interesting.
After reading The Life of Buddha, I read this more contemporary adaptation of the life of Siddhartha Guatama. It has a better magic tree story than the Garden of Eden's.
Did you know that if you think you are certain about the nature of God (aka the Tao), then you must not be talking about God at all? Makes you wonder about all those people who think they know exactly who God is and how we should live our lives as a result.
Salinger also had some thoughts about Eastern philosophy. (He also called me yesterday just to say hello. Together, we're known as the "phonies.")
David Lynch doesn't only make the best movies; he can teach you about the power of meditation! Twenty minutes in a quiet room can change your life!
The Romans ripped off the Greeks and then the Christians, but they sure know how to tell a story!
Reading this, I felt like a Virgil, touched for the very first time.
Everything we see is just a shadow of a truer reality! The Matrix was right!
Man, it's too bad we killed these guys before they taught us this stuff.
My new favorite Native American stories! Hilarious! Religion should make you laugh as well as cause other emotions. I'm starting to see that lack of humor is part of the problem. The Trickster takes a dump on his own religion so that he doesn't take its symbolism too seriously. Book-burning would be rendered a mere joke!
I can feel the shackles falling off my mind. "One law for the lion and ox is oppression"! "Everything that lives is holy"! My favorite holy author so far! And Blake makes pretty paintings too! Everything you need to know about the power or prophetic writing is here. With comedy!
Since William Blake was so eye-opening, I tried another artist. Charles M. Schulz combines the beauties of Christianity and simplicity of Taoism with a knowledge of the psychology of suffering that goes even deeper than Buddhism. With jokes! In only four panels!
Could other comic books be holy books? I'm not sure if Popeye qualifies or not, but I sure love to watch Popeye punch the crap out of someone. Maybe if we read more violent, funny books, we wouldn't be as violent ourselves?
I honeymooned in St. Augustine, so I figured I could at least read his book.
Dante's concept of Hell is so over-the-top that I couldn't help but laugh at it. Satan gnaws on the head of Judas, Brutus, and Cassius: you can't make this stuff up!
From this book, I learned that Satan is more important than I ever imagined before. No wonder those heavy metal guys worship him!
The allegory is not exactly subtle. The lead character's name is Christian, for example.
Charles Dickens writes about another kind of Christmas ghost.
Oh, I see! Fear of death is a root of most religious belief. This scary story book of grusome stories makes that more clear than any reading I've done yet tonight.
More popular than Jesus?
I picked this one up thinking it was about the head that floats down the road in the Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House" video, but it wasn't.
Morality tales, starring animals! Everything is spelled out for you, but it's still more subtle than Bunyan.
I see! It doesn't matter if stories are "believed" or not; the importance is in the image and the effect it has on the mind and spirit. Thanks, George!
Since George MacDonald worked so well, I moved on to other fairy tales. No one believes these are factual either, and yet they work on a similar level as the higher myths. My brain is growing so big!
A combination of fairy tale and various mythologies, leaning heavily on the Christian. Very nice! A new favorite series (except The Horse and His Boy, which was boring). Once again, it doesn't matter that talking lions don't actually exist. I'm glad I took Jesus' suggestion to "become as a little child" and read all these holy kids' books.
Lewis's Mere Christianity had more goofy arguments than his children's books, but you should still read it.
Aha! You don't have to follow the archaic pre-scientific understanding of ancient holy books in order to be moral and spiritual! The scientists are the heroes in this book. Our understanding of the world should always be up to date scientifically, just as they were in the ancient days. Thanks, Maddy!
Thomas Mann fuses Greek mythology with contemporary ills, physical and spiritual. These old stories are applicable to the new!
Whaling as mythology. Every little detail about whaling is another detail about God.
Taoism in the form of a British stuffed bear owned by a little boy in short pants.
The Morte d'Arthur is good, but Howard Pyle makes it even more fun. Also check out his Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. Mythology combined with history and legend: the adventure of the human life!
You can't get enough Arthurian legend! This version is even suitable for musicals and cartoons!
I figured this would round out any holy writing for children I missed.
Life, the Universe, and Everything! Turns out humans don't come from monkeys after all. We come from an alien planet's useless middle-men that were shot off into space. Our absurd behavior makes perfect sense now!
Mark Twain makes me laugh at "the damned human race." Retellings of the Adam and Eve story!
Oh no! John Irving writes stories like M. Night Shyamalan writes movies! The mystery of religion reduced to cheap tricks and let-down conclusions! You can't win 'em all when you read as many books as I'm reading tonight.
Dostoevsky, on the other hand, does not disappoint. Almost everything I've read so far is found somewhere or other in this brick.
The mystery of the wordless moment, the nature of torture and menace, the sharp sting of language itself! Harold Pinter is indeed the weasel under the cocktail cabinet!
I gotta be careful not to be arrested for a thoughtcrime after reading all these mind-opening books! Big Brother is watching, and I don't mean Tony.
This one seemed oddly familiar to me. It had some nice things to offer concerning late twentieth century relationships and gas stations, but nothing you can't get somewhere else.
Hey, look! A book by my old religion teacher and relative (we both come from Sullivan's Hollow). Dr. Sullivan lets Christians know that sex isn't dirty after all! Wow, you can even have sex before marriage... or be a homosexual!
It sure helps when you read the death of God parable in context! Turns out it's not some idea that can be reduced to three words.
You mean all of these stories have the same essential elements? Every religious system is "true" if read as mythology rather than science or history within the context of the culture that created it? One story or god isn't any better than the other? We probably need a new collective mythology since the old ones are only causing problems and divisions?
Time to bone up on the anti-god stuff. Freud explains where religion comes from, which is nice to know, though something you can figure out yourself if you've read all the books I've read tonight.
After reading Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species and enjoying its own revelations and mythology (the "tree of life," etc.), I picked up this one... it wasn't what you might expect, though it certainly had Darwinian themes.
The mind of God as explained by Einstein is a little more complicated than mythological images I've grown used to, but it certainly makes more real-world sense and all amounts to the same thing.
No collection of holy readings is complete without this brilliantly-edited anthology of atheist writings from the past 2000 years. If you come out the other side of this tunnel, you'll be a changed person!
The title reveals Hitchens' thesis pretty well. A good chaser to all the god books.
I tried to round out what was missing by reading all the World Literature books I could find. Trees, water, snakes, underworlds, and fertility abounds!
My last stop was a book on writing. Since those who burn books and otherwise value ignorance tend to be horrible writers, I wanted to avoid sounding like them.
After reading all these holy books (and there were many more that I didn't take pictures of) -- rather than burning them -- I put them all in a blender, one by one, with a bit of banana for flavor.
I ended up with several glassfulls of holiness and knowledge in creamy, liquid form. It was sweet in the mouth, but bitter in the belly.
After figuratively and literally consuming every holy book I could get my hands on in one night, I became an enlightened human being. Even if you skip the milkshake idea, and even if you don't have time to read as many as I did, I strongly recommend reading at least one this weekend: preferably one you haven't read before or one you think you might hate.